DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Grimsby


Grimsby (15)

Dir. Louis Leterrier

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

When the world is threatened by an evil plot, can MI6's top agent Sebastian Butcher (Mark ‘Kingsman’ Strong) find a way to save us? It’s a big ask, especially as he’s in an emotionally vulnerable state after a reunion with his long lost brother Carl ‘Nobby’ Butcher (Sacha Baron Cohen).

"unlikely team"

These Butcher brothers are made of stern stuff, they hail from Grimsby after all. Meet big hearted and foul mouthed Nobby, an unlikely working class hero. Part football yob, part idiot benefit cheat with 9 children (named Django Unchained, Skeletor etc) – is this the man who can help his brother foil a attempt to assassinate leading humanitarian Rhonda George (Penelope Cruz)? With Sebastian’s cover blown and only his faithful handler Jodie (Isla Fisher) willing to help, he doesn’t have a choice.

Director Louis ‘The Transporter’ Leterrier changes up the ‘usual’ Sacha Cohen tom foolery by injecting some balls out (in every sense of the words) action scenes, up there with Mission Impossible et al. Strong is erm, strong in the super spy role whilst Cohen is brings his cutting satire comedy lens to bear on broken Britain – putting the ‘grim’ in Grimsby.

"Northern family"

Get ready then for a seriously bad-taste-em-up action comedy that will offend as much as it amuses, get your adrenalin pumping and leave you laughing (even if hating yourself for it). Cohen just doesn’t have a PC filter and here the biggest laughs are crafted from seriously gross out scenes – the elephant orgy alone is liable to burn itself into your mind forever.

There is a cleverness at work behind the scenes though - making cutting social points such as when Nobby gets into a shootout and tells Sebastian “I understand why you love guns so much now…It completely detaches you from the guilt of your actions.”

"Gun nut"

Some of the targets work better than others, Donald Trump makes this feel very ‘of the moment’ whilst quite what Daniel Radcliffe has done to deserve such treatment we can only wonder at. There are a ton of fun cameos that include Rebel ‘Pitch Perfect’ Wilson as Nobby’s Northern Mrs - Lindsey, Gabourey ‘Precious’ Sidibe as Banu the Cleaner and Ricky Tomlinson as Paedo Pete.

Not everything works – the jokes about AIDS and wheelchair bound children are hardly fitting as mass crowd-pleasers but Cohen’s horrible gift is in getting you laughing along despite yourself and thus losing the right claim moral high ground.

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

ööö

(3 - Heavy duty laughs - that will dirty you up)

Awesomeness ööö – Outrage(ous) set pieces a go go

Laughs öööö – You want funny, be careful what you wish for

Horror ööö – Gross out!

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - none


Monday, February 15, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Triple 9


Triple 9 (15)

Dir. John Hillcoat

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“There’s no limit to what desperate men will do when pushed.”

Step this way for a stylishly hard boiled action-crime-drama directed by John ‘Lawless’ Hillcoat that comes on like Heat meets True Detective. This tasty heist-em-up follows a group of dirty cops who find themselves in the line of fire when crossing paths with the Russian mob.

Meet idealistic rookie cop Chris Allen (Casey ‘Interstellar’ Affleck), who gets assigned to work with streetwise detective Marcus Atwood (Anthony ‘Captain America’ Mackie). Trouble is Atwood is part of a bank robbing crew with leader Terrel Tompkins (Chiwetel ‘The Martian’ Ejiofor), foot soldier Russel Welch (Norman ‘The Walking Dead’ Reedus) and his brother / lose cannon Gabe Welch (Aaron ‘Breaking Bad’ Paul).

"red team move in..."

The plot rips along at a frantic pace, the initial heist and freeway shootout is a tight, nail biting affair. But before you can say ‘there’s no honour among thieves’ the pressure begins to tear the crew apart. Things go from bad to worse when Kate Winslet’s nasty mob boss demands a seemingly impossible ‘one more job’ from the gang or else they will all be executed.

So with limited options Tomkins devises a plan to have Allen killed to trigger a ‘triple nine / officer down’ in order to create a diversion which they can use to attempt the heist. From then on all bets are off as to who, if anyone, will survive – especially with Woody Harrelson in the mix as a dangerous investigator who tells his team to “out-monster the monsters.” Easier said than done when Allen and Atwood find a row of severed heads lined up on a car bonnet – the monsters here are not nice.

"why detective, what big teeth you have..."

Triple 9 is a taut action-thriller which deals in serious violence, greed, betrayal and quotable banter. Drug dealers, strippers and gun totting gang-bangers, ensure that this is a super seedy trawl through the underbelly of city on high alert. The cast is superb and their sterling work elevates this above your average cop flick.

Winslet is an absolute revelation as the psychotic mob boss and her acidic chemistry steals every scene she’s in. New Wonder Woman Gal Gadot is on hand too as the love interest / potential kidnap leverage, but the male leads have their work cut out to match Winslet as this is her film.

"America's got talent?"

Highly recommended for crime action fans – Triple 9 is more ‘End of Watch’ than ‘Ride Along’ so come prepared for some heavy duty, hard hitting thrills.

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

öööö

(4 - Not black or white - just exciting shades of violent grey)

Awesomeness öööö – quality crime thrills

Laughs öö – Occasionally funny

Horror ööö – Some nasty violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - not much alas


Friday, February 12, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Deadpool

Deadpool (15)

Dir. Tim Miller

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You're probably thinking ‘This is a superhero movie, but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a kebab.’
Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero story.”

Another superhero origin story? I know right. But this one dear reader is a little different, a bit of a spicier cocktail of seriously non-PC jaw dropping violence, laugh-out-loud profane funnies and ironic pop-culture zeitgeist that bleeds cool from every frame.

"forceful negotiations"

Deadpool has already had a brief burst of big screen action in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine – but here the former Special Forces operative turned ‘Merc with a Mouth’ is the antihero star.

Meet Wade Wilson (Ryan ‘Van Wilder: Party Liaison’ Reynolds), just your average bad-ass mercenary for hire who falls for Vanessa (Morena ‘Firefly’ Baccarin) – possibly the only woman who’d match his seriously ‘wrong’ sense of humour.

When Wade gets terminal cancer he is offered a chance by a shady organisation who promise to not only cure him but give him super powers. Things aren’t quite what they seem though, leaving him horribly disfigured, incredibly angry and packing self-regenerating abilities to go along with his enhanced fighting skills.

"Negasonic"

With bloody vengeance on his mind Deadpool takes on an insanely violent one-man crusade to bring down his tormentors and try to win back the love of his life. Main bad guy of the piece is ‘British Villain’ Ajax (Ed ‘Kill Your Friends’ Skrein) who also has mutant powers and may hold the only hope for Wilson to get his face back.

The huge death count and swathe of destruction that Deadpool wreaks draws the attention of the X-Men who send metal skinned Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and atomic powered Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) to try and intervene. There are two other people in Deadpool’s life – mostly for comic effect – long suffering taxi driver Dopinder (Karen Soni) and his blind housemate called erm, Blind Al (Leslie Uggams).

You don’t need to worry about the plot – it’s better to just sit back and let the awesome OTT sensory assault wash over you. The action is crunching and makes great use of CGI, especially moments of super slow-mo such as a highway ambush (the infamous ‘leaked footage’ fans loved so much it led to the film getting made)…

"Clobberin time"

If easily offended Deadpool is liable to freak you out completely so proceed with caution but for comic book fans looking for a fresh, exciting total blast of super powered thrills, this is the best subversive joy ride since Kick Ass.

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

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Smart Ass kicks Ass in fine style)

Awesomeness öööö – tasty action and motormouth fun

Laughs öööö – Very funny

Horror ööö – Some heavy duty comic book violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - limited

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Risen


Risen (12a)

Dir. Kevin Reynolds

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review at: The Hemel Gazette

“What frightens you?”
“Being wrong... Wagering eternity on him.”

Welcome to one of the biggest and most speculated about events in history. It’s 33 A.D. - a key date for the biblical narrative as it was when Jesus / Yeshua (played here with huge amounts of charisma by Cliff ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Curtis) was crucified and buried. Yes, Risen is the latest bible-em-up reworking of the resurrection, overlapping and following on from the events in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.

"The 'King of the Jews' dying with thieves"

The difference this time is that Director and co-writer Kevin ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ Reynolds retells the events through the eyes of a non-believing Roman Centurion named Clavius (Joseph ‘Shakespeare In Love’ Fiennes).

As religious fervour threatens to ignite civil unrest across Judea in the wake of the disappearance of Jesus’s body, the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate (Peter ‘Spooks’ Firth) orders an inquiry into what exactly happened. The religious leaders and Pharisees claim that the body had been stolen by Christ’s followers, the soldiers tasked with guarding the tomb go into hiding fearing for their lives and the rumours of a resurrection start to spread.

"I never liked you in Harry Potter"

Risen (although possibly the biggest spoiler title for a movie ever) starts off effectively setting the scene with Clavius and his men caught up in a bloody skirmish with Jewish renegades. As the events of the first Easter Weekend unfold, turmoil and uncertainty run rampant through the city and it’s well portrayed – and avoids falling into the ‘Life of Brian’ style farce.

Fiennes is good as the hard bitten Clavius and his journey is compelling as he gets to lead, along with his ambitious aide Lucius (Tom ‘Harry Potter’ Felton), the manhunt for Yeshua’s body.

As a Christian who reviews films, I’m often massively let down by the attempts to bring scripture or overtly ‘pro-faith’ stories to the medium of film. I really don’t want to be ‘preached at’ any more than the next cinema goer. The fact that Risen actually works as a historical thriller for much of its running time before eventually getting a bit carried away with the ‘it must be true’ narrative is to the credit of the filmmakers. It’s kind of like an ancient times alternative to a Dan Brown novel.

"First hand account"

OK so there is very little screen time for women here, Mary Magdalene (María ‘Mad Dogs’ Botto) isn’t given much to do although being one of the core witnesses in the bible account. There is no Pilate's wife either and Mary - Mother of Jesus has a blink and you’ll miss it contribution.

But seeing as the ‘did Jesus rise from the dead?’ question is one that continues to be asked 2,000 years later, Risen is a thought provoking option for cinema audiences to mull over this Easter.

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

ööö

(3 - a historically changed, biblical thriller...)

Awesomeness ööö – The opening battle is a highlight

Laughs ö – Limited mirth here

Horror ööö – Stronger violence than expected

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - will make you think


Risen opens in the UK on 18 March.

Damaris Media are working with Sony Pictures to produce a free in-depth set of resources for churches and their leaders. Find out more at: www.risen.damarismedia.com 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Dad's Army


Dad’s Army (PG)

Dir. Oliver Parker

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?”

Come back to 1944, just as World War II is reaching its climax. With the Allies poised to invade France - the heroes of Walmington-on-Sea’s ‘Home Guard’ might prove to be the unlikeliest of key strategic elements in the military campaign…

"reporting for duty"

Dad’s Army is a reverent big screen reworking / homage of the much loved BBC tea time sitcom. I count myself a fan of the original owing to much watching of it back in the days when there were only 3 TV channels and we couldn’t record or watch on demand.

Plot wise we find that morale amongst the Home Guard led by bungling Captain Mainwaring (Toby ‘The Hunger Games’ Jones) is at a low ebb. His shambolic unit of generable old duffers, a naïve teen and an opportunistic chancer include: Sergeant Wilson (Bill ‘Love Actually’ Nighy), Lance Corporal Jones (Tom Courtenay) and Privates Frazer (Bill Paterson), Walker (Daniel Mays), Pike (Blake ‘The Inbetweeners’ Harrison) and Godfrey (Michael Gambon).

"tactical genius"

This fantastic British cast are just excellent in recreating the classic roles – and there is much fun to had watching their bumbling antics. The men find themselves are struggling with the double whammy of being the focus of a feature by foxy journalist Rose Winters (Catherine Zeta-Jones) for The Lady magazine and at the same time ordered to track down a German spy operating in the area.

Also on hand in this modern version are the lesser seen ladies of Walmington led by the industrious Mrs Mainwaring (Felicity Montagu). This essential support network of other halves and love interests may be more use than all men put together.

"secret weapon?"

There are a couple of nice cameos by original cast members including Pike (Ian Lavender) who pops up as a brigadier and Frank Williams who reprises his role as the local vicar.

Don’t be expecting huge Saving Private Ryan battle scenes, although there is a small scale skirmish at the climax, this is very much a gentler and quintessentially British kind of war film.

The funnies are mostly of the slapstick tomfoolery and inept soldiering cringe factor, backed up by the catchphrases from the original. There’s real wartime enjoyment on offer here and the characters themselves certainly make this worth seeing – sure - it’s not a classic movie but for fans of the TV series this is a mission accomplished.

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

ööö

(3 - Don't Panic, stupid boy...)

Awesomeness ööö – No stick is left unslapped

Laughs ööö – Good amounts of genial mirth

Horror ö – Not grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - the Dunkirk Spirit writ large

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