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By midlandsmovies, Dec 1 2018 06:20PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mike Sales

By midlandsmovies, Jul 9 2017 09:15AM

The Mummy (2017) Dir. Alex Kurtzman

Oh Tom Cruise what have ye done?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guy Russell


By midlandsmovies, Oct 3 2015 08:51AM

Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015) Dir. Christopher McQuarrie

After the hugely warm critical and commercial success of MI: Ghost Protocol (2011) with its Brad Bird directed mash of fun action and exciting sequences on the Burj Khalifa, can this fifth instalment of the Tom Cruise spy franchise keep up the standard of that series high? Well, in short (no jokes about Cruise’s stature), no it cannot.

Another international espionage/terrorist group (this time called “The Syndicate”, yawn) is after something or another – you won’t care – and only Ethan Hunt can pull his motley crew back together to stop them doing whatever it is they want to do. Getting money in the end as is the standard.

A solid opening with Cruise strapped to the side of a cargo plane is truly awe-inspiring but the film shoots its load far too early as no other scenes can match that cleverly thought out assault. With the CIA and IMF clashing about the existence of the Syndicate, Hunt goes on the run as he is accused of a crime he and his group haven’t committed (i.e. the same as ALL the other ones). The plot could be excused if the film was better overall but a sequence in a secure server throws away Ghost Protocol’s real life stunts for an under-the-water CGI fest that has no place in this movie.

Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg go through the motions as Hunt’s good-time agent pals whilst the femme fatale Ilsa Faust (played by Rebecca Ferguson) fulfils a stock two-faced will-she-or-won’t-she double agent role. The fights are filmed Bourne-style, which again don’t quite fit the series and overall MI:5 takes itself far too seriously for a summer romp.

The over-complicated plot has characters double-crossing each other, double-crossing multiple agencies, double-crossing criminal gangs and double-crossing sometimes themselves which in turn doesn’t help the movie’s usually straightforward “goodies & baddies” concepts. In addition, it heads into slightly ludicrous National Treasure 2 territory with their attempts to gain data via the British Prime Minister’s biometrics. What? Really?

The series as a whole has been a mix of highs and lows but whilst their impossible missions (safe cracking mainly) have always shown a brilliant tension, the films have consistently lacked great villains. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s turn in MI:3 being the only notable exception. Here, the talented Sean Harris as Solomon Lane is completely impotent and not given much to do other than frown down a telephone line.

Whilst never being a mess of “Genisys” proportions, this 2015 film lacks a certain something which lays a ‘fug’ over everything. Characters, plot and action sequences leave you hanging like Cruise in a safe for something more exciting. Dull and predictable, this misstep won’t stop the missions continuing but in the big scheme of things, the film is less impossible and more unmemorable. A tedious turn from Tom.

6.5/10 Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jul 31 2015 03:33PM

Respect The Cock - A Cruise Top 10 Of Sorts

When Midlands Movies Mike (as I am contractually obliged to call him) asked me if I’d like to write a Top 10 piece on Tom Cruise, I lurched drunkenly at the chance and offered it outside for a fight.

But it turned out that he meant pick my top 10 films by the microScientologist. Ah.

Y’see, I can’t stand Tom Cruise. Even leaving aside his frankly insane pronouncements in interviews and the like, I loathe his anodyne, uninspired, unimaginative, box office-fodder “blockbusters”, and I find his acting utterly, as they say in my country, shite.

This may not be the article MMM deserves, but it’s the article he needs right now.

So here’s my Tom Cruise Top 10.

10. Top Gun

Utterly irredeemable wank where he perfected his toothy, grinny, runny schtick. I understand that they’re making a sequel. Oh goody.

9. Cocktail

A film about a barman who learns how to be a better barman from an older, wiser barman. The older barman dies, the young barman becomes the best barman. Barman.

8. A Few Good Men

He runs! He shouts! Jack Nicholson phones it in! Meh.

7. Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Short-arse is not even remotely believable as the supposedly louche, seductive vampire. Put paid to a mooted series based on the rest of the execrable Anne Rice novels, so there’s that, I suppose.

6. Mission: Impossible (All of the bastards)

A series of typically messy, runny, explodey Tommy vehicles. Most memorable for the re-working of Lalo Shiffrin’s iconic theme by the least talented members of U2. Which is saying something. And would they have been able to dangle a normal-sized human from a clothesline through that small hole in the roof?

5. Rain Man

Dustin Hoffman: Oscar Bait. Insert “Full retard” line from Tropic Thunder here. Tommy is utterly irrelevant when not being fucking annoying.

4. Vanilla Sky

Cruise Does Arthouse. Which happens to be an anagram of “Thou arse”, which is exactly what Marlow, Bacon and all that crowd would call him to his fat grinning face.

3. Tropic Thunder

He wasn’t in this much, so that was all right.

2. Minority Report

I liked this, actually. But then I’m a Philip K. Dick fanboy, no matter how much they make an arse of his novels or - in this case - short stories. An intriguing premise, as you’d expect of anything from the lad Dick, but of course the transition to the screen lost a lot of that intrigue and ended up being mostly just Cruise running around again. There’s a pretty good bit with some cars. Future cars! Worth it for Samantha Morton alone, though.

1. Magnolia

This film’s a favourite of mine, but obviously not because of our Tommy being in it. In fact I seem to have repressed everything about his role apart from him declaiming the title of this article.

Top 10 by J. Sirin

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