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By midlandsmovies, Feb 16 2018 04:52PM



Local filmmakers fundraising for Poison Ivy fan film


Since her introduction in 1966, Poison Ivy remains one of the most popular Batman villains of all time yet has been strangely underrepresented in modern cinema. With her only notable big screen appearance being in Batman and Robin (played by Uma Thurman), her portrayal was less than pleasing for many fans and critics alike.


Well, local fans and filmmakers want to set that record straight by giving Ivy her own starring role in an upcoming fan film. Sophie Black, Aislinn De'Ath and Robert Dukes want to be faithful to the source material from the comics yet still palatable for modern audiences.


The screenplay was written by De'Ath and is inspired by Ivy's graphic novel appearances and an award-winning cast and crew are already attached to the project and ready to begin filming.



First though the group are launching a crowd-funding campaign where fans can make pledges to be involved - from executive producer to donations towards the materials to make Ivy’s costume. Monies raised will also be put towards production design, location and marketing costs. With a goal of £2,800 to be raised, the film shoot will take place in February 2018.




Aislinn De’ath will be playing Poison Ivy and has appeared in numerous short films, including The Dress in 2015, which won her the Best Actress award at Festigious Film Festival whilst Robert Dukes joins the case as Bruce Wayne. Robert has played a charming yet dangerous antagonist in Surveilled and a soldier in World War 2 drama The Code.


The film is being helmed by Nottingham director Sophie Black who is also working on here next release which will be the ambitious fantasy short Songbird, starring The X Factor's Janet Devlin. Joining Sophie is Sarah-Jane Lyon (make-up), Charlotte Ball (production designer)


For more information please check out their official campaign page here - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-poison-ivy-fan-film-fantasy


Poster design is by Adam Blakemore of Strelka design, with concept art by Sophie Black


By midlandsmovies, Nov 20 2017 02:00PM

Justice League (2017) Dir. Zack Snyder

With 4 films now under their belt, DC is still a studio confused as to what it wants to achieve from its flagship franchise characters as we get to a film that sees their previously covered legends Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman join the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to take on a planet destroying threat. After director Zack Snyder dropped out owing to a family tragedy, in stepped comic fan-boy Joss Whedon who has clearly added his own lightweight banter to a series steeped in muted colours and moody awfulness.


The plot is simple as Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne attempts to persuade other meta-humans to join his team in order to stop evil monster Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons. And that’s it. Batman vs. Superman’s awkward complexity is jettisoned for a simple story and a sub-2 hour runtime but even so, many scenes and characters make little sense – even the ones that have already had an entire film devoted to them.


As a huge fan of Snyder, Whedon and DC characters (see my 2013 favourite superhero films of all time blog), where a reported $300 million was spent is anyone’s guess? The bland CGI Steppenwolf is a boring Scorpion-King nothing and although it’s slightly more coherent than say Suicide Squad, I’ve never had the inclination to see Batman in Lord of the Rings as he battles hordes of fantasy-like winged orcs in Playstation-quality video game visuals.


The League (read Avengers) are formed to stop the coming together of 3 ‘power boxes’ (read Infinity Stones) as other-worldly civilisations like the Atlantians and Amazonians (read Asgardians) fight a CGI fantasy bad-guy (read Thanos) and his parademon army (read Chitauri). Unoriginal and desperate, the film uses Danny Elfman and John Williams’ classic scores in a poor attempt to add class to a very unclassy product.


It not only reminds you of other films, Flash’s slow-motion escapades echo Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it also reminds you of how good those other films are in comparison. The added Whedon reshoots don’t stand out because nothing relates to any other scene at all anyway, so who would notice. And the obligatory orange and teal colour palette one hour in (a horrid design aesthetic seen in BvS and Wonder Woman already) appears with orange flames and cold blue characters, but one improvement is that they’ve avoided Snyder’s dull colour grading to let some bright images jump from the screen.


The actors are actually quite likeable but they’re not just fighting Steppenwolf, they’re fighting an uphill battle against an awful plot and dialogue. New characters like Cyborg have underdeveloped relationships and back-stories that are brushed over in single sentences of exposition like reading a summary on Wikipedia.


*SPOILER* As the gang attempt to harness the powers of Superman to help their cause, the film delves into one of its best aspects as a particular scene (still heavily drenched in CGI) shows the team battling with the Man of Steel who is confused as to his resurrection. It’s a fun, exciting and totally understandable scene with a clear goal and antagonist. It’s also one that could (should?) have been used as the basis of an entirely different film in an alternative DC timeline full of interesting themes and well established motivations.


Sadly, the film fails to build upon that single scene and the worst thing is that this is DC’s 5th film and in my opinion still worse than their first attempt. Snyder ultimately ends by replacing Joel Schumacher’s legendary bad Batman and Robin’s fake sets and outfits with legendary bad fake CGI and design. As the film fumbles its way into the end-zone final battle, it genuinely looks like everyone has given up. The actors, the computer generated visuals, the recycled scores and the dull boring action sequences simply summarise where their universe is at. If there was any justice in this world, DC would wipe the slate clean and chalk these films up as an admirable failure and resurrect their own franchise with the “hope” this film attempts to leave us with.


5.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jun 15 2017 08:06AM


The Lego Batman Movie (2017) Dir. Chris McKay


As a spin-off from The Lego Movie (2014) comes a new computer animated film focusing on everyone’s favourite Dark Knight. Will Arnett voices the caped crusader and he is joined by a talented voice cast of Zach Galifianakis (The Joker), Michael Cera (Robin), Rosario Dawson (Batgirl) and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred.


Focusing on Batman’s solitary world and reluctance to work as a team, the film uses a simple set up to poke friendly fun at the DC Universe whilst at the same time throwing in a dollop of emotion and other pop culture references too. As a personal fan of Nolan’s world and Burton’s ’89 incarnation, I enjoyed how the film references those - but the movie wisely draws upon all versions (including the shark repellent from the 60s show and the more recent Batman V Superman) which is executed with love and reverence to the different styles.


The plot is secondary to the visual spectacle however and as per the previous film, LEGO bricks are created perfectly in CGI and the animation is both bold yet functional to the LEGO aesthetic and its 'blocky' construction style. The film’s references go full circle with Ralph Fiennes’ Alfred fighting LEGO Voldermort (whom he played in Harry Potter) and LEGO Bane having Tom Hardy’s voice from Dark Knight Rises.


The twist with the Joker being frustrated that he is not Batman’s main villain is a good one and he retaliates by entering the Phantom Zone to pull together a team of supervillains including Jaws, King Kong and Gremlins!


Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face is another great nod to the Burton/Schumacher era whilst 21 Jump Street’s Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play Superman and Green Lantern respectively. However, all these references are nicely woven into the fabric of the film and the jokes hit the mark far more times than they miss.


A cool comic comedy, I’d certainly recommend this to anyone who loves Batman and his history over the years, and whilst younger kids may not get all the reference points, the film is enough of a fun family romp to be enjoyed by any audience looking for lots of laughs.


8/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Dec 21 2016 09:34AM



Big budget, little entertainment


When Mike asked me if I would be interested in submitting my top ten list for the year I broke out in a cold sweat, had I seen ten films that were worthy of recommendation? Did these films truly deserve to help up as a sign of exceptional quality or were some of them simply alright in a cinematic year that I felt was mediocre overall.


Then I thought, hang on I have seen a lot of stinkers this year wouldn’t it be easier (and I refute any allegations of laziness on my part) to create a list of my worst films of 2016.


Now many of these films technically speaking are not bad. They are all more than competently made with high levels of technical expertise, decent actors and sometimes big budgets but for whatever reason they lack that certain something (or in some cases several things) that make them enjoyable. I have to admit because of this Grimsby and Sausage Party don’t make my list as although both are bad films they did cause me to snigger much in the same way as Beavis and Butthead do.


So whether it’s because of an unengaging and cohesive script, erratic direction or even just the crew lacking an editor who understands film here are my personal top stinkers of the year.


Zoolander 2


Completely missing the point as set out by the first film - Stiller and Wilson return in another cameo heavy poke at fashion and celebrity. Although this time it appears that not only are the celebrities in on it but their complicity strips the film of any genuine credibility or validity rather becoming an ironic send up of the first. All would (almost) be forgiven had the script been any good but sadly even the most ardent fan of the original would struggle with the lack of humour contained in this one.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Just awful from the get go and a real struggle to sit through the full movie. Arguably it was tonally supposed to be along the lines of Nolan’s darker Batman series but once again Synder just fails to deliver, which a shame as I feel that he had such a strong start to his directorial career.


Furthermore we can all be in no doubt that this film was also supposed to be the one to act almost as a launch pad for the Justice League and this potentially took away from the directors focus. Perhaps next time spend a little more time in the editing room and a little less thinking about future work eh Zack.


Suicide Squad


On the subject of fantasy heroes (or anti-heroes) having been over-marketed for months and months and shoved into our faces every time we set foot in a cinema I suspect the majority of movie goers were over this film by the time it finally landed and it’s easy to see why. With the exception of the now iconic (and sure-fire cosplay staple Harley Quinn) this film just failed to capture the imagination of viewers as it suffers from poor character development, even poorer baddies and a script that feels like it is three TV episodes bundled together to create a whole film.


There was a rumour going around stating that the marketing men had the final say on the edit and while this is almost certainly rubbish I wish it was true as it would at least make sense. The narrative barely flows and many of the sequences appear to be set up for highlight reels and promotional shots rather than for the benefit of the story. Quite frankly very little works in this mess of a film.


Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie


No one asked for it. No one wanted it. So it is amazing that it grossed as much as it did as people desperate to relive those moments from the TV show flocked to this bloated swan song that really did seem to come out of nowhere. That said I am sure die-hard fans enjoyed what could have just been a holiday special.


Precious Cargo


Bruce Willis does it again, another stinker only this time he has pulled Zac from Saved by the Bell (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) down with him in this tale of no honour between thieves that just screams TV movie from the very get go and won’t do his career any favours. One to avoid.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


This was a personal disappointment for me having been a big fan of the book of the same name. I was of the belief that cinematic adaptations of best-selling zombie books could not get any worse but I was certainly mistaken as this ill-judged, teen friendly borefest was released. It’s no surprise at all that to date it hasn’t even made back half of its reported $28 million budget and by chasing the mass audience it alienated those who actually were interested and willing to pay to see the film. A terrible mistake indeed.


Inferno


Now while not a massive fan of The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons there were elements I enjoyed and bits that have, quite surprisingly, made me want to revisit them but Inferno is just a mess. Perhaps that was the intention, for the film to mirror Robert Langdon’s (Tom Hanks) fragmented memory but Ron Howard overshot and despite some beautiful scenery and well-staged set pieces overall the film fails to live up to what it needed to be and as such makes this list of let downs.


Let’s be honest there are plenty of other stinkers such as Now You See Me 2 (but I had very low expectations going into that one anyway) and Hollywood’s attempts at bringing back the biblical or ancient epic (Ben-Hur; Gods of Egypt; Risen – all of which make the film in Hail, Cesear! look genuinely award winning) but on the positive side this is all the more reason to get out and discover new and exciting independent productions in 2017 especially with the midlands being so well served in terms of local independent art house cinemas.


Get involved and let us know your worst film of the year over on Twitter @MidlandsMovies


Midlands Movies Marek


By midlandsmovies, Aug 14 2016 11:59AM

Suicide Squad (2016) Dir. David Ayer


A group of imprisoned super villains are recruited by a secret government agency to complete a black ops mission in exchange for reduced sentences, leading to inevitable chaos.


When a mysterious supernatural entity threatens the world, a secret government agency led by high-ranking official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits a selection of the most dangerous villains for combat. If anything goes wrong, the government will not be liable, and the criminals will be destroyed. Each member of the aptly named 'Suicide Squad' has a bomb implanted into their neck before the mission which will be detonated if they fail or do anything that goes against protocol. It will be up to them to rise above the apparently impossible events that will take place before them, in what many would to be a suicide mission.


The highly anticipated Suicide Squad - tipped to be the hottest film of summer 2016 - has taken a lot of flack since its release. After seeing it, I can't say that I agree with the panning it has received. Prior to the trip to the cinema, after eating many mixed reviews, I wasn't too optimistic about the film, but it was quite a bit better than I had thought it was going to be.that being said, however, it was not perfect...


I couldn't really fault the performances. Will Smith had some very quick-witted one-liners as Deadshot (people have argued about whether this should have been the case, but I thought they were necessary to keep the film moving along).Margot Robbie was insanely good as Harley Quinn and was equally as entertaining. I feel like the other members of the Suicide Squad were purely to fill it out, but they generally did this quite well. Jai Courtney provided some good laughs as Boomerang, while Jay Hernandes balanced this out as Diablo, who had found himself some sort of a conscience whilst incarcerated. Cara Delevigne was the only one who I didn't think met the same standards as the others, but her character, Enchantress/June Moone, wasn't on-screen all that long so I can live with that.


Jared Leto's turn as The Joker was pretty short lived, and this is probably what disappointed me the most. I feel like Suicide Squad was quite heavily sold on his name, and for him to only feature for roughly twenty minutes was a slight let-down.


I would say I will now discuss the storyline, but there wasn't really that much of a storyline to pass comment on. What bit of narrative that did exist was quite rushed. It would have been far better, I think at least, if the villains had been introduced to us in their won respective films before this one so that we weren't all going into Suicide Squad cold. The thing to keep the film afloat was the action. The film survived on gunshots and explosions, and if it hadn't have been for this, the three of us who went to see this film may very well have fallen asleep in the cinema.


All I can really say about Suicide Squad is that it is a fun comic-book adaptation that is what it is. It's a film that is guaranteed to make money no matter what, so can afford to be flawed as people will still queue to see it. It was never meant to be taken too seriously! They might be the worst heroes ever, but it's certainly not the worst film ever. However, nor is it the best.


7/10


Kira Comerford

By midlandsmovies, May 15 2016 12:00PM

Midlands Movies are pleased to have given away lots of movie goodies over the last 18 months and will continue to do so therefore please follow us at https://twitter.com/MidlandsMovies to hear about our latest prizes and competitions


Previous winners include:


2016 competitions to date include:

Aliens BluRay boxset, Big Trouble in Little China PopFunko prize, Bronson BluRay, The History of Marvel Comic book & Summer Night Film Festival tickets.


The Force Awakens competition

In Autumn 2015 we gave away a brand new Storm Trooper action figure from the upcoming new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. The winner was @JackShelbourn


Pulp Fiction framed pic film Competition

Donated by Sali Jones of Ms Moo Makeup: www.msmoomakeup.com Pulp Fiction celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year and came in at number 1 in our 2013 Readers’ Poll of Midlands Movies readers favourite films of all time. The winner was @AmeliaK1987


"The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex" by Mark Kermode + Midlands Movies t-shirt Competition

We pulled one winner at random from the over 300+ entrants and that winner was Twitter user @ChrisBevan89


Chaplin Blu Ray Competition

Jim Peakman @Jimatay won a copy of Oscar nominated film Chaplin by Sir RIchard Attenborough


Pan's Labyrinth Competition

In September 2014 we joined forces with R B Illustrations to give away a beautifully designed Pan's Labyrinth poster drawn by Leicester's very own Ryan Button with the winner being Twitter user @Alex_Doddy


Shadowlands Competition

Partly filmed in the Midlands (at The Great Central Railway in Loughborough) and directed by Leicester legend Sir Richard Attenborough we have pulled one lucky reader out at random who was @JoshuaWilliam35


Transformers Competition

@IainKirtley won an Optimus Prime design courtesy of Leicester artist The Retrodraughtsman when we gave away a framed picture in July


LEGO Competition

To coincide with The Lego Movie's release on DVD we gave away one of the toy sets from the movie in June 2014 which was won by Shaun Jacques @ShaunJacquesUK


Anchorman 2 Competition

Our Anchorman competition ran in April 2014 and we drew out one lucky Midlands Movies reader who won a selection of prizes including a Ron Burgundy book, an Anchorman poster and a big red candle! The winner was Twitter user @boblikethebird


Once Upon A Time in the Midlands

We gave away Shane Meadows' FIlm 4 classic on DVD in February 2014 and the winner was Zoe Heslop @Zoe_Music


Retro Film Posters

We had a set of 8 glossy retro film posters to giveaway as a Christmas thank you to all our followers over a second successful year at Midlands Movies. A winner has been drawn at random on the weekend of the 7th/8th December 2013. Thanks to all who entered and the winner was Twitter user Emily Jasper https://twitter.com/EmilyJas


SuperMan Competition

We had a maxi-poster from Snyder's movie courtesy of Pyramid International (not run by Adrian Veidt!) as well as other assorted Kryptonian goodies. We had tons of entries who retweeted us at @MIdlandsMovies on Twitter and used hashtag #MMcompetition. Once we passed 1000 followers we drew one winner at random who was Rob Jones @Hulksmash1985


The Dark Knight Rises Competition

Midlands Movies Mike dressed as Bane at the recent showing of The Dark Knight Rises at Wollaton Hall where Wayne Manor was set for the movie! We gave you a chance to win 2 tickets courtesy of Derby Quad & the winner was @TommyDraper who was chosen at random for the event on Sept 7th.


800 Followers Competition

WINNER 1 - @deanne2622 (Singing in the Rain & Breakfast at Tiffany’s posters)

WINNER 2 - @Alex_H92 (The Birds & Gone With the Wind posters)

WINNER 3 - @JayIsANerd (The Wizard of Oz & Some Like It Hot posters)

WINNER 4 - @MrMilktray (Casablanca & Goldfinger posters)


500 & 600 Follower Competition

We gave away copies of the Alien Quadrilogy and Welcome to the Punch at our 500 and 600 Twitter followers mark.

By midlandsmovies, Mar 29 2016 01:16PM

Batman V Superman (2016) Dir. Zack Snyder


Well I quite like Zack Snyder in the main. For me, Watchmen and 300 are two great graphic novel adaptations and with a nod to The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, the director was an obvious choice to start the ball-rolling on DC’s cinematic universe. Being a long (long) way behind Marvel’s behemoth, DC seemed to be changing tact – a risk well worth taking according to this reviewer – by focusing on darker superhero lore with the additional producing credits going to none other than Christopher Nolan.


So Batman V Superman is the team up DC’s marketing company has convinced the masses they have always wanted to see – I don’t buy that as the tone of each character is far too conflicting to really gel – and so we get a tent-pole release to show these legendary icons in battle.


And battle they do! The story continues from Man of Steel with Superman’s alien status being questioned by both the authorities and the public whilst a personal vendetta is sown as we again re-witness Metropolis’ destruction, but this time from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. A great car chase sequence opens the film before the mindless demolition focuses Wayne/Batman’s resolve into stopping this god-like being.


Never one for subtlety, Snyder plays up the god-imagery from the outset but a big improvement over Man of Steel is Superman's global saviour status being contrasted with Batman’s local night-time detecting – an important aspect sorely missing from Nolan’s universe. The problems for the story and the script come when Jesse Eisenberg enters as Lex Luthor. The comparisons to his Mark Zuckerberg persona in Fincher’s The Social Network have already been made but another OTT Batman villain I was reminded of was Jim Carrey’s Edward Nigma from Batman Forever. A performance of tics, fast talking and comedy elements, Eisenberg provides some light from the dark themes but is far too eccentric to pull off a convincing villain.


However, his involvement in the plot is significant as he pulls strings in Government to get his hands on Kryptonite as well as (spoiler) setting up the film’s big battle between the two icons. Combined with a new Alfred for Batman, Lois Lane (a better and more feisty version from Amy Adams here), Diana Prince/Wonderwoman AND hints to other “meta-humans” (i.e. DC’s back-catalogue of ridiculous superheroes) there is FAR too much for one film to handle. DC has leaped into the Avengers-style team up without fully establishing their world and you realise how problematic that is.


In addition, Luthor attempts to use the Kryptonian spaceship and body of General Zod to create a “Doomsday” monster to kill ol’ Supes as a backup if Batman doesn’t take him down, leaving us with the obligatory CGI city-destroying smash up that permeate all these movies.


And so what does this all add up to? Not a lot really. With some images of great beauty – unbelievably the killing of the Waynes was done well given it’s a scene seen many times before – Snyder has a great eye for the surface but all the amount of moping in the world cannot make up for its lack of depth. I would love to have seen a Batman solo film as Affleck is very good despite the awful dialogue given to him. However, Cavill is so dour as Superman he’s simply miserable to watch at times. Another note is that film’s violence was as extreme as I’ve ever seen in a movie of this rating (so young children beware) and it wasn’t a million miles away from Deadpool’s incessant killing with branding, executions, patricide, stabbing and suicide bombing amongst the bloody carnage on show.


In conclusion I feel that the film is an unnaturally gloomy feature and although I think it takes admirable risks against the safe-sanctuary of Marvel, it fails on producing a cohesive whole in its creation. Superman never cracks even so much as a smile in 2 hours 30 minutes and Cavill shows less facial emotion than Michael Shannon’s Zod corpse. The film’s absence of humour – I counted two jokes (one of which is in the trailer) – is a huge flaw for such a ridiculous premise and both of those come too late as they appear in the final 15 minutes of the film.


From Doomsday’s LOTR cave-troll appearance, which is further compounded with a LOTR-style ‘never-ending’ ending, the film misses crucial opportunities for reinvention and is a structural mess from the outset. I have to admit though, unlike others, I didn’t find it a narrative mess. I thought it was a straightforward story badly put together with middling dream sequences that served little purpose and far too many cooks spoiling the superhero broth.


Teens will no doubt lap up the action sequences (the central fight IS well done, especially in IMAX) and somewhere in here is a more streamlined 1 hour 45 minute film but DC still have a long way to go to catch up with Marvel. That said, this could be a necessary “let’s-get-this-out-of-the-way” stepping stone to greater things. I am staying positive and hope that the spin offs provide much needed levity in the run up to Snyder’s Justice League film. If it doesn’t then prepare yourselves to expect more of these messy “franchise-starters” dampening Snyder’s dynamic plans and replacing them with rundown and disappointing fan-service flicks.


6.5/10 Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Nov 15 2015 07:09PM

Aside from the Midlands area, when I go on vacation I love to visit local attractions and nothing gives me more pleasure than going to see places that are featured in famous movies. With my previous holiday blogs covering Madrid, Italy and California I was very excited to be heading back to the good ol’ USA for a trip to New York, Chicago and the surrounding area.


For all the movie photos from the USA please click here


I landed at JFK airport tired but excited on October 29th (the day after our Shaun of the Dead screening) and, still drained from that late night, I put my lack of energy to one side to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the Big Apple. This was my third visit in as many years so I had seen some of the most famous destinations before, but I always get a flush of excitement when I see some of the icons of this big city. On my first full day there I walked around Manhattan for over 6 hours catching all kinds of sights and with the November weather being unusually mild, I even managed to spend some time in my t-shirt as the sun beat down.


I was staying with my good friend at an apartment on Wall Street which immediately linked to my favourite film of 2014, The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Di Caprio, whilst later as I was walking around I even spotted a Steve Madden shop – the real–life shoe company that DiCaprio’s fraudulent banker floats on the stock exchange. Speaking of which, just 200 yards up the road was the real life stock exchange which Bane (Tom Hardy) terrorises in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Nolan’s Batman franchise was a running theme of the trip as the second half would be spent in The Windy City, Chicago, where much more of those movies were filmed. Rises also contains shots of “Gotham’s” bridges collapsing which have been clearly influenced by the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges of New York city as Bane and his gang attempt to cut the citizens off from the rest of the world.


On my walkabout I also came across the fire station from Ghostbusters (1984) as well the Museum of the Native American which was the location of the painting of Vigo for that film’s sequel. After an accident in the building which resulted in me cutting my head, it seemed that the museum still has some bad vibes. Has anyone checked for a river of slime underneath again?



Up at the other end of the island, Central Park was where the Tavern on the Green was situated (67 Central Park West) which was used when Louis Tully (a demon-dog avoiding Rick Moranis) cried for help in Ghostbusters. Just across from that is Dana’s (Sigourney Weaver) apartment building – referred to as “spook central” – where the final battle against Mr. Stay Puft occurs. Still at Central Park is the bridge the protagonists hide under from Cloverfield (2008) whilst nearer Grand Central Terminal is the Chrysler building, both of which appear in the film as well.


Further downtown is the iconic Flat Iron Building (used as the Daily Bugle’s headquarters in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy) whilst the second film also includes the fantastic action sequence where Spider-Man battles Doctor Octopus on an elevated train. In fact, NYC does not have an elevated train track passing through its skyscrapers so the filmmakers used digital footage of Chicago’s “L” train to get the shots they needed.


After my brief stay in the city that never sleeps, I headed east to meet friends nearer Chicago. Quieter and with a more relaxed atmosphere, my friends lived in Aurora which you may know as the home-town of Wayne and Garth from American comedy Wayne’s World (1992) and its sequel. The city of lights provides the backdrop for their rock antics although much of both films were actually shot in and around Los Angeles – which Myers alludes to again in a fourth wall joke from Austin Powers.


From Aurora, I took a trip up to Woodstock, Illinois - Del Preston: “It rained all morning, and then it cleared up in the afternoon. And that's it... I almost remembered something else, but it's gone”. Actually not the location of the infamous 60s musical love festival but this Woodstock was the small town used in Groundhog Day (1993).


The town’s central square double’s as Gobbler’s Knob which hosts the groundhog ceremony before Bill Murray’s grouchy weather man begins to repeat the same day over and over. As his depression sets in, Murray’s worn out character attempts to commit suicide – one death is from the town’s clock tower – but continues to wake up unharmed back in his hotel bedroom each morning.


The bandstand in the square hosts the main festivities but is also the backdrop for the first snowfall dance between Murray and Andie MacDowell. As we walked around the picturesque town we saw the infamous corner where Murray steps in a puddle trying to avoid Ned Ryerson – who has a burger named after him in a local bar (Bing!) – as well as the cinema where he takes a date dressed up as Clint Eastwood.


Woodstock also played host to the film Trains, Planes & Automobiles (1987) where Steve Martin and John Candy are stopped for speeding in a burned-out car and then the pair are picked up by a truck outside the old courthouse (now the Old Courthouse Arts Center) as well as its more famous doubling as the town of ‘Punxsutawney’.


This lovely town proved to be a calm highlight of my trip between two big cities but it wasn’t too long before I was in my room at the Red Roof Inn in downtown Chicago. The city has been on my ‘must-go’ list for an age and I was thrilled to finally be in this cinematic city. As mentioned before the city’s bridges and industrial ambience was perfect for its stand-in as Gotham. From ‘the narrows’ in Batman Begins (2005) to the Tumbler heading under Lower Wacker Drive (the underground road system), the city’s pier also was the location of the Joker’s hostage heist on the two tourist boats.



Moving to The Dark Knight (2008), me and my friends had drinks and food at the iconic Berghoff Bar which is an historical 100-year old watering hole. This was the location of the scene where Jim Gordon and his team arrest Maroni whilst the nearby Chicago Theatre was used when Harvey attempts to see ballet with Rachel, but is unable to do so after Bruce Wayne takes the entire company on a sunny cruise. Lastly, the unfinished (at the time) Trump Tower was where the final battle took place twixt Batman and the Joker at the film’s climax.


Their earlier bust-up in the street with the BatPod and a big-rig truck occurs at South LaSalle Street with the Chicago Board of Trade Building in the background (which was also the HQ of ‘Wayne Enterprises’ in Batman Begins).




That street is also famous for its appearance in The Untouchables (1987, Brian De Palma) whose fictionalised version of Elliott Ness’s struggles with Al Capone utilised a wide range of Chicago locales. Recreating the Prohibition Era, the movie mostly drops historical accuracy for cops and robbers entertainment. The police HQ is the Rookery Building on South La Salle whilst Costner’s Ness first meets Sean Connery’s “Irish” beat-cop Malone on the pedestrian deck of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The Federal Reserve is also on the same street whist mid-town’s Cultural Center is where De Niro’s Capone pleads his innocence to the media.





The film’s most famous sequence is at the end where a shoot out at the city’s Union Station paid homage to Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and is also used at the climax of Man of Steel (2013) for the showdown between Superman and General Zod.




Another film which hugely uses Chicago’s many distinct locations is the 80s High School classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). The John Hughes teen comedy has the title character skipping school for an educational and fun day out in the Windy City with his girlfriend Sloane and his put-upon pal Cameron.


The film has many unique local settings including when the friends pass the Flamingo, a huge red structure created by noted American artist Alexander Calder. This 53-foot tall stabile is located in the Federal Plaza in front of the Kluczynski Federal Building and is not far from the Art Institute of Chicago which hosts the city’s impressive art collection. In the film, the trio are fascinated by some legendary pieces including the Portrait of Balzac by Auguste Rodin, Picasso paintings, Marc Chagall’s America Windows and (most famously) A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – an 1884 pointillism work by Georges Seurat.


The film also includes trips to Wrigley Field (home of the city’s Cubs baseball team) and Ferris crashing the annual Von Steuben Day Parade on a float for a musical sequence. The last place I visited from this film was up at the Sears Tower's skydeck (now the Willis Tower) which gives unparalleled 360 degree views of the city from the 103rd floor. Don’t go up if you have vertigo but if you’re feeling brave then take a seat in one of the all-glass boxes which allow visitors to look through the glass floor to the street 1,353 feet (412 m) below!


The final picture in the Art Institute that I recognised was Francis Bacon’s “Figure with Meat” which was the painting Jack Nicholson’s Joker asked Bob the Goon not to destroy in the museum scene in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). Another Batman link!


Outside the Institute is Millennium Park which holds Cloud Gate – a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor. It is locally nicknamed The Bean because of its shape and weighs 110 short tons and is used in the film The Break Up (2006) but most will have seen the silver/metallic structure in Duncan’s Jones’ Source Code (2011).



So what else do we have? Well, the gritty streets of the city can be viewed in The Fugitive (1993) as Harrison Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble goes on the run after being accused of murdering his wife. Ford rides (and fights) on the “L” train whilst he also visits City Hall which doubles as a prison in his second encounter between himself and Tommy Lee Jones’ U.S. Marshall.


There were sadly many other movie locations that I didn’t get to experience in my tight schedule. From The Blues Brothers, High Fidelity, Adventures in Babysitting, While You Were Sleeping and Public Enemies Chicago’s grimy streets have been used from genres involving gangsters and superheroes to comedy and drama and will no doubt continue to provide the backdrop for independent and Hollywood films for many years to come. If you get the chance to visit any of these locations then both tourists and die-hard movie fans will absolutely be overjoyed and thrilled by the amazing places (both old and new) that these awesome sites serve up.


Midlands Movies Mike

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