DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Darkmatters Review: SPECTRE


SPECTRE (12a)

Dir. Sam Mendes

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read my newspaper version of this review over at: THE TRING GAZETTE

“You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond.”

As a similar aged gentleman to Daniel Craig, I have avidly caught every Bond film at the cinema since The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 (still my joint favourite with Skyfall). Now comes Spectre, the 24th entry into the ultimate super spy franchise. Can Director Sam ‘American Beauty’ Mendes up the ante on his incredible last effort? It certainly looks that way for the first 10 mins as Spectre opens with a bang.

"Bond takes his halloween costume seriously"

The pre-credits visit to Mexico which is in the throes of the annual ‘Day of the Dead’ festivities is absolutely breathtaking. This is Bond at his best, so good in fact that the rest of the bloated two and a half hours never comes close to matching it which is a shame.

Spectre veers from classic Bond – with some excellent nods and winks to many previous villains, gadgets and situations which include a great fight on a train (a la From Russia With Love) and a short brutal gunfight in a baddie desert complex (better than Quantum of Solace’s) to a bit ‘meh’, the London scenes play like a lesser episode of Spooks.

"You'll believe DB 10s can fly"

Mendes is too good a director to fumble everything though and is aided by the gorgeous exotic locations, Rome especially shines by day and night and is joined by Tangiers, Austria and of course London.

My wife really isn’t a fan of the whole ‘Bond girl’ thing but Spectre at least mixes it up by giving Bond a tussle with older Italian actress Monica Bellucci (still incredible at 50) before letting James lose his heart to the jaw dropping French actress Léa ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’ Seydoux. Seydoux is much more than a pretty face and makes a great foil for the still sexist Bond, putting him in his place and teaching him a thing or two along the way.

"Seydoux sizzles:

Spectre’s slightly lacking villain Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) who has a penchant for white cats and deadly gizmos is backed up by the much more watchable Mr Hinx (Dave ‘WWE turned Guardian of the Galaxy’ Bautista). Bond’s boss M (Ralph Fiennes) however is not a patch on Judy Dench and Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are both functional at best, which is a shame as I liked them both better in the last film!

"The one ring"

Overall Spectre is a like a hit and miss greatest hits compilation which starts strong and has the occasional great track before a forgettable ending – certainly worth watching but unlikely to be anybody’s new favourite Bond movie.

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Well shaken but not stirred quite enough)

Awesomeness ööö – the pre-credits scene alone is worth your time!!

Laughs öö – a few fun Bond quips

Horror ööö –  Not too grim but does have some torture

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - for Queen and Country

"Bond isn't ageist"



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Darkmatters Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Review


Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (15)

Dir. Gregory Plotkin

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“Daddy, I can’t sleep – there are noises in my room…”

Here we go again then, maybe for the last time, with another entry in the long running hand held footage spook-em-up franchise. Dare you enter The Ghost Dimension? Well – it depends on what you’re looking for I guess.

"erm, she's behind you!?"

The first three Paranormal Activity films still stand as a decently scary trilogy, alas then came the awful part four and the odd spinoff The Marked Ones and now The Ghost Dimension which is reportedly the final one.

This time a new family, The Fleeges, made up of dad Ryan (Chris J. Murray), mum Emily (Brit Shaw) and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George) find themselves on the business end of the ‘activity’. Seems their new house – which comes complete with an ‘80s video camera that can see ghosts and a box of VHS tapes which depict freaky stuff circa Paranormal Activity Part 3 (you know back when it was still scary), is haunted!?

"not sure what I'm looking at here"

Doesn’t take long before things are going ‘bump’ in the night and young Leila is talking to an invisible friend who is getting her to burn the family bible and bury her mum’s rosary. The thing is – rather than being at a loss as to what’s going on as before, this time the parents can actually see the darn demon on tape – and it looks a lot like Venom from Sam Rami’s Spiderman 3 in case you were wondering…

Being able to see the ghostly baddie really lessens the scare factor and makes you wonder why they don’t just get the hell out of there. As a parent (and a Christian) if I caught sight of an actual demonic entity standing over my sleeping child’s bed, we’re be off pretty quick. But not the Fleeges who stay and ponder what to do, eventually calling in a priest - Father Todd but still leave little Leila on her own at night, which just isn’t a smart move.

"the floating priest"

Cue lots of supposed ‘jump scares’ which you can see coming a mile away if you’ve ever seen a scary movie before – although the fairly young audience I caught this with screamed along every time…

By the end some of the wider plot questions from the whole series have been tied up but even then the backstory starts to feel very cobbled together and unsatisfying.

So even though the franchise goes out with this paranormal whimper… And since when did you need to to pay extra for 3D when it's a found footage movie?? It really is time to stop.

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

öö

(2 - things that go 'meh' in the night!)

Awesomeness öö – low on thrills

Laughs öö – starts off with some bro humour

Horror ööö – paranormal deaths occur

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - demonically poor 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Darkmatters Star Wars Excitement Growing...

As the double whammy of Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: The Force Awakens draw near., Matt Adcock is excited:

Here's the final trailer for The Force Awakens:



And this just might be the best advert ever...

"get some gaming Force in your life!?"

and here's the official poster for the film: Darkmatters review soon:


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Suffragette



Suffragette (12a)

Dir. Sarah Gavron

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I would rather be a rebel than a slave”

Women eh? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t trust them to vote or understand the complex workings of parliament apparently… Wait, this isn’t early 20th century Britain (thank goodness), here we have a brutally frank, emotionally charged and brilliantly female empowering drama set around the struggles of the suffragette women’s movement in London c1912.

"orderly protest"

There is much to enjoy in this cinematic trip detailing the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, who include the initially reluctant activist Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), the bold chemist Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) and overall suffragette mastermind Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep).

As a male viewer, I was shamed and shocked at the awful conditions inflicted on women who in those dark times. This is a film that blows the doors off the corrupt power grab of the men who ran everything and held all the control. From the sexual abuse of the under-age female workers by their bosses, through to the casual and unaccountable police violence against women – Director Sarah ‘Brick Lane’ Gavron captures the heart-breaking widespread acceptance by the general populace that ‘its just this way, and its not going to change’. That is until sufficient women stood up to the male dominated authorities by taking the law into their own hands, and managed to change the world.

"Invading personal space"

The oppressed working women who had tried peaceful protest and official representation only to achieve nothing became radicalized, employing violence and demonstrating the will to lose everything in their seemingly impossible fight for equality. Maud acts the emotional core of the film and Mulligan is just superb in the lead role. Her inspirational struggle which see her lose her job, home and family is hard to watch at points but for viewers (of either sex) her fight for dignity is more gripping than many machine tooled cinematic thrillers.

"if this is your fist night, you have to fight"

Suffragette expertly captures the abject horror of the women’s situation and has a great cinematic sweep in bringing the dirty cobbled streets of the Capital to life. The men of the film surprisingly do not come out well – Ben Whishaw is good as the wimpish Sonny, a man trapped between his love for his wife (Mulligan) and the consequences of becoming a social pariah if he supports her in any way. But award for biggest scumbag is a toss up between vile, lecherous boss Norman Taylor (Geoff Bell) and Inspector Steed (Brendan Gleeson) – the copper tasked with taking the suffragettes down.

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

öööö

(4 - Essential viewing!!)

Awesomeness öööö – Worthy tribute to those who risked everything

Laughs öö – a few fun moments but generally grim

Horror ööö –  harrowing situations

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - equality is a right!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Stewart Lee - A Room With A Stew



Stewart Lee - A Room With A Stew

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Leicester Square Theatre 10/10/15


"Stewart Lee is not funny and has nothing to say" - Daily Telegraph


AS an over 40 year old, I fared better then many of the audience at Stewart (once of the awesome Lee and Herring comedy duo) Lee show. He's not adverse to mocking those who have paid to come and witness his 'work in progress' preparation of material for his next BBC 2 series of Comedy Vehicle, especially if you're under 40: "You young people, this isn't aimed at you. You have your own things, don’t you? Like Minecraft and bondage sex."...

Seeing Stewart Lee live is a mentally kinetic, interactive experience and the Leicester Square Theatre is a superb. The ambience in this genuinely intimate venue allows Lee's deadpan infectious charisma to creep up on you, before his long game punchlines deliver stunning laser sighted blows to your brain's comedy endorphin receptors. At near two hours this show is form of deep dive therapy or a treatise on modern life for those struggling with make sense of our almost post UKIP world.

The material is controversial and engaging, getting around your outrage defences by building mental scaffolding that take you up to topics which few others would dare to tackle. His cat 'Jeremy Corbyn' and it's bowel problems command a centre stage rendition of 'God Save The Queen' for one of the  rough episodes in a way that will be seared into your mind long after the show wraps.

"meeting your heroes these days includes selfies"

Lee's views are in the ball park of 'politically correct by way of intense non-conformist liberalism' - his stinging barbs hit their targets without making him look mean or anything less than ironic. It is an unalloyed joy to watch Lee skilfully deconstruct a topic as inflammatory as Islamic views of other religions and leave the viewers mulling over their own potential prejudices even while they laugh heartily - partly out of relief.

Nothing is off bounds. Lee talks about other comedians - both the young ones who repeatedly come to see his shows for tips and a brilliant Graham Norton BAFTA win extended anecdote that takes in James Corden,school orienteering with the original band members of Napalm Death and his mortgage repayment plan. The skill here is in weaving such an engaging narrative while keeping the audience laughing along.

A Room With A Stew is a highly recommended night out, worth catching now in order to see how the material will have been honed and polished for the new Comedy Vehicle series - which on the strength of this show is going to be unmissable and might just snag him that illusive BAFTA!?

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

ööööö

(5 - Sublime thinking person's stand up comedy)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Sicario


Sicario (15)

Dir. Denis Villeneuve

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You will not survive here. You are not a wolf… and this is a land of wolves now.”

Step this way brave soul, Sicario will assault your senses with a terrifying, heavy-duty insight into the human cost of America’s war on drugs. Sicario is a kinetic overload of horrific situations and palpably dangerous action scenes which blow the doors off the dark operations being carried out – beyond the view of the regular news channels.

"everyone turned up in the same fancy dress!"

From the second FBI agent Kate Macer's (Emily 'Edge of Tomorrow’ Blunt) team uncover a sickening discovery whilst on an anti-kidnapping raid in Arizona, all bets are off as to just how deep the rabbit hole goes in terms of where the investigation will lead.

Director Denis ‘Prisoners’ Villeneuve introduces an effective and constant feeling of threat that hangs heavy over every scene. It makes watching Sicario an emotionally draining experience as you get to witness the actions of shadowy players - on both sides the fight.

This is a front-and-centre seat alongside Macer as she joins a group of elite agents headed up by Matt Graver (Josh ‘Inherent Vice’ Brolin) on the trail of a notorious cartel boss Manuel Diaz (Bernardo P. Saracino).

"say goodbye"

It’s a truly nail-biting ride as the carnage escalates and the lines of right and wrong begin to get very blurred as the team that includes the brutally unorthodox Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), cross many moral boundaries in order to finally make a difference.

If Sicario tells viewers anything – it’s that no-one can be truly clean in a war where loyalty can be bought and bloody revenge is a part of the day-to-day dealings. There are disturbing images here that will stay with you long after the credits roll but the material will also challenge your inner sense of ‘justice – at what cost?’.

"boom"

When the world becomes lawless – such as it is depicted in the border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico – who can we turn to? Indeed, we might feel angry and ashamed that there seems to be a need for clandestine forces fighting for the ‘good’ of law abiding citizens but Sicario will leave you questioning everything as those on the front lines are faced with no option but finding a way to survive…

"just your average trip into town..."

Blunt is superb in the lead - a female dropped into a high end macho shadowy world who holds her own in the face of terrifying odds... Sicario is a fine companion piece to The Hurt Locker or Homeland in the cannon of female fronted conflict espionage thrillers. 

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

öööö

(4 - Shock and awe film making of the highest caliber! )

Awesomeness öööö – strong action and searingly brutal scenes

Laughs ö – very limited mirth

Horror öööö –  nasty and grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - are we lost if fighting fire with fire is only option?

"it means 'hit man'"





Friday, October 02, 2015

Darkmatters Review: The Martian


The Martian (12a)

Dir. Ridley Scott

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of Matt's review: The Gazette

“Hi, I'm Mark Watney and I'm still alive... surprise!?”

Strap yourself in and prepare for a truly ‘out of this world’ quality sci-fi tale that doesn't skimp on the 'sci' and yet manages to still be thrilling, funny and life affirming…

Master Director Ridley Scott delivers an epic big screen adaptation by the best selling novel by Andy Weir. The plot tells the traumatic story of Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) - mistakenly presumed dead and abandoned on Mars by his crewmates. So, stranded and alone on the hostile red planet, Watney must find a way to establish contact with NASA and survive well beyond his meagre rations on a planet with no harvestable resources.

"look, he's right there..."

What follows is a survive-em-up blast that sees Watney’s human spirit and scientific skills stretched to the limit as he grapples with the challenge of surviving whilst millions of miles from safety. Back on earth our top minds including Head of NASA Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) and director of the Mars missions Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetelu Ejiofor) struggle to come up with any sort of feasible contingency plan.

To make matters interesting Watney’s crewmates just might try the most life threateningly daring rescue mission ever committed to screen. As the action unfolds, you’ll be caught up in the high drama as the world comes together to root for Watney's safe return.

"star car"

The film's script incorporates the book’s winningly humorous and genuinely interesting dialogue, it’s this balance of comic relief in the face almost certain death that makes The Martian so much fun to watch. Damon is great in the lead role, his narration is spot on and it’s also harrowing to see his body wasting away as his severe food rationing drains him.

The only minor weakness is for fans of the book’s numerous personal logs by Watney – many which have had to be jettisoned for time constraints – this means that viewers have to work a bit harder to invest enough empathy for the poor guy.

"in space, no-one can hear you swear"

Having said that though, it’s still wonderfully easy to get caught up in this science-based fable, packed with so much technical NASA jargon that you’ll feel like you might have got a bit smarter just from having been exposed to it. The supporting cast are good value too Danny ‘Community’ Glover brings some maverick youthful thinking and Watney’s crewmates who include Jessica ‘Interstellar’ Chastain as steely Captain Lewis and Kate ‘Captive’ Mara as the sexy crew nerd Johanssen, give good emotional core to the events.

Pretty much must see sci-fi fun for all the family (although be advised if taking younger members there are some very high levels of peril and some swear words)...

"Mars hasn't looked this pretty since Britney sang Oops I Did It Again!?"


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

öööö1/2

(4.5 - one Martian you should ‘boldly go’ to see… )

Awesomeness öööö – some incredible and unforgettable scenes

Laughs öööö – some strong comedy elements and laugh out loud moments

Horror öö –  gets very tense but not too nasty

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - human spirit and science #FTW

"Houston, we have a problem"

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