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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.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Nov 13 2016 10:01AM

Our third entry in our series of 2016 movie catch up blogs reviews even more films that we’ve seen over the year so far…

The Conjuring 2 (2016) Dir. James Wan

A sequel to the original 2013 film, The Conjuring 2 is another entry in the recent family friendly horror genre with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga returning to investigate paranormal events. I enjoyed the new location as the film jumps to 1970s England and the possession scenes in the suburban house have some edginess yet the film doesn’t stray far from a well-worn template. Sadly like the last film, when they start “dimension-hopping” into visions I simply lose all interest. Of course, these days you can’t just have a solid horror. You have to have a FRANCHISE. SHARED UNIVERSE. EXPANSION. WORLD BUILDING! *does a giant ghostly yawn* With the “franchise” already having one spin off in the form of Annabelle (2014) – which itself is getting a 2017 sequel – and now plans for ‘The Nun’, The Conjuring and its ilk have had a big impact on modern US horror but that’s not exactly a good thing in my eyes. A solid entry in a solid set of films, American horror does not get more average than this 6/10

The Shallows (2016) Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra

A superb Blake Lively stars in this thrilling shark story where an injured surfer is marooned on some rocks at sea as a Great White attempts to attack. Just a few hundred yards from shore, the simple set up has Lively’s resourceful adventurer overcoming the bleeding from her leg, her lack of mobile phone and her isolation on the coast. By timing the shark’s behaviour, Lively has to outwit the brute in a race against time and the film grabs you by the jaws and doesn’t let go. Amongst the background of a trite “finding yourself” family drama bookend, the film mostly avoids this brief bout of sentimentality for a calculating set of action scenes pitting woman against beast. From flare guns to jellyfish via Steven “Seagull”, a few ropey CGI moments of the shark doesn’t distract from a fun b-movie genre flick with a little more bite than most with a great central performance anchoring the whole film. 6.5/10

Suicide Squad (2016) Dir. David Ayer

Oh my! With a phenomenal trailer, DC couldn’t have made a worse decision by getting the marketing team to re-cut Ayer’s film and they’ve ended up with an epic mess that merely hints on what could have been. Unlike BvS which was simply depressing, Suicide Squad attempts more fun but is let down by atrocious editing and an ENDLESS pop-music soundtrack that annoys throughout. Within the first 30 minutes, there must have been a dozen or so chart hits drowning out any drama and turning the exciting premise into an MTV-esque aural and visual disaster. Characters are introduced and then thrown away quickly as the film attempts (poorly) to show how a set of villains are brought together to save the world. The good parts including Wil Smith, a Batman cameo, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Viola Davis’ government official are overshadowed by such clichéd nonsense as ANOTHER giant beam of light about to destroy a city, awful editing and flimsy characters. What should have been a fun Ocean’s Eleven style crime get-together becomes a chore where Leto’s much lauded Joker performance is cut to a few scenes and somewhere amongst all this rubble is a fine film aching to be re-assembled. Although I am sure they have the footage, it no doubt didn’t match the trailer’s “jokey” premise so was jettisoned much to its detriment, therefore making audiences feel like they are watching a 2-hour trailer for a film that isn’t subsequently delivered. 5.5/10

Mascots (2016) Dir. Christopher Guest

This new Netflix production follows Guests’ previous mockumentaries as a comedy featuring improvisational actors and Guest-regulars willing to make a fool of themselves in giant rubber costumes. Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Ed Begley, Jr., Christopher Moynihan, Don Lake and a whole ensemble of actors play both the organisers and the sports mascots themselves as they compete for the World Mascot Association championship's Gold Fluffy Award. Zach Woods as put-upon husband Mike Murray was a particular highlight as was the IT Crowd’s Chris O'Dowd as a violent ice hockey foam ‘fist’. Guest’s own cameo fell slightly flat as an effeminate self help guru. Fred Willard either makes up, or gets given, the best comedic lines and it’s a shame the film doesn’t match the director’s previous efforts as the comedy seems subtle to the point of being sparse. A fun little distraction, Mascots may provide some laughs and is certainly recommended to fans of Guest’s earlier films. It is however a great premise that delivers only a good film which is a shame given the talent involved. 7/10

Don’t Breathe (2016) Dir. Fede Alvarez

Along with Suicide Squad, Don’t Breathe had one of the trailers of the summer which promised a horror thriller telling how a group of teenage burglars pick the wrong house one night as a blind army-veteran traps them inside. Cutting to the chase this is the quintessential film of two halves. The first grounds the film in a very real (if heightened) world where 3 characters have their own motivations for getting involved in the wrong doings. After their heist goes awry, the tension builds as the owner (played brilliantly by Avatar’s Stephen Lang) locks the doors and secures the alarms and windows as the “innocent” teens attempt to escape his clutches. But from here it goes downhill fast. Much like Knock Knock (review here) the characters begin to make stupid decision after stupid decision, undermining their meticulous planning shown at the start. With silly choices comes a surprise twist in the blind man’s basement and the film’s ludicrousness completely lost me. From escaping a dog, to simply making excessive noise the leads’ ability to think even slightly rationally/logically was completely absent and I haven’t been annoyed by characters since Keanu Reeves’ stupid protagonist from the aforementioned film. A huge disappointment in terms of expectations, it may make my worst films of the year given its descent from excellence to rubbish in a mere 15 minutes during the movie’s middle section. 4.5/10

Nerve (2016) Dir. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Adapted from the 2012 novel, Nerve is a techno-teen drama as adolescents play an online truth or dare game where “players” can make money by completing increasingly dangerous challenges. At the same time, a throng of “watchers” can log in to the game to view the live streams from the players themselves. An analogy of modern online pressures young people face on a daily basis the film features a great turn from young actress Emma Roberts who, as the shy unpopular girl at school, is drawn to the game to ‘prove’ to her friends she has what it takes. After completing several dares, her exposure increases as she gains more watchers after crossing paths with rough-and-ready James Franco. Mixing online and real-life personas the film is a surprisingly mature take on the issues of privacy, peer pressure, law breaking and celebrity and lays those themes over fun, exciting and innovative action scenes to show the risky dares themselves. A ladder walk between buildings, a blind motorcycle ride and a semi-naked department store chase being the highlights of these. The film falters at its conclusion with an over-the-top finale in an arena and a Running Man/Enemy of the State technical takedown stretching the believability but providing the required kid-friendly exciting conclusion. Without breaking new barriers, Nerve doesn’t patronise its teen audience and supplies a dash of thought-provoking topical issues a contemporary audience can relate to during a swift on-the-run thriller. 7/10

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, Sep 15 2015 07:33PM

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - who wouldn't want to see this movie on the big screen? Hell, scratch that; would wouldn't want to see this movie on the big screen at Nottingham's Wollaton Hall & Deer Park - Bruce Wayne's very own Wayne Manor?

As soon as I saw that the movie was to be screened there again this summer, I bought tickets. Summer Nights Film festival has been showing screenings of movies in association with Quad Derby at some of the most beautiful country houses that the East Midlands has to offer. The choices at Wollaton were Alpha Papa and Dirty Dancing; comedy and nostalgia aside, I wanted in on the action.

Aside from the drizzling rain and my underestimation of how much I wanted prosecco, the night was fantastic. (NB; Sali, you can drink from the bottle without a glass and don't let anyone tell you that you can't!)

Sound was clear, picture was great and movie was as always, bat-tastic. Staff were friendly, smiling and helpful; everyone seemed genuinely excited to be there which helped buoyed spirits during the rain showers as we waited for darkness to fall. Seeing bats swoosh above our heads made it all the more magical in my opinion!

Bathrooms were open (phew, three hour film!), bar was open (phew, three hour film!), plenty of bins for rubbish, space for people and parking aplenty. It really is a fab location and I can't wait for next year. Batman or not, you'll fine me there again but this time with prosecco in hand.

Sali Jones


By midlandsmovies, Apr 8 2014 04:38PM

Here’s a fact: I’ve never walked out of a Chris Nolan Batman film fully happy. It’s true. For me, Batman Begins was covering the same ground as Burton and I didn’t “get” the fuss surrounding The Dark Knight. Time appears to have healed my jadedness like a crippled Bruce Wayne as although initially disappointed, I now feel both films (Dark Knight especially) are brilliant, dark and distinct comic-book crime films which I have continued to reassess in my own mind with a certain two-facedness if you will.

So, to the new film itself. Eight years have passed and an isolated Howard Hughes-esque Bruce Wayne (Bale) has left Batman behind in the wake of the Dent Act – the lie Gordon perpetuates that now keeps Gotham safe but like a steroid-induced Oswald Cobblepot, a villain rises from the gloomy sewers in the form of Bane - a man-hulk bent on sending Gotham into a spiral of economic revolution. In the middle of this Nolan throws in the morally (and sexually) ambiguous Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (that particular name is never mentioned, fact fans) who is a sultry thief who plays all sides like the best noir femme fatales of old. And alongside Oldman as Gordon is another Gordon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt to be precise) who plays a beat cop as morally incorruptible as Batman himself.

And so why my initial reticence this third time? Well, first up, Bane/Hardy is just not the villain The Joker is – not an icon, not fully fleshed but a well-designed thug without the bite and possibly one of Hardy’s least charismatic acting stints since This Means War. Also, the film is very long (obviously epic but definitely plot heavy) and I also began to think, how much did we really see of Batman? Nolan does not want to over egg the omelette, I get that, but I can only remember three full sequences containing Batman. It’s got the least Batman of any Batman film! Some of the chemistry was also sadly a bit lacking between all the characters too, even previously established ones like Fox and Wayne didn’t have the usual spark and I think that Hathaway could have been used more as some of her story threads started and then suddenly stopped.

The good parts? Well, the production values are second to none, Wally Pfister’s moody cinematography is exemplarily (as usual) and the solid story arc takes Gotham to hell and back whilst giving nods to characters and themes (including the League of Shadows) from the previous films. Clearly a great three-quel, Nolan doesn’t disappoint but neither does the film escalate to the heady heights of the last caper. The action is a highlight (although it is as rationed as a Wayne foundation austerity budget) with vicious fight scenes, as brutal as you’ll ever see in a 12A. This compliments the exciting bat-bike chases and the introduction of “the bat” (a new hover-plane vehicle of sorts) where Batman avoids cops by sweeping between city skyscrapers by road and air. Along with the drawn-out end sequence these thrilling set-pieces suddenly make your heart go boom like some sort of exploding stadium and help provide moments of intensity to break up several of the rather lengthy and dreary political exposition scenes.

The standout moments continue with a makeshift “people’s” revolutionary court, some poignant speeches from old voice-of-reason Alfred Pennywhistle (Caine) and a smattering of smart rooftop one-liners between the cat and bat themselves. Too few though were any truly great scenes like the one involving a bridge/building façade and some flaming liquid which was probably my favourite scene in the whole movie and one of the best kept secrets of the film (sorry, no detailed spoilers here).

Ultimately, the gloomy film contains solid but not spectacular acting (Bale is probably best of the bunch here) and I’m trying not to judge too harshly until I get that elusive second viewing in order to further enjoy the multiple meanings contained within. Although it is somewhat ironic that the film with the most “layers” (Nolan’s “Inception”) struck a chord that made me love it first-time around, The Dark Knight Rises however had me back in the familiar old not-sure-I-really-like-it mode. If my own past rises then the inevitable re-watch will have me addressing these issues again in 6 months time and claiming it as a masterpiece but as I walked out the cinema I couldn’t accurately judge whether Nolan had served up a film like a faithful maestro or delivered a disappointing pile of guano.

Midlands Movies Mike 8/10

By midlandsmovies, Sep 22 2013 09:50AM

Thanks to everyone for following, retweeting and generally supporting Midlands Movies over the last 18 months and we recently passed our 1000th follower milestone.

In order to celebrate that achievement we gave one lucky reader of the site the chance to get their hands on some "super" film related goodies.

Courtesy of Pyramid International we had a Man of Steel poster to give away along with a Midlands Movies prize of an Ultimate Guide to Superman DC book with 2 collectable prints and also a Superman notebook.

The lucky winner chosen at random from the 55 entrants that got involved is.....

Rob Jones @Hulksmash1985 on Twitter.

Well done Rob (please drop us a tweet with your details) and thank you everyone for getting involved. We've had competition winners for 700, 800, 900 and 1000 followers as well as the one off Dark Knight Rises at Wollaton Hall competition so keep reading for more movie picture prizes coming your way soon.

Thanks again all!

Mike Sales, Editor

Midlands Movies

By midlandsmovies, Aug 21 2013 09:16PM

Midlands Movies gave readers the chance to win 2 FREE tickets courtesy of Derby Quad to see The Dark Knight Rises at Woollaton Hall in Nottingham where the movie was filmed! The winner was @TommyDraper who was chosen at random for both tickets for the showing on Saturday September 7th.


By midlandsmovies, Jul 30 2013 05:43PM

With the Man of Steel tearing up the box office, the Comic Con announcement that Superman AND Batman will appear in the next DC film together as well as being deep inside Phase 2 of the Marvel Universe, I’m going to take a brief look at my favourite superhero films. A few films like Scott Pilgrim and Wanted (both of which I love) I’ve decided against including as although both from graphic novels and both having protagonists with “powers” they didn’t seem to fit in with the masked crusaders from the rest. They’d both be pretty high up however. Also, honourable mentions to Mystery Men, Captain America, Hellboy 2 & The Rocketeer. That said, commence au festival!

15. Thor (Kenneth Brannagh)

Marvel proved it was willing to take a few chances with its directorial choices as Sir Ken came in and gave a big dose of Shakespearean family feuding to the usual CGI fight-fests and to his credit comes out with one of the more distinct movies from Marvel’s Phase One. Hammer time!

14. Superman (Richard Donner)

We believed a man could fly in the ultimate showcase of actors (Brando, Reeve and Hackman) taking a serious look at the indestructible red pants man, taking us from Krypton to Earth with amazing results. Super dooper!

13. Blade (Stephen Norrington)

With the black jacket, sunglasses, bullet dodging and building leaps, it’s easy to see how The Matrix overshadowed this movie despite their similar style in this dark and gritty 90s vampire-killing classic. It’s got a big bite of action and effects with some unique fighting that sadly fizzled out in the humour-filled sequels. Tasty!

12. Unbreakable (M Night Shyamalan)

His second (and last good) film and the one that many of us are awaiting a sequel for, the director told a slow-burner of a story as a man who doesn’t even believe he has any powers but has to protect his family and the public from a classic villain taken (literally) from comic books. Uniquely told with comic-panel visuals and presented in a down-to-earth realistic way makes the film all the more impressive. Shatter proof.

11. Batman Begins (Chris Nolan)

Nolan sets the bar high with his re-imagining of Batman after the dreadful Joel Schumacher failures with an authentic tale of rich boy going AWOL and then being trained by assassins before returning to his beloved city to do good. With a strong set of actors and some exciting action scenes, Bale’s Batman placed him solely in the real world with very real problems. Bat-tastic!

10. Kick A** (Matthew Vaughn)

Over the top action sequences combined with some hilariously named heroes, all tied together with a self-referential knowing of superhero traits blended to give this film a violent look at a brand new set of characters outside of the usual huge franchises we already know. Cage hasn’t been this good in years and the young protagonists try to balance their growing pains with the torture of street pummels! A cult classic with a sequel due anytime now in July 2013.

9. X-Men (Bryan Singer)

Again, the origin story seems to be the strongest of the bunch as Singer takes the mutant group and brings it into a faithful world setting (or gay allegory as some have suggested) by aligning them with modern day persecution. Amazingly, Singer takes the premise of a child’s cartoon (my first experience) and turns it into an action packed narrative with serious adult themes and where moral discussions lead to genuine and sincere consequences. The film also introduces us to an unforgettable actor/character pairing with Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman. X-cellent.

8. Iron Man (Jon Favreau)

Marvel’s first foray into movie-making may never be topped for some as Robert Downey Jnr plays arrogant billionaire Tony Stark who after a kidnapping uses his company’s technology to create the ultimate military suit. From the playboy with the boy’s toy to the perfect pacing, Iron Man has humour, hurt and tenderness but is mostly a lot of fun with an amazingly recreated CGI suit, great action scenes and set the stage for the future team-up with his avenging pals. A metal marvel. (Just don’t mention Iron Man 2).

7. The Incredibles (Brad Bird)

Pixar moved away from cuddly toys and talking animals in this almost art-deco style story of one family’s superhero problems - from secret identities to the inconveniences of capes, the movie twists the genre conventions, the animation is flawless and the characters well shaped. Throwing in plenty of funnies and nods to other famous superhero powers (ice, stretching, invisibility etc), director Brad Bird even gets in on the action as the voice of costume designer Edna Mole. Nobody does it quite like Pixar.

6. X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn)

After the incredibly disappointing and flawed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we go back to the beginning for a Cold War narrative as the backdrop to finding out how Xavier and Magneto met, developed their skills and started the school for the gifted in this brilliant prequel/origin story. From the nods to real world events (Cuban missile crisis) to the training montages, the film balances the serious Nazi themes of the opening with a later light-hearted touch as the swinging 60s takes hold. Fassbender is a joy as we watch his downfall during his clashes against Kevin Bacon’s excellent villain. Pure class.

5. The Avengers (Joss Whedon)

The pinnacle of Marvel’s Phase One as we finally got to see Nick Fury’s plans come to fruition during his ploy to assemble the greatest set of heroes on earth to defend against the nefarious Loki (a brilliant Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army of minions. Whedon gives everyone their fare share of screen time and injects a dose of humour and knowing about the proceedings before unleashing Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and finally a decent Hulk onto the city of New York with support from Black Widow and Hawkeye. Action aplenty, lots of laughs and solid storytelling all lead to a brilliant finale that satisfied geeky fans and the passing crowd on its way to a $1billion plus box office. Avenge that!

4. Watchmen (Zack Snyder)

Snyder’s literal interpretation of the infamous graphic novel was a turn off for some but with adult themes in an alternative history and his visual pyrotechnics assaulting the eyes, the film is a faithful re-telling of Moore’s opus. A story of getting older, doing things for the greater good and double-crossing, the film tackled huge themes and has one of the best opening credit sequences of ANY film. From the violent Rorschach who refuses to compromise to the out of shape Night Owl via the omniscient Dr. Manhattan, the brilliantly realised characters show the darker side of the American dream. The joke’s on us as we are forced to confront our own moral standpoint. Very watchable.

3. The Dark Knight (Chris Nolan)

Nolan’s best entry in his trilogy contains Heath Ledger’s astounding take on Batman’s nemesis as he creates havoc in Gotham as the sadistic Joker whilst Bruce comes to terms with losing a loved one alongside the transformation of Harvey Dent to Two-Face. Filled to the brim with classic scenes from the opening heist to the Bat-cycle speeding through city streets, Nolan makes not just a superhero film but an inspired crime saga with immense depth previously unseen in the genre. Virtuoso acting, remarkable stunts and a convincing script resonated with audiences who wanted to follow Bruce’s continuing journey as the watchful protector. Wayne-derful.

2. Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi)

The first film established a solid but uninspiring take on the webbed-wonder but after its success Raimi was allowed to unleash his full directorial flourishes onto the franchise in the form of zooms, whip pans and more Bruce Campbell in this superior sequel. Maguire loses his mojo as Parker tries hard to be both Spidey and boyfriend to MJ whilst Alfred Molina is top drawer as Dr. Octopus, a much improved and far more fun villain than the Green Goblin. With less-cartoony CGI, brilliant action sequences on the elevated train, during the bank robbery and high-up on buildings, Raimi showed he could handle the affectionate closeness between characters whilst wasting no time in slinging in some comedy, mild horror and plenty of fisticuffs as Spiderman comes to terms with what’s important in his life. Go web go!

1. Batman (Tim Burton)

The best of Batman in my eyes with the right balance between fantasy comic book and dark reality with a brooding Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and devilish Jack Nicholson as The Joker in a role he was born to play. Rejuvenating the comic-book movie (after the Superman franchise ended in a damp squib) the film was stylish, sassy (“where does he get those wonderful toys?”) and equal parts insane and serious. Nolan took more from this than anyone cares to admit (see my Bat-blog here on their similarities – click for blog) and Burton focused on the Caped Crusader’s crime and detective background and gave us the origins in well-thought out flashbacks. With a BatMobile for the ages, a solid support cast (Michael Gough as Alfred lasting ALL four of this franchise’s movies) and a gothic design by the late Anton Furst, the simply titled Batman was not only the sum of its parts but much more than that and made the anti-hero not just a campy actor in tights, but a major cultural phenomenon. Good knight my sweet Prince.

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