icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram kickstarter-support FILM FREEWAY LOGO

blog

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

By midlandsmovies, May 26 2019 03:37PM



A Private War (2018) Dir. Matthew Heineman

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


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





Arctic (2019) Dir. Joe Penna

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



Shazam! (2019) Dir. David F. Sandberg

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



Greta (2019) Dir. Neil Jordan

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


Michael Sales


By midlandsmovies, Aug 29 2018 07:32PM

Review - Movie Catch Up Blog 2018 - Part 3




The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) Dir. Johannes Roberts

I hadn’t seen The Strangers (2008) until this year and for me it certainly wasn’t worth the wait as we get a pretty bog-standard home-invasion thriller starring Liv Tyler. However, the few thrills that film had going for it are completely absent here in this belated sequel set ten years later where a family are terrorised at a mobile home park by masked assailants. I’m sick of the child mask killer trope it has to be said and some of the character decisions are embarrassing to say the least. I know it’s not high art but come on. If it’s supposed to be a homage/satire of slasher then it’s 20 years too late anway (see Scream and its wicked take-down of the genre) whilst any attempt to create new franchise-defining villains with Dollface and her cohorts was heavy-handed and bland. The kills are uninspiring, motivations non-existent and only Christina Hendricks seems to be aware of the trash she’s in. Half way through I was ‘praying’ for a better movie. 4/10




Truth or Dare (2018) Dir. Jeff Wadlow

Blumhouse's Truth or Dare? I guess once you have a reputation with a couple of horror successes you can slap your name in front of any old trash like Tarantino does at his worst and expect the brand recognition to get bums on seats alone. And away with the quality, as quality this is not. Horror is one of those specific genres where you have to sift through many more films to find the gems – it could be argued those gems are all the more special – but this Final Destination-esque teen scary movie sits firmly in the bargain bin. A group of adolescents realise they will die if they fail to share a truth or complete a dare and they attempt to do their best to beat the real-life deadly game which originated with a supernatural curse from Mexico. A convoluted set of exposition-heavy rules confuses what could have been a freaky slasher and the actors are sadly given clichéd characters which they are unable to do much with. And from the “acclaimed” director of the awful Kick Ass 2 and the Kevin James starring True Memoirs of an International Assassin I’m not sure why I was surprised to find out the real truth. And what is that truth? It’s utter rubbish. 4/10




10 x 10 (2018) Dir. Suzi Ewing

Making quite a name for himself in roles as a terroriser of women, Luke Evans (The Girl on the Train) stars as Lewis in this new dark chiller involving kidnap and obsession. More like Denis Villenueve’s Prisoners than the Coens’ Fargo, the kidnapping occurs in an everyday US strip-mall car park as Cathy (Calvary’s Kelly Reilly) heads to her vehicle unaware of the evil about to befall her. An unobtrusive hand-held filming style captures the brutality of the attack before Cathy is smothered, tied and placed in the trunk of Lewis’ car. The beats of the soundtrack merge perfectly with our own imagined beats of pounding fists in futile attempts to escape. She is soon whisked off to Lewis’ home where he has constructed a 10 x 10 padded cell with 4-feet thick concrete walls and a recording system. Diving straight in, the film wastes no time in getting to its set-up and without much information we are, like Cathy, oblivious as to the reasons as to why we are here. And how to possibly escape.


The film is slow and meticulous – Evan’s methodical food-making hinting at an obsessive darkness – but there are flashes of action in Cathy’s escape attempts with bottle smashing and gun shots. The film twists and turns and darker secrets come to light but the script and cinematography are mediocre despite the two fine leads. Melodramatic with lacklustre interest 10 x 10 is simply too leaden to be anything more than a footnote on the stars’ résumés 5.5/10



The Devil’s Doorway (2018) Dir. Aislinn Clarke

With one of the best concepts for a horror in many a year, I was excited to see Aislinn’s Clarke’s The Devil’s Doorway which tells the story of two priests who investigate supernatural events at an Irish home for “fallen women”. Whilst the double-act set up is certainly Exorcist-inspired, the unfortunate character traits meant I couldn’t help but be reminded of classic UK sitcom Father Ted. Father Thomas Riley (a frankly brilliant Lalor Roddy) is the old jaded priest with a crisis of faith whilst Father John Thornton (Ciaran Flynn) is a naïve and inexperienced younger believer. (Ted and Dougal respectively). Set in 1960 and using a handheld 16mm camera style, the sense of time and place was superb and Helena Bereen as Mother Superior is as terrifying and intimidating as you could have wanted. Maybe I’m being too harsh but something just wasn’t working despite these excellent elements. From the clichéd door knocks and paranormal child voices to your average jump scare and foreboding corridors, the film failed to leap into more interesting territory despite its high ecclesiastical aspirations. Which was a big shame. Certainly a filmmaker with some aptitude, I have faith we’ll be seeing more from Clarke but this isn’t quite the film it could or wanted to be. 6/10




Journey’s End (2018) Dir. Saul Dibb

A new adaptation of the play by R. C. Sherriff is the 5th time the World War I drama has moved from stage to screen following Journey's End (1930), The Other Side, Aces High and a 1988 BBC TV film. With a fantastic cast what we get is Asa Butterfield’s young Second Lieutenant Raleigh posted to the front-line where his hopeful fighter soon realises the ravages of war can take its toll even on the most experienced of Captains. The gifted Sam Claflin as Stanhope is the Captain in question whose vicious drunken words and tough exterior cover a more sympathetic and broken man conflicted with torment and the horrors of fighting.


Playing out in the muddy dugout over four days of 1918, the cast is fleshed out with gifted turns from heavyweights Tom Sturridge, Toby Jones, Stephen Graham and Paul Bettany. Bettany channels the stiff-upper-lip of a traditional British soldier but also gives his character empathy and pathos as the inevitability of an over-the-top raid to capture a German soldier dawns on him and his men. Grand and distinguished, the film is an admirable adaptation although I was yearning for some more scenes outside the trenches given the cinematic medium. Understandably, the confines of the trenches play their own entrapped character (akin to Kubrick’s Paths of Glory) and the film enlightens the audience on the multifaceted aspects of war and how the horrific pressures can affect different individuals. Journey’s End is therefore a dignified, if slightly by-the-numbers, tale of struggling tactics and temperaments in the trenches. 6.5/10


Michael Sales







By midlandsmovies, Aug 20 2018 09:09PM



Midlands Spotlight - Shropshire’s First World War Film Festival


Shropshire’s First World War Film Festival showcases classic and new films from the 1930s to the present day in a new regional cinema event in the area.


A wide selection of films will be shown at community cinemas and village halls around the county as part of the events programme to remember poet and soldier Wilfred Owen and the centenary of Armistice Day at the end of World War I.


The Film Festival runs from 10th October to 23rd November and includes classics like ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Hell’s Angels’ and ‘La Grande Illusion’ as well as new movies like ‘Journey’s End’, ‘The Burying Party’ (about Wilfred Owen) and ‘The Long Way Home’ about a fictional Shropshire pals’ regiment, filmed in the county.


See Midlands Movies coverage of The Long Way Home by clicking here.



Tim King, the Festival Organiser, says, “We now have 24 screenings of 13 films at 15 venues with more in the pipeline. We have received great support from the venue managers and organisations like Flicks in the Sticks."


Tickets for most films are now on sale online or from the venues and the full programme can be viewed at www.firstworldwarfilmfestival.com and most films are listed in the Wilfred Owen 100 events brochure available at www.shropshireremembers.org.uk


Selected highlights include:


10th October 8.00pm The Hive, Belmont, Shrewsbury SY1 1TE

Shrewsbury Film Society presents: – ‘La Grande Illusion’ Tickets: £6


15th October 11.00am The Old Market Hall, Shrewsbury SY1 1LH

‘Regeneration’ Tickets: £8/concs £7


20th October 7.30pm Trefonen Village Hall SY10 9DY

Flicks in the Sticks presents: ‘Journey’s End’ Tickets: £4, child £2.50


24th October 7.30pm Kinokulture, Oswestry SY11 1JN

‘Hell’s Angels’ Tickets: £7, under 16s £5


25th October 6.30pm SpArC Theatre, Bishop’s Castle SY9 5AY

Flicks in the Sticks presents ‘War Horse’ Tickets: £5, under 18’s £4


5th November 1.30pm Wem Town Hall SY4 5DG

‘Oh! What A Lovely War’ - A dementia friendly screening Tickets: £5, carers free


8th November 5.00pm Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery SY1 1LH

‘The Burying Party’ & ‘The Long Way Home’ A double bill with Q & A with the film makers chaired by Carl Jones, BBC Shropshire film reviewer. https://thelongwayhomefilm.com


16th November 8pm The Hive, Belmont, Shrewsbury SY1 1TE

Shrewsbury Film Society presents ‘A Very Long Engagement’ Tickets: £6



By midlandsmovies, Apr 16 2018 06:26PM



Standing at Dawn

(2018)

Directed by Marc Hamill


“A short film exploring the tolerance of youth. Set in the Ukraine during World War II”.


From taking on toxic zombies in The Wrong Floor, Leicester filmmaker Marc Hamill hasn’t balked from tackling another genre in this new short film set during the Second World War.


For low budget filmmakers, attempting to work in genre films can be a tough task given the production costs involved but Marc and his cast and crew have gone beyond the call of duty in Standing at Dawn.


The film introduces us to a young girl in her bedroom and from the outset a boom box, She-Ra poster and a Look-In annual gives away the time as the 1980s.


We also get a well-positioned Jack-in-the-box – an ominous hint of what is to come – whilst a toy DeLorean from Back to the Future connotes how the audience will be criss-crossing time lines back and forth.


The child (Leia Hamill) subsequently gets a story read to her by her mum’s friend Bapcha (Mo Shapiro) after we see she’s been learning about World War 2 at school. The film then flashbacks to the war in Kiev itself as we see soldiers in the heat of battle in a forest.


Any budget the filmmakers had can be immediately seen on the screen and I was impressed with the production value with era-specific tanks, equipment and uniforms utilised to great effect. The sound was well done too with gunshots and dropping bombs taking you (from what must have been filmed in the Midlands) to the noisy battlefields of Eastern Europe.


As the story is recounted with witness an injured solider (Shane Buckley as Pasha) being helped by a young girl Karina (also Leia Hamill) to an outpost to tend to his wounds. But soon after, a similarly forlorn Nazi is also ushered into the base as the two stand-off.


Here though we unfortunately encounter one of the film’s flaws as the audience are given little chance to interpret or take stock of situations. Whether it’s the on-the-nose script or slightly awkward delivery, interactions such as “What are you doing? He’s a German” and “he’s a wounded injured solider, just like you” simply tell the viewer what they need to know. Earlier we get the line “We can all learn from the past” – again, very obvious dialogue for a film that could really use some subtlety and space.


I was also confused with the choice of language being used. Some actors use accents whilst others do not and there are also lines of dialogue in the native tongue during the same scene. I would have preferred if the film had stuck with one or the other. The fact the actual script brings attention to the ability to speak different languages further added to the issue.


Everyone looked the part but the story set-pieces would have benefitted from increased tension – for example during interrogation-style scenes - and the fact that concealment and taking cover seemed thematically important to the piece.


A well-intentioned film, Standing At Dawn works best when the dialogue is at a minimum though and allows the great photography and costumes to shine. Actor David Hardware looks the business as a senior Nazi officer and some well-constructed lighting and sound effects – from rainstorms in the present, to gunshots and explosions in the past – show a competence rarely seen at the zero-budget level.


By the conclusion, Standing at Dawn does have a few flaws but its strong message of remembering and learning from the past is pushed to the forefront using some wonderful images, a well edited flashback structure and a neat twist at its finale.


Midlands Movies Mike





By midlandsmovies, Aug 6 2017 07:02PM



Dunkirk (2017) Dir. Christopher Nolan


Allied soldiers are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during World War II.


Between May 26th and June 4th in 1940, 400,000 British soldiers found themselves surrounded on the beach of Dunkirk with no ships to take them home. Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill put the call out to the public that their boys needed help, and so help came. They aimed for 30,000 boats, but got 300,000 in a feat that remains just as astonishing today is it did back then.


Straight away I’ll come out and say that Dunkirk is probably the best war film I’ve ever seen. Christopher Nolan has done a fantastic job with this film. I absolutely loved it! I think we have a serious contender for Oscars here with this one, although I am unsure whether any will be for the acting because of the ensemble line-up.


There were so many great performances in this film, and what was so good about it was those making their acting debuts got as much screen time as the more experienced cast members. Fionn Whitehead was excellent. You really got the impression of a young boy way out of his depth with his performance.


Harry Styles is actually capable of some decent acting - who’d have thought it? And then you have the people who we could refer to as the veterans in this particular film. Cillian Murphy gave a very good performance as one of the soldiers who were rescued out at sea. The shock and pain that he was experiencing was something that you felt as well. Mark Rylance played Mr Dawson, one of the civilians closely followed in the film.


I think if any of the cast are to be nominated for any awards and are likely to win, it will be him. I think his was the most complex character of the lot because I think he helped to show the impact the war had back home, yet how much the public were willing to do. Finally, I would just like to kindly point out that Tom Hardy was in this film and I can conclude that he has done more acting with just his eyes during his career than anyone else has done with their whole body. 


While performances were a key part of the film, what set it apart from so many other war films were all the other elements that contribute to the film-making process. The cinema screening I went to was truly immersive, and I didn’t even see it in IMAX, so you can imagine how much more mind-blowing it would’ve been if I had.


The sound was awesome, making you feel as though the bombs were being dropped metres from you. The camera work for all of the scenes with the fighter jets was on another level entirely. When the planes moved, the camera moved with it (maybe not recommended for those with motion sickness, but hey, sometimes you just have to toughen up a little), and as I was watching these scenes unfold, I found myself moving with the picture. It was honestly like being in a flight simulator at times - phenomenal cinematography.


Of course, with this being a Christopher Nolan film, which means it was never going to be a simple, run-of-the-mill beginning, middle and end narrative. This was one thing I had been slightly concerned about because my little head has been unable to wrap itself around some of the plots in his previous films. However, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to inform you that even I managed to figure the timeline out here, and also believe it to have greatly enhanced the film as it gave it a real-time, play by play vibe, which added to the feeling that you were right there in the middle of the action.


Overall, Dunkirk is a knock-out. It’s a grown-up film that can be enjoyed by the younger generations, and works to give a three-dimensional view of how events played out during this amazing operation that took place in WWII. It combines terrific performances with a score that ratchets tension perfectly, and visuals that place you right at the heart of the action. Has Nolan excelled himself here? Hell yeah!


10/10


Kira Comerford

https://twitter.com/FilmAndTV101

By midlandsmovies, Feb 16 2017 06:57PM



Hacksaw Ridge (2017) Dir. Mel Gibson


A biography of Medal of Valor-winning Desmond Doss, this film from Mel Gibson combines the sentimental with the shocking as it follows one man’s moral standpoint in the face of adversaries both at home and abroad.


Ex-Spider-Man Andrew Garfield plays Doss who as a Seventh-day Adventist refuses to carry firearms after joining the army in World War II. The pacifist joins to help the war effort much to the aggravation of his military superiors.


The film began with an immediate turn-off as Garfield’s Virginian accent has all the subtlety (and annoyances) of Hank’s Forest Gump, and combined with the theme of war I was preparing for a rehash of that film at its worst. After a brief childhood sequence and a rather soppy and gawkish romance with Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte, the film actually settled into a meaty drama once he enlists as a soldier. A rather surprising Vince Vaughan plays a thunderous Sergeant Howell which was a great role-reversal for the usually slobbish character actor.


A kind of Full Metal Jacket-lite ensues as Garfield is shouted at, undertakes menial tasks, gets beaten by his fellow troopers and trains on assault courses at the base in preparation. Despite these beatings and a subsequent court martial, Doss sustains his beliefs and Garfield does a good job of focusing on the emotional complexities as his faith clashes with others.


Soon to be discharged, his ex-army father (played by a great Hugo Weaving – where has he been?) supports him during the trial and soon Garfield is free to become the medic he has always wanted. Quickly shipped off to the Far East to battle for Hacksaw Ridge – a key target in the US war efforts – Doss bravely assists others without the protection of bullets like others.


Although Gibson’s personal life is questionable to say the least, Hollywood has given him multiple chances over and over again and it’s somewhat sad to say that the man has stepped up and delivered a hell of a story. With some of the syrupy scenes being overly Oscar-baiting it is great that Gibson then delivers the next hour of the film as a huge jaw-dropping skirmish. Not since Saving Private Ryan (Hanks again) have so many limbs been blown off in an attempt to capture the horrors of war. The cinematography is excellent and the sound effects fight between explosions, tinnitus and silence which increases the atmosphere throughout.


One sequence sees soldiers buried alive in order to save them whilst parts of bloodied bodies are used as bullet shields. Doss returns time and time again to the battlefield to save more and more men as the violence intensifies and the Japanese attempt to kill any survivors after each wave. The film is more Hollywood than documentary yet doesn’t flinch from the murky morals, scared and scarred soldiers and the horrific physical and mental effect it leaves.


But the heroic nature of Doss and his commitment to going beyond his call of duty is the focus here. The story allows itself to savour the serious (and the lightheartedness of these band of brothers) set against a war of unimaginable shock.


A fully rounded cast deliver a great screenplay and although Garfield as Doss takes centre stage, it really is an ensemble film with everyone delivering their role to perfection no matter how big or small. Catch this as soon as possible as tinsel town’s biggest outcast has once again come in from the cold to deliver a passion project that favours hope over horror on the big screen.


8.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Oct 24 2016 03:35PM

Eye in the Sky (2016) Dir. Gavin Hood


In one of the most tense films of the year, Eye in the Sky poses some important questions of accountability in a film about the use of drones in the War on Terror.


With themes similar to 2014’s Good Kill Helen Mirren is perfect as Colonel Katherine Powell who has been tracking an extremist group, including a British jihadi bride, to a terrorist safe house in Nairobi where they meet up with a cell who plan to carry out suicide attacks.


Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to obliterate this building, Mirren and her team have to assess collateral damage and seek authorisation before proceeding. Hindering her strike is a collection of MPS, military personnel and advisors based back in London who discuss the merits and pitfalls of going ahead.


It is here where the film really excels. In so many films, common sense is jettisoned in favour of thrilling action whereas in this fantastic drama it becomes the focus. Alan Rickman as Lieutenant General Frank Benson (sadly in one of his last roles before his death) is superb as a military man who’s seen the horrors of war and who argues that to win, you have to make tough decisions. Contrary to that is Monica Dolan as Angela Northman who avoids taking a stance and, with others, sends the decision up the chain of command.


These delays create tension between the go-getting Mirren and the worried advisors, as she stresses that more people could be hurt if they don’t attack quickly, whilst they fret about the media and the blame-game. It mostly avoids gender politics – the terrorists, advisors and military are both a mix of men and women – which helps focus on the armed forces conundrum.


As these event unfold, the film tells a parallel narrative of a young local girl selling bread outside of the house. Despite some feet on the ground via an undercover agent (Barkhad Abdi from Captain Phillips in an excellent performance), they are unable to move her along as they weigh up the extent of the destruction if they send in a missile from a nearby drone. How many lives are worth saving/destroying the film asks? Yet poses no definitive answer and even discusses the issue of what a person’s conscience can handle.


As those in the house record martyr videos and put their bomb-laden vests on, the film builds and builds to a crescendo as arguments are made, analysis is dissected and heated conversations fill both the control room and the safety of the parliamentary office.


The film stretches realism with the use of fictional technology (a fly-sized video drone being the worst culprit) but it’s the conversations rather than the combat that holds the audiences’ attention. And doesn’t let up for a second. But the film places emphasis on ‘seconds’ as tiny delays could end up costing lives if the uncertainty isn’t resolved.


Marvellous powerhouse performances from the entire cast are elevated by Mirren and Rickman showing their legendary range in a remarkable film. Drone controllers Aaron Paul & Phoebe Fox are excellent support as those with their fingers-on-the-triggers but in the safety of your own home the film asks you to question what you would sacrifice for the sake of protecting others. And it doesn’t get much more significant than that.


8.5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Aug 25 2015 02:25PM

Child 44 (2015) Dir. Daniel Espinosa


Set during the Stalinist years of the Soviet Union, this drama-mystery is based on the 2008 novel about a Ministry of State Security Agent called Leo (Tom Hardy) who uncovers some brutal child murders in Moscow.


Later, Leo’s wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) is accused of state disloyalty and they are both sent to the impoverished and industrial town of Volsk under the command of Gary Oldman’s General Nesterov. As more crimes are uncovered, the state attempts to supress the killings (only capitalist ‘pig-dogs’ create serial killers apparently) but Hardy and Rapace travel between Volsk and Moscow, using the same train line as the murderer appears to be, to find out what is going on.


If this all sounds very intriguing, it really isn’t. We haven’t got the intended “whodunit” thriller but more of a “who ruined it”. I can only guess the book was better but in all honesty the film was bum-numbingly dull. With so much talent (Paddy Considine and Jason Clarke also appear) and Hardy reprising his partnership with Rapace from their turn in The Drop earlier this year, I really expected much better.


Oppressive Eastern European regimes can make interesting film subjects – just see The Lives of Others – and additionally, Rapace’s investigations in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have seen her thrust into murderous mysteries before. However, unlike those and The Changeling – whose historic missing/murdered children plot was shot with minimal fuss by Clint Eastwood – this long drawn out affair has little intrigue, suspense or tension. The drama becomes a series of slow sequences haphazardly put together and the brown-ish colour palette, rather than giving the film an archaic sepia-esque quality, further dulls the senses.


Hardy gives us his “gruff-macho” voice again (see also Lawless, Mad Max, ‘Bane’, The Drop etc) and although criticised by some, the heavy and stereotypical Russian accents used by everyone didn’t bother me as much as the English accents of the Nazis in Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie.


Although it has an amazing cast doing their best with leaden dialogue, Child 44 has a tediously sluggish narrative that turns what could have been an intriguing look at a despotic state into a viewing experience akin to forced labour. With 3 actors from 2012’s Lawless (Hardy, Oldman & Clarke), the film is less Lawless and more lifeless. A tedious bore.


5/10


Midlands Movies Mike

RSS Feed twitter