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By midlandsmovies, Feb 7 2016 03:02PM

After my original post about the hugely popular expansion in independent film poster art I have been discovering even more beautiful poster designs from artists from all over the world in 2015/16. From qualified experts to recreational amateurs, I love to see alternate takes on posters which have sadly still not moved far from the hell that is bad PhotoShop.

First 25 Movie Poster blog - http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Movies-Feature---Top-25-Alternative-Movie-Posters/9794671

Please spare a bit of time checking out these dazzling designs and please investigate the Twitter feeds and websites of all the artists for even more talented artwork on their homepages.

25. Fantastic Mr Fox (by Jayson Weidel https://twitter.com/planet_pulp)

Amazing cartoon style design for Wes Anderson's quirky animation that captures the fun spirit and warm colours from the cast of stop motion animals

24. Jurassic Park (by Francesco Francavilla)

Humungous dinosaurs who terrify a remote island couldn't be summed up better in this simple but effective design.

23. Alien (by Randy Ortiz)

A superb print design showing the alien discovery and the scares about to emerge from the otherworldly egg

22. Inception (by Gabz http://iamgabz.com/Inception)

A mind-entering film of topsy-turvy realities is expressed in this monochrome design

21. Brazil (by Shou Yuan http://www.shou-yuan.com)

A deeply disturbing head controlling design fits perfectly with Gilliam’s dystopian vision of the future

20. Django Unchained (by Harijs Grundmanis)

A sepia tinged historical print style poster captures the time & place of this Western

19. Guardians of the Galaxy (by Paul Shipper)

This Marvel old-school space opera design takes it influences from poster legend Drew Struzan

18. The Iron Giant (by Jeff Granito)

Amazing technicolour art deco retro design showing the 2 sides of the story

17. Batman (by Casey Callender)

My fave Batman film gets a suitably dark design with his batwings extended

16. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (by Dennis Salvatier http://www.salvatierstudios.com)

A 1930s influenced print with bold geometric shapes & glamour

15. Beetlejuice (by Ken Taylor)

Crazy lighting & day-glo colours reflect the insane world of Keaton’s lead

14. The Fly (by Drew Millward)

Don’t be afraid of this stunningly twisted poster that jumps into the plasma pool

13. Birdman (by Orlando Arocena https://www.behance.net/orlandoarocena)

A great colourful one-sheet combining the city, Birdman and Keaton in one amazing image

12. The Goonies (by Tyler Stout http://www.tstout.com)

80s adventure classic gets characters & symbols + the octopus for this crazily coloured map-like poster

11. Godzilla (by http://phantomcitycreative.com)

Asian inspired design as mushroom clouds become Godzilla scales in monster movie moment

10. Wall Street (by http://www.moxycreative.com/dressthepart/)

A poster not for wimps in this cold, clinical and smart design for the 80s financial classic

9. Blade Runner (by Kako and Carlos Bela)

An industrial sci-fi font mixes with a replicant owl in this crimson classic

8. Batman Returns (by Steven Holliday)

Blues & yellows come together for this extremely breath taking poster

7. Chinatown (by Philippe Poirier. http://www.philippepoirier.ca)

Warm browns and neon signs reflect the film’s murky underworld

6. Army of Darkness (by Richey Beckett)

Incredibly intricate & organic design for this raw horror drawing

5. Rocky (by Cesar Moreno)

A unique take on a gold leaf resurrection as religious Rocky enters the ring

4. The Hateful Eight (by Orlando Arocena https://www.behance.net/orlandoarocena)

Another great design capturing the wintery wilderness of QT’s latest epic

3. The Incredibles (by Kevin Wilson http://apemeetsgirl.com)

One of the film’s iconic shots is the source of this incredible design

2. The Force Awakens (by @matttaylordraws)

Inverted colours pop off the page in a dynamic poster

1. The Shining (by http://3ftdeep.com)

Author Jack appears from the page like a great King novel

Thanks to all who followed & retweeted on February 6th & hoped you enjoyed a timeline of cool movie art

Check all the posters using the hastag #MMfilmposter over on Twitter

By midlandsmovies, Dec 29 2015 09:04PM

Midlands Movies Marek picks his Top 10 of 2015

Regular Midlands Movies contributor Marek has picked out his favourite 10 films of 2015. With an eclectic mix of blockbuster and independents please check out his 10 best films of the year below:

(In no particluar order...)

Jurassic World

The Martian

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

What We Do in the Shadows

Birdman or (the unexpected virtue of ignorance)

Turbo Kid

The Man from U.N.C.L.E

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Mad Max: Fury Road

Marek adds:

"Overall 2015 was a very disappointing year for horror, where the major sequels (Insidious 3, Sinister 2) failed to build on promising earlier entries and the majority of original fare just not being up to scratch on the whole with the strongest theatrical releases being Del Toro's gothic haunted house/romance Crimson , which is barely a horror, and the Carpenter lite/atmosphere heavy It Follows. However it was a good year for horror comedy thanks to New Zealand with What We Do in the Shadows making my list and Deathgasm being just outside.

Finally there are three clear omissions from my list. The first due to its run time is the amazing Kung Fury. A must watch for all 80s action film fans and, considering it is free on YouTube there really is no excuse. Secondly, is Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' which is a masterpiece of dialogue and suspense and finally Sorrentino's return to filming in English with Youth staring Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine. Both of which will no doubt grace my top ten of 2016."

[N.B. I unfortunately didn't get chance to see Bridge of Spies, Sicario or The Duke of Burgundy but all seem to appeal to my tastes.]

December 2015

By midlandsmovies, Dec 28 2015 10:39AM

Top 10 local movie posters of 2015

Midlands Movies Mike picks 10 of the promotional movie posters from films made in the region.

* Night Owls (Nottingham) Film by Sophie Black and art by Dan Lord of @forecastdesign

* Crying Wolf (Derby) Film by MonoStereo

* The Witching Hour (Nottingham) Film by Mr. Stitch Films and art by Anthony Winson

* Derelict (Worcestershrire) Film by Venomous Little Man and art by Jamie Huntley

* Killersaurus (Leicester). Film by Steve Lawson

* The Wrong Floor (Leicester). Film by Marc Hamill/Roasted Films and art by Tom Hodge

* Junction 51 (Nottingham) Film by Superfreak Media

* The House of Screaming Death (West Midlands) Film by Lightbeam Productions & art by Colin Webb

* Athena (Leicester) Film by 305 Productions

* Acquiesce (Lincoln) Film and art by Thomas Cuthbertson

By midlandsmovies, Dec 21 2015 10:12AM

Midlands Movies Top 20 Films of 2015

Well, with my regular “Best Of” lists (or favourites if you prefer) starting from January 1st each year, it’s easy to forget the films that get released in the UK in the January-February period that go towards Oscar consideration. With that in mind, it’s easy to think of those films as last year’s movies but as I’ve consistently used a full calendar year, 2015 will be no different in that respect. I’ve included links to Midlands Movies reviews for readers to see our thoughts at the time.

The scoring will not necessarily equate to where the film appears in the list – especially with months of hindsight and any hype dying down – so the films have been finalised this month (December) and published as close to the end of the year as possible.

For a bit of context there are many critically acclaimed films I have not seen yet including Suffragette, Black Mass, Brooklyn, Assasin and Carol so they’ve haven’t been missed out because of quality but owing to my own busy and burgeoning schedule.

Also, a couple of films were in the list but then dropped out including Age of Ultron and Foxcatcher – both scored highly but in retrospect they both had flaws that have gnawed at me ever since – whilst I thought Big Hero 6 and Inside Out (one of the most overrated flicks of the year and i LOVE Pixar) were solid animations but nothing more for me. A Most Violent Year was very close as was The Visit and Montage of Heck and I enjoyed Ian McKellen in Mr. Holmes as well as the film-centred documentaries of Electric Boogaloo: The Story of Cannon Films and The Death of Superman Lives.

For me, disappointments included It Follows (unsettling but the horror hype machine spoilt this one) and Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk – an interesting story made dull by CGI. Maybe a 3-D IMAX viewing would have got my juices flowing. I recommend the far superior Man on Wire documentary which tells the same story with much more tension. Click here for my Worst Films of 2015 list – some real shockers this year so venture at your own risk – but here are my (Midlands Movies Editor Mike Sales) Top 20 favourite films of 2015.

20. Trainwreck (7.5/10)

19. Going Clear (8/10)

18. Tangerine (7.5/10)

17. White Bird in a Blizzard (7.5/10)

16. Ant-Man (7.5/10)

15. American Sniper (8/10)

14. Ex Machina (8/10)

13. John Wick (8/10)

12. The Voices (7/10)

11. Love and Mercy (7.5/10)

10. The Theory of Everything (9/10)

9. Sicario (8/10)

8. Legend (8/10)

7. The Force Awakens (8/10)

6. The Martian (8/10)

5. Amy (8/10)

4. Predestination (9/10)

3. Birdman (9/10)

2. Whiplash (9/10)

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (9.5/10)

By midlandsmovies, Oct 27 2015 01:19PM

Top 10 things to check out for Lincolnshire film fans

After our Top 10 covering the best of Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and West Midlands film-making talent we shift our focus to Lincolnshire to find out 10 of the best things a film fan can look out for in and around the county.

Lincolnshire Cathedral

The third largest cathedral in Britain after St Paul's and York Minster, Lincolnshire Cathedral owns one of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta from 1215 but has also played host to a number of blockbuster feature films, often doubling for Westminster Abbey in London. Filmed in September 2007 this was the case with Young Victoria and also the controversial “The Da Vinci Code”. Oscar-winner Tom Hanks played Robert Langdon in the film which caused a storm of controversy over its questioning of many of the key beliefs of Christianity. Officials from the Abbey refused to allow filming to take place inside, claiming that the book is "theologically unsound". To arrange a visit and follow the Cathedral’s many events please check their Twitter account here: https://twitter.com/LincsCathedral

The Drift by Backyard Productions

An already successful sci-fi, The Drift is no average independent film having been created with a crew of over 100 and with help from many local businesses in Lincolnshire. With a limited local budget of just £5000, the film took 3 years to make (all in everyone’s spare time) and the cast and crew were all volunteers but the ambition does not stop just there. With a feature length 100-minute run time and over 1300 Visual Effect shots they also built sets over 9 months and did 2 years of visual effects production, matching and even surpassing many a Hollywood blockbuster. Formed in 1993, Backyard Productions began with three teenagers making short movies in the garden before quickly moving on to making their first feature. From there, the “company” grew to include friends and family members, making parodies based on Batman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars with all productions being self-funded and helping to raise money for charity. For more insight check out http://bypuk.com/movies/drift/ and view The Drift's exciting trailer here - https://www.youtube.com/embed/aXFILnob3AA

Read our article on the film here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---The-Drift/9207663

Lincolnshire Film and Digital Media

Lincolnshire Film and Digital Media is run by multi-award winning, professional film maker Phillip Lofas whose background is in film production. His company uses state of the art video and media equipment to deliver professional quality work which specialises in offering high quality services as well as training within the county for aspiring filmmakers. With a respected track record in delivering education and training to a range of organisations they cover a wide variety of media training topics including script writing, pre-production, filming & mastering as well as sessions on lighting, sound and animation. Read more about this exciting organisation to develop your skills with a professional and local team here: http://www.lincolnshire-filmmaker.co.uk

Lincolnshire Film Archive

The LFA is a registered charity set up in 1986 to locate and preserve motion film showing life and work in all parts of the county. Covering wartime reels as well as many other decades, their films are available to enthusiastic cinematographers with local historical events such as the first post-war Royal Show, the Festival of Britain and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II amongst archive footage available. Further footage comes in their “A Century on Film” series which focus on everything from World War 2 right through to the Victory celebrations of 1945. Drawing on its extensive motion picture collection, much of it has never before been made available for home viewing, the LFA sets out to present a wide-ranging picture of over a hundred years of Lincolnshire life. For an up-to-date list of videos and details of how to order, see www.primetimevideo.co.uk or check their main website: http://www.lincsfilm.co.uk

Movie Locations

We have already mentioned how The Da Vinci Code was partially filmed in Lincolnshire but as well as the infamous cathedral, the county has provided picturesque buildings for many more movies. However, one of these locations was again utilised in The Da Vinci Code, where Burghley House in Stamford near Peterborough was used for the interiors of ‘Castel Gandolfo’. Not solely focusing on that film though, Jan De Bont's The Haunting (1999) was filmed at Harlaxton Manor (Great Hall) in Grantham whilst Thunderball (1965) used RAF Waddington for the film's Airforce base runway scene. Not content with just those well-known classics, Lincoln can claim to be the location of certain scenes in the little-known The Emerald Forest (1985) whilst more famously, The Dam Busters (1955) with its “bouncing bombs” was partly filmed in the area. The coastal marshes from Atonement (2007) are at Gedney Drove End, a beach on the Wash and finally Pride and Prejudice (2005) was filmed in Lincoln where Burghley House (again) stood in for Rosings, while the adjacent town of Stamford served as Meryton. For more info on Burghley House check their official site: http://www.burghley.co.uk

Lincoln Shorts

The 5th annual Lincoln Shorts film festival showcased local film-making talent from Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas in October 2015. Previous screenings at the annual film event left audiences excited and amazed by the wealth and breadth of film-making talent right on their doorstep — film-making they may never knew existed. This annual event regularly takes submissions from a wide range of genres from comedy, drama, music and factual and all have a local Lincoln connection. Examples may be that it was filmed or edited locally or someone in the cast or crew may be originally from or lives in Lincolnshire or even studied in the area. Screening shorts (films should be five minutes or under) the last event was a great success at Lincoln’s Drill Hall and submissions will soon be open for filmmakers to submit their newest creations for the 2016 festival.



The LAFTAs (Lincolnshire Awards for Film, Teamwork and Animation) is now in its ninth year and has become a key event in many schools' calendars and a regular event not to be missed. These annual film awards are for 3 - 19 year olds and showcase/celebrate the films and animations made by children and young people. The scheme has supported thousands of young people, teachers and schools through training, advice and guidance. Last year 40 schools submitted over 100 films and were judged by an independent panel consisting of experts from the film industry and education. All prizes were presented by the LAFTAs patron, Oscar and BAFTA winner, Jim Broadbent, who was born in Lincolnshire in 1949. Every year Jim dedicates time to viewing all of the shortlisted films to choose his favourite Primary age and Secondary age winner. Further information at: http://www.laftas.co.uk

Crow’s Eye

Crow’s Eye is a Production Company based in Lincolnshire involving the joint creative team of Nick and Pauline Loven. Covering a wide variety of work from feature length and short films as well as costume drama and music videos, Nick is a filmmaker with 15 years of experience and established his company Crow’s Eye Productions in 2005. Also available as a freelance camera operator, Nick uses broadcast standard equipment and for his most recent film set on First World War battlefields, he undertook pyrotechnic training. Crow’s Eye Productions also has its own Period Costume Wardrobe Department run by Pauline Loven, a costumier with 30 years’ experience. Check out the brilliant work of this dynamic duo at their websites and Twitter links below:

Twitter @CrowseyeUK http://www.crowseye.co.uk Twitter @periodwardrobe http://www.periodcostume.co.uk

Lincoln Film Society

The LFS is a small group of cinephiles who regularly meet at the Venue at Bishop Grosseteste University College in Lincoln. Publishing a set programme for each season, films are selected based on member’s suggestions and research by the Society’s committee. The ‘programme’ is never too specialist because their members have a wide taste in movies and the club also screens other one-off films as well. The Venue’s 230 capacity auditorium with fixed rake seating is the perfect location for the society which also allows temporary members to see films but heartily recommends full membership which can save people money over the course of a year. Like most film societies, Lincoln Film Society requires membership and has reasonable rates for those wishing to join. If interested please email lfs-membership@hotmail.co.uk for more information.


BlackBeetle Films

Last but certainly not least is the brand new production company from Lincolnshire. They are currently fundraising for their debut short film Every Waking Breath which follows the story of Abigail Burton - a young woman who is haunted by the death of her parents when she was a child. After years of mourning she decides that there is only one way she can gain closure - by finding the man responsible and exacting revenge. With very high expectations, the team of Josh Brown (Producer) Scott Driver (Writer/Director), Joel Dunn-Wilson (DoP), Jake Greenan (Sound), Oliver Cowton (Art Director) & Harry Kumar (Editor) have set a preliminary fundraising target of £1,000 at IndieGoGo and have already surpassed their goal. Formed within the well-known Media Production course at the Lincoln School of Film and Media (https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/fm) the group will utilise the industry-standard, purpose-built facilities at the University to complete the project.

Check their updates here: https://twitter.com/BlackBeetleFilm

Fundraising campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/every-waking-breath-a-short-film#/

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2015 10:16AM

Midlands Movies Feature - Top 10 Nicolas Cage films

Nicolas Cage. Well, what can you say?

Critics have described the actor as a pantomime or someone who reverts to over-the-top performances to compensate for a lack of quality. Others (such as Roger Ebert, no less) have noted that he has an “operatic” air to his work. In a world of method acting and weight gain/loss, the overdramatic theatrics of Nicolas Cage still dazzles and confuses fans in equal measure.

So, without too much ado, I plan to look back at 10 of my favourite (not necessarily the critics’ best) films the actor has appeared in. Right off the bat, I admit to being a much bigger fan of his action roles than his serious work but Cage has always been one to have taken many risks in his career. Never can anyone say that he’s not a very risky proposition for a film. An unlikely, sometimes odd-looking, leading man, his box office draw appears has subsided somewhat with an increase in straight to DVD “filler” and far less quality (but still very much of quantity).

A glut of poor choices more recently has seen the likes of Drive Angry and Ghost Rider 2 but still in the mix in the last few years are films like Joe (a notable return to form) and a supporting role in Kick *ss showing he still has the cinematic charisma that drew audiences in the first place.

Wikipedia cites 76 (!) films he has appeared in with 42 of those since 2000. Man, the boy Cage is prolific if nothing else so here’s some of my favourites from the huge body of work from a man whose roller-coaster of a career has no sign of letting up (4 Cage-helmed films were released in 2014 alone).

Close but not quite making it was the car-tastic schlock of Gone in 60 Seconds, his greasy-rocker road movie in Lynch’s Wild at Heart, the comedian Cage in the Coen’s Raising Arizona and the more recent bayou drama Joe.

N.B. Big thanks to Nick Staniforth who first published our article over at our good friends at Reel Good

10. Adaptation (2002)

Cage plays two roles in this meta-project from the warped mind of Charlie Kaufman which covers Kaufman’s own struggles in adapting The Orchid Thief for the cinema. Covering depression and writer’s block, Cage’s role as both brothers allows him to experiment with his own duality with his dark and brooding choices conflicting with his blockbuster sensibilities of the brother. An Academy Award nod saw Cage with the best critical reception in years and a testament to his acting ability when given the right material.

9. Lord of War (2005)

Andrew Nichol directs Cage as a Ukrainian-American arms dealer in this drama and dissection of war, conflict and weaponry. Tracing the story over many years across a global backdrop, Cage is great as the morally ambiguous gunrunner and the slightly heavy handed message is neatly wrapped up in a Cage performance that shows both a family man and his criminality and the ultimate if inevitable end game of human destruction.

8. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, Cage’s most lauded role is as an alcoholic heading to the big city in order to drink himself to death. Cage embodies the carnage as a trail of broken dreams and his own broken body are the focus of a dark and disturbing film. With great support from Elizabeth Shue who balances the extremes of Cage’s performance, the film is a superb study of the dangers of addiction but you may struggle to sit through multiple viewings given its power and Cage’s haunting embodiment.

7. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Werner Herzog re-imagines Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film and Cage challenges the previous incarnation as the craziest copper in town with this police-crime drama. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Cage’s Policeman spins out of control in a haze of drugs, corruption and lizard hallucinations. A solid tale of bribery, contraband and conflict, Cage’s experience with substance abusive characters is again showcased in this addictive film set in the Big Easy.

6. Kick Ass (2010)

Very much a supporting role in Matthew Vaughan’s violent take on comic book superheroes, Cage excels as the father to Hit-Girl in this subversive 2010 flick. Channelling every ounce of Adam West’s 1960s Batman (from the obvious bat-suit similarities to the pauses and strange ticks), Cage shows a quirky restraint but also a much needed adult focal point to the adolescent action throughout. With added moustache, Cage breathes eccentric life into an eccentric character helping to balance out the group of have a go heroes.

5. Snake Eyes (1998)

A film many critics and audiences never took to, Brian De Palma’s movie about a policeman (a staple of Cage) trying to solve a murder at a televised boxing match is an underrated gem in my book. From the directorial flourishes of split screen and long tracking shots, De Palma uses Cage’s watchability to ensure the 10-minute opening one-shot focuses on Cage’s character from the start. A series of genre tropes are mixed in with a narrative that plays and then re-plays sequences for the audience – along with Cage – to see things from different angles. Cage himself, portrays the character too from different angles as he transforms from smarmy cop to duped fool in this twisty and taut thriller.

4. National Treasure 1 & 2 (2004 & 2007)

Right, I don’t care what you say, the 2 National Treasure films are a highlight of Cage for me. Where Cage often went for independent strangeness or blockbuster action, this could have been one of his biggest departures ever. Could Cage really carry a family-friendly Disney movie? Well yes. And he even upsets purists by keeping Sean Bean alive by the end of it! Part Indiana Jones and part Da Vinci Code, director John Turtletaub makes a stupidly fun and idiotically entertaining film that those two missteps could only dream of being. A heist adventure with comedy capers thrown in, Cage’s now blockbuster likeability helps him play cat and mouse with previous Bad Lieutenant Harvey Keitel!

3. The Rock (1996)

Michael Bay has made some terrible films of late and his music-video aesthetic, wafer thin characters and sickening gyratory camera shots are now the stuff of parody. Yet, he did direct The Rock. The Rock was made immediately after Leaving Las Vegas and tells how Cage (Stanley Goodspeed) travels to Alcatraz to help release hostages held by National Treasure 2’s Ed Harris with the help of ex-MI5 convict Sean Connery. A surreal set of action beats, car chases, shootouts and punch ups are helped by the buddy-cop back-and-forth between Cage and Connery. Of course it’s silly and OTT but Cage and his fans wouldn’t have it any other way

2. Con Air (1997)

Cage’s hair has been famous throughout his career but never more so in this all-out action prison break-cum-airplane flick. A b-movie premise (escaping prisoners take over a plane) utilises Cage’s balding yet flowing locks as his good con tries to keep hostages alive and the authorities on his side. Comedy, action and a great villain (John Malkovich’s “Cyrus the Virus”) help package this film as a suitable follow up to The Rock but with Cage as the prisoner this time. Further great support from John Cusack and Steve Buscemi seals the deal with Cage demanding the “bunny back in the box” as he fights his way to freedom on a flight full of felons.

1. Face/Off (1997)

You’ve just won an Oscar and you’ve followed that up with 2 of the best action films of the 1990s so what did Cage do next? Well make another one of the best action films. Focusing more on fists and guns, the film is perfect to show one of Cage’s signature skills in playing two sides of character (see all films above). In this movie, he literally plays two characters (he starts as the insane Castor Troy & switches to the good cop Sean Archer for most of the film) and along with Travolta, both actors get to play off not only their character traits but their fellow actor in a riotous role-reversal. The story is silly, Cage is cool, crazy and criminal and the premise is ludicrous but John Woo decides to use the multi-faceted Cage, whose career is made up of using extreme characteristics and polar mannerisms, as the perfect person to tackle duality in this 90s classic.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Sep 4 2015 10:27AM

Top 10 exciting things to check out for West Midlands film fans

After our Top 10 covering the best of Leicester, Derby and Nottingham film-making talent we shift our focus to the West Midlands to see the best 10 things a film fan can check out in the region…

Tom Lee Rutter – Stranger

Director/writer Tom Lee Rutter bounced into the West Midlands film scene with his upcoming acid-western-horror Stranger. As an independent film-maker he has shot and completed dozens of films both short and feature length along with countless music videos. Born in Wordsley, raised in Rowley Regis and Colley Gate he eventually moved to Kidderminster about 8 years ago and worked with his brother when growing up. The two of them finished their first feature film; a shot on hi-8 “abomination” (his words) called Full Moon Massacre. Tom thinks horror is always the best place for a film-maker to begin as it can feature every other genre and gives the film-maker chance to explore all technical aspects of film in horror (SFX, lighting, camera trickery, etc). Read our full interview with Tom about his latest film here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---Interview-with-Tom-Lee-Rutter/9385416

The Hot Tub Cinema

The award winning Hot Tub Cinema events landed in the Midlands this year with their unique brand of soothing bubbles, frothy suds and film screenings. The “Tub Tropicana Tour” came to Birmingham and this unique cinematic experience has helped make Hot Tub Cinema explode into the social cinema arena by screening films in a variety of exciting spaces across the country. With tubs of up to 6 people provided, relaxation is the focus whilst waiter service provides a brilliant way to get drinks delivered direct to your tub. With a choice of films from the 80s classics of Pretty Woman and Top Gun, the music-based Grease & Rocky Horror Picture Show to the comedic Anchorman and The Hangover movie, this cinema experience is more akin to a club with bar, neon lighting and DJs spinning tunes into the night. Our review of one of their nights in Digbeth here:


Boz Dimond

Since heading to art college back in 1996, Boz Dimond always had an eye for detail and a passion for film. But unlike most conventional filmmakers, Boz never attended university or film school but had always felt an affinity to the industry and at the tender age of 17, penned his first screenplay. After putting his pen to one side to focus on his passion for music, Boz spent the best part of 10 years creating tunes and developing his technical and musical skills but never lost interest in film. Boz, forever a passionate film enthusiast, then found a natural move into filmmaking and his short film Jinxed became an official selection at the Beeston Film Festival whilst his other short, Our Hands Are Tied, is currently in post-production. Boz has also written his first feature called The Target which is currently in development with TestaRossa Productions. This spy thriller genre flick is set to be made in 2015-16 and Boz has many more ideas bubbling at his production company Diamond Flicks. More info on Boz and his future film projects here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---Boz-Dimond/9276869

The Electric Cinema

Established in 1909 The Electric Cinema in Birmingham is actually the oldest working cinema in the UK. It has been through many name changes and was mostly rebuilt in the 1930s. This unique cinema also runs an education programme for students of all ages covering the history of cinema, the current film industry and general film education. It was also Birmingham’s first cinema and predated the introduction of the 1909 Cinematograph Act and back then, the word 'electric' conjured up images of Van der Graaf generators and Tesla Coils. To the vast majority of the population, who were still without electricity in their homes, the mysterious invisible power source was verging on black magic. Much like the word digital is ubiquitous today, 'electric' became a common name for film theatres with Electric Cinemas and Electric Picture Palaces springing up. Back then, the cinema showed silent films with piano backing but now has a state of the art facility set within historical architecture that shows the latest independent and blockbuster films in a glorious and classy location. You can find the cinema at 47–49 Station Street, Birmingham,B5 4DY and more info is on their site here: https://www.theelectric.co.uk

Flatpack Festival

Flatpack is a festival which takes over venues across Birmingham every March and draws people from far and wide with a mixture of films, performances, contraptions and surprises, and has been described as “magnificently eclectic” (Time Out), “joyously inventive” (the Guardian) and “the UK’s most creatively curated film festival” (the Independent). Uniquely, it’s not confined to one time or place as the annual event was spawned from the 7 Inch Cinema and was originally a mixed-media film night at the Rainbow pub in Digbeth. This grew to embrace inflatable cinema-tents, archive detective-work and DVD compilations and ten years on they continue to produce projects and provide guest programming for others throughout the year. Recent collaborators have included Home of Metal, Green Man Festival, First Light, Birmingham International Dance Festival and the Independent Cinema Office. Director Ian Francis has clocked up fifteen years putting on film events in Birmingham and beyond and co-founded Flatpack with partner Pip McKnight in 2006. He also writes for publications including Sight and Sound and Little White Lies. Visit their website for updates here: http://flatpackfestival.org.uk

Checking In

“Checking In” is an award-winning feature from the West Midlands set in a hotel that follows the highs and lows from a number of guests' viewpoints. Filmed over 2 years the film was shot entirely at Baron's Court Hotel in Walsall, just outside of Birmingham and delves into the lives of numerous guests around the establishment over the course of a 24 hour period on a random “average” working day. Told through the eyes of maid Radka (Nici Preston) & Alec the Manager (Roger David Francis), a range of guests will make you laugh and gasp but always making you think. Bringing together a host of amazing actors and crew, the team finally got to see the movie at the Lighthouse Cinema on May 12th with feedback being overwhelmingly positive. Read our review here:


Hayley Davis

Hayley Davis is an up and coming actress from Birmingham who has a wide range of talents on her CV including a portfolio career where performance and writing make up the bulk of what she does having created work for the stage and the small screen. As a member of Equity, Hayley started her journey by gaining a degree in Performance at the University of Bedfordshire before moving to London where she continued to train in her field. Developing her trade she spent time undertaking courses at the Central School of Speech and Drama and the Actors Centre, before completing a year at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Hayley has starred in a recent short film called ‘Get out Clause’ with the production being edited by Fabrice Millet and also starred Laurence Saunders last seen in Eastenders. For more info on Hayley and links to her website please click here:


Jason Brown – Dark Vale

West Midlands filmmaker Jason Brown’s last film A Date With Ghosts was released in the US and he has already started on his next exciting endeavour called Dark Vale. Influenced by the Blair Witch Project Jason cites his successes to date as being prepared to see the benefits of hiring great actors. When Carlton TV ran a competition, he won an award for his film The Monk which gave the filmmaker greater exposure and led to him to an encounter with Shane Meadows. Later, James Cullen Bressack, who is based in Los Angeles helped Jason get distribution for “A Date With Ghosts” in US stores like Best Buy and Target. Jason wanted to be an actor originally and has a diploma in drama but now mainly works behind the camera. Raising over £5000 through investors he’s been lucky to have a mentor who has given him help called Brad Rushing who is an LA-based cinematographer. Influenced by Robert Rodriguez, Jason takes control of many aspects of his films including writing, directing, scoring and editing and hopes to take his latest movie to festivals once he has completed post-production. Read an interview with Jason here: http://www.midlandsmovies.com/blog/4558436876/Midlands-Spotlight---A-Date-with-Jason-M-J-Brown/10085681

Brindley Place Outdoor Film Festival

With another successful event running in 2015 the Brindleyplace Film Festival is situated in the heart of Birmingham city centre. Brindleyplace is a leisure and business complex built upon once derelict land and is an architectural landmark which created around three attractive public squares – Brunswick, Central and Oozells. Alongside this estate you can find The Water’s Edge, The Crescent Theatre, the National SEA LIFE Centre and the open square at the centre of all this hosts a free summer festival showcasing a variety of blockbuster films for all ages. In Summer Frozen, The Great Gatsby and Independence Day were all shown and the schedule was decided following hundreds of votes from the general public. This saw 90’s classic Clueless, staring Alicia Silverstone, achieve more than double the number of votes than any other film. Supported by Heart FM, deckchairs and beanbags were provided to the public whilst delicious free tasters were offered by a number of the restaurants based at Brindleyplace. A great success in 2015, the next one in 2016 hopes to be an even greater achievement.


Film Birmingham

Want to make a film in Birmingham? Well, this is the place to start your search for a whole host of locations in the region. Film Birmingham is Birmingham City Council’s Film Office and as part of its Film Charter, Birmingham City Council is committed to making filming as easy and efficient as possible and provides free services for the industry. This includes being a one-stop shop for filming requests as they liaise with the relevant departments at Birmingham City Council and provide permits to film in the city. In addition, they manage an online database of filming locations throughout Birmingham with a dedicated team providing information and advice about the diverse range of filming locations, production offices and unit bases available. Finally, with a wealth of highly skilled film and television talent and state-of-the art facilities in the region, Film Birmingham can put filmmakers in touch with what’s available via their online crews and facilities database. Check their official website out here: http://www.filmbirmingham.co.uk

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jun 13 2015 07:41PM

15. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

Shouty Al plays a corporate version of the devil running a New York law firm who informs Keanu Reeves’ plucky young solicitor he is in fact the son of Satan. And the best way to do it is via a ferocious speech with Lucifer’s linguistic lips delivering a verbal onslaught against God’s absence and why the 20th Century is all his. Pacino delivers an outstanding OTT performance with the bellowing histrionics we know and love to hate.

14. Wednesday’s Thanksgiving speech Addams Family Values (1993)

A summer camp retelling of Thanksgiving with a twist as Wednesday Addams (played by a brilliant young Christina Ricci) goes off-script to ruin/improve the saccharine sweet children’s play. From the deadpan delivery to the shocked parents, this comedy speech rewrites history so the picked upon outsiders turn the tables on the popular Sarah Miller with the scene ending with the burning of the pilgrims’ village and the production breaking down into typical Addams’ chaos.

13. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

A heck of a motivational speech from Alec Baldwin as he delivers the ABCs of selling (Always Be Closing) as he heckles and abuses the sales force in this 90s office film. David Mamet’s script builds from advice on hot leads to a swearing and abrasive speech about losers and how much money he makes. Even as others are questioning his techniques, he waxes about how much his gold watch costs (we’ll see another one of those later) and continues berating them with Pacino and co on the receiving end. See the influence of this speech in little seen Boiler Room (2000) where Ben Affleck tells a group of young wannabe investors a similar story about what their earnings could be if they listen up closely.

12. Return of the King (2003)

On the fields of Pelennor comes a call to arms by King Théoden along a line of horseback soldiers as he stirs them up for one last inspiring fight against Sauron’s orc hordes. By the end of the speech, Bernard Hill is literally hoarse (pardon the pun) in the throat as he pushes his sword towards the invading armies that he and his battalion are about to take on. With hints of Shakespeare’s infamous battle speech from Henry V (Brannagh and Olivier’s both different but equally awesome) and the end of Snyder’s 300 (2007) the historical pre-battle cry is a movie staple that peaks with a later entry in this list.

11. Wall Street (1987)

With echoes of this speech appearing in Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street (2014), the provoking words of Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko explaining that “greed is good” pervaded the 80s money making boom period. As the film’s villain, investors have since reimagined him as a folk hero using this and his other mantras (“lunch is for wimps”) as part of an induction into the ruthless world of stock markets. Corporate and capitalist to a fault, the film’s speech is so well delivered by Douglas, who avoids raising his voice barely above normal which gives the whole delivery a rational and even more powerful significance.

10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The first narrator entry on the list sees Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor summarise the postponement of the nuclear judgment day. Her message contains warnings to future generations to heed the lessons learnt and not forget the memories of those involved in the battle whilst delivering a message of hopeful optimism and expectations of the world’s prospects. The “rebirth” or “new start” speech is one we’ll be visiting again later on and the film’s subject matter of time travel and the importance of actual births means director Cameron couldn’t have provided a more appropriate ending to his sci-fi classic. (there's no copy of this speech online so the video is of the alternative cut version).

9. A Few Good Men (1992)

The heated courtroom clashes in this film culminate in a flustered Jack Nicholson admitting to a Code Red to military lawyer Tom Cruise as he attempts to defend a death in the barracks that are under his command. Written by the West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin, Nicholson’s follow up speech about the struggles and price of freedom shows how he goes into a metaphorical battle every day to defend sovereignty and liberty. Like a preacher at the pulpit, Nicholson delivers his well rehearsed sermon to the courtroom flawlessly but the cold reality of his words only serve to undermine his defence rather than convince the court.

8. Finding Nemo (2003)

One of the more intimate speeches on the list is this moving marine talk from the forgetful fish Dory, as she tries to encourage Marlin, a clownfish who has all but given up hope of finding his missing son Nemo, to continue his search with her. The brilliant Ellen DeGeneres provides the madcap voice for the film but in this private piscine moment, she explains how being with Marlin helps her remember. The best speeches don’t have to be all screams and flourishes as the oceanic oral stylings of Dory moves adults and children with her honest and frank confession. A pearl in the sea.

7. Braveheart (1995)

Well, hardly surprising is this often imitated speech from mad Mel and his painted face war cry as he addresses the Scottish clans to motivate them into fighting against the dastardly English. Exciting and passionate, Mel as William Wallace uses local dialect to remind them that this battle is part of their own history. Spearheading the revival of war speeches for the modern punter, the talk to the natives may have become clichéd in the subsequent years but the best ones who set the trend so often do.

6. Independence Day (1997)

If we’re talking rousing speeches then none get the loins stirring more so than this call to arms in the closing stages of an alien war. With Earth’s last stand all but lost and humanity hanging by a thread, who would have thought reliable everyman Bill Pullman (as the US President) would come good at a crucial moment for civilization! With more holes than Swiss cheese and twice as cheesy, the exciting enthusiasm pulls this one through to a high ranking on effort alone and its influences were seen in Idris Elba’s similar vocalisations at the climax of Del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013).

5. Dead Poets Society (1989)

With the sad loss in 2014 of funny-man turned Oscar winning actor Robin Williams, this movie set in a private school discusses creativity, growing up and the past and the future. With “eyes full of hope”, Williams drops his jokey persona to tell the boys under his tutelage they should “seize the day” and communicate some honest truths to the pupils that life begins now as they will soon be “food for worms, lads”. A quiet and understated speech in comparison to some of Williams’ more brash deliveries from the movie, the delicate wordplay and gentle speaking ensure the theme has even more veracity.

4. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Christopher Walken stares down the lens as he tells the audience (sat in as the young Butch) how he kept a gold watch safe from the savage Viet Kong during the war. From the lurid details (multiple P.O.W.s kept the watch hidden in a very secretive place) to the personal touches about a birthright, the scene shows the importance of an important macguffin that turns out to bite Butch in the bum (excuse the unfortunate parlance). Walken delivers with all the intensity he can muster and although gentle, spares no harsh truths in his manner of speaking. Funnily, Walken was on the end of an equally brilliant speech from Dennis Hopper (also written by Tarantino) in Tony Scott’s True Romance (1993) as he patiently gets told the history of his Sicilian heritage in the most callous language possible.

3. Trainspotting (1996)

An uplifting speech from ex-junkie Renton as he steals the money from a London cocaine deal from his “mates” before deciding to go straight for a fresh start in this UK classic. The narration in McGregor’s Scottish tongue is matter of fact but his character’s wry smile suggests a new beginning is in the offing and one that could only occur by removing himself from the toxic relationships of his past. Not forgetting his old pal Spud, Renton decides in the end to not destroy his life with drugs although the whole thing could be an ironic twist as we end on the dance track Born Slippy and McGregor’s big smile.

2. JFK (1991)

After almost 3 hours of conspiracy theories and multiple explanations for the President’s demise, Oliver Stone ends his film with an elongated courtroom speech from the prosecution side as District Attorney Jim Garrison (a never better Kevin Costner) appeals to the jury (representing the American public) for the truth. Whether you believe in any of the suggestions put forward is another debate but Costner sums up (over 9 long minutes) Stone’s criticism of large Government and the constant fight against those in power with an authentic appeal to always seek the answers from the political state. With Costner close to tears, the cinematic courtroom summary can be seen in films such as A Time to Kill where Matthew McConaughey’s impassioned plea stirs up similar emotions.

1. Gladiator (2000)

This rousing film by Ridley Scott gets not just one but two immortal speeches in one movie. The first is a Braveheart-esque inspirational speech to the troops before a battle in Germania: “Fratres! Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled, for you are in Elysium, and you're already dead! Brothers: What we do in life echoes in Eternity”. The second (and perhaps more famous) is once the former leader is sold into Gladiatorial slavery and comes face to face with the man responsible for his predicament as “The Spaniard” is re-introduced to his enemy Commodus in the Colosseum. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” Stating his plans to take revenge for the killing of his family, Crowe secured an Oscar for his performance as the motivating and stirring Gladiator trying to make put Rome right from the point of a slave.

By midlandsmovies, Apr 12 2015 05:59PM

Top 10 Great Guitar Scenes in Movies

Having been in a rock band for much of the ‘noughties’ I’ve always had an affinity with music films and especially those with guitarists or guitar playing in them. With that in mind, it got me thinking of some of my favourite scenes in cinema where we see guitarists in full on action.

Although not completely following the rules I’ve tried to omit any films that overtly showcase the talents of real musicians (that’s Elvis’ films out) or are based on real musicians’ lives. Therefore, honourable mentions must go to Crossroads, Purple Rain, Blues Brothers, Walk the Line and Crazy Heart but significant portions are about or made by actual musicians recreating their already well-known talents and back catalogue.

A few were real close too, including scenes in Only Lovers Left Alive (classic guitars), Mama (goth Jessica Chastain playing bass), Inside Llewyn Davis (Please Mr Kennedy) , Howard the Duck (duck walk), Almost Famous (guitarist with mystique) and Summer of Sam (Adrian Brody’s punk rocking).

So if you are a fan of all things guitar-wise, go ahead and tune up your strings, plug in to a Marshall stack and turn up the volume to...well, you know the rest.

And if you’re a bassist (as I was) then don’t hesitate to start “Slappin Da Bass”...

10 Desperado (1995)

A film with a whole host of guitar nods, this Latin-flavoured action film serves up a menu of string sequences from the outset as we follow El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) as a man with a guitar case full of guns. Along his violent journey he meets a boy who he gives guitar playing tips and a local bookstore owner called Carolina (Salma Hayek) who provides shelter. She also stitches his wounds before we learn that the boy’s guitar is actually being used to hide drugs between gangs. Serenading Carolina with his playing, he then wakes after love-making to the voice of her soulful song. But with her eyes closed, Banderas follows mysterious shadows outside their room which he tracks with two pistols and the beautiful peaceful acoustic song is interrupted by another round of gun violence. Gunslingers and guitar players in equal measure!

9 Airplane! (1980)

A comedy classic that includes a number of musical scenes including the Saturday Night Fever inspired dance flashback but one of my favourite guitar-playing moments occurs before the emergency even starts. With a sick little girl hooked to a saline drip, one of the cabin crew takes it upon herself to cheer her up with an acoustic rendition of River Of Jordan by Peter, Paul and Mary. As the camera cuts to the passengers and crew’s happy faces, the stewardess knocks out the drip resulting in the poor girl struggling to recover. Eventually getting the medical attention she needs, it is knocked out for a second time by the guitar’s neck only for the mother to try and save her daughter a second time. Laughs and lyrics together as one.

8 School of Rock (2003)

Richard Linklater (the indie director of Boyhood and the Before trilogy) took on the musical stylings of Jack Black in this fun family film. Black gurns and poses throughout as his rock-dreamer surreptitiously becomes a substitute teacher to pay his bills. His world is blown away by the young students when he first enters a music lesson and moves them from classical to classic rock. Black’s young-at-heart and hyper personality is infectious as he goes from exploiter to mentor, inspiring his passion amongst the youth of the class as they jam for a battle of the bands to win their parents and colleagues over

7 Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Audrey Hepburn plays an iconic character and delivers an iconic performance of ‘Moon River’ in this 60s classic in which she jolts Paul “Fred” Varjak (George Peppard) from his typewriting in his apartment. The song was written specifically for the film by Henry Mancini, who composed the song for Hepburn’s vocal register. Truman Capote apparently wanted Marilyn Monroe but she was worried the call-girl role would damage her image. Quite.

6 Deliverance (1972)

This John Boorman directed feature is iconic for both its “squeal like a pig” line as well as this scene involving one of the city men and a bizarre country boy. Recorded in the studio in under 2 hours, Warner Records were worried this wouldn’t be a hit. One gold record later (which was subsequently stolen by a Dublin gangster) proved him very wrong indeed. Fun fact: The actor playing the “inbred” boy only did the strumming and a fake sleeve was created for another child to crouch behind him and play but this second child ultimately went uncredited.

5 Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure(1989)/Bogus Journey (1991)

This sci-fi time-travelling buddy comedy mixed a range of genres as two dufus high school surfer-slackers are tasked with passing their history exam in order to save humanity. The utopian society of the future based on their guitar teachings contrasts with their initial stupidity and are given a time travelling phone-booth (Tardis anyone) to grab historical figures from the past. This is so they can bring them to their presentation at San Dimas High School. From Go-Gos rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin as Joan of Arc to Rufus playing a guitar solo, the film has endless guitar references. When the boys finally cry “excellent” and do an “air-widdle”, you will have to thank famed session musician Stevie Salas, who composed all the guitar licks. My personal fave is in the sequel when Ted possesses his dad and the lick becomes a cool 1950s infused riff. Gnarly!

4 Scott Pilgrim (2010)

A commercial flop on its release, Scott Pilgrim was a comic-book inspired oddity by Edgar Wright that confounded critics who didn’t know in what genre to pigeon hole it. Which is a shame as it is one of the funniest, most visually inspired and clever films of recent times with nods to musicals, kung-fu films, comics and video games. As Scott battles to defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes, his third battle is with vegan Todd Ingram, who is dating Scott's ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams. Todd is played by once-Superman Brandon Routh parodying superpowers through a battle of duelling basses. From the nods to 90s arcade beat ‘em ups to Scott’s indie roots facing off against Todd’s technical prowess, who said bass players were the butt of band jokes? Half n half.

3 Wayne’s World (1992)

A Saturday Night Live spinoff film, the director Penelope Spheeris channelled the TV show’s anarchic style into a popular hit, forever reinventing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody along the way. No easy feat and with a film full of guitar playing – Wayne’s girlfriend rocks a bass in her band Crucial Taunt and Wayne strums his guitar on the shows intro/outro each week – my favourite scene is actually the music shop. As he enters, a white Fender Stratocaster is under lock and key in a glass case which he calls “Excalibur” before Wayne plays the “can I help you riff”. As he plays on the iconic axe, he begins the seminal intro to Stairway to Heaven but is stopped in his tracks by the store clerk who points him to a “No Stairway” sign, aping many a real-life situation. Denied!

2 Spinal Tap (1984)

Finding its true calling on home video, the success of Spinal Tap is now unsurpassed in its field, spawning a whole raft of imitation (and real-life) doc/mock-umentaries and being selected for preservation by the US Congress. Of many classic and hilarious scenes of the (now semi-)fictional band, it is the sequence where the band’s guitarist shows off his collection that’s my top choice of guitar guffaws. As Tufnell (Chris Guest) shows filmmaker Marty DiBergi (the film’s “real” director Rob Reiner) around his set of sublime stringed instruments, he demonstrates his usage or lack thereof of each axe. Within this scene is Nigel Tufnell’s iconic “up to eleven” sequence where he claims his Marshall amps are one louder (IMDB let you score Spinal Tap on their site out of 11 stars in fact - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088258/ ). Earlier, he also he holds up one guitar and asks “can you hear the sustain” without even playing it. Typical guitarist!

1 Back to the Future (1985)

One louder than Spinal Tap and grabbing my number 1 spot is Marty McFly (a never better Michael J. Fox) performing Johnny B. Goode at the 1955 Enchantment Under the Sea dance. Back in the present day earlier on in the film, we see Marty’s axe-wielding skills as he auditions for a Battle of the Bands. He fails at that after one judge says his band, The Pinheads, are just “too darn loud”. Funnily, that judge is played by Huey Lewis whose own song on the soundtrack, “Power of Love” was Oscar nominated. After an accident sees Marty head to 50s Hill Valley, his attempts to get his parents to fall in love so he can be born culminate with him stepping in to play a vintage Gibson ES-335 at their high school dance. The over-the-top guitar solo also pays homage to the traits of some of the all-time great guitar heroes such as Pete Townsend’s windmill and Hendrix’s guitar-behind-the-head styles. With a nod to Chuck Berry as well (both with a phonecall and his infamous duck walk) the performance is now part of film history with Fox’s own playing (any guitarist will tell you he sure is playing the chords correct at least) seamlessly matching the film’s soundtrack. And the film’s only Oscar? Sound editing! Exactly.

By midlandsmovies, Mar 30 2015 03:17PM

The 20 Best Scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Phase 1 & 2)

With the imminent release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron in May 2015, I thought I would write about some of my favourite scenes and sequences from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to date.

Whilst avoiding the SHIELD and Agent Carter spinoffs as well as the Marvel “one-shots”, I am sticking solely to the cinematic films which are (in release order) Iron Man, Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor 2: The Dark World, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier & Guardians of the Galaxy.

I will set myself one caveat however. In order for a tiny bit of fairness I have decided to include at least one scene/moment from each of the films – otherwise I may just choose only The Avengers scenes – which for my money is the best of the bunch so far. Also, I’ve tried to choose a wide range of types of sequences from comedic, emotional, dramatic and (of course) amazing action that the Marvel franchise has tackled. With all that said, let the countdown begin...

20. Marvel comic book opening and Stan Lee cameos (All films)

Although the end-credit stingers have become a fan favourite (more of them later), the opening red Marvel logo which appears after the flicking-through-a-comic animation is now standard fare and sets the tone for these movies from the outset by wearing its comic book origins on its sleeve. The creator of many of these characters is writer Stan Lee whose cameo appearances have also become so commonplace that they now receive a collective “ahh” from audiences as he appears as an extra – usually with a deadpan quip about not liking the heroes themselves.

19. War Machine & Iron Man fight (Iron Man 2)

For me Iron Man 2 is the worst film in the Universe with only a handful of memorable moments such as the fight with Whiplash at the Monaco Grand Prix but the pick of the bunch is this first mini team-up of Iron Man and War Machine. It is the explosive climax of the movie as they tackle a horde of remote controlled bots at the Stark Expo with some great banter between Downey Jr and Don Cheadle thrown in to boot.

18. Gamma Intro Montage (Hulk)

After Ang Lee’s misstep, the Ed Norton-version harked back to the original TV series and wisely ditched the origin story – something the makers of Spider-Man (Sony) should take note of. Cleverly, this green-tinted montage showing Banner’s gamma-ray experiment gone awry summarises a whole heap of info and narrative in just a few minutes. Those with a keen eye may also spot some early nods to the weaponry of Stark Industries, as well as letters explaining the Hulk’s disappearance from one Nick Fury. Smash-ing!

17. Air Force One explosion (Iron Man 3)

Iron Man 3 improved upon its predecessor in nearly all departments and the highlight of the film was a realistic explosion on Air Force One that threw 13 Government officials out of the plane. Stark’s quick response to fly and subsequently catch all of them one-by-one is a genuine exciting free-fall action scene in a film more-known for its wise-cracking script from Shane Black

16. Battle between realms (Thor 2: The Dark World)

As Thor 2 comes to its conclusion, its narrative about worlds coming together reaches its peak at the end as Thor battles the Dark Elves in and around Greenwich in London. I have a soft spot for this film given its UK locations and the portals that open up mean the fight takes place here on earth and elsewhere. Objects like cars as well as people (and creatures) are transported between them and continue the battle wherever they end up. Comic moments on the London Underground and Thor’s Hammer (Mjölnir) trying to return to its owner serve to lighten the serious action beats. Very worthy.

15. Crashing the Hydra Bomber (Captain America)

The First Avenger’s climax ends with ol’ Captain realising there is little choice left but to ditch Hydra’s stealth bomber into the arctic. Together with a poignant chat over the radio with Agent Peggy Carter, he promises to take her to a dance before the communications go dead and our protagonist becomes an even greater hero by making the ultimate sacrifice. Showing how Marvel can handle emotional beats as well as consistent action ones, this ending was a fitting end of one story before beginning a new one back in the modern day.

14. Interrogation (The Avengers)

Joss Whedon apparently had a scene with a female assassin strapped to a chair for over 10 years and with The Avengers he finally found a place for this ingenious scene. As Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow teases her captors, we realise she is in full control of the situation before unleashing a barrage of fists and kicks to the kidnappers. With an overabundance of male centric heroes, Black Widow’s increasing prominence in this film showed not just her brawn but her brains too - as well as a foreshadowing of her similar skills with Loki later on.

13. Musical Montage (Captain America)

Once Steve Rogers had been pumped full of super-serum the audience is lulled into thinking he will be knocking off Nazis straight away. However, director Joe Johnston plays a neat twist to use Rogers as a propaganda tool in this musical montage. In a fabric outfit, Rogers is part of a military USO show which pays homage to the original 1940s comics and is a superb sequence to highlight the historical focus of this character – in particular as he punches Adolf Hitler square on the jaw. WANK!

12. Helicarrier Attack (The Avengers)

A bit of a cheat on this one as it’s more of a collection of sequences so I’ve not placed it as high up but with an attack starting with an explosion, causing the first transformation of the Hulk, this amazing sequence can take an audience’s breath away. After, Thor engages in a big punch up with Hulk and later Iron Man & Captain America “suit up” to help fix the ship, Black Widow then battles an infected Hawkeye. It gives glimpses of both the teamwork and rivalries at play whilst being a downright brilliant action sequence in its own right.

11. Small Town America (Thor)

After setting us up in the fantastical world of Asgard from the outset, Brannagh moves his serious Shakespearean family struggles away from that world to a small sparsely populated America town. The contrast of Norse God and Earth is summed up amusingly in two short hilarious sequences. In one, Thor eats breakfast at a diner before smashing his cup to the ground and demanding another. He then hears about his hammer in the desert and so pops along to the local pet shop with a shout of “I need a horse!” Funny and down to earth (literally) Hemsworth’s likeability was cemented with his satisfied grin and innocent charm

10. Nick Fury (Iron Man)

The first post-credits scene was a great Easter Egg that gave an indication that there was a much wider universe out there to explore. Nick Fury’s mention of the “Avengers Initiative” would have been a comic-readers in-joke back then but has now taken on a greater significance as the subsequent films have panned out. As each film built upon the one before it, Marvel continued to add further post credit sequences, teasing the next film or a new character and leaving us with a sample of what is to come.

9. Groot’s Nest (Guardians of the Galaxy)

A 10 foot tall plant who can only utter the words “I am Groot” is an unlikely hero to save the day in a Marvel film but the company’s risk paid off. At the end the group of intergalactic misfits are placed in a dangerous predicament before Groot begins to grow branches from his body creating a protective “nest” around his new found friends. A teary-eyed and emotional Rocket Racoon pleads with his friend to reconsider but his reply of “WE are Groot” brought a lump to many a viewer’s throat. The resulting events see Groot “re-born” as a smaller plant and from one of the saddest moments to one of the happiest; the newly rooted character begins dancing as the group continue their adventures.

8. Iron Man, Captain America & Thor Forest Fight (The Avengers)

After Loki’s capture post-museum heist, Iron Man arrives to the sound of AC/DC before Thor enters the fray to discuss matters with Loki himself. Iron Man returns quickly though and his first encounter with Thor is punctuated with sassy quips (“Shakespeare in the park”) and flying fists (Thor returns Iron Man’s head-butt) before Captain America shows up wanting them to cool down. Thor has other ideas but find his equal as the forest flattens when his hammer comes into contact with the Captain’s shield. Fun, ferocious, fiery and filled with wise cracks, Whedon shows the group have a long way to go in order to be friends but his handling of group dynamics is second to none in this spectacular sequence.

7. Puny God (The Avengers)

Sticking with The Avengers, Whedon had a chance to set Hulk’s new tone and nothing said more about the creature than this short scene that drew laughs and cheers in equal amounts. As Loki commences the beginning of another of his evil speeches, the Hulk stops him mid-sentence and thrashes him on the ground followed by Hiddlestone’s pathetic cry of pain. Howls turned to cheers as Hulk spat out his catchphrase line of “Puny God” and the Hulk’s cinematic rebirth was completed.

6. Attack on Asgard/Loki escape (Thor: The Dark World)

A longer sequence but one with highs and lows as Heimdall spots the Dark Elves attack ship entering Asgard and springs into action before a large battle begins in the kingdom. Elves fight the city’s guardians before culminating in the death of Thor’s mother. Post funeral, Thor reluctantly releases Loki (with the promise of revenge) and the dark tone is lifted with a Captain America cameo as Loki uses his cloaking powers to turn into his Avenger pal. A great sequence.

5. Leviathan Punch (The Avengers)

As Iron Man flies around a New York skyscraper to the mantra “I’m bringing the party to you”, the battle is in the balance as Banner arrives on a bike. However, after a quick chat the group hopes Banner can get real angry real quick but he simply says he’s always angry before punching The Chitauri leviathan in the face. Badass!

4. Escape from the Kyln (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket all end up imprisoned in the Kyln – a cosmic jail whose inmates are ready to exact revenge on those they feel are responsible for their incarceration. The differing personalities soon have to work together in order to escape and after some violent encounters the team disable the gravity and float out of their confinement in style. Great special effects along with a colourful array of characters and vehicles, the movie throws these individuals into a lock up but they come out as a functioning faction of friends.

3. Freeway Fight (Captain America: Winter Soldier)

One of the best action sequences from all 10 films is this classic from the sequel to Captain America. With Steve Rogers on the run after being implicated in Nick Fury’s “death”, he teams up with Black Widow and Falcon as they drive along a freeway before a group of mercenaries led by the famed Winter Soldier attempt to kill the passengers. From cars, guns, fights, explosions, shoot outs, fists and knives, the sequence smoothly moves from the freeway to city streets as the action unfolds. Of course, the Captain and his shield are used to their full effect and with all the major characters involved the scene finishes with a huge emotional beat with the final reveal of Bucky himself.

2. Mark II Iron Man suit test (Iron Man)

The first Iron Man is still for me one of the top entries in the entire series and most of that is to do with the brilliant story build up of Stark’s origins. His escape from Middle Eastern terrorists sets him on the path from arms-dealer to peace-maker and one of the most enlightening moments comes when he tries on his first full suit (the silver one). As he is locked into it Robocop-style, his initial hesitation is replaced by pure elation as he flies around the West coast testing his toy properly for the first time. Although the later Mark III suit up sequence is ace, it’s just the cherry on a Mark II cake.

1. The Avengers (finally) Assemble (The Avengers)

I don’t think this one needs much introduction but as the group of heroes that make up The Avengers get together at the end of the movie, Marvel fans across the world had their dreams finally fulfilled. On top of this, Whedon’s rotating shot around the group is now firmly established in superhero (if not cinematic) history too.

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