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By midlandsmovies, Nov 15 2019 01:51PM



Joker (2019) Dir. Todd Phillips


With DCEU failing to set the world alight with its more than questionable quality issues, Warner Brothers have decided to recast Batman’s infamous nemesis the Joker with Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime.


Set in 1981, the film ditches any connection to the DC shared universe with Warners adopting a one-and-done attitude as an antidote to Marvel’s ‘shared world’ behemoth. Phoenix is Arthur Fleck, a mentally unstable loner who lives with his mother and is employed by a party clown agency. Director Phillips has given him an unusual but unique backstory which now makes his maniacal laugh a medical condition. As Arthur’s life falls apart – he loses his job, his psychiatrist is forced to stop her help and his stand-up “career” fails – his trajectory is reflected in Gotham’s own crime-ridden downward spiral.


The film does have a few flaws. Phoenix’s portrayal is undoubtedly fantastic but the story does take a while to get going. 30 minutes in and cine-aware audiences would already know the typical beats of the downtrodden loser narrative. And the delusional sub-plots involving the under-used Zazie Beetz are quite obvious.


Also, with Robert De Niro as a talk-show host and a range of themes including isolation and mental illness, the film nods to both Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. I say nods but although there is some great cinematography from Lawrence Sher, the film is, at times, a blatant re-shaping of Marty’s back catalogue.


In many ways, without the brief references to Gotham and Wayne Enterprises the film itself could have been an independent film without any of the superhero connections. It explores the mental fragility of a very dark extreme individual whilst barely mentioning its comic book origins.


There has been controversy over the film – as per usual these days. Once upon a time, moral busybodies were defining features of the right but it could be argued that films are being overly attacked when they portray less than savoury ideals. “Because it’s so much fun, Jan”, Quentin Tarantino once said on a TV news cast as he was asked why he fills his films with so much violence. Well, much like Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (and many of Scorsese’s protagonists in fact), here is an abhorrent central character whose downtrodden life is still no excuse for the horrid actions he subsequently commits.


And on a personal note, I don’t (and never have) bought into the “glorifying violence” or could “inspire others” critical analysis myself. From the Hays Code to Mary Whitehouse via the 80s video nasty censors to The Matrix, cinema has always been accused of being a corrupting influence. But audiences are clever enough to see there are characters, even central ones, that shouldn’t be sympathised with. Much like Travis Bickle funnily enough. A disgusting protagonist whose ideals and actions do not align with your own is something I like to give audiences credit for in their ability to distinguish from real life.


And so, throwing in many modern political issues as it does along with a complexity not seen in many graphic novel-inspired films, Joker is definitely not perfect but if you fancy something with a little more depth – think Nolan’s trilogy and then some – then the flick has enough thoughtful ambiguity and an amazing central performance to make it more than worthwhile.


★★★★


Michael Sales



By midlandsmovies, Oct 2 2019 12:30PM



Dark Phoenix (2019) Dir. Simon Kinberg


Oh, X-Men! * sigh * The inconsistent and frustrating franchise continues with its focus on making either cracking or crappy blockbusters and with the recent purchase of X-owners 20th Century Fox by Disney (Marvel) this is no doubt the last we’ll see of this incarnation. And what a poor effort to say goodbye with.


In his feature directorial debut, the inexperienced Kinberg attempts to deliver a new adaptation of Chris Claremont and John Byrne's "The Dark Phoenix Saga". As the writer of X-Men: The Last Stand, Kinberg has already had one shot at this story so he’s given it a more faithful spin, right?


Well, the story opens with a flashback (like Last Stand) and young Jean Grey’s powers are a source of frustration for her parents before we find that Professor X puts her in protective state to supress her abilities (like Last Stand).


After an accident in space sees her powers get stronger, an older Jean has a fight in suburbia with the X-gang soon arriving on the street to try and stop her (like Last Stand). And it’s not too long before the whole sequence finishes with the death of a major character passing away (like Last Stand). Get it yet? In fact it’s so familiar territory that it’s just short of a remake.


And although it’s essentially the same material, I wonder why it in fact is so much worse. But the performances are phoned it, the drama is underwhelming to the point of non-existence and Jessica Chastain’s pasty white non-villain Vuk is the blandest since Malekith the Dark Elf in Thor: The Dark World.


The underwhelming fiery ending with people turning to dust (like Last Stand) leads the film to sit comfortably alongside the first two Wolverine flicks as the most unmemorable in this universe. A few exciting scenes (Quicksilver and Nightcrawler’s powers during the shuttle accident being the best by far) were sadly not enough to keep my interest.


Gone are James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s morally ambiguous arcs, Jennifer Lawrence’s internal conflicts and Evan Peters’ quirky quips as Quicksilver. And sadly Sophie Turner is no Famke Janssen either. Any attempts to inject the dull A-to-B story with deeper themes and meanings fall flat at every turn too.


So what a sad way to go out really. With our fantastic responses to Logan and Days of Future Past, the X-Men world appeared to be rejuvenated but with this and Apocalypse (review), the miserable fact is that this is a terribly wretched way to end a series I've enjoyed immensely over the years.


★★


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Jun 9 2019 07:52AM



Comic Con Leicester 2019


Celebrating its 5th Anniversary, Leicester Comic Con is one of the highlights of Leicester’s cultural quarter and a must-see on the Midlands cosplay calendar. With 4 successful years behind them, the convention once again returned to the art-deco ex-cinema Athena venue which has always given this event a local and quirky flavour.


Although taking place over the first weekend in June at the height of summer, the weather couldn’t have been wetter. Although previous years have seen many people gather at the front of the venue, allowing cosplayers to congregate and take photos, the incessant rain meant that it was a slightly darker beginning than previous years.




What it did mean though was that people being forced inside resulted in a bigger, better – and slightly cramped – atmosphere inside where comic and film fans, artists and those dressed up pushed together to create an amazing buzz.


As you arrive, out the front of the venue were three of the vehicles used for Bumblebee in the cinema iterations of the Transformers. In Michael Bay’s first take on Transformers in 2007, Bumblebee was depicted as a 1976 Camaro and then a fifth-generation 2011 Camaro before returning to his original cartoon Volkswagen Beetle version in Travis Knight’s Bumblebee (2018).


As famous a car as you’re sure to see today, right? Well not quite. Once inside attendees were greeted with the Bat-Signal which was illuminating the Tumbler – the armoured Batmobile used in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.




Heading upstairs first of all, there was also a mannequin dressed as Knight of the Old Republic who we took photos next to after resting our bags on the model. However, rather embarrassingly after we left, we noted that to our surprise this “mannequin” started to move. The very static cosplayer had trolled us good!


Upstairs, as with most years, there is a gaming area at the very top of the venue and the artists are situation in stalls on each tier of the balcony. We’ve said before – and we’ll say it again – but this is such a unique venue that it really does have a fantastically original and special feel when compared to other conventions often situated in bland leisure centres or echo-y halls.


Up on this top tier were Nick Gribbon who specialises in cinema, Marvel and zombie illustrations whilst the convention alsowelcomed Leicester post-apocalyptic artist Gustaffo Vargas who brought his Peru-infused ‘drug Guinea Pigs’ to the floor. Sass & Sorcery were there selling their magical art prints and greeting cards, as was game art designer Little Woodlouse, pop culture artist Lee Bradley and anime-inspired artist Emmett Green.


Keith Chan returned as one of the convention’s veteran artists along with David Millgate and his 2000AD artwork and poster prints. And also out for his 5th year in a row was Ryan Button of RB Illustrations. We’re slightly biased as Ryan did our fantastic film night event posters but was great to see one of the designs (for our Die Hard-themed screening night) finally become a limited edition print. As well as more Bumblebee (and Grimlock) related Transformers art too!



Rachel of Nottingham’s EldritchRach Illustration was another return artist whilst another Nottingham artist of handmade crafts & illustrations was Fanatic Pufferfish and next door was Here Be Monsters, the comic from Luke Parker.


A welcome return too for Midlands animator and cartoonist Thomas Crook (who we covered in our early days) and his delightful dairy creation – the Cheesemen – who, as you can guess, are mysterious characters made of cheese. Here, attendees could grab a free build-your-own robot Cheese Man. A great little model can be made from card and a cool idea to link back to their fun website for the instructions.


Along with the artists, the balcony also hosts the body-painting zone where very brave men and women allow themselves to be covered in head to-toe make-up. Given how hot the venue was starting to get, it made strange sense that their little amount of clothing was very much enviable by this time.


We then headed back down the stairs where there was an Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones photo opportunity whilst on the main stage you could share space with Star Wars droids, Yoda, Ewoks and the Emperor’s throne as well.


The main ground floor hosts shops, coin-op machines and a mass of Funko Pop sellers but we recommend checking out local business Arcade Frames run by local Nottingham film-fan and musician Rob Lane who creates retro-fused LEGO mini figure frames.



Finally, we couldn’t not mention one of the organisers of the event itself, Gavin Lee-Pate. With 5 successful years under his belt, Gavin (and his partner in crime Richard Tewkesbury) should be rightly proud of another successful event which gives joy to so many local people from all ages and backgrounds. Gavin is also a successful artist in his own right under Cult Locations Ink. These are small hand drawn prints of famous movie locations from the Overlook Hotel to Florin Castle (from The Princess Bride) – which is actually Derby’s Haddon Hall no less.


So as we finish Saturday, we wish all the best for the hosts, stalls, artists and attendees - and as we write this we mustn’t forget that there’s a whole second day of fun on Sunday!


Please check all the artists and on their links - and Happy ComicCon-ing everybody – you’ll find no better place in the region this Summer!


Michael Sales






By midlandsmovies, May 26 2019 03:37PM



A Private War (2018) Dir. Matthew Heineman

This new biographical drama comes from Matthew Heineman and is his first dramatic movie after his success with 2017’s documentary City of Ghosts about anonymous activists in Syria as it was taken over by ISIS. Staying with similar subject matter, A Private War follows the real and recent war story of American journalist Marie Colvin. Colvin is played brilliantly and with depth by Rosamund Pike, who captures Colvin’s determination to uncover stories in the most dangerous of war zones. Losing an eye in Sri Lanka whilst documenting the country’s civil war, Pike wears an eye-patch but her ability to see, and uncover, a story is not diminished. Her mental stability is diminished however as post-traumatic stress, alcoholism and broken relationships begin to take their toll. Her anguish doesn’t stop her continuing her desire to expose the evils of the world as she crosses the globe.


Jamie Dornan is solid as her photographer Paul Conroy, whom she recruits to document the stories, whilst she consistently antagonises her boss Sean Ryan (a rather sympathetic Tom Hollander as The Sunday Times' foreign editor) in her search for tortuous truths. The film uses a countdown technique as we are shown various war zones from 2001 to the more recent battle of Homs. Some subtly impressive recreations of war zones, realistic shooting locations and the dramatic back-and-forths back in London all add to the realism. But it’s the central performance of a woman torn between the truth and the terror that is the real praiseworthy aspect. Pike gives her best performance since Gone Girl and brings to life the tragic story of Colvin and her demons. An impressive debut feature, Heineman delivers a whole host of remarkable technical aspects and Pike’s exciting central performance makes A Private War a dramatic and satisfying movie covering global conflicts and personal battles. ★★★★





Arctic (2019) Dir. Joe Penna

Mads Mikkelsen stars as Overgård, a stranded man who is trying to stay alive after his plane crashed in the snowy tundra of the arctic wasteland. As he fishes for food to stay alive, he carves out S.O.S in the snow whilst trying to map his bleak and (almost) inhospitable surroundings. Filmed in Iceland, the great cinematography from Tómas Örn Tómasson captures frozen vistas, landscapes and the snow-peaked mountains and it’s this beauty that contrasts with Mikkelsen’s desperation to survive. As a rescue helicopter spots him, it gets caught in a storm and crash lands itself with only a young woman (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) surviving but severely injured. The wreckage contains a map and Overgård discovers a lodge that is 2-days away so decides to secure the woman to a sledge and head out into the wilderness. Filmed almost entirely without dialogue, Mikkelsen is excellent portraying a man in a precarious and pressured situation but understanding that a clear head and logical thinking is the only way to survive. Fighting the elements and himself, and overcome with emotion at times, “mute” Mads has done a similar non-speaking turn in Valhalla Rising but this is far the superior film. With elements of Alive and The Martian as Mads faces risky dangers, Arctic ends up being a well-crafted 90-minute survival flick that is simple yet emotional, and life-affirming without being overly fussy. ★★★½



Shazam! (2019) Dir. David F. Sandberg

From the director who brought sub-par horrors Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation to the big screen, it’s incredibly surprising – in a good way – to see the fright fan tackle a child-friendly family blockbuster in the much-maligned DC Extended Universe. How this fits in with the tone of Batman Vs Superman and Suicide Squad is anybody’s guess - heads up, it doesn’t - but that’s a huge bonus for a film with low expectations to fulfil. In short, what we get is a tearaway, Billy Batson (played by Asher Angel) who gets placed in foster care but is given a magical power by a wizard (!) that can transform him into an adult superhero. As the man-version, Zachary Levi does a great job a la Tom Hanks in Big (and to a lesser extent Judge Reinhold in Vice Versa). Mark Strong as the villain simply dusts off his Kick Ass persona and although as bland as they come, has an interesting power that sees the “7 Sins” demons emanating from his body to attack. Some cornball family themes are expectedly delivered but mostly inoffensive, yet as Billy learns to use his super speed and strength – and how to take responsibility for his powers – the film gets by with a lot of heart and plenty of laughs. And for the first time (since Wonder Woman I guess), a DC comic book movie is finally fun, has a great tongue-in-cheek tone and some actually likeable and relatable characters. Shazam is a super success! ★★★ ½



Greta (2019) Dir. Neil Jordan

What happened between 1991-1992 that filmmakers seemed to make every thriller about stalking? Cape Fear (1991), Single White Female (1992), The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), Basic Instinct (1992) and Unlawful Entry (1992) are amongst a host of dramas where obsessed individuals terrorise their victims in a variety of dark and unique ways. And with Greta, we’re thrust back into that world with Neil Jordan’s latest psychological drama. Chloë Grace Moretz plays Frances, a waitress in New York who returns a lost purse to its owner (Isabelle Huppert as Greta Hideg) and becomes close with the lonely piano-playing widow. However, before you can say “bunny boiler”, Huppert’s Greta is calling, texting and eventually stalking Frances and her flat mate. Moving from a nuisance to full-on disturbingly obsessed, Huppert is having a lot of fun as the lurker and she gives gravitas to a pantomime role – similar to SIr Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, itself a 1991 release! It nails the knowing (and at times silly) tone of those 90s thrillers and at 98 minutes it doesn’t stay around too long for audiences to question all its holes, nonsensical narrative strands and ludicrousness. However, for those who are missing the glory days of crime, betrayal and emotional nut-bags – and no, it doesn’t treat psychological disorders with anything close to seriousness – then Greta is a guilty, if slight, return to the clichéd, outrageous, preposterous - but often highly entertaining - suspense genre from 30 years ago. ★★★ ½


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Apr 28 2019 07:29AM



Avengers: Endgame (2019) Dir. Anthony and Joe Russo


What I’ve enjoyed in the MCU (more so than the current rebooted Star Wars) is the actual inclusion of loving relationships. Be it between father-son figures (Guardians, Spider-Man), brothers (Thor) or partners (Iron Man & Pepper Potts, Captain America and Peggy Carter) an aspect so often overlooked is how these “superficial” Hollywood blockbusters – they’re anything but in most cases – deal with human’s love/hate for one another.


So for all their bombast and CGI battles, Avengers: Infinity War was the first part of the end of an EMOTIONAL journey that both the characters, and audiences, have experienced over the last 10 years and it's what underpins Endgame throughout.


So story wise, where are we? Well, after Thanos’ success in gaining the infinitely gauntlet and ‘clicking’ half the universe’s living life away, the surviving members of the Avengers attempt to reverse the loss of their loved ones. Again, the driving factor is love, longing and personal connections and it is why Endgame is ultimately a huge success.


5 years after the event, Scott Lang returns from the quantum realm (seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp) to suggest they can reverse the horrors caused to earth by travelling back in time to snatch the infinity stones before Thanos can collect them himself. Whilst taking pot shots at time-travel paradoxes (Back to the Future is called “bullshit”) the remaining group successfully pull together and, in a nod to Back to the Future 2, head back in time to some of the most important parts of the MCU already.


One group heads to New York (essentially re-inserting themselves into Avengers: Assemble) to get the time stone, mind stone and the space stone. The film brilliantly balances a complex time-jumping narrative with a fun fan-loving re-imagining of the MCU’s greatest hits. It’s like re-discovering your favourite album with the old hits given a fresh new spin.


Rocket Raccoon and Thor travel back in time to Asgard and although their task is to get the reality stone from Jane Foster (referencing Thor: Dark World), the film focuses on Thor’s emotional reunion with his mother whom he knows will soon die.

The film is therefore a superb culmination of the 22-film story but a loving book of remembrance for them as well. Every character is given their moment to shine and as Thanos begins to uncover their plot and re-adjust time himself, the movie builds to a, somewhat inevitable, crescendo of spectacular battles for the fate of the universe.


At three hours, the film IS long. But other than a rather slow first 45 minutes – which to be fair gets the numerous plates-a-spinning and does some much needed reflection and character development – the main story moves at pace and by the end I was itching for more. An extended but poignant ending is Return-of-the-King long but in this case it feels more than totally justified.


Comedy and drama are expertly balanced and the narrative uses time to circularly return us back to the focus on Iron Man and how this blockbuster behemoth began. And like my thoughts on Civil War, I reiterate how Chris Evans is the unsung hero of the MCU. In a world of cynicism, snarks and quips, both in real-life and in their movie universe, his excellent portrayal of pure honesty, innocence and heroism is such a needed antidote that it’s no wonder why his story finale is so satisfying.


The film also focuses on the core ‘original’ Avengers – much to its credit – but the combo of Banner/Hulk was a bit strange and although Hemsworth is now essentially a ‘comedy’ Thor, I would love to see more of his adventures with Rocket. We also return to Scarlett Johansson’s history with Jeremy Renner and they get one of the most affecting scenes in the movie.


Are there any negatives? Well aside from the aforementioned slow start, I unfortunately felt the use of Captain Marvel as an all-powerful being that can change the course of the story on her own a little bit redundant. With only one film under her belt, the character here is a blunt demi-god that feels more part of Marvel’s next stage than someone who has a real history with the (movie) fans.


But speaking of fans, we do get lovely cameos from previous stars Rene Russo as Frigga, John Slattery as Howard Stark, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and most welcoming of all for me, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. Plus many others are included and Stan Lee’s sad posthumous cameo reminds us all where everything started.


At the conclusion, the Russos have delivered exactly what was needed by assembling a perfect narrative, cast and, more difficultly, a rewarding ending to the most epic of stories. Endgame works as a great sequel to Infinity War but it’s so much more than that. Their expert construction of so many puzzle pieces, a global shared audience pop-culture experience and, without understatement, a cinema-changing franchise, everything in Endgame is not just perfect comic-book fare, but the pure pinnacle of movie entertainment and was a gargantuan and gratifying game I never wanted to end.


★★★★★


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Feb 16 2018 04:52PM



Local filmmakers fundraising for Poison Ivy fan film


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


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


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



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




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


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


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


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


By midlandsmovies, Nov 20 2017 02:00PM

Justice League (2017) Dir. Zack Snyder

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


5.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jun 15 2017 08:06AM


The Lego Batman Movie (2017) Dir. Chris McKay


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


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


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


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


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


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


8/10


Midlands Movies Mike

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