Cast: Nicholas HoultNicolas CageAwkwafina

Ben Schwartz,  Adrian MartinezJenna Kanell

Shohreh AghdashlooBess Rous


Director: Chris McKay


93 min.

Renfield is stuffed full of tedious, repetitive, exploding heads and bodies plus cliché-driven sequences in a co-dependency support group, with the titular character being gutted twice within five minutes. Nicolas Hoult, cast as the eponymous star Robert Montague Renfield, introduces himself by his full name, repeatedly, to everyone – just one example of how this appalling vampire action comedy’s screenplay is deeply uncomfortable to deal with. The basic premise of Renfield is that Dracula’s loyal and occasionally tortured servant and ‘familiar’ is finally ready to embark on his own life experience, after decades in servitude. It gets worse however. Director Chris McKay has an out of control cast at his disposal which includes a massively hammed-up Nicolas Cage as Dracula and a one-dimensional Nicholas Hoult as his simpering lackey - and the unwieldy script comprehensively knackers the entire enterprise, almost from the start. Following a moderately inspired opening that riffs on the classic Universal monster films of the past and injects it with a distinctly modern sensibility, McKay’s film then suddenly focusses on a bossy traffic cop (Awkwafina) who has spent her entire career going up against a mob family led by Ben Schwartz and Shohreh Aghdashloo. There are so many distractions on offer, from the aforementioned exploding heads and bodies to a mafia subplot that only seems to exist as a way to pull in still more heads and bodies - to explode, of course.

After Renfield realises he’s in the midst of a toxic relationship with the Count, he sets about disentangling himself from his vampiric clutches. As part of Renfield’s move into becoming an actual person, he becomes tangled up with the New Orleans cop Rebecca, who is a rebel on the local force, intent on bringing down the Lobo crime group after they killed her father for refusing to sell out and thus adopt corruption. As Rebecca and Renfield get closer — although the pair lack any form of romantic chemistry whatsoever their various nemeses begin a predictably blood-spattered battle royale. The entire film is an ill-conceived and poorly executed spin on what could have been a tasty new diversion on the Dracula tale.


Cast: Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, 

Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue, Michael Keaton


Director: Andy Muschietti

144 mins


The fastest man alive is able to sprint at superhuman speeds, vibrate his body through solid matter, generate electrical currents, and even disrupt the ebb and flow of time. On his own, this legendary superhero has consistently defeated multiple villains, but now he’s off on a solo stint. The rocking speedster needs to maintain a certain calorie count to operate at peak Flash-ness, thus making a last-minute call to action — there’s a burning hospital, a collapsing foundation, and a maternity ward full of babies (nice to see my home town of Glasgow looking spectacular in these scenes) before he’s even had his breakfast. This extended preamble leads to Barry discovering that he can run fast enough to create a “chronobowl” that propels him backwards or forwards through time, but can he stop the brutal murder of his mother from happening? “You can’t live in the past,” Bruce Wayne (one of several Bruces in this!) tells him — but Barry thinks he can tweak one crucial element without harming anything. He’s wrong. 

The resulting time-travelling excursion teams Barry up with his 18-year-old self, also played by Ezra Miller, and puts them both in the presence of a different Batman. Different, but very, very familiar. Reports of Michael Keaton's return to the bat-cave a few years ago inspired both squeals of delight and eye-rolling. Yet Keaton not only reprises his role wonderfully - he knows how to slot himself into this complicated narrative so that, oddly enough, he’s in line with what The Flash as a whole is trying to do. The past is impossible to recreate and even more impossible not to pine for, especially when your memories are so tied to a specific moment, or an era, or a singular instance of unfathomable loss. 

Yet it’s something that must be reconciled with one way or the other. Here, Keaton seems to have embraced the cowl again in a way that suggests he’s made peace with a legacy that includes, but doesn’t stop at, the Caped Crusader. It’s neither a cash-in nor an appearance crushed under the weight of caveats. He’s simply Batman again, and he’s fabulous. There are loads of delightful and indeed poignant surprise appearances throughout The Flash - so much so that this beleaguered and severely overblown cinematic universe has finally hit upon a winning film - and despite the tedious misgivings of several other pompous reviewers - it’s a joy.