6.5 out of 10

Release Date: 21st June 2013

Director: Mat Whitecross (Ashes / Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll / The Road To Guantanemo)

Cast:  Elliott Tittensor, Nico Mirallegro, Jordan Murphy, Adam Long, Oliver Heald, Emilia Clarke and Matthew McNulty with Chris Coghill, Steve Evets, Nick Blood, Rob-James Collier, Michael Socha, Antonia Thomas, Andrew Knott, Danny Cunningham, Paul Popplewell with Jodie Whitaker, Phillip Jackson and Lesley Manville

Writer: Chris Coghill


Spike Island is a worthy companion piece to Shane Meadow‘s recent documentary about The Stone Roses (Made Of Stone) being that the central story line also revolves around the same band.  This follows the pursuits of five teenagers who want to get their hands on tickets to the legendary Stone Roses gig at Spike Island on Merseyside back in 1990.  Now this is my era, I grew up when hip hop was fading out of the mainstream and the Manchester scene was taking over. I remember the fashions, the sayings, the sounds and Spike Island does a very good job at displaying all of these. So a big round of applause for the production team for whom this was clearly a labour of love.

The central coming of age tale itself is predictable but still a lot of fun. The exuberant and talented young cast do a good job and make a little go a long way, two or three of the main five are scribbles rather than real characters.  The lead, Elliott Tittensor (SHAMELESS) plays Tits has his own band to rival any other local band trying to break out but the only band member who really cares about succeeding is Dodge (NICO MIRALLEGRO – HOLLYOAKS), the other three consist of a weird man-child who is bullied by his mentally ill father, a wank obsessed fart arse and a moody and cynical detractor.  Filling the film to the brim with funny characters like Keith Teeth (DANNY CUNNINGHAM – 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE), Uncle Hairy (CHRIS COGHILL – 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE), Voodoo Ray (ANDREW KNOTT – BLACK BEAUTY) and some very funny Liverpudlian security guards, gives the familiar story extra spin. The encounters between the Mancs and the Scousers are priceless and made me hanker for  lost screenwriters like Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell (where are you? British film needs you back!)  Whilst there’s a lot of laughs to be had and a lot of nostalgia to be soaked in, Spike Island quietly wins good will with the serious plots as well. Tit’s Dad is dying in hospital, Steve Evets (ANNA KARENINA) puts in a nice subtle performance, and could pass away any day, so there’s a dilemna to be had as to whether he should even go to the gig. His errant brother Ibiza Steve (MATHEW MCNULTY – THE KNOT) has arranged for guest passes for the whole crew but won’t visit his parents because of his Dad’s illness. This angle has a lot of traction. There’s also room for a love interest in the form of Game Of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke. That’s all pretty standard and a lot of Spike Island is to tell you the truth. It’s just fortunate that the film is just so likeable, historically accurate, fun to watch and it’s also well made. Great sounds, funny characters and good memories push the film past being plain average, but it is what it is. A straightforward fun movie. No qualms.

6.5 out of 10 – No surprises plot wise but it’s the funny script and great acting that push this one ahead of similarly plotted Britpics. Recommended for an easy and fun watch.



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