DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Darkmatters Review: War Dogs


War Dogs (15)

Dir. Todd Philips

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I’m not a bad man. But there are times I need to think ‘what would a bad man do?’”

War – huh, what is it good for?

Well for two 20 something pals David Packouz (Miles ‘Fantastic 4’ Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah ’21 Jump Street’ Hill) war is a chance to get seriously rich. Yes these two chancers bagged a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan – despite neither of them actually having experience in international arms dealing…

The fact that this actually happened is staggering – it was called a ‘case study of everything that is wrong with the US Government’s arms procurement process’ and it proves fuel for a fun cinematic recap of just how this might have occurred.

"shady"

Packouz serves as voiceover to this madness – he’s an all American young chap with a lovely girlfriend Iz (Ana ‘Knock Knock’ de Armas). When Diveroli his slightly dodgy high school friend returns to town with tales of crazy money to be made from finding and servicing small military contracts, he jumps straight in. For a time it’s all fun, games and new Porsches as the two guys manage to pull off some results – including a hair raising drive to Baghdad. But before long the stakes rise considerably when these chancer ‘war dogs’ find a huge million-dollar opportunity which leads them to make a deal with shady black market gun runner Henry Girard (Bradley ‘Joy’ Cooper).

The question at the heart of War Dogs is ‘how far would you go in pursuit of the American Dream of easy wealth?’ There are lots of influences and references from films including Wolf of Wall Street, Scarface and Lord of War but director Todd ‘The Hangover’ Philips manages to craft an effective greed-em-up that sucks you in and makes you care about the fate of the main characters.

"Dog eat dog bro"

Both the two leads are on good form – Teller is likeable innocent, in way over his head and Hill is out of control as the greed driven mogul who’s not afraid to break the law or trample on others to get what he wants. As the money rolls in, the criminality ramps up and so does the potential consequences. It seems there’s a reason that warmongering isn’t usually a career for earnest upright young men and suddenly it starts to look like not everyone is going to be alive to see the end credits.

War racketeering shouldn’t be this fun but War Dogs really delivers.

"Opportunities"

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - The first casualty of war certainly isn't greed)...

Awesomeness ööö – You'll feel the feels

Laughs ööö – Darkly comic with Hill's laugh alone!

Horror öö – Sweary and tense but limited violent horror

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Trust no-one

Friday, August 19, 2016

Darkmatter Review: David Brent Life On The Road


David Brent: Life On The Road (15)

Dir. Ricky Gervais

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Chronicle

“I’m gonna roll you over, and rock you stupid, and leave you there just humming...” 

David Brent is back. I never thought I’d write those words but here is the middle-aged master loser – on the big screen as a documentary team follow his dream of a ‘rock tour’ to save him from life as a sanitary products sales rep.

The Office was incredible TV, that made you wince and laugh in equal measure, the likes of which we haven’t fully seen since. David Brent: Life On The Road picks up the potent unfulfilled dreams of Slough’s favourite office manager and presents the full horror of what happens when Brent cashes in his life savings and pensions to finance a tour for his band ‘Foregone Conclusion’.

T-shirt gun massacre

The good news is that this the best Gervais has been in years – capturing the brilliant comedy / pathos at the heart of The Office and delivering big time both in the laughs and the cringe inducing awfulness of Brent’s socially awkward overdrive. This isn’t for those who are easily offended or just after some gentle humour – Life On The Road is a comedy-tragic-em-up that will rip your heart out even while you’re spitting popcorn.

This older Brent is a lonelier than ever, his hired bandmates won’t socialise with him or even let him on the expensive tour bus he’s shelled out for, - he even has to pay them to have an after show drink with him at one point. The expected adoring crowds don’t exactly turn up and the record company scouts are more interested in the genuinely talented aspiring rapper Dom Johnson (Doc Brown) who Brent has guest rap on some of his songs in an effort to make them both ethically friendly and youth.

Too much detail

The excellent Tom ‘Love & Friendship’ Bennett is great as Brent’s one Lavichem office pal and Diane ‘Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe’ Morgan has a fun cameo as a PR tasked with the impossible job of making Brent ‘cool’. Doc Brown though steals all his scenes with looks to camera of such sheer uncomfortableness that I’d love to see him get his own spin off movie.

Life On The Road takes mid-life desperation and blows the door off it in fine comic style. You’ll laugh, you might even cry but be warned you might also very well hurt yourself due to the unsafe levels of cringe.

Wondering where it all went wrong

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

öööö

(4 - Might tear your soul apart)...

Awesomeness öööö – Goes beyond the cringe threshold

Laughs öööö – Superb but painful

Horror öö – Swears and middle age desperation

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Everyone has a need for redemption (even Brent)




Darkmatters Review: Pete's Dragon


Pete’s Dragon (PG)

Dir. David Lowery

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there”

Prepare to believe in dragons once more as the powers that be re-image Disney’s original boy-and-dragon-em-up Pete’s Dragon. Step this way or an adventure which sees unfortunate orphan Pete (Oakes Fegley) surviving in the wild thanks to his unusual best friend Elliott (a kind hearted furry green beastie).

Pete and Elliot’s worlds are shaken up when Pete runs into Forest Ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) who has somehow managed not to notice the wild boy and his giant green pal living on her patch of forest for several years. He’s whisked off to civilisation and introduced to Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill.

BFFs

As Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about his dragon – whilst the townsfolk decide to catch Elliot to make money out of him. Can the two mismatched kids and kindly dragon believing old timer Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) – who tells the local children tales of a dragon residing deep in the woods – find a way to triumph?

Well, without wanting to spoil it, this is a Disney childrens’ fantasy but it does at least throw in some mild scares, a spot of tension and an impressive fire breathing finale. This new take on Pete’s Dragon updates the 1977 live-action / animation mixture removes lots of the cheese and adds some nice though provoking themes. Director David ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ Lowery does a decent job in making the whole tale bounce along with a bittersweet grounding that should appeal to both kids and those who can still find their inner sense of childlike wonder.

Knuckle-heads

Everyone goes about the fantasy fun and occasional peril with good spirit, Redford is the best I’ve seen him in years and the two young leads are very watchable. Howard has strong recent form with giant lizards after Jurassic World, plus there’s also Karl ‘Star Trek’ Urban and Wes ‘American Beauty’ Bentley to round out a great cast.

Pete’s Dragon is a family pleaser which stands above the cash in summer kids efforts and is certainly worth a look. It is even possible you’ll find your local church doing a Pete’s Dragon themed service as a special pack of resources has been created around the film for churches to use…

Check out the resource pack for yourself at: ETHOS MEDIA

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

ööö

(3 - Puff ain't go nothing on Elliot)...

Awesomeness ööö – Some great set pieces 

Laughs öö – Some fun but not a comedy

Horror ö – Not grim but tense and occasionally scary

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - BFF's whatever species you are...






Friday, August 05, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Suicide Squad


Suicide Squad (15)

Dir. David Ayer

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“We're bad guys, it's what we do…”

In a world rocked by the super threats highlighted by the destructive antics of ‘metahumans’ from Man of Steel and Batman v Superman the government decides to bring together a back up plan to handle the next attack.

"Soul sword"

Meet Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) the cold-hearted agent who creates ‘Task Force X’ by assembling a super team made up of metahuman villains forced to fight for us, not against us. And thus the ‘suicide squad’ is born – comprising of some of DC Comics’ most famous bad guys: Crack assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), Psychotic femme fatale Harly Quinn (Margot Robbie), Dangerous ‘Captain’ Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Flesh eating Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Fire manipulating El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Messed up Slipnot (Adam Beach), Powerful sorceress Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and Expert martial artist Katana (Karen Fukuhara).


Can these ‘worst heroes ever’ actually work with special forces marines led by Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) for reduced jail terms or death-via-mini-bomb-in-their-necks if they disobey or try to escape? It’s a blast finding out.

Director David ‘End of Watch’ Ayer brings Suicide Squad to the screen as a sequel and worthy companion to Batman v Superman. Batman (Ben Affleck) gets some cool short action scenes and there is a fun cameo from another member of the soon to be formed Justice League. Suicide Squad works well as a stand alone adventure but also helps build the DC Cinematic Universe in fine style.

"stars of the show..."

This ‘Skwad’ of expendable baddies tear up the screen in an action packed romp which manages to be both dark and funny, and whilst these characters are the ones you’ll be rooting for, you’re not aloud to forget that they are nasty and each have heinous crimes to their names. Pick of the bunch are the perfectly cast Deadshot – Will Smith really delivers a top performance, and Harley Quinn - Margot Robbie might have to wear the most sexist outfit ever but she’s hypnotic and will steal many hearts with her cracked humour as much as her shapely form.

"Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha..."

Also mixed up in the action is Harley’s ‘Puddin’ - The Joker (Jared Leto trying his best to follow in the huge shoes of Heather Ledger) and succeeding, creating a wicked new take on the Clown Prince of Crime.

Pick apart the pacing of the plot and knock the ‘darker than Marvel’ tone all you want but Suicide Squad is a comic book fan’s dream writ large and I left the cinema grinning – both at what I’d just witnessed (stay for the end credits extra scene), and in anticipation of more to come!

"These criminals are animals!"

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

öööö

(4 - In Skwad we trust)...

Awesomeness öööö – Awesome and messy, high adrenaline stuff

Laughs öööö – Mucho dark humour

Horror ööö – Earns the 15 rating as grim in parts

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Who are you anyway?

"perfection"


DISCLOSURE: I loved Man of Steel and Batman v Superman - if you're a hater of the recent DC output you might want to knock off one star from the rating... But also, I pity you!?

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