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By midlandsmovies, Dec 1 2018 06:20PM



Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) Dir. Christopher McQuarrie


Tom Cruise running and running and running. And sometimes falling. Fallout is the 6th entry in the MI franchise that is becoming more Bond-like with each instalment and like Bond, sees no signs of stopping with its huge box office takings.


Maintaining consistency from previous movie Rogue Nation – star, director and support cast members all returning alongside a continuing narrative – the film sees Cruise and his cohorts tackle another world-ending evil plan with gadgets, vehicles and some implausible action.


One problem with the series is that since Cruise goes “rogue” in almost every film that I’m surprised his character Ethan Hunt is still employed. In this film we have another inconsequential story involving nuclear bombs that is hugely secondary to the stunts and frantic story pace.


Henry Cavill is a new and positive addition showing the likeable acting chops sorely missing from his dour Superman and sneaky Sean Harris returns as Solomon Lane who helps bridge this film with the last.


The film doesn’t quite balance its realistic elements with frankly ludicrous Olympus Has Fallen-style silliness where a stunning real-life helicopter chase sits in the same film as obviously-rendered CGI cars on the streets of Paris. Also making a reappearance are those horrid latex masks that have always stuck in my craw. Clichés abound – a double-agent, a spy called “White Widow”, a new world order villainous plan – and the middle of the film slightly bores with its constant slew of mistaken identities and compromised missions.


But to be fair, it is still a lot of fun. One of the best sequences is a race across London rooftops mixing stunts, laughs and solid action and contains the infamous Cruise ankle-breaking jump between buildings that halted production for weeks.


However, there were just too many little flaws to make this a truly great actioner. A parachute jump had me rolling my eyes when the leads talk about the need to avoid being hit by lightning only to be zapped a second later like a Warner Bros cartoon. But a brutal and brilliant bone-crunching fight in a nightclub bathroom had me wincing in joy – and again reminded me of Bond in Casino Royale’s opening. Speaking of openings though, the film again undermines its own positives by seemingly showing the whole film you’re about to watch in a sequence so unbelievably misjudged I almost fainted.


One part which seemed to have no flaws though was the excellent score from Lorne Balfe. Zimmer-esque at times, Balfe has found some great uses of the classic TV show’s theme mixing emotional subtlety with bombastic blasts when needed.


Easily in the top MI films so far, is the film the Nolan-classic some critics are lauding it? Not even close in this reviewer’s eyes. That said, it’s one of the better summer blockbusters and, dare I say, Cruise’s franchise behemoth is certainly catching up with Bond especially with that franchise currently languishing in development hell.


Better than Rouge Nation (a film I didn’t massively gel with) but for me not quite having the spectacular sequences of Ghost Protocol, it’s probably the best looking film amongst all six and despite some recent missteps (I’m looking at you, The Mummy) the film cements Cruise as the superstar to watch out for each summer season.


7.5/10


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Aug 5 2018 07:00AM



Ready Player One (2018) Dir. Steven Spielberg


Co-written by Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand) and the novel’s author Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is a new film struggling hard to condense the pop-culture complexity of the book into a 2-hour action blockbuster from Steven Spielberg.


In 2045, the world’s decimated population is immersed in the OASIS – a virtual reality world where ‘anything goes’ – and whose creator James "Anorak" Halliday (Spielberg stalwart Mark Rylance) runs a contest to challenge players to uncover three hidden keys in the game to win full ownership of the pixelated world. A corporation run by Nolan Sorrento (the perennially evil Ben Mendelsohn) is out to use an army of players to find these treasures whilst teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his online friends try to get there first.


The beginning is everything I feared from the trailer. Figuratively and literally, the film’s opening is like watching a friend play a computer game – full of CGI, uncanny valley avatars and obvious pop culture references. The cool quirkiness of a Zombieland-esque voiceover filling in the backstory helps flesh the story out but the images are akin to the visual hell of Speed Racer (which is also referenced in the film itself). Its backwards in its introduction with a very quick ‘real-world’ segment before the likeable Sheridan has his amiable acting ditched for an elf-like cartoon avatar.


Ben Mendehlson is having some fun as he overacts his way through a very 80s inspired villain and whilst there are echoes of both Tron films, the quirky Mark Rylance as the OASIS’s creator channels South Park’s Matt Stone, Garth from Wayne’s World and (obviously) Steve Jobs in an eclectic performance.


The film sees Sheridan’s virtual character Parzival team up with Lena Waithe’s virtual mechanic Aech, Philip Zhao’s Sho, Win Morisaki’s Daito and Olivia Cooke’s feisty Art3mis as the "High Five", an informal group jumping from the game challenges to a virtual archive. The archive contains video clips reconstructing Halliday's life which provides clues to the game’s construction, history and to the concealed prizes too.


These historical sections are great and the scenes give a more human aspect to a film filled with so much spinning camera which, as a non-video game player, demonstrated how unattuned to this aesthetic I am. The film is so kinetic I struggled to focus on the action as the camera zipped from one millisecond shot to the next.


It’s not all bad however. I did find myself warming up to the (many) Back to the Future nods – from snippets of score, a ‘Zemeckis cube’ and the DeLorean itself. A section where the gang ‘visit’ The Shining is very good. Like Back to the Future 2, the characters actually go back into the movie in a phenomenal sequence that recreates the iconic hotel and visuals from Kubrick’s film flawlessly.


Whilst the tone varies between Wreck It Ralph and his own Minority Report, Spielberg becomes guilty of the teal/orange ending at the film’s finale making it look like every other blockbuster. The Michael Bay-ness of a huge CGI battle which although looks the business, uses stupidly quick editing and a constantly spinning camera that will give all but die-hard video game fans a migraine.


So I really just wished Ready Player One slowed down so I could savour the characters, story and action. It would really benefit from it as a movie but, again, feels like a real-life game delivering a style to satisfy gamers’ short attention spans.


But that leaves us the question as to who is the film for in the end? Whilst the style reflects modern gaming (MMRPGs and Metal Gear Solid aesthetics) the film references are pure 80s so what’s the audience here? At 38, I recognised most allusions to the trivia of the past but some will be aimed at kids who wouldn’t have a clue about Mad Balls, Chucky and Mecha Godzilla.


Fans of the book may find joy in seeing all their childhood pop-culture dreams come to life but the film feels a mish-mash of wildly varying tones and styles. The actors do the best they can with the material but by spending so long in the OASIS, the computer-generated ‘sprites’ left me cold without the human attachment so badly needed. A fun ride at times for sure, Ready Player One is an entertaining and sometimes dazzling blockbuster for the family. But bring your headache pills for the unfortunate messy action and endless trivia nods which are both at the expense of real character arcs.


7.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike



By midlandsmovies, Jul 14 2017 07:46AM



Wonder Woman (2017) Dir. Patty Jenkins

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Dir. Jon Watts


Huge superhero franchises are just a thing now. They can be as exciting as a rollercoaster. Or like bad breath, an immediate turn-off. However, in many cases, they sit comfortably like a nice warm cuppa in the summer blockbuster season. Neither a die-hard Marvel or DC fan – like most I just simply enjoy a good film – the two behemoths of the comic (now film) world have released key movies in their complicated production schedule.


After the solid Man of Steel, the abysmal Batman Vs Superman and the misstep of Suicide Squad, DC really needed a hit in order to regain some of the credibility lost from those less-than-satisfying tent-poles. So they’ve taken a chance (which should be hugely applauded) and given Gal Godot the long overdue central role of the infamous female superhero. After 14 films, Marvel STILL haven’t given any woman in their universe a film. Although Brie Larson as Captain Marvel is due soon, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is notably absent from Marvel’s solo film roster.


In short, the narrative shows Wonder Woman (Diana Price) jumping from Themyscira, the island home of an Amazon race of warrior women, to 1918 Europe during the height of the Great War. On her way she saves Chris Pine’s soldier Steve Trevor on her journey to destroy Ares, the god of war, who she believes is the cause of the conflict.


A fresh fish-out-of-water story, the film contains so much of what was missing from DC films so far – humanity, sensitivity, comedy and some characters with motivations you can get behind. Going for simplicity hugely helps the story and director Jenkins (her first film since Monster 14 years ago!) should be massively applauded for ditching the dourness and injecting some overdue fun. At the half way point, as ludicrous as Wonder Woman wearing her full costume in No Man’s Land is, the film already has its tone clearly defined and the audience swept along in its entertainment.


If there was a fault it would be two – albeit small. Firstly, the film suffers from the fact Marvel’s Captain America did the ‘hero in war’ film already so similarities are sadly inevitable. The second is the final battle which has flames (orange) and energy beams (teale) in the obligatory let’s smash everything up mess. Scarily reminiscent of BvS, my eyes rolled at the familiar imagery, which is confusingly edited, and contains the usual over-use of CGI where nothing has much weight. However, more on this later.


Moving on, yet still speaking of the familiar, Marvel has released its new version of the infamous web-slinger. One of the hottest properties out there – maybe only second to Batman and Superman as the most famous superhero (?) – they have done a deal with franchise-owning Sony to finally add Peter Parker to the ever-expanding MCU. His brief appearance in Civil War was a great introduction but with 3 cinematic iterations of the character in just 10 years, can something fresh be brought to the screen?


Well, in the majority, it’s a massive yes! Tom Holland is a hugely likeable Peter Parker and Marvel wisely ditches an origin story (the fact he was bitten by a spider is briefly mentioned once) and focuses on the teenager’s school problems alongside his goals to become an Avenger. Under the tutelage of Tony Stark he’s given the responsibility of a super suit which he struggles to contain in his eagerness to progress. Peter’s ambition jumps from defending the neighbourhood to attempting to stop Michael Keaton’s ‘Vulture’, who is selling alien weaponary he has stolen from previous Avengers’ encounters.


Tying nicely into the MCU but setting out its own individual story, Homecoming (surprisingly) brings enough to the plate to set it aside from the Garfield and Maguire versions. The teen angst is superbly handled, an action sequence atop the Washington Monument was phenomenal (go see this in 3-D and really feel the vertigo) and its jokes come so thick and fast the film veers from superhero action flick to outright pure comedy.


Keaton, who I’ve loved since Batman ’89 (my personal favourite superhero film) is so watchable here he’s already jumped to a close second, behind just Loki, as one of the best MCU villains to date – an area Marvel has been under-achieving at best.


Strangely, its biggest flaw is almost the same as Wonder Woman’s. A final battle sees the Vulture – with flames in the background (orange) – take on Spidey using his damaged mechanical wings (both teale) and here we are again. In a film taking lots of chances, it was a sequence that could have done with a shot of more unique web-slinging action and originality.


That aside, Spider-Man’s first full film in the Marvel world was certainly a surprising success. Was it better than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2? Personally, I think not. Raimi’s unique directorial style and more interesting villain still holds firm but Marvel went VERY close to reassessing its pole position.


Both films then prove to be hugely satisfying and have course-corrected their respective franchises as needed. Both are surprising in all the best ways – Wonder Woman’s feminine focus and more subtle story shows DC can get audiences emotionally involved and Spider-Man proves that Marvel can bring something new and fresh to an over-exposed character. Super!


7.5/10 Wonder Woman


8/10 Spider-Man: Homecoming


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2017 09:15AM



The Mummy (2017) Dir. Alex Kurtzman


Oh Tom Cruise what have ye done?


Tom Cruise is one of those actors who fully deserves the title “icon”, “film star”. He has tackled every genre and worked with the greats. I mean who can boast working with Scorsese, Spielberg, Kubrick, Coppola, Stone, De Palma, Mann, Woo, Ridley and Tony Scott to name a few? He’s managed to stay on top of his game through four decades, reinventing himself time and time again.


But is this the end? If The Mummy is a taste of what we can expect from now on, then this could be the first nail in Cruise’s coffin?


Firstly, clear you mind. Clear your mind of any previous assumption this will film will be similar to the old 30’s Mummy film’s or Brendan Fraser’s Mummy trilogy of 99-08. Doing so will give you a better chance of enjoying this picture…maybe. I went expecting a fresh take on an old story, and that is on offer here, it’s just a shame the film is so poorly made narratively speaking.


The story begins with during the Middle Ages, as English crusaders capture a large stone from Egypt and entomb it within the coffin of a departed crusader knight. The rare stone coupled with a special dagger can grant whoever wields it the power to transfer spirits into an animated form.


In another flashback, in Ancient Egypt, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) has just been informed that her new born baby brother will be the new heir to the throne as he is male. Scorned by this she sells her soul to the Egyptian god of Evil, Set, who presents her with a dagger to kill her family which can also be used to transfer his spirit into human form.


Ahmanet fails however and is buried alive deep underground inside a sarcophagus. Unknowingly U.S soldier and treasure hunter Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) stumbles upon her tomb. Freeing the sarcophagus for financial gain Nick and his military superiors place her in transport to London.

Free from the steel chains and mercury imprisoning her, Princess Ahmanet takes over the plane transporting her, crashing and killing nearly everyone on board. Nick awakes from the crash, confused and disorientated, he is told Ahmanet has chosen him as a vessel for Set and is now cursed for eternity. Roaming around free in present day London, Princess Ahmanet regains human form, chasing the stone and dagger she needs to resurrect Set.


It’s difficult to understand how director Alex Kurtzman has managed to make a story which could be so simple into such a convoluted mess. The Mummy throughout its 110-minute run time has no patience, it never seems to slow down enough for characters to develop or for the viewer to catch up with the unnecessarily complex narrative. This is the films biggest problem, what should have been a brisk, enjoyable adventure film has been worn down to a gloomy, careless, mess.


Leaving the film, I realised I didn’t know anything about Nick nor cared what happened to him, he’s a character that moves the plot from A to B. Nick’s love interest Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) the viewer cares even less about, she is given no development and comes across as bland and unforgettable.


With War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) just on the horizon we know that good CGI is attainable for modern Hollywood blockbusters which frustrates me when you see the awful effects on show here. This is genuinely one of the worst examples of bad CGI I’ve seen in recent years.


Releasing The Mummy, Universal Studios are trying to capitalise on the current trend for films to share

a universe instead of standing alone, in this case the universe being the Dark Universe, which will consist of films based on the classic monster movies of the 1930s. Whilst I’m no expert or super fan of Marvel they have done a stellar job in achieving this, working hard over the last decade ensuring the films that make up for universe are solid feature films that can be watched as a singular film and still be enjoyable. Universal seem to be desperate to replicate their success but not willing to spend the time ensuring the movies they’re producing under the Dark Universe banner to be well made.


Overall The Mummy surprises me. Tom Cruise is known to have such a powerful creative input during production that his films are made to an extremely high standard which isn’t the case here. A bigger shame is that the opening half hour impressed me, the scenes in Iraq are creepy and exhilarating; the fire-fight on the rooftop being a good action set piece. Also the cinematography by Ben Seresin, known for his work on World War Z, is fantastic but wasted in parts by the rushed editing.


Tom Cruise is back in cinemas this September with American Made (2017) which sees him team with up Edge of Tomorrow (2014) director Doug Liman so here’s hoping Cruise can get back to his best!


4/10


Guy Russell

https://twitter.com/BudGuyer

By midlandsmovies, Jul 5 2016 06:57AM

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Dir. Roland Emmerich


20 years after defending the earth from a first wave invasion, ID4: 2 (which only I am labelling it) picks up with humans utilising the aliens’ technology to create a defense system in the hope of preventing further extraterrestrial attacks. As you would expect, this idea is pretty useless and a second wave that has superior firepower descends upon the planet to wreak further havoc on landmarks across the world.


The “plot” mainly focuses on the government’s plan to destroy a new mothership – and to be fair – there really is not much else. No character arcs come from the mish-mash of sub-par stories interwoven with each other, as Emmerich always does, and nothing has any weight or much consequence.


That said, this flimsy premise does have some positives going for it. It is funnier than some comedies – sometimes with it, often at it, but mostly this was in a dumb-fun cheese-fest way. The real serious problem comes from a lack of “a” Will Smith but not necessarily Will Smith per se. He was dumped after ludicrous pay demands but Resurgence is in desperate need for someone to centre the film. The triumvirate of Smith (pilot), Goldblum (scientist) and Pullman (President) kept things on track in the original but no such dynamic exists here. There’s new characters like Warlord Dikembe Umbutu (a first-draft stereotypical African name you’d expect to be jettisoned before shooting) whilst Tesco-value Hemsworth (Liam) is Joe ‘Hot Shot’ Average. Jeff Goldblum is back as David Levinson, and sleepwalks through a facsimile of his previous scientist roles and Judd Hirsch returns as his Jewish stereotype, and given the most ridiculous scene in a series of ridiculous scenes as his small tugboat outruns a giant wave.


Brent Spiner is resurrected and simply awakes from a coma and his “death” in the previous film never once mentioned. In many ways, I enjoyed this bold-faced ret-con – i.e. the film is already so preposterous one more stupid idea won’t hurt. Finally, what William Fichtner and Charlotte Gainsbourg are doing in this nonsense is anyone’s guess and everyone else is so unmemorable they barely deserve a mention.


All this is a side-show for the CGI battles however. I saw this film in the X-Plus (and 3-D) format with a fantastically projected big screen and even bigger sound and I have to admit I was impressed. The CGI was convincing – so easy to get wrong these days – and so often a particular bug bear of mine. Seeing this film on the largest screen possible is the only way to see it in my opinion, as the size and scope of the alien craft/battles are eye-hurtingly good and battles have a theme-park ride quality to them.


The main driver of the film is a “kill the Queen, the rest will fall" trope – which again is a cliché seen so often it’s almost never used these days but the film got me back on its side with an amusing scene which sees the Alien Queen galloping across the desert. The stuff of brainless blockbusters, the well-designed monster with multiple protruding appendages was entertaining as were the additional sequences involving more alien interaction than the film’s predecessor.


[BIG SPOILER]. A few days earlier, I had watched the first ID4 as a catch up and from only seeing the trailer to Resurgence I proposed that the bearded President Whitmore would play a Randy Quaid role – that of slightly mad man whose previous alien encounter is key to the story. My guess was this would eventually lead to the ultimate sacrifice. And as if by uninspired magic, this played out exactly as prescribed.


If you enjoy uber-destruction scenes, then the great CGI and immense sound could help overcome the (many) flaws the film has. Silly to the point of enjoyment, if you jettison any requirement for narrative and accept the characters are the broadest of clichés then you’ll leave the cinema with a sci-fi smile. It’s a forgettable film as you’ll ever see yet I found myself warming to its daft antics. The most expensive b-movie ever created, I enjoyed it a lot more than Emmerich’s 2012 and the recent San Andreas so if you want hare-brained action, laughable characters and startling CGI battles then the film will definitely provide some Saturday night thrills. For the rest of you, the obvious and uninspired clowning around is probably best avoided.


6.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, May 12 2016 07:44PM

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Dir. Anthony and Joe Russo


With the underwhelming, disappointing and chaotic Age of Ultron and the fun but ultimately inconsequential Ant-Man comes the next instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the third Captain America outing attempts to make up for a few missteps. And boy does it.


Let’s get this off the bat. At this point in the MCU, if you haven’t seen the other films (and for this one especially Iron Man, Captain America and at least one Avengers) then this movie will not make a great deal of sense for the uninitiated. That negative aside (and true of most sequels, although this is now the thirteenth entry for Marvel) Captain America: Civil War continues the darker and more realistic tone of the directors’ previous sequel from 2014.


The plot is far simpler than the messy ‘Age of Ultron’ with world governments wanting to put the reins on the Avengers who they see as an unaccountable vigilante group answerable to no one. Threatening their freedom to right wrongs they are asked to sign an accord to stop another global catastrophe (good luck with that) similar to their exploits in New York (Avengers), Sokovia (Age of Ultron) and Washington DC (Captain America: The Winter Soldier).


Whilst Tony Stark thinks this is a fair request – he feels guilt for the civilian casualties of previous battles – Steve Rogers disagrees and so begins a split in their previously rock-solid team. With Bucky Barnes (the winter soldier) being searched for after a series of terrorist atrocities, the group is torn apart and Captain protects his old friend whilst becoming a fugitive himself for his cause.


The film has a nice twist in the fact that the all-American good guy is cast as the anti-hero whilst the film goes to some dark places as his previous pal/new nemesis Tony Stark (Iron Man) is shown to struggle in his attempts to control his obsessions. With shadowy links to everyone’s past, Daniel Bruhl (from Inglorious B*sterds & Rush) is excellent as Zemo, who pulls the strings in a much more believable way than Ultron. The film should be commended for its reluctance to use a CGI/heavy-prosthetic covered villain/robot/alien and is all the better for it as the last few Marvel films have had less of a human story at their core.


Here there is a better balance of characters and their screen-time and I feel sorry for Joss Whedon who was given a tough task of following his astounding Avengers. Far too much of his sequel was used to build a world for this film. However, Whedon’s loss is our gain.


Great action sequences and moving scenes again help ground the film but an airport scrap between the two warring factions is simply “amazing” in all “senses” of the word. One of the main reasons is the first appearance of Spider-Man in this universe and my scepticism of seeing this classic character rebooted again was washed away with a great fun-filled performance from British actor Tom Holland. He brings the light-hearted joy back to the character, sitting in a zone that’s more Tobey Maguire than Andrew Garfield which was a huge plus for me.


The film also has an ‘Avengers’ vibe – the well-known characters meet for the first time and “suit up” – and the familiar faces of Black Widow and Hawkeye are joined by new-comers Ant-Man (a fun Paul Rudd) and Vision (a serious Paul Bettany) ensuring there’s still light and dark throughout.


With an ending that’s as gripping as it is meaningful, the last but not least important aspect is Chris Evans as Captain himself. Originally somewhat of a clichéd damp squib of a character – the 40s hero is a war-time stereotype – Marvel have created an absolute pivotal role for the superhero and a huge part of that is due to Evans. His honest delivery and honourable persona holds the whole piece together and whilst the action and excitement are ever-present, Evans’ superb approach creates a (narrative) freedom that Cap’ himself would be proud of.


9/10


Midlands Movies Mike

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, Oct 1 2015 03:07PM

Terminator Genisys (2015) Dir. Alan Taylor


“It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”


So said Kyle Reese in 1984’s seminal sci-fi success The Terminator and it is with a nod to that film that this movie begins by trying to fix what happened in the past. Or is that Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap?


Anyways, similarly this film seeks to literally travel back “into” the previous film a bit like Marty McFly did in Back to the Future Part 2 and thus begins one of the most confusing plots of a Summer blockbuster since Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.


So, the story – if I can summarise such a convoluted set of beats – involves Kyle Reese (now played by “franchise-killer” Jai Courtney) sent back to 1984 (as per the first film) only to find a reprogrammed Arnie there already. He has brought up Sarah Connor as a young girl so she is ready for action and kills the evil “1984” Arnie as he arrives in LA. Still with me? They then fight a T-1000 who has also been sent back to 1984 and the movie starts to edge away from the first film now having “re-set” the timeline. This is followed by a plan to leap forward in time, not all the way to the Skynet future, just a little bit (good god!) and then the old John Connor is sent back from the Skynet time to the slightly future time. Can you guess why this film is a mess yet?


Plot aside, the film’s flaws are many. The actors are simply awful. Courtney has already established himself as a charisma vacuum whilst Emilia Clarke as Sarah looks about 12 and has no chemistry with Courtney at any point. The dialogue is delivered with all the passion of a dead dog, the script is cobbled together from previous films alongside images we have all seen (many many times) before.


I liked Alan Taylor for his work on Thor 2 (I was one of only a few) but here he brings no visual flair at all. It’s shot like a TV movie and although he apparently fought executives to hide the film’s twist from the trailer – which makes sense but he didn’t win that battle – he can’t just use that as an excuse for the rest of the film.


In the past I’ve said Terminator 2 is possibly my favourite film of all time. To give further context, I very much hated Terminator 3’s PG-rated repeat of that film whilst again I was in the minority to enjoy Salvation. I thought the new focus on the future was a more interesting direction to go in and liked the more serious atmosphere. This one is like a covers album CD though. You’ve heard and seen everything before. It’s nothing new and incredibly “beige” in every unmemorable department as well as lower in quality than the original.


The first part of a planned NEW trilogy (I thought Salvation was too) I can only hope $400 million is not enough of a box office haul to make another along this particular timeline. I enjoyed the opening “future” scenes where the resistance was taking Skynet and discovered the time-machine. They had an authenticity and freshness that was nowhere to be seen for the next 90 minutes of dullness.


Its audience was once the serious adult action/sci-fi genre but it’s now family-friendly nonsense and I wish the films returned to a higher rated and darker tone (much like Mad Max did and look how successful that was in maintaining its core fans). However, unlike Skynet, I cannot see the future but from the previous evidence, further Schwarzenegger-approved comedy cash-ins will be a Judgement Day-like inevitability.


So, much like Terminator: Genisys, I take this review full circle all the way back to the beginning…


“It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”


Sadly, this line now resonates as a symbol of the Terminator franchise itself; An emotionally void, terminally ongoing machine that will not stop until it claims every last bit from a resisting human audience.


6.5/10 Midlands Movies Mike

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