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By midlandsmovies, Jun 6 2017 04:26PM

Local filmmaker ready to take you to another world

With the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming in the Summer of 2017, interest in the web-slinging superhero is at an all-time high. After a deal that saw Spidey enter the MCU from a property owned by Sony, fans are anticipating a great first adventure during the blockbuster season.

However, the biggest fan might just be right here in the Midlands as Leicester filmmaker Joey Lever is set to launch his own fan-film based around the infamous New Yorker. Now we’re “tingling” with excitement, we swing by to find out more about the ambitious production.

In early 2017, Joey Lever won a Midlands Movies Award for his sound mixing work on his film Paper Plane which began a successful start to a year that looks set to explode for the local filmmaker.

His new superhero fan film is Spider-Man: Another World and it is in fact part of a larger shared universe he has created with fellow fans. Taking an idea from Marvel themselves, Lever has named it "The strand of web, web series" which includes 3 films and one short.

DiGitiLhEaRt & PavillionArts are the studios who have invested in his vision and Joey’s new project has also seen him working with many of the region’s most talented creatives, including Gatling Gun Productions who also hail from Leicestershire.

With the trailer just launched in June (see YouTube video above) Joey Lever says “We are so excited to hear what [fans] think about it as this been such an amazing experience to step back into the shoes of Peter Parker. This time trying to make a fan film that is different and we are so proud of the outcome”.

Also supporting the production is comic book artist Marc Ducrow who has designed the film’s poster.

Updating via the movie's Facebook page, Joey goes on to add, “As a child I was always fascinated by the idea to tell stories in different ways. I spent many years growing up drawing, acting out little sequences I thought up before bedtime. This blossomed into my love of film making. Every film you see of mine will be made with my heart and soul”.

Based in Leicester, Joey is a self-taught freelance filmmaker & cinematographer and has been lucky enough to work internationally on projects in the USA, South America, Australia and Germany

As well as writing and directing Lever himself stars in the action-drama alongside local talent Jak Lionel Beasley, Lauren Baxter, Gill Broderick, Wade James Keeling and Carley Lightfoot.

We'll be keeping a close eye on the film's development as it comes to launch and follow the movie's updates on the official pages below.



By midlandsmovies, May 8 2017 09:04AM

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Dir. James Gunn

After the huge success of the first film, writer-director James Gunn returns to the vibrant day-glow world of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his eclectic gang for this sequel in the never-ending Marvel franchise.

One of its positives is perhaps its lack of connection to the shared Marvel cinematic universe allowing for (aside from few post-credit scenes) a focus on its own story rather than setting up future characters and films with a set of unfulfilling cliff-hangers.

Here the superhero film focuses on the Guardians crew who are now mercenaries for hire of sorts and after defeating a large squid in a superb one-take musical opening, meet with a golden race called the Sovereign. Their reward for their job is Gamora’s sister Nebula (Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan respectively) but they are soon on the run after Rocket Racoon (voiced brilliantly still by Bradley Cooper) steals valuable batteries from them.

After being chased, the group split with Peter, Gamora and Drax ending up on a sentient planet created by Peter’s God-like father Ego (Kurt Russell) whilst Rocket and Vin Diesel’s (baby) Groot cross paths with Michael Rooker’s superb Yondu who is in trouble with his own mutinous clan.

GOTG Vol. 2 is a fresh, superb sequel that delves deeper into these characters established in the original and each distinct personality has their own unique narrative arc. Gunn has done a great job with a multi-character script with a few pop-culture references (TV’s Knightrider is brilliantly given a nod) which do not muddy the deeper themes. Gunn uses serious drama, stories of revenge and love and a father-son dynamic to create conflict in a lesson to all budding scriptwriters. Yet, none of it feels like a surface gesture.

Drax’s “literal” laughter develops into more understanding of his bluntness whilst fun jokes, such as the ones at the expense of the strangely named Taserface, sit perfectly with parental quarrels and inter-team tensions.

The film never once felt slow or dragged out and is edited to within an inch of its life letting the audience know exactly where everyone is and what their motivations are. This is without losing the crucial essence of the characters. Rogue One this isn’t and thank goodness for that.

Given the film’s sensitive subject matter to me after my own recent loss of a parent, the ideas and excellent delivery of them by Gunn hit an emotional core that may be beyond the casual viewer. However, that’s not to say others will not find an emotional resonance with the superbly played out poignancy of the film’s conclusion – where I admit a tear of two was shed.

Dave Bautista as Drax rounds out the first-rate acting on show and I would go as far to say that the film could be even better than the first. Like Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, the film jumps straight into the drama without the need for the “origin story” and delves deeper into each character and their universe akin to classic sci-fi follow up Empire Strikes Back.

With enough new elements added, as well as the obligatory 70s soundtrack which is incorporated well into the story, GOTG Vol. 2 is an exceptional feat. The film could be the best-looking Marvel film to date with its eye-popping colour palette and with outstanding costumes, make-up and special effects scenes will satisfy the action fans. However, for me it showed that if you care about your leads then these are hugely heightened. Yet the film’s best asset is Gunn himself who delivers the whole package needed in a summer blockbuster and it is he who is the Guardian of his own gorgeous galaxy.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Nov 3 2016 04:12PM

Dr. Strange (2016) DIr. Scott Derrickson

A former neurosurgeon embarks upon a journey of self-healing only to find himself drawn into a world of mysterious arts.

Successful neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) falls apart after a tragic car accident leaves him unable to continue with his work. In denial, he pushes for a number of pioneering treatments in order to regain full use of his hands, however when reality hits him that he will never operate again, he begins to look at somewhat alternative methods. After arriving at a location in Nepal, he is introduced to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who informs him that he must set aside all ego and learn the secrets of a mystic world and alternative dimensions. However, before long, Strange finds himself as an intermediary between the real world and everything beyond this - something that is slightly more than he bargained for...

So, my birthday present from my best friend came in the form of a cinema trip to see the latest edition to Marvel's Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange. Quite a good birthday present I must say, even if it wasn't quite in line with what we had expected.

Straight off the bat, it has to be said that Benedict Cumberbatch's performance was rather wonderful. He, of course, played the film's title character, and was every bit as impressive as some of the dimension-defying abilities Strange eventually possessed. Despite not being the most instantly likeable character, Cumberbatch did provide him with a certain charm that did well to win the viewer round.

With every hero, there must come a villain, and that villain came in the form of Mads Mikkelsen's Kaecilius. If I'm completely honest with you, I have to say that I was left slightly disappointed by Mikkelsen's performance, or perhaps the amount of it that we saw. He wasn't in the film for nearly as long as I had hoped he would be, and I feel like he was kind of wasted in the role for how little we actually saw of him. Yes, this was the first Doctor Strange film, so I understand that it is a introductory film of some sort, however, there really wasn't enough of him here, and from what I saw, it doesn't look as though we're going to be seeing much more of him any time soon.

The film's cast was made up by quite a few serious names. Alongside Cumberbatch and Mikklesen were the likes of Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams, and this was something else that worked in favour of the film.

I stated at the beginning that I didn't feel the film was as good as I had been expecting it to be. Despite this, it was still up there as one of 2016's better films, but not among the best. However, there is part of me that thinks that the only reason it was still above average for the first time of viewing is because of the brilliant visual effects. There was a hint of Inception with the bending of matter and dimensions and this was very good to see, however if it wasn't for this, I may have very likely felt considerably more let down by the film, and it is for this reason that I probably won't be able to watch the film for a second time in the near future.

All in all, Doctor Strange is a half-decent popcorn film that most cinema goers will enjoy, however will most probably not be blown away by. the cast and the acting were superb, even if perhaps screen time was not distributed as I'd have liked it to be. The storyline is something we have seen before, but is held up by the visual effects that are something quite special, but might have lost some of their wonder when it comes to a second viewing of the film.


Kira Comerford

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, May 12 2016 07:44PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Apr 30 2016 05:09PM

With Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War released on 29 April 2016 in the UK we ran a competition to win a fantastic visual history of Marvel book to coincide with the latest film from the MCU franchise.

Kindly donated by our friends at Death by Video, the book contains over 300 pages of history with pictures, photos, stories and more from the infamous comic book studio

With over 400+ entries, we drew one winner at random from the list of entrants who retweeted and followed us and that winner is......

Twitter user..... Joe! https://twitter.com/elcapitanleics

Congratulations Joe and get in touch for your prize

Joe will join previous lucky competition folk on the Prize Winners Blog:


By midlandsmovies, Feb 26 2016 02:22PM

Deadpool (2016) Dir. Tim Miller

A long-gestating pet project of Ryan Reynolds, Marvel’s ‘Merc with a Mouth’ finally gets a big screen release all on his own after the strange and awful “gene-pool” version seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine a few years back. That film along with many others from the comic book world (including a dig at Reynolds’ own DC appearance in the shitty Green Lantern) are ripe for lampooning and the accurate translation from page to screen has kept Deadpool’s 4th wall-breaking and pop culture referencing apparently intact.

I say apparently as I have not read the comics it’s based on and I’m a big believer for those two hours of a film, although context outside can be helpful, the audience should be able to judge a movie on its own merits.

With that said, the narrative is basic but efficient as this new origin story shows ex-mercenary Wade Wilson falling for Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) but soon discovering inoperable cancer will cut their relationship short. Searching for a cure he is approached by a shifty organisation (vague even by comic book standards as they are never explained who) that promise Wade that they can not only cure him, but improve him as well.

As Wade discovers he has super-healing powers, he subsequently goes on the run from his captors who admit the real reason behind this experiment is to create slaves (eh?). He then attempts to hunt down the main villain Ajax/Francis (British actor Ed Skrein) and force him to cure the disfiguring side-effects Wade has suffered. As Ajax captures Wade’s love we are already into the last act as the hero (along with X-Men Colossus & Negasonic Teenage Warhead) attempts to save Vanessa and enact his revenge.

Simple but uncomplicated, this is embellished with a linear narrative which moves us back and forth along the various straightforward timelines. It even brings attention to 4th wall breaking ‘within’ a 4th wall break (“16 walls!”) which was more involving than a traditional action arc. Also positive is the fact you can certainly tell it’s a much-loved pet project. Few attempts have been made to shave off rough edges or “tame” down adult themes and language for a younger audience. Reynolds is also a likeable everyman and the laughs begin from the credits (starring “British Bad Guy” and produced by “Asshats”) and with so many coming thick and fast, the joke rate is high. The actors play to type but do well with a decent script and despite its basic concept, it throws much at the screen – flashbacks, cameos, nods to the X-Men franchise and more – which doesn’t allow the audience to get complacent. It also goes far with its ‘R-rating’, showing Wade getting “pegged” by his girlfriend (look it up but not at work) and a delicious serving of blood and gore you wouldn’t see anywhere near an MCU release.

But I did get the impression that the endless pop culture references spewing from Wade’s mouth were hiding some inadequacies. These quickly became a chore in the dialogue, which at times was nothing but references. When they were restrained however, it did make them all the funnier when they were delivered. But sadly this didn’t last long – the middle sequence of Wade’s “treatment” was the most sincere – and soon the references to Twitter, Facebook and all things comic-related started to wear thin. And fast. Three-quarters in I was soon guessing punch-lines which in a comedy-centred film was a huge flaw. These references date so quickly too which made it feel like it had an immature and cynical look-at-me-now tone that felt more anachronistic than that Iron Man line “I don’t want to see this on your MySpace page”.

It was so pleased with itself and these were clearly the movie’s go-to ‘safe zone’. I started to balk at its smug nods to the ‘topical’ which rather than letting up, became more prevalent and less funny. Its self-congratulatory tone attempted to hide the fact that it was simply becoming what it had spent the entire movie poking fun at. Recently, a video showed how The Big Bang Theory was merely a series of references and not jokes. Well, your honour, I give you Exhibit B for the prosecution.

I can hear the fans say, “But it’s like that in the comics!” Well, for me there should be no need to fill in any blanks, back-story or character motivations by having to read a lot of extra material that fill in holes or deficiencies in a script or story. Being 'just like the comics' is not a good enough reason to defend the flaws of a movie. Or conversely, for even singing its praises.

In summary, there are so many things to like in Deadpool that any failings are glossed over by the theatrics on show. And for me that was weirdly the flaw. It’s not exactly ground-breaking (Marvel’s Blade was there before with a violent sword-wielding anti-hero – also another film it references) and the puffed up sense of smug satisfaction grated on me like a sandpaper dildo (natch). A riotous 2 hours won’t be wasted for action and comic book movie fans but for all the edge and boundary-pushing it claims to have, I felt the film was far more proud of itself than it had any entitlement to being.

7/10 Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Nov 11 2015 06:30PM

Ant-Man (2015) Dir. Peyton Reed

Marvel delve into their slightly lesser well-known characters with this new film about the diminutive superhero who is “at one” with the tiny insects. Playing Scott Lang is loveable rogue Paul Rudd, a burglar trying to go straight in order to see his daughter but who keeps getting drawn into hare-brained schemes by his criminal friends.

With the promise of a big score, he steals a suit from inventor Hank Pym (an always watchable Michael Douglas) but gets more than he bargained for when he realises what the costume can do. It is Pym however who has orchestrated the heist as he’s looking for a student to train and prevent similar technology falling into the wrong hands.

The film is solid Marvel and is helped by a return to a smaller scale, both with its soap opera drama as well as its tiny set pieces amongst model buildings, train sets and keyholes. These provide a welcome distraction from the hordes of robots/aliens seen in Avengers, Ultron & Guardians and keep the story efficient with a simple tale of an ordinary man getting extraordinary powers and learning to use these to protect those he loves.

Rudd is as inoffensive as always and provides heart to his reluctant hero with good chemistry with Evangeline Lilly as Pym’s daughter Hope van Dyne which also sets up a future love interest. This time the obligatory expanded universe scene involves Falcon and places Lang firmly on the Avengers radar. Some impressive CGI on Douglas’s face to de-age the old crow was well done in a flashback scene (a huge improvement over young Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy) but the dialogue – which wanted to be edgy and quirky – came across as a bit too “try-hard”.

We’ll always wonder what would have been if Edgar Wright (who gets a story credit) was at the helm (probably better at a guess) but given the large scale epics of the last few superhero blockbusters, this miniature movie may have been a minor Marvel off-shoot but turns out to be a pleasant and distinct surprise which counteracts the overblown antics of Whedon’s Age of Ultron released earlier this year.

Rudd's end fight with Yellowjacket – a similar miniaturised experimental suit used by Pym Technology director Darren Cross – is particularly effective with special effects, comedy and ingenious sequences all sitting nicely with each other.

Ant-man therefore ends up as a mighty accomplishment with a secondary character brought to life with wit and lashings of humour

7.5/10 Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Apr 24 2015 10:08PM

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Dir. Joss Whedon

Marvel’s $1billion franchise behemoth The Avengers gets a sequel this Summer with Age of Ultron, the 11th film in the MCU and one which comes with Hulk-sized expectations. Director Joss Whedon is again returning to earth’s mightiest heroes with the old characters brought back together – and some new ones thrown in too – and the film in the main delivers on its promise to delve deeper into the group’s dysfunctional dynamics.

The plot is slight with the group trying to recover Loki’s powerful sceptre but accidentally unleashing newcomers brother and sister duo Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who are after revenge owing to a back-story involving Stark’s weaponry. Stark himself is obsessed by creating a super A.I. to act as an international “bouncer” who would work the door of planet earth, protecting the population from the kind of intergalactic attacks seen in New York. However, it evolves quickly out of control into an evil entity called Ultron who is hell bent on destroying the planet. And in essence, that is it.

Whedon begins the film with a CGI-heavy action sequence featuring what could have been seen as the trailer’s signature group shot but once that is out the way, he is more interested in showing the riotous relationships in the team. Arguably the film’s best scene is early on when the Avengers relax at a party and the bravado of Thor and Cpt. America belittles Don Cheadle’s War Machine whilst a blossoming romance begins between the unhinged Banner and the troubled Black Widow. A hilarious scene follows as the group take it in turns to try and lift Thor’s hammer which foreshadows an important event later and these small personal touches help flesh out each individual little by little. The film bounces across the globe from Korea to South Africa, which is a huge plus after the US-centric films so far, and shows how the heroes are having a global impact. Whedon also adds depth to previously minor characters like Hawkeye, who hides a secret hideout and family, giving life to his homely credentials and putting the character in real peril and therefore having considerable weight during the epic battles scenes – of which there are many.

The film mostly avoids the Man of Steel trap of endless inconsequential destruction – the heroes save the public first before themselves – but some of the scenes of the new Hulkbuster and the film’s hordes of robot drones sadly travelled towards Transformers territory. The moving camera and quick cuts were exceedingly close to “Bayhem” for my tastes but unlike that director, Whedon at least attempts to cut to the characters away from the battle to show a fight’s effects or importance. And unfortunately, it is here where the biggest flaw occurs. In a 2-hour 20 minute film, there just isn’t enough time to give everyone their just desserts. The 6 heroes of the first film are joined by the 2 new twins, Maria Hill & Falcon from SHIELD, War Machine, Heimdall, Peggy Carter, Nick Fury, Erik Selvig and Paul Bettany as Vision – and that’s just the good guys & gals!! With a couple of baddies thrown in there too – Ultron is an interesting villain but a CGI baddie isn’t close to the truly delightful wickedness of Hiddlestone as Loki – Whedon does his best to provide a reason for them all, of which he is successful, but the perceived depth is actually quite slender. There is sometimes just a hint of too much of a good thing.

The script is witty as expected but has to include a lot of set up and narrative strands that are leftovers & continuations from the previous films. Therefore Age of Ultron can feel at times somewhat like an episodic entry of a TV series but you have to argue that it is a medium in which Whedon excels at. These failings are minimal though as the spectacle and characters’ charms will win over all but the most cynical viewer. If blockbuster superhero fare is what you are after then Whedon’s film conjures up the best of the genre right now and although you will be crying out for more of your favourite hero, there’s more than enough ultra-action to satisfy plus the film’s increasingly poignant moments bring far more grandiose emotions to bear than its predecessor.

8.5/10 Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Apr 23 2015 10:09PM

In April 2015 we ran a competition to win a toy Groot and asked readers to retweet to enter. With over 500 people entering we drew one winner out at random on 23rd April which was the release date for the next film in Marvel's Phase 2 - Age of Ultron.

Thank you all for entering but the lucky winner is...

Twitter user - @StephSverdloff


Cheers again for all entrants and keep checking www.midlandsmovies.com for more information.

Midlands Movies Mike

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