icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram


Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

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, Apr 2 2018 08:08PM

I Kill Giants (2018) Dir. Anders Walter

Based upon the graphic novel I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly (writer) and Ken Niimura (artist), I Kill Giants was written in 2008 before A Monster Calls but has unfortunately been released as a movie a year after. This results in the tale having some familiarity but, for me, it didn’t harm the film one little bit given the quality on show.

In this film, a fantastic Madison Wolfe plays disturbed young girl Barbara Thorson who is a dungeons and dragons playing loner who escapes the troubles of her life by retreating into a world of fantasy. Sound familiar? Maybe so, but the film explores a great deal about growing up in an intelligent way through the eyes of children. Passionate for fantasy board games with multi-sided dice, Barbara lives with her disinterested video-game obsessed brother. Together they are both looked after by their put-upon sister Karen, in which Imogen Poots plays the stressed older sibling brilliantly.

Barbara is shown to be intelligent and witty but also boisterous and looks down on her family (and teachers) with scorn. This ensures she is friendless and spends most of her time creating homemade spells and potions out of random finds, which are then used to lure huge monsters. Wolfe is so convincing that from great character introductions at the start, I was unsure whether her creative world was in fact real or not. Her feisty Barbara is only ever seen alone with the monsters and although the question is rapidly cleared up, the film explores childhood creativity and frustrations in a way that patronises neither children nor the adults who have relationships with them.

Warnings and markings are scrawled by Barbara at home, on the beach and at school to protect herself and others from (an imagined?) harm but this brings her to the attention to Zoe Saldana’s school counsellor. Finding it hard to break into Barbara’s world, the sassy youngster equally infuriates and intrigues Saldana as she relentlessly keeps her guard up. Back home, Barbara meets an English girl Sophia (Sydney Wade) who is new to the area and slowly they form a bond. Barbara begins to trust her enough to show her a private sanctuary she has created as well as share details of the different types of giant she is aware of.

Far from a fantasy, the depiction of youngsters sharing secrets, having their own protective space and also passing paper messages between each other were entirely relatable aspects of growing up. Barbara creates her own “medicine” from unique items to stop the monsters she feels are going to attack her loved ones but the film ensures the relationships feel less fantastical and more authentic. And her strong smart exterior is used as protection against real bullies, teachers and the “giant” issues she faces.

The film’s tone had an ‘Amblin’ flavour at times which was no bad thing either. The music and bike-riding definitely had the young charm of The Goonies whilst the chirpy piano score felt more than reminiscent of 1980’s Spielberg and JJ Abrams’ Super 8 (2011). And finding out it was produced by Christopher Columbus was therefore of no surprise either. The CGI forest giants and the ominous presence of a Treebeard-esque shadow monster upstairs in Barbara’s home were well-rendered but, like last year’s Colossal, the little explored “women-against-giant-monsters” sub-genre is again much more than meets the eye.

Without spoiling the film, the giants represent far more than can be imagined and although this is explicitly stated, there always seemed to be a mystery until the final third of the movie. It’s a fantastic look at childhood fun, trauma and life-learning from blood oaths to the frustration of P.E. lessons and all this is done with the right balance of fun and seriousness.

A slightly predictable parable – although it gives far less away than the A Monster Calls trailer – I Kill Giants is a brilliant and inspired coming-of-age comedy drama that sits in the same space as that film. A strong cast of performers are led by Madison Wolfe who is front and centre, and deservedly so, from the start. Dealing with difficult issues and seen from the viewpoint of a bright but troubled young girl, the final twist in the tale tackles much heartbreak within its skilful narrative. But, as we are moved on this poignant journey, I Kill Giants becomes one fictional world you won’t want to escape from.


Midlands Movies Mike

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 21 2016 08:26PM

It had been a few years since my last visit to the MCM Comic Con in Birmingham’s NEC arena and after a fantastic time at Leicester’s own independent convention (see here) I decided to see if the event was still as much fun as before.

With new writer Robb Sheppard in tow (@RedBezzle) we met at New Street station where there was already train carriages packed full of the weird and wonderful cosplayers on their way to the event.

As we entered through the snaking queues of people waiting in line for what was sure to be a jam-packed two days, Robb and I dropped off our bags and hit the throngs of comic, film, game and TV fans.

As always, there was an amazing mix of amateur and professionals with stars of film and TV offering a chat and photo and the long lines of eager fans showed that people of all ages couldn’t wait to meet their heroes. One such star was Sam Jones from Flash Gordon who unfortunately had large parts of his voice dubbed for the movie but you could chat to the very much alive Jones in the flesh. Flesh Gordon? No, that’s something entirely different.

Also in the star zone were sci-fi stars and regular convention attendees Chris Barrie (Rimmer) and Danny John Jules (Cat) from Red Dwarf and the sci-fi continued with the amazing Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not quite so famous was American motormouth and auctioneer Sean Kelly from TV’s cult Storage Hunters who is also making his debut in February at the Leicester Comedy Fest.

As we left the celebrity area, Robb and I could hear the (royal) rumblings of two wrestlers from Midlands based www.slamwrestling.co.uk who were diving and suplexing in and out of the ring.

Just near the violent pounding of the ring was the glamour modelling tent strictly for over 18s only. The glamour “Mansion” contained a number of erotic models who were happy to speak to their fans. Given the coy shyness of us Brits, it mostly consisted of groups of lads egging each other on to speak to the scantily clad ladies or a few folk who looked like this was their first time speaking to any woman. Either way, people were having fun and we ran into Anastasia Lux who we found out was also a part-time wrestler! Body slam!

After our access all areas trip around the naughtier side of the convention we returned to the standard stalls which had a mixture of shops, market places, comic artists and writers as well as special exhibits and there was a great display of the bizarre and beautiful. One of the first things to get our attention was the out of the world experience delivered by Sent Into Space. They offer people the chance to create your own space mission by sending up everything from family heirlooms to toys into space where they reach the edge of the atmosphere before falling safely back to earth. http://sentintospace.com

Another unique stall were the Animazombs who are a collection of soft animal toys with various zombie related problems. This great crowdfunded group have everything from Wilson the Giraffe whose insides come spilling out to Victor Rabbit who is part zombie and part carrot! One for the dark kids out there but great fun nonetheless! http://www.animazombs.com

Unit 13 Originals specialise in movie inspired products and t-shirts whilst Astutia Amacus produced monogrammed cups and unique hand crafted glass wear including Game of Thrones goblets! https://www.facebook.com/astutiaamacus/

As we continued to wander around, the over abundance of Deadpools and Harley Quinns was really quite astounding but the friendly folk at Crackerjack Cosplay stole the show with their Boba Fett inspired designs. Check these new faces on the block at www.facebook.com/crackerjackcosplay

My love for Burton’s Batman has been explored before on this blog and we came across two of my favourite costumes from the convention with spot-on recreations (and look-a-likes) of Michael Keaton’s Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Miaow! Then Robb came across what I thought was a soldier from 300 but he was unsure if it was actually a Marvin the Martian costume. Is this Sparta? The great outfit was in fact inspired by the original and over-the-top stylised Frank Miller comic design.

Mary Jane’s Originals had Robb drooling at the Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead) inspired leather waistcoat and the custom clothing company even allows people to design their own bespoke pieces.

Some great individual talent we came across included artist Nathan J Pegler who draws sci-fi landscapes in pastels whilst Kevin Heasman (Dynomo Doodles) focuses on book illustration, storyboards and more. https://kevinheasman.carbonmade.com Gianluca Bonomo was creating his own graphic novel CCTVYLLE which mixed nature with surveillance technology with great artwork. http://www.cctvylle.com/

A new Star Wars line of replica helmets caught our eye (along with the eye-watering prices) as the classic Vader helmet was showcased with the new DeathTrooper helmet from soon-to-be released Rogue One. Sticking with a glaxy far far away, the lovely folk at R S Prop Masters were raising money for mental health charities by raffling off a Stormtrooper helmet. They didn’t need any help from Sean Kelly as we donated a couple of quid for a great cause and the chance to win a shiny helmet (!)

The Empire-sized Star Wars presence continued as attendees were kept on their toes by roaming groups of Stromtroopers from the UK Garrison who were formed in 2000. As one of the foremost Star Wars costuming groups in the UK, they are also part of the constantly growing 501st Legion, itself the largest costuming organisation in the world. Find more info here www.ukgarrison.co.uk

From Leicester’s Comic Con was Jess Taylor and her Disney storyboard-inspired artwork and we picked up some “Peeps” stickers but strangely we were unable to locate (despite the map) our good friend The Retro Draughtsman. The owner Gavin lives in my block of flats in Leicester but despite multiple circuits we swear his stand wasn’t where the brochure listed it. Gone AWOL! From his pictures, he had another terrific stand showcasing his amazing technical drawings of retro toys so we hope you found him.

Continuing the great artists – what these shows are really about – was N T Productions who create 3-D busts of famous superhero and villains and they can even deliver them unpainted for those brave enough to give them their own paint job. www.nt-productions.com Haydn Gardner is a West Midlands artist with ASD who works with relationships with mental health with his superb acrylic collages. https://messymiscreation.com/

Neil Sambrook of Fly Comics showcased his Warr and Peace comic amongst other titles www.flycomics.co.uk and Nathan Webb of WE66 Illustration was drawing a stormtrooper right before out eyes! https://www.facebook.com/nathanwe66

Finally, Darrens Brick Art displayed a great set of LEGO inspired framed dioramas www.darrensbrickart.com whilst Childish Butt Vomit (Sajan Rai) had the best absent sign of the convention: “Artist on heroin break", which gave us many chuckles.

There was so much to see on Day 1 not even 6 full hours seemed to even scratch the surface in the huge auditorium. We saw a great Steampunk Winter Soldier, a Game of Thrones throne, some folk from the Aliens Marine Garrison and a spot-on Ghostbusters Kate McKinnon cosplayer near the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man head.

The event was rounded off by a day of reckoning from a very big Bane who was as scary as his movie’s inspiration and the only flaw was the photo which was ruined by the presence of my Sainsbury’s bag for life. Robb and I also handed out our own Midlands Movies flyers and a few special goodies to some of our favourite attendees and we hope those had a fantastic day and enjoyed their prizes.

And with that, we left the NEC having enjoyed the home-made costumes, the professional cosplayers, the stars of old and the upcoming talent from the region showing again the Midlands is the place to be for movie fans in the UK.

Midlands Movies Mike

Click here to see the full album of photos from MCM Comic Con in Birmingham

By midlandsmovies, Jun 9 2016 10:41PM

Click here for all photos of the 2016 event on the Midlands Movies Facebook page

Midlands Movies Mike takes a trip to the ever-expanding Comic Con Leicester at the Athena venue in the city’s cultural quarter. With a completely sold-out event, Mike braved the throngs of cosplayers and comic fans for the weekend where the wacky and wonderful sat side-by-side in a showcase of the region’s immense talent.

After last year’s fantastic event (read our report here) it was great to see the event back in the city and even bigger than before. Organisers Gavin-Lee Pate (http://www.theretrodraughtsman.co.uk) and Richard Twekesbury promised even more fun than last year and boy did they deliver.

Rocking up to the Athena venue (an art-deco building previously the Odeon cinema) the joy began with an amazing appearance from Ecto-1, the car from Ghostbusters. As accurate as you could possibly want, the vehicle was a fully kitted out replica with the sirens and the Ghostbusters theme playing in the background and from the amount of happy faces, this slice of the 80s went down great with old and young alike.

With no queues – better than last year – the organisers had staggered attendees and I entered the venue’s foyer and was greeted by a host of Cosplayers from comics, film, gaming and television. Some of the more impressive outfits included a number of authentic Stormtroopers, a couple of Predators (one of which had a Judge Dredd costume so Dredd-ator?) and one boy in a fully accurate Batman V Superman Dark Knight armour outfit – even with light-up eyes. More obscurely, a personal favourite was one guy in a Warriors leather jerkin – something he had made himself which was a cool nod to one of the most enjoyable gangs flicks on the early 80s.

As before, the old cinema lay-out meant that shops were mainly on the lower floor and stall-holders on the tiered balconies which made for a distinctive arrangement but one drawback was the stairs (especially for masked cosplayers) and the unfortunate temperature – again, the heavily costumed attendees would have been sweating like mad. I was, and I just was just dressed in a t-shirt!

So, who were the talent on show? Well, there was both a high quantity of creatives but more importantly and amazing quality and passion amongst them too.

Manga influenced comic studio, Tanra Studios were on hand both days to promote their new join-project Pandora and Nadia and Tara drew a host of commissions over the two days. Check out their work at www.tanrastudios.blogspot.co.uk or on Twitter @Tanra626

Kate Beaumont from www.cosmicmindcomics.tumblr.com were grateful for the water provided by what they called “blue shirts” (a spin on Star Trek and a kind nod to the organising volunteers on the day) and had a fantastic time selling their comic to new readers.

Local Leicester legend Rebecca Mansfield from the 2015 show was again in attendance with her dragon inspired art and prints www.rebeccamansfieldart.com and Dark Pond Creations’ Patrick Scattergood was there to promote his award nominated anthology series Flesh Tones https://sellfy.com/DarkPondCreations

With me being raised in a small town called Walderslade in Kent, it was an interesting chat with Maidstone-based writer Kit Cox who went to school a town over from where we grew up. Kit acknowledged my ‘Godzilla’ t-shirt and who entertained later in the day with a comedic speech on the history of Myths and Monsters. Very apt! www.kitcox.com

Midlands Movies event poster designer and Leicester’s premier artist to the local scene Ryan Button, was there selling fabulous prints of his 80s and sci-fi inspired art. From Transformers to Star Wars via Skeletor and Cybermen, Ryan of RB Illustrations had a steady flow to his stall. Also a storyboard artist for local filmmakers, contact Ryan for film-related commissions and order from his website at http://rbillustration.com

Freelance comic and cartoon artist Tara Washington had a range of fantasy and dream-like art www.Chosha-kurenai.deviantart.com and illustrator Alexandra McCarthy had post-con Twitter comments of “best stall there” with a selection of quirky cat art. Lots of awesome cats including one as a “cat-tamer”. http://1-in-100.co.uk. Jess Taylor was nearby and is an illustrator inspired by Disney concept and storyboard art and check out her amazing designs at http://jesstarts.tumblr.com/ whilst another 2015 alumni, animator Thomas Crook, was promoting his current cartoons.

Also from 2015’s con, David “We were wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts last year” Millgate was back and this time with his new comic “Jackboot & Ironheel” – soon to be available via Forbidden Planet. David even had his mum looking after his stall at one point and I purchased an amazing signed Kylo Ren poster print from the Blaby based artist who designs on a wide range of topics including Star Wars and 2000AD. Follow David on Twitter here https://twitter.com/DavidMillgate

Tom Hodge aka The Dude Designs is now back in Leicester after a stint in LA and his 80s VHS-style work has been used for Hobo With a Shotgun, The Innkeepers and Wolf Cop’s official artwork. As well as these wider releases, Tom hasn’t forgotten his roots after designing the poster for Leicester grindhouse feature The Wrong Floor by Roasted films (https://www.facebook.com/TheWrongFloor) and check out his huge selection of posters at his site http://thedudedesigns.com

Leo Gavin of Phisog is a self employed artist whose designs range from film prints to sketchbook doodles. Based in Staffordshire, Leo created this cartoon which I loved and he’s recently moved into digital art involving characters like Deadpool and Harley Quinn.

Artist Sandra Danborg showcased her art inspired by fantasy characters and fictional worlds and told me how she created her first graphic novel by drawing a page a day. She was worried that the final pages were a much better quality than the first but you wouldn’t be able to tell with her unique style and colouring process. www.memorylane.thecomicseries.com

Founded in 2012, Reckless Hero have moved from their t-shirt prints into publishing with their “The Last Sheriff” comic but now have a new book they were promoting called “The Falconer”. The group (Chris Imber, Chris Jenkins and Matthew King) have bonded over music and art for over a decade and are continuing to bring a vivid range of stories to life. Check them at www.recklesshero.com

Death Bugle’s hilarious comics were a joy – originally a story about a death metal band but now encompassing bears, fleas and “hideous flies”. Ha ha! Check their out their clever and peculiar take on the world at www.deathbulge.com whilst Dan Harris promised epic science fiction and more “epic-er” comedy with his action adventure Lou Scannon series (geddit?). As well as that title, the interestingly named “Druid Investigations #1” has now been released as part of the Attic Studios collective. www.atticstudios.website

Another returnee was Wolverhampton University alumni Keith Chan www.keith-chan.co.uk whose comic book art, greeting cards and prints had everything from trouser-eating horses to superhero sketches and basset hounds!

One of the more popular stalls was Sajan Rai whose “Childish B*tt Vomit” comic had free stickers and a chance for you to get yourself drawn as a sloth. Not the one from The Goonies. But an actual sloth. Brocko and Frens was a big hit with the crowds with what can only be described as a dolphin in a leather jacket (Brocko), a polar bear (Barnabus Buggles) and a baby seal (Baby Seal). www.sajanrai.co.uk

Giles Meakin Illustrator focuses on fantasy, horror, murals, storyboards and even portraits and photography. In addition he also does commissions so see if there’s something up your street over at www.gilesmeakin.co.uk

Finally – but most eye-opening-ly – the brave ladies of Midlands Body Paint decided to go mostly natural where a team of talented artists drew comic book designs directly onto their bodies. A risqué show of individualism and empowerment, their network of talented artists, models and photographers took many a breath away but the absence of offense showed the welcoming nature of a diverse crowd. Well done Leicester.

And with a busy two days drawing to a close, the final day encompassed a cosplay show and with everyone tiring from so much fun, the event drew to a satisfying close. A huge congratulation and thank you should be passed to the organisers, attendees, artists, Cosplayers and everyone else who came to Leicester to experience one of the city’s best alternative weekends. Long may it continue.

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 19 2014 07:00AM

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) Dir. Robert Rodriguez (Released December 15th in the UK)

“This rotten town... It soils everybody.” So says Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) and oh how true it is. This sequel to the 2005 hit continues the monochrome graphic-novel style from the pages of the comic and combines more of Frank Miller’s brutal noir stories, some adapted plus a few new ones written especially for this movie. We get brutal card games, revenge violence, femme fatales and crooked cops and although these themes continue from the original with equivalent gloss, it does not have the same excitement and it’s difficult to know exactly why.

For me, the stories were less engrossing – my favourite being Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “The Long Bad Night” (actually one of the original stories for the film) – yet the plotting and editing were awkward and cumbersome. Marv (Mickey Rourke) is both a great character and well acted plus there are corking cameos from Lady Gaga and a too-little-seen Christopher Lloyd as a shifty “doc” whilst Eva Green (from 300: Rise of an Empire) is definitely to die for with a seemingly endless set of partially dressed explicit scenes. However, the large cast fail to reach any chemistry on screen and a HUGE misstep for me was the incessant recasting of actors. With the sad passing of Michael Clarke Duncan we get an understandable but dull replacement, Devon Aoki and Michael Madsen are replaced and the worst crime is there’s no Clive Owen (who I only like in one film, guess which).

Although I do like Josh Brolin and he gives it his all, the sequel/prequel plot was confusing and compounded by his involvement in a facial plastic surgery story! Sadly then, this is the second Frank Miller sequel (after Rise of an Empire) in 2014 to miss the mark – which just proves you can’t really go back. It’s 9 years too late and sadly the biggest sin is that it is actually quite boring and Rodriguez’s roulette of good-to-bad films continues.

6/10 Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Mar 4 2014 04:00AM

300: Rise of an Empire (2014) Dir. Noam Murro

After Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s “300” proved to be a violent visual hit back in 2007 comes this belated sequel (of sorts) as we follow Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles during the Battle of Salamis. Definitely no Gerard Butler in the charisma stakes, Stapleton is as Australian as Butler was Scottish but accents aside, the film also sees the return of regular faces Xerxes, Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes, Daxos, David Wenham as Dilios and Lena Headey as Queen Gorgo. Headey is the narrator this time and fans of her in Dredd will love more slow motion and 3-D blood splatters that this film provides but Headey isn’t the best female character because Eva Green as Artemisia – a Greek traitor now in control of Persia’s navy – gets some of the best lines and sequences including an S & M sex scene where clothes are ripped like the flesh from bones on the battlefield.

Her thirst for vengeance drives the story forward and I enjoyed the structure of the film which covered prequel, side-quel and sequel time periods and there’s enough explosive killing and crimson gore to keep the action fans happy. Although the characters are not even as deep as the wounds that are weapon-inflicted during the war, the actors know what kind of movie they are in and the big overblown performances of the tyrannical Xerxes and volatile Green fit the style which is a good approximation of the first film. For all the homage there’s no new real innovation - the long slow-mo fights are longer and slower and the ultra-violence is turned up to 11 - although that said, I enjoyed another bout of senseless and bloodthirsty action but it’s definitely not a history lesson as anyone expecting a clever look at the spread of democracy is searching around the wrong Empire. “Oh, I've chosen my words carefully, Persian” – if you leave your brain at the door you may just enjoy another bout of senseless fighting and vein-y violence in this second-rate but solid sequel.

7/10 Midlands Movies Mike

RSS Feed twitter