DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Darkmatters Review: San Andreas


San Andreas (12a)

Dir. Brad Peyton

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“This is *not* a normal day!”

What can survive when everything around you is torn apart? And when I say ‘torn apart’ I mean it in vivid, jaw dropping CGI big screen high definition insanity!?

Well, on the strength of San Andreas only The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) – here playing hotshot rescue-chopper pilot Ray, and the nuclear family as a concept worth risking everything for…

"hero rescue pilot at your service"

Ray’s family consists of his lovely, estranged, but still sort of in love him, wife Emma (Carla Gugino – who is the same age as me but has aged so much better), plus smoking hot 20-something daughter Blake (Alexandra ‘True Detective’ Daddario). You see, the underlying message of Brad Peyton’s disaster-em-up is basically ‘good looking people should always be saved’ but if you’re a bit average, hhhhmmmm don’t rate your chances.

On the Richter scale of ‘what are these people doing in such an obvious B-movie?’ Paul Giamatti registers a huge spike as Laurence - a doom saying seismologist whose every line after the devastation kicks off could have been ‘told you so’… Also along for the mass peril ride is Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffud), an architect who had designs on Ray’s wife and has made a super new high-rise tower – cue audience cries of ‘ooh wonder if that will come down in the quake?’…

"Fight Club-esq end of days"

And there’s a tiny cameo for pop princess Kylie Minogue who actually doesn’t last long despite not being ugly, but she’s obviously killed off because she’s not a very nice person!? Plus there are a couple of 'nice but dim' Brits who tag along making us English people look bad...

So if you want to ‘enjoy’ San Andreas (I use the word enjoy under advice from my lawyer that it might be misleading) you really need to disengage your brain and let the genuinely impressive destruction wash over you like the massive tsunami cause by the after shocks.

"There goes the neighbourhood"

Props must go to the special effects people as they really do bring some serious end of days mayhem to the screen in fine style, it’s just a shame the uniformly corny acting, duff dialogue and predicable plot do all they can to distract from the spectacle.

It does get extremely far fetched, with many very close shaves for the plucky family. I was a little disappointed in fact not to have them go all out and include a scene where The Rock had to punch the fault line back into place to save the day.

"Worth saving"

In the end San Andreas works as a by-the-numbers disaster movie, it won’t be anyone’s favourite film of the year but that’s not the ‘fault’ of the makers.

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö 

(3 - Boom, shake the room...
)

Awesomeness ööö – moments of incredible destruction eye candy

Laughs öö – limited funnies

Horror ööö – bloodless but lots of people die

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - family are all that matter

Recommended Hashtags: #WhatHappensNext


Monday, May 25, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Tomorrowland - A World Beyond


Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (12a)

Dir. Brad Bird

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (tweet me at @Cleric20)

“Do you ever wonder what would happen if all the great thinkers came together to actually change the world for the better? And the results were, well, miracles?”

Prepare to rekindle your cinematic sense of awe, engage your inner innocent wide-eyed wonder and unshackle your mind from the limits you operate within every day…

"Future style"

Take a trip to Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – Disney’s big budget retro-feel sci-fi-em-up - and you’ll be transported to somewhere very special.

Your host for this fantastical adventure is plucky teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) who becomes caught up in a dangerous mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space – a place called "Tomorrowland."

"pick your hero"

Casey’s not alone in this quest – as grumpy Frank Walker (George Clooney), who was once a child genius inventor, becomes her initially reluctant partner in crime on their quest to save the future. And they're joined by cute robotic companion Athena (Raffey Cassidy) - who might just hold the key to all our futures.

Oh there’s so much going on here – killer robots, geek friendly shops packed with Star Wars memorabilia, a doomsday device counting down to the end of us and a surprising not-entirely-kiddie-friendly body count.

"one touch and you're there..."

If you’re prepared to let the freewheeling story and stunning CGI stimulate your pleasure receptors Tomorrowland will whisk you away and leave plenty behind for you to think about afterwards. You could say this is like ‘Interstellar’ but a bit easier to get your head around!?

The threat of human society collapsing into a cynical dystopia unfortunately really does not feel that far fetched. As baddie of the piece is Nix (Hugh Laurie), an understated rather than ‘boo-hiss’ overlord of Tomorrowland is stifling the creativity out of the place – which is amusing in itself when you consider the film was originally based on a generic Disney theme park area!?

"Future architecture!"

Clooney is on good form, refreshing in not bringing his usual dazzling charismatic persona but rather a less sympathetic and yet still likeable lead. He gets some great lines – like ‘when I was a kid, the future was different’…His rapport with Robertson is winning too – and she is the real star of the film, this is definitely her breakthrough role and I’m tipping her for big things ahead.

Director Brad ‘The Incredibles’ Bird invites you to Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, it’s a place every man, woman and child should visit as soon as possible, just be sure to bring your imagination!!

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö 

(4 - The future isn't what it used to be
)

Awesomeness öööö – exciting, thought provoking stuff

Laughs ööö – fun in places

Horror öö – not too grim but some violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - don't stop dreaming

Recommended Hashtags: #Beyond

"which is human?"

Friday, May 15, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Mad Max Fury Road


Mad Max: Fury Road (15)

Dir. George Miller

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“My name is Max. My world is reduced to a single instinct: Survive. As the world fell it was hard to know who was more crazy. Me... Or everyone else.”

The future belongs to the mad – so get ready for a wonderfully insane thrill ride.

"there goes his no claims bonus"

‘Mad’ Max is back baby and he’s better than ever, George Miller's anti-hero hasn’t graced the screen sine 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome and whilst he’s swapped actors from Mel Gibson to Tom Hardy – this is a most welcome return!

Sometimes it can he hard to kick start a franchise after 30 years but Fury Road feels fresh and energised, this is without doubt a nitros charged immediate cult classic.

"meaningful looks"

Hardy is superb as the broken Road Warrior who is haunted by the loss of his family – his aim is to simply survive but that’s easier said than done in a violent future where gangs rule the scorched wastelands and water is precious commodity.

The apocalyptic stark desert landscape looks incredible, you can almost taste the dust and feel the intense heat but it’s the vehicles that are the real stars here. From the iconic ‘battle rig’ tanker which fans of the series will see as an evolution of the one from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior through to Max’s Ford Falcon XB Coupe, V8 351 which is also updated.

"insanity"

Max might be mad but he’s a man of action and few words, adept at surviving in the violent chaos. His path crosses with the strong willed Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is trying to save a bunch of rather lovely ‘breeders’ – the future term for fertile women apparently – who include British actress Rosie ‘Transformers’ Huntington-Whiteley rejoicing in the name The Splendid Angharad.

"Theron is bad ass"

With something to fight for Max and his unwilling sidekick Nux (Nicholas Hoult) go up against the crazed warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh ‘Toecutter from the original Mad Max’ keays-Byrne)

As soon as the action kicks off in Fury Road it absolutely does not let up – this is 120mins of outrageously over-the-top ‘car’nage, it’s incredible, exciting and breath-taking. Those who have played the hit PlayStation game of mass car destruction ‘Twisted Metal,’ will have some idea of what to expect.

"baddie"

If the future really does belong to the mad – Mad Max Fury Road is a great introduction to it. Highly recommended viewing.

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2 

(4.5 - exhausting, cool, apocalyptic epic!
)

Awesomeness ööööö – glorious destruction has never been so cool

Laughs ööö – grim slapstick comedy in places

Horror öööö – very violent, authentic 'n crunchin

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - madness is no escape

Recommended Hashtags: #FutureMadness

"wreckage"

"future chastity!?"


Friday, May 08, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Big Game


Big Game (12a)

Dir. Jalmari Helander

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review over at the: Northampton Chronicle & Echo

‘Die Hard’ in a Forest… Just with the Bruce Willis role morphed into a young teenage kid. If you like the sound of that – then Big Game is the film for you.

When Air Force One is shot down by terrorists over a rural mountainous area of Finland, the President of the United States (Samuel L Jackson) is stranded in the wilderness, and finds himself hunted down by a team of ruthless mercenaries.

"someone order a bad guy?"

Fortunately for the President, 13-year old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is passing on his own hunting mission – trying to prove his maturity to his kinsfolk by bagging a worthy trophy. But after meeting Jackson he decides to try and save the life of the most powerful man on the planet instead and a nail-biting game of hide n seek n kill ensues.

The scenario of tooled up terrorists fighting the unlikely duo of heroes is a lot of fun and Big Game delivers plenty of quality action scenes. Director Jalmari ‘Rare Exports’ Helander is obviously a fan of cheesy big budget action flicks, jamming in references and nods to previous classics.

"I come in peace"

Jackson is good as the President, playing him as less of an action guy than in some of the recent President under attack films such as White House Down. This allows young Tommila to shine and steal the movie in what should be a career kick-starting role. The evil boss Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus), is suitably nasty and without wanting to spoil anything – it may just be that there is a double agent somewhere too.

The juxtaposition of high tech weaponry sporting bad guys vs bow and arrow carrying hunter makes for great cat and mouse peril situations. There are echoes of Predator, Commando and Rambo scattered in this movie which will please ‘80s action film fans. There is also a wry sense of humour at work that really helps lift what could have been an entirely disposable enterprise to be film worth checking out.

"little John McClane"

The only down time is in-between the set-pieces, where it feels a bit of lag – the bods in the Pentagon control room who include Jim Broadbent humming and haaring over the action from afar via satellite footage just isn’t as fun to watch.


Big Game is the perfect introduction to the action movie for younger teens as it keeps the violence moderate and the swears minimal – but packs enough punch to make it watchable for all ages.

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö1/2 

(3.5 - fun and engaging action-em-up
)

Awesomeness ööö – great set pieces and judicious use of budget

Laughs ööö – funny in places

Horror öö – not too violent but there is a body count

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - hunter turn protector

Recommended Hashtags: #OneSmallChanceOfSurvival

"look out below"



Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Far From The Madding Crowd



Far from the Madding Crowd (12a)

Dir. Thomas Vinterberg

Reviewed by Matt 'Oak' Adcock (@Cleric20)

"It is my intention to astonish you all."

As a boy I was fascinated by the book 'Far From The Madding Crowd' - you see it sat on my mother's bookcase - at the end facing out - so pretty much every day I saw the title and the depiction of a lovely woman kissing a dashing soldier in an idyllic woodland. I fell in love with the title and often wondered what it was that the 'crowd' did to be so 'madding'... Then I saw the 1960's screen version of the book on TV and it was fine but weirdly dull (for a teenage boy at least).


Now my favourite contemporary actress Carey 'Drive' Mulligan takes on the central role of headstrong, beautiful and independent Bathsheba Everdene and I have a new favourite romance film!

Director Thomas Vinterberg's Far from the Madding Crowd is lush, stylish and powerfully emotive - it is also turbo charged by Mulligan's central performance. Screenwriter David Nicholls' new take on Hardy's tale of a single woman in Victorian England inheriting a farm from her uncle and dealing with the attentions of three very different suitors is a compelling adaptation.

"Oh Bathsheba!"

Let's look at the suitors - first on the scene is ruggedly handsome and all round decent sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) who no sooner has found her dropped scarf than he proposes to her.

Next up wealthy landowner and master of the neighbouring farm William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) tries it on with promises of giving her 'everything she could desire' just without the actual 'desire' bit...

But can either of them compete with the dashing Sergeant Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge) who wields a long sword and dazzling scarlet uniform, but might be a bit of a cad, what with his betrothed Fanny on the side (Juno Temple) and all?

"Dancing - essential element of any courtship"

So girl power Bathsheba has her heart swung in various directions, but being in the firing line of three potential husbands is a tough place to be, especially in a time when stifled women weren't given the respect or credence merited.

It's not just the good looking cast that make this a handsome film either - the cinematic countryside shots are nothing short of magnificent. Key scenes from the book are given swoon worthy cinematography that drew gasps of delight from the madding crowd I saw this with.

This is by far my favourite of Hardy's novels - and the only one to really send readers / viewers off with a smile on their faces, an affirmation of life in their hearts and a romantic glow in their neither regions!?

"Oooh - feel the heartache!"

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2 

(4.5 - lovely ravishing romance has rarely been so good!
)

Awesomeness öööö – stylish and engaging

Laughs öö – some limited mirth

Horror öö – was a tough time to be alive, one violent death

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - be true to your heart

Recommended Hashtags: #LoveBathsheba


Monday, May 04, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Nanopunk


Nanopunk

by Nathan McGrath (@NathanMcGrathSF)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

"A second into November the 18th Kyros, the world's most powerful supercomputer, accessed the european networks..."

Meet Alister, your average teenage hacker.

Actually he's not your average teenage hacker. Alister has nano-particles in his blood and they enable him to communicate with technology - so in fact he's the world's best hacker ever and it might just save his life...

Nanopunk is the near future tale of what happens when a regular guy gets super tech abilities in a frozen world that is fast going to hell. Searching for his missing scientist sister (who created the nano-particles that give him his powers) - Alister is on the run from the authorities who will stop at nothing to capture or kill him.

Aided by Suzie, a feisty 'cyber-militant' (and handy love interest) who he meets in a seemingly random encounter - the story rips along at a fair pace towards a conclusion that sets up more in what is soon to be trilogy of tales. McGrath's debut novel is a page turner that makes up for the slightly clunky prose by having an action packed narrative. Saddle up for shoot-outs, chases, hacking and double dealing aplenty, everything is kinetically charged and works well.

"Online hoodies - the phantom menace"

McGrath creates a believable world where the rebel alliance, sorry, People's Infantry are using hacking to take the fight back to the oppressive government, so Alister is the sort of asset that really could help turn the tide. As the shadowy forces of authority threat to take complete hold, enforced by tooled up heavy handed mercenaries Alister is certainly an unlikely hero - and has to step up if he's going to make a difference. It doesn't hurt when he manages to access a 'Soft Machine' suit of body adapting armour!

Nanopunk reads like a cross between Neuromancer, The Matrix and Spooks - and if you're into that type of fiction then you'll find this to be an enjoyable jolt to the senses. As a huge fan of tech noir like William Gibson's iconic groundbreaking output, this is on the same lines and I'll certainly be interested to see where the story goes next (the sequel Lightening Seed is available!)...

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö1/2

(3.5 - A hardwired tech future fiction worth checking out)...

GET YOUR COPY OF NANOPUNK: Here

Read more about McGrath's work and the science behind it at: www.softmachine.net

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