DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Captain America Civil War


Captain America: Civil War (12a)

Dir. Anthony & Joe Russo

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You know what's about to happen. Do you really wanna punch your way out of this?”

Here it is then – the second super smack-down of the year following the darker, slightly incoherent but epic Batman v Superman. Disney’s Avengers get their turn to beat each other up in a slick movie which is easily the best Captain America film to date, but might feel a little neutered for fans of the Mark Millar comic book it’s loosely based on.

"The heavy metal fans"

The plot sees an incident involving the Avengers causing yet further collateral damage in a foreign country and shrugging it off with a sheepish ‘sorry’. But a mixture of fear and condemnation from the public raises the political pressure to put some form of accountability on the super team.

This splits the Avengers as Steve ‘Captain America’ Rogers (Chris Evans) doesn’t want to sign up to new rules and would rather protect his brainwashed baddie pal Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) from justice. Tony ‘Iron Man’ Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) however is all for a new level of government oversight and accountability in the face of the whole Ultron affair which he is still feeling the guilt over.

"Winter is coming"

The Russo brothers who directed The Winter Soldier and who will get their chance to ‘go big’ with the next full scale Avengers film ‘Infinity War parts 1 & 2’ do a great job of character development. Effortlessly bringing in new faces which include the movie stealing Spiderman (Tom Holland), the cool and funny Scott ‘Ant Man’ Lang who has a new trick up his sleeve and the noble Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Plus there are the returning Avengers who each get some quality screen time – on team Cap we have Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, on team Iron Man it’s Vision, War Machine and Black Widow. Hulk and Thor are MIA.

"Best thing in the film? yep!"

There are great supporting cameos from Community’s Jim Rash and Fargo’s Martin Freeman too – as well as the obligatory Stan Lee moment.

Civil War is at heart quite a personal film, with less actual threat level which you can view as both a good and bad thing. The fights and chases are great but there’s never a feeling that anyone’s really in mortal peril – good news for those wanting to enjoy spectacular super action with young people in tow.

"Quick - do the iconic scene!"

Exciting and funny, this is a super treat for the senses which gives great fan service without upping the ante too far. Normally war is hell but this one is a blast!

"Civil 'Skirmish' doesn't have the same ring to it"

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

ööööö

(5 - Pick a side and leave grinning)...

Awesomeness öööö – Rocks some great set pieces and hits some real highs

Laughs öööö – Nicely observed funnies (thanks Spiderman n Antman in particular)

Horror öö –  action violence and threat but nothing too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö – take a stand


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Bastille Day



Bastille Day (15)

Dir. James Watkins

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Release the Hashtag...”

Meet Sean Briar (Idris ‘Luther’ Elba) – a maverick CIA Agent described as “reckless and irresponsible” in his official assessment. When a bomb is stolen and kills innocent people on the streets of Paris, Briar goes off the deep end punching, shooting and generally cutting a swathe of destruction across the city in order to stop the criminals behind it.

Unwillingly aided by desperate pickpocket Michael Mason (Richard ‘Game of Thrones’ Madden) the scene is set for a buddy action race against the clock to foil a daring violent heist.

"buddy cops go go go"

Alas it’s just not very good. Director James ‘Eden Lake’ Watkins throws ideas at the screen like his life depends on it but even with Elba going ‘full Die Hard’ this can’t rise above the level of generic ho-hum. Whilst hardly high art, this is the sort of film that Luc Besson does with brutal style, and so it’s dispiriting that Watkins’ effort feels like a cheap knock off.

British actress Kelly ‘True Detective’ Reilly gives a good account of herself but is under used, unfortunately the other supporting cast are pretty dismal and that includes the laughable main bad guy who comes across like an out-of-shape French Robert Downey Jr.

To be fair not all the action scenes are poor and there is one exciting rooftop chase which wouldn’t look out of place in a bigger budget action film, there are also elements of cinematography by Tim ‘Snatch’ Maurice-Jones that work but gaping plot holes and a frankly shoddy ‘climax’ make this one Bastille Day that won’t be celebrated by many.

"viva la hastag"

At least Elba isn’t the problem (well, not until he starts singing and rapping over the end credits which is beyond cringe) – it’s everything else that lets the side down.

It massively undoes any tension when you can’t help but smirk at the ‘edgy’ subtitles which repeatedly show the hashtags used by the baddies to stir up public violence and disorder. The writers should take a long hard look at themselves after making Elba and co try and keep straight faces in the face of this lazy plot device. In this day and age such shoddy, lazy writing shouldn’t be tolerated.

This isn’t a terminal headshot for Elba’s action film credentials but it is certainly a film you don’t need to waste your time on.

"boom"

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

öö

(2 - Not so much ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’, more ‘l'action moyenne médiocre’…)

Awesomeness öö – Couple of good scenes

Laughs öö – Laughable in places

Horror öö – Not very grim

Spiritual Enlightenment -ööö - Fear the hashtag

Monday, April 18, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Eye In The Sky


Eye In The Sky (15)

Dir. Gavin Hood

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Gazette

“Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war.”

Hey, terrorists – we’re watching you… You can’t see it but as well as the satellites tracking you, cruising overhead is most likely a Predator: medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system piloted by ace U.S. Top Gunners. Closer to your base there are most likely covert remote control spy cameras too, some look like birds, others like beetles. Yes, there’s almost nowhere to hide…

Watching the feeds from these various pieces of high tech kit are military officers from around the world, one is Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen ‘Trumbo’ Mirren), based at RAF Northwood - just around the corner from LST where I work - a top secret drone operation controller.

"say cheese - wherever you are"

Tasked with trying to capture dangerous Al-Shabaab terrorists in Kenya, Powell has tracked several high level targets to a possible rendezvous / suicide bomber preparation base. As the suspects include both radicalized British and U.S. citizens, the tracking team is made up of American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron ‘Triple 9’ Paul) aided by his A1C (Phoebe Fox), the Brits in Northwood and native operatives on the ground in Kenya.

When Powell discovers the targets are planning an imminent suicide bombing, the mission escalates from a ‘capture’ to a ‘kill’ right under the noses of the watching MPs and General Frank Bensen (Alan ‘Die Hard’ Rickman).

"high stakes Skype"

As the seconds tick by, the tension mounts and then just as the strike order is about to be given a young Innocent girl enters the kill zone triggering a crisis of morality amongst those watching. Could this girl cause an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of US and British government? What value do we put on one life’s worth?

Director Gavin ‘Enders Game’ Hood handles this flashpoint collateral-damage-em-up with an effective grip. The key players in the both Government and Military, who have to make the agonizing decisions as to whether the ‘cost’ of innocent lives are worth the ‘win’ of taking out those committed to carrying out acts of violence against many more are well handled.

"Working from home!?"

This is nail biting stuff (literally, the woman beside me in the cinema was audibly chewing on hers throughout) and despite the moral dilemma at the heart of the plot it keeps you entertained. Kudos must go to the late great Alan Rickman for giving a fine final performance here too.

Keep an Eye out for this military grade thriller that will leave you with much to ponder.

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Welcome to the new front line! )

Awesomeness öööö – Heart in mouth scenes

Laughs ö – Little to smile about

Horror ööö – Limited by hard hitting war death

Spiritual Enlightenment -ööö - How many deaths for greater good!?

"RIP - Alan Rickman, you were a legend!"


Monday, April 11, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Hardcore Henry


Hardcore Henry (18)

Dir. Ilya Naishuller

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Gazette

“Fight back! You're capable of more than you think.”

So you wake up in a high tech lab, with no memory, seemingly resurrected from the dead and given cybernetic ‘Robocop’ like limbs … You’re greeted by a beautiful blonde who introduces herself as ‘Estelle’ (Haley ‘The Equalizer’ Bennett), who says she is your wife. Before you can fully comprehend what is going on, or even get your voice module connected, the lab is stormed by a maniac named Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) who has psychic powers and leads an army of heavily armed mercenaries.

"The road wars"

Akan kidnaps Estelle and leaves Henry for dead (again) and thus the scene is set for a what is probably the most violent cinematic action adventure of all time…

Can super-soldier Henry overcome insane odds, rescue Estelle and find out the truth about who he really is? It’s great fun finding out as long as you have the stomach for seriously gory death and destruction – all presented from a unique first person viewpoint. The ‘witnessing the plot entirely from Henry’s viewpoint’ might make some unsettled due to the vertigo inducing kinetic action but it creates a film that feels very much like a big screen mix of Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty – with a huge body-count.

"Your wife - worthy of rescuing by any means necessary"

Hardcore Henry is the most insane carnage-em-up to grace the screen since The Raid. Director Ilya Naishuller is obviously a fan of over the top action and he packs the film with every sort of death imaginable. It feels at times like a homage to the cheesy violent action of Arnie’s ‘80s movies like Commando, it even packs a good deal of darkly comic one liners.

Henry’s only ally in his quest is a mysterious agent named Jimmy (Sharlto ‘District 9’ Copley) who seems to have the ability to jump for body to body. Jimmy is a great sidekick, with his British soldier body / personality the pick of the bunch – dropping lines that are equally offensive and funny – certainly got the biggest reaction from the crowd I caught this with. So strap in for a totally insane blast of bad taste violence, swearing and hyperactive eyeball straining action.

"Baddies with low life expectancy!"

Hardcore Henry certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, in fact there are reports of many people walking out of screenings in the U.S. but as long as you know what you’re getting in to this like a turbo charged shot of pure adrenalin to the heart. Enter at your own risk!

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

öööö

(4 - Mad, bad and dangerous all over)

Awesomeness öööö – Insane adrenalin pumpung action scenes

Laughs ööö – Laughing out loud at the sheer wrongness

Horror öööö – Very brutal violence - gory and in-your-face

Spiritual Enlightenment -ö - Violence in and of itself

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Darkmatters shares Star Wars ROGUE ONE trailer


ROGUE ONE (A Star Wars Story) TRAILER...

Matt Adcock (@Cleric20) is feeling The Force again...



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is the first film in the new series of standalone Star Wars movies from Lucasfilm. It tells the story of how a group of unlikely heroes unite to undertake a daring and seemingly impossible mission to steal the plans for the Death Star...

Darkmatters already love Star Wars...

Read the Darkmatters review of The Force Awakens: Here

Watch the fan made Darth Maul short film: Here

Here's what happened last time Matt went to see a Star Wars film at the cinema...


Film fan from Hitchin dresses as a Sith for Stars Wars: The Force Awakens midnight premiere at Stevenage Cineworld


Read the story: The Hitchin Comet

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Eddie The Eagle


Eddie The Eagle (PG)

Dir. Dexter Fletcher

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

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

“I've been kicked off every team before I even got a chance to prove myself.”

Here we are then, a tale of courage, of death defying daring-do and erm, well, true British ‘heroic failure’. Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle (directed by Dexter ‘Wild Bill’ Fletcher) is a feel-good story about Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron ‘Kingsman’ Egerton), a lifelong loser who became an Olympic athlete.

"Is it a bird? Is it a plane?"

Despite the superb Marv production team that includes Matthew ‘Kick-Ass’ Vaughan, I didn’t have high hopes for this tribute to the unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself. I shouldn’t have doubted – Eddie The Eagle is an absolute blast of underdog-makes-good euphoria inducing fun.

I remember being a bit confused by Eddie’s ski jumping effort when I followed his infamously average progress live on TV back in 1988. It was a mixture of pride that we had a Brit stepping up to take on the frankly terrifying, incredibly dangerous sporting challenge, and of embarrassment that he simply wasn’t very good at it. This film strikes a great balance of showing the hard preparatory work (cue Rocky-esque training montage), the adrenalin pumping climax and yet doesn’t over glamorize the fact that Eddie still came last!?

"Don't stop believing!"

Egerton is charismatic and does an excellent job bringing the geeky Eddie to life – showing immense range after his super cool Kingsman Agent turn last year and eating up the screen, making Eddie a very likeable British Champion. Also on hand to lend some A-list cred is Hugh Jackman who plays his reluctant coach Bronson Peary, and a strong cameo from Christopher Walken too.

The ski-jumping ‘action’ is superbly shot and pulse racing, plus the film scores major points for a cracking ‘80s soundtrack. There is a palpably sense of joy that flows through the movie and it’s hard to resist. Everyone looks like they’re having a good time - the supporting cast include stereotypical foreign ski-jumpers, a snooty British Olympic Committee and Eddie’s working class parents.

"Winner at heart"

There are plenty of laughs to be had here too – and whilst Eddie is definitely a figure of fun, the vibe is more that we get to laugh along with him rather than just at Eddie’s seemingly overpowering hopelessness at sport.

Eddie The Eagle is a lovely movie worthy of seeing on the big screen!

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

öööö

(4 - British Olympians FTW!)

Awesomeness öööö – You'll almost believe man can fly!

Laughs öööö – Lots of funnies

Horror ö – Very little to worry about

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Dream it, do it

Darkmatters Review: Dirt Rally


Dirt Rally (PS4)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

With apologies to Carly Rae Jepsen:  I really rally rally rally rally rally like you…



"Ah the Lancia Delta (used to own a non rally variant of this great car!)

Dirt Rally is a beast – a beautiful, brilliant and breath-taking beast that will humble you, drive you mad and leave you grinning like an idiot once you master it’s brutally tough driving challenges. Think Bloodborne but with cars and you’ll understand about the punishing pleasures awaiting those brave enough to strap in and tackle what can only be adequately described as ‘the ultimate console rally experience’.

"Fire up the Quattro!"


Developed by driving game specialists Codemasters, Dirt Rally ditches much of the glamour trappings and novelty tack ons of recent racing games and gets back to thrilling high speed basics.
Get a corner wrong here and there’s no ‘rewind time’ function to save you from the vehicle damage and lost seconds that will see you slip down the leaderboard with your stage time in ruins.

"Things go 'VROOOM'"

Packing a burning overall ‘one more go factor’ as you strive to shave seconds off a stage you’ve been grappling with in a new car and what you have here is pretty much a glimpse of rally heaven. Speaking of which if there is such a place as rally heaven, the legend that was Colin McRae RIP is almost certainly up there playing Dirt Rally on his PS4!

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

ööööö


(5 - Total Rally Joy - and pain but it hurts so good!)...

READ MY FULL DIRT RALLY REVIEW OVER AT THE AWESOME: PUSHSQUARE 

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