FILM REVIEWS: Madame Web, Bob Marley: One Love and The Promised Land

No matter which films play Cineworld Broad Street and Odeon Luxe Broadway Plaza, there’s always a connection with wonderful Westside.

Reggae fans watching Bob Marley: One Love can take selfies next to a giant UB40 poster on Broad Street, while Marvel fans watching Madame Web can pose with a giant model of Thor in Cineworld’s foyer …

And to reflect on The Promised Land’s ‘chaos of war’ theory, visit the Hall of Memory in Centenary Square.

MADAME WEB (12A, 116 mins). Anyone familiar with Dakota Johnson from 50 Shades of Grey might think Madame Web would be a sultry drama about an internet dating queen, not a reinvented Marvel comic book character who was originally blind and much older.

After a spider-hunting mother dies in childbirth in Amazonian Peru, paramedic Cassandra Webb is driving past a ‘Blockbuster’ New York shop front 30 years later in 2003. After developing clairvoyant powers, Ms Web saves three girls on a train. They might have great Spider-Women destinies if they can survive Cassie’s past.

The verdict: ** Madame Web is an attempted suspense drama, limiting green screen work in favour of Back To The Future meets ‘someone a bit like’ Spider-Man. But the origin story is so lacking jeopardy, one of the characters is right to say they ‘don’t understand’ the situation. The likeable Dakota Johnson is undermined by the film’s desire to keep dropping back into second gear.

Female director S. J. Clarkson worked on the Birmingham TV series Doctors from 2001-04, so it’s pleasing to see some life-affirming tips showing young girls how to perform CPR in an emergency – alas, the 12A release inevitably resorts to gun and knife violence elsewhere.

Cassie’s natural compassion means there’s a half-decent film buried away, even on Cineworld’s IMAX screen and the equivalent Dolby Screen at Odeon Luxe. Chuckles are rare and the lack of an end-credits sequence speaks volumes about the character’s future. Not an ideal way to launch the ‘100 Years of Columbia Pictures’ logo.

Bob Marley: One Love (12A, 104 mins) Informative and electrifying, Kevin Macdonald’s Marley (|2012, 146 mins) a wonderful, properly 15-rated music documentary.

Diluted to a 12A, the mercifully shorter One Love features a good performance by Kingsley Ben-Adir (Peaky Blinders’ Ben Younger) as the reggae icon, with No Time To Die star Lashana Lynch even better as wife Rita Marley (now 77 and also a producer).

The verdict: *** Director Reinaldo Marcus Green most recently helped Will Smith to a best actor Oscar for playing Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

One Love fails to match King Richard for drama and is way behind Marley for its insight into the brilliance of Marley’s music, too – the timeless genius of the soundtrack can’t make up for the woolly script which fogs The Wailers.

Marley’s self-taught bass player Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett is played here by his own son, Aston Barrett Jr – sadly now mourning his own father who died aged 77 earlier this month. Marley, 36 when he died from cancer in 1981, would have turned 79 on 6 February.

The Promised Land (15, 127 mins) One of the great European actors of his generation, Mads Mikkelsen plays Captain Ludvig Kahlen retiring to Denmark in 1755 after 25 years’ service with the German Army.

He hopes to be given a noble title if he can create a settlement in an uncultivated environment where ‘nothing grows’ – but merciless landowner and local magistrate Frederik de Schinkel claims the land which Kahlen says belongs to The King.

The verdict **** Beautifully shot, this multi-faceted, military-infused, battle-of-wits story of survival, revenge, romance, adoption, Romani discrimination, slavery, ecology and stoic determination is a must-watch for anyone in love with Nordic landscapes on the silver screen and who might be intrigued by the suddenly-topical line that ‘War is chaos – the winner is the one who can control the chaos.’

Similarly, if you’ve ever imagined seeing Casino Royale’s bad boy Mads Mikkelsen acting like Clint Eastwood in what is tantamount to an 18th Danish potatoes western… then pitch your fork straight into the unforgiving Jutland heathland and enjoy watching the script germinating.

Showing evenings at Cineworld Broad Street (with an added daytime slot from Monday), the film never feels harsh enough to match the landscapes of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant (2015) or Robert Eggers’ The Northman  (2022) – but it does feature moments of extreme violence.

PICTURE CREDITS: Bob Marley: One Love, Paramount. The Promised Land, ICON. Madame Web, SONY Pictures.


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