icons-02 icons-01 Instagram Black Logo - normal size


Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Mar 10 2019 09:53AM


Directed by Oliver Griffiths


We open on Bluestone Lake, West Virginia in 1864 where a deserted soldier sits staring out at the water in new Midlands film Enemies from local director Oliver Griffiths.

With a voiceover hinting at a distressing incident from the past the man pauses at a torn Confederate flag representing his doubts about fighting on their side during the American Civil War.

Stranded in the wilderness the distressed soldier (Jonathan Butler as Joseph Barrow) crosses sides (literally traversing a symbolic river) and uses the flowing water to wash his face – and perhaps the sins from his past.

The reason for this is explained as we flashback to the man in a military tent being accosted by a superior (Jonny Parlett) after apparently showing mercy to slaves. It is revealed this man is not only his fellow soldier but his brother Robert Barrow.

After refusing to lie about the army’s horrendous treatment of slaves we return to the present, but the man is haunted by dreams of he and his brother not only punishing slaves but killing them.

Voiceovers help fill in the story and the film does well with its editing which flips from the past to the present without ever confusing the audience.

Director Griffiths began making films at the age of 13 and studied at the University of Derby where he directed multiple short films. His aim to make Enemies “unlike any film I had directed previously” shows in the finished product which aims high in the Hollywood sense.

Whilst some filmmakers are happy to shoot on the local streets, Griffiths and his team do a fantastic job of bringing 19th century America alive right here in the Midlands. The wilderness is faithfully captured and the two leads do well with the appropriate Southern accents.

Parlett as the evil brother justifying his actions through the horrors of war is the standout and his small but intense performance helps keep the drama high. As his character catches up with his wandering brother, the two fight and pistols are draw heightening the film’s tension.

Enemies biggest draw is a good recreation of a turbulent period of history. It’s great to see local filmmakers demonstrate the breadth of filming locations in the area – which can stand in from castles to cities. But here the woods of the region become a gateway into another country altogether.

As the film builds to a violent confrontation of fists and fighting, Enemies shows how some excellent editing, cleverly chosen set ups and two admirable actors committing to their performances can take you away from the region into a different world and time. Griffiths also adds depth to a solid script and captures a host of difficult issues in this dramatic and well-filmed picture about the past.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Sep 1 2015 12:12PM

San Andreas (2015) Dir. Brad Peyton

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in this disastrous disaster movie that makes even companion piece “2012” look like a nuanced take on the genre. He plays a divorced dad (also in 2012 & Independence Day) and his day job of helicopter rescue pilot sees him in the perfect position to take helpful steps when California’s infamous chasm starts to crack.

Rather than assist a multitude of people though, The Rock focuses on his immediate family but from the outset the terribly fake CGI starts almost straight away and is completely devoid of any real world physics.

It cracks open the clichés as Paul Giamatti is given the exposition job as a literal “teacher” in a classroom full of students as he explains what an earthquake is. Durhhh. In-between staring at photos of his previous happy family outings, The Rock pulls off car doors as if he’s the frickin’ Terminator whilst the first big action set piece involving the Hoover Dam is mildly entertaining. It ends with a low-key support actor telling a girl to “close your eyes” as you turn away your own eyes in sentimental disgust. The strange tone is confounded as he’s then blasted with a few billion gallons of Hoover Dam water. *sigh*

After the obligatory establishing shot of L.A.’s Griffith’s Observatory setting both the place and, of course; “yay, science!” the film is punctuated with a cast of hollow nobodies including an English guy who I couldn’t stand after 2 minutes of screen time. The characters are well-off middle class douchebags who aren’t interesting and certainly not worth saving whilst a limo-driver scene is again a direct lift from 2012. Do you see where we’re going with this?

The problem with these types of films is that huge CGI city-destruction hasn’t been shocking or awe-inspiring for years now and for all the bombastic visuals you feel absolutely nothing for anybody. It’s such a painful watch. The characters have all the depth of a pothole.

The barely comprehensible plot see The Rock fly the least reliable helicopter and plane in San Francisco whilst the action plods along boringly as people start looting – but don’t worry, The Rock will see to that. People hang onto helicopters like they are gymnasts and although they can also survive huge catastrophes, the Englishman is forced to limp after an inch of glass scrapes his thigh.

We also get to see damage to the Golden Gate bridge – which of course is a brand new idea if you forget X-Men 3, Godzilla, Pacific Rim, Aliens vs Monsters, Planet of the Apes, The Core and a few others – but somewhat strangely, in a film this terrible, it’s one of the better sequences as The Rock and his ex-wife try to escape a huge tidal wave before coming up against an oil tanker.

I think you may get that this film really wasn’t for me. It’s not so very bad but it’s just so uninteresting and unexciting which is simply not good enough for an effects-filled blockbuster. A chasm of plot holes and some tongue in cheek acting can’t shake things up enough and you’re simply left with the San Andreas Fault-y Towers as the buildings fall as quick as your interest does.


Midlands Movies Mike

RSS Feed twitter