DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

ROGUE ONE - May The Force Be With Us (trailer)



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Matt Adcock is excited...

Here is the final trailer for the Star Wards spin off and it looks superb - The Force is flowing through this trailer and at Darkmatters we have a very good feeling about this.



Director Gareth 'Monsters' Edwards looks like he's got the right balance of fun, thrills and excitement - will Rogue One gate crash the Darkmatters Top Ten Films of the Year like The Force Awakens did?

GET

READY

I have felt a disturbance in The Force



Darkmatters Review: Bad Santa 2



Bad Santa 2 (15)

Dir. Mark Waters

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I traveled all the way across the USA to rob a Goddamn charity...”

Tis the Season to be angry, depressed and filthily offensive (again) it seems, as Bad Santa 2 comes calling. Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed, lust and a general hatred not just for himself but most of mankind. Yes, the world’s least jolly Santa - Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) – is back and he’s once more teamed up with his little (literally tiny) sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox). Their dubious plan is to knock off a homeless charity on Christmas Eve, Ho Ho Ho.

making eyes at Santa

Also back is the chubby man child Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), now 21 and still hoping Willie will ‘pop his cherry’ – although he’s not entirely sure what that entails. And this time the oddball crew are joined by Willie's dear old mum Sunny Soke (Kathy Bates), who has a cunning plan that will require lots of criminal behavior – which happens to be her specialist subject.

Bad Santa 2 might not feel like a necessary sequel but there is still some incredibly un-PC fun to be had in witnessing Willie’s rock bottom sex, deviancy and booze fuelled antics. If you’re after an uplifting or feel good Christmas film then you should move along as this is a fast track self destruction seeking cinematic missile of bad taste and vulgarity.

this could a tip as to how to deal with such a poor film

Director Mark ‘Mean Girls’ Waters certainly ups the raunch factor this time gamely packing in sex scenes for Willie with new characters such as Diane (Christina ‘The Neon Demon’ Hendricks) and Jenny (Gina De ’50 Shades of Black’ Luca). Alas he doesn’t manage to find much else new and much of the ‘comedy’ feels reheated and possibly trying too hard to offend.

You’ll need to be a serious Scrooch not to find yourself laughing at least some of the comic hi-jinks on offer but it will come at the cost of your self decency and moral standards. The original Bad Santa pushed boundaries and got away with it but this follow up doesn’t hit the mark.

the anti-trinity of Christmas

If your Christmas wish is to see the triteness of the Season writ large on the big screen whilst  being both offended, not just by the humour but by the sheer poorness of the film Bad Santa 2 will certainly deliver. Those not looking to wallow in the Seasonal blues, won’t want to risk a visit to this Santa as he’s past his best in just about every way.

Stick to the first Bad Santa if you must get your Holidays off to a filthy start...

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

ö1/2

(1.5 - Ho Ho NO, Duff Santa 2 more like)...

Awesomeness öö – The first 10 mins has a few laughs

Laughs öö – Not enough and not funny enough

Horror öö – Gross out human unkindness

Spiritual Enlightenment  - None

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Purged


Purged

by Peter Laws (@revpeterlaws)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I’ve repented and I’m with God now. Maybe one day you could come too?”

Religious nutters eh? Can’t live with em, can’t run from them when they murder you so you can go ‘straight to heaven’… Welcome to the future of crime chiller fiction – Purged is a spooky murder-em-up which comes on with massively unsettling supernatural elements that feel like James Herbert at his best... Strong stomachs certainly required as the seemingly idyllic English village Hobbs Hill is torn apart by some grisly murders.

welcome to Hobbs Hill

Matt Hunter is the hero of the piece, he’s a once ordained vicar whose faith has been lost and now he’s a professor of sociology writing a book debunking Christianity faith. In his spare time Hunter works with the police to help solve religiously motivated crimes – which is handy here because when he and his family visit the village of Hobbs Hill, he is soon caught up in a murder spree by a religiously unhinged tag team of killers.

As fate would have it, Hobbs Hill is home to Hunter’s former Bible College buddy Chris Kelly who is spreading that ol time religion with all the modern trappings across the wooden cross strewn village. Things get progressively more sinister still as locals go missing, the creepy church youth worker starts perving on Hunter’s young daughters and soon somebody in the locality starts delivering killer baptisms…

Gosling - would make a good Matt Hunter for the film adaptation

The incidental details really help the plot of what would make the nastiest Midsomer Murder ever - less clichéd and actually a shock to the senses. I haven’t been this creeped out by a novel since Let The Right One In and whilst Purged isn’t a standard ‘horror’ it is packed with disturbing themes that will linger in your mind. As a church going Christian employed by a theological college I smiled at the riling against the faith and the way the oddities of the happy clappy church presented very much from an insider.

Purged is the first in a new macabre crime fiction series, dark and intense, creepy and quirky – a bit like its author Peter Laws who is a journalist, film critic and public speaker and ordained Reverend in the UK Baptist denomination.

and let's have Carey as Wren (Mrs Hunter)

Purged will wreck your head in a good way - the creepiest of chillers. Put a book token or Amazon voucher on your Christmas list in preparation (it doesn’t hit shops until February ‘17).

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

öööö

(4 - In Hobbs Hill no one can hear you pray)...


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (12a)

Dir. David Yates

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You're an interesting man, Mr. Scamander. Just like your suitcase, I think there's more to you than meets the eye.”

Listen up Muggles, or ‘No-Majs’ should I say - as that is what our American brethren call none magical peeps. Director David ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ Yates takes us back to a time before the boy wizard Potter was even a gleam in his parent’s eyes and in doing so launches a series of prequel films that tell the tale of Newt Scamander (Eddie ‘Jupiter Ascending’ Redmayne).

Ssshhhh

So it’s 1926 and Newt (short for Newton) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures – after being kicked out of a certain Hogwarts. When he gets to New York for a brief stopover he misplaces his magical case, and a misadventure lets some of his fantastic magical beasts lose in the city which could ‘spell’ big trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds alike.

Here on wizarding business

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or FBaWtFT is a tale of high fantasy, packed with action and no little suspense. JK Rowling has conjured up some magical new characters in Newt plus ex-Auror Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), the mind reading Queenie (Alison Sudol) and unwitting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

Look it's a beast - a fantastic one

Also on hand are high-ranking Auror and the Director of Magical Security, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) and the mysterious Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) along with a host of others including turns by Ron Perlman, Jon Voight and Samantha Morton.

Careful, she knows what you're thinking

At points when the CGI fantastic beasts run rampage, it all gets a bit ‘Jumanji’ but the tone is kept fairly light even when the main characters find themselves in the cross fire between humans and witches. Of course this being the first in a series it is doing a lot of groundwork to establish the magic world mythos some 80 odd years before the Potter films kick off. It feels a bit of an overload in terms of new ideas and it can be tough to keep track of exactly who is who and what they’re up to.

My what a big nose you have

FBaWtFT manages to be both a visual marvel and a heartwarming story that adds a great new layer to JK Rowling’s wizarding universe. This is a magical new chapter – think Harry Potter for adults and enjoy!

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

öööö

(4 - A welcome extension of magical proportions)...

Awesomeness öööö – Some great set pieces and strong overall

Laughs ööö – Nicely judged humour

Horror öö – Occasional but nothing too strong

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Stand for the light

Friday, November 18, 2016

Darkmatters Review: WatchDogs 2


Matt Adcock reviews Watch_Dogs 2 (PS4)

"Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite ..."

This is what you wanted people, this is what you voted for, no, not Trump or Brexit, but a place run by the Blume Corporation where absolutely everyone is constantly under the gaze of an advanced Big Brother surveillance system. This near future society is a ‘Black Mirror-esque’ tech-ed up city where ctOS2.0 (central Operating System), connects everyone with everything and knows all about each citizen. And with the corrupt powers that be using the ctOS system for their own ends somebody needs to fight back and that is where you come in.

Deadmau5 who?

Watch_Dogs 2 picks up after the Chicago based events of the original game which saw young hacker Aiden Pearce hunting for those who hurt his family and taking high-tech enabled revenge. Now despite the hacking antics of the first game, Blume Corp has installed ctOS in San Francisco and a new hacker hero arises in the form of Marcus Holloway who was framed for a crime by the upgraded ctOS 2.0. This time Holloway joins hacking group ‘DedSec’ in order to take the fight to Blume using their own ctOS 2.0 as his weapon.

nice car... I'll take it

If you played Watch_Dogs you’ll immediately know the score in terms of very GTA-alike third-person gameplay where the open world is yours to explore on-foot or by a good range of vehicles. Ubisoft have taken everything that made the first game a fun if not perfect experience and improved on it – which is most apparent in the great visuals and more elaborate and less ‘samey’ missions that allow for multiple ways for you to complete them.

Who invited Metal Mickey?

The friendly hacker crew of DedSec is made up of Sitara who is the marketing brains behind their anarchist ‘brand’, Josh - the ‘Mr Robot’ of the bunch who does the coding and the mysterious Wrench (always wearing a light up mask like some kind of Deadmau5 dropout) who is the gadget and weapons specialist. Holloway becomes the DedSec operations man, carrying out missions in order to get people’s attention and get the masses to download their app allowing DedSec to harness the processing power of thousands of regular folks’ phones to via a botnet – a weaponised super-system that can take Blume down for good.

The big question here though is Watch_Dogs 2 good enough to go toe-to-toe with the global phenomenon of GTA V which has become the gold standard of open world mayhem-em-up games?

Read the full review over at: PUSHSQUARE

Friday, November 11, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Arrival


Arrival (12a)

Dir. Denis Villeneuve

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Biggleswade Chronicle

“Language is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”

Arrival – possibly my favourite ABBA album and now it’s been made into a feature film… Oh wait. This is a whole different thing!?

Director Denis ‘Prisoners’ Villeneuve’s Arrival is a new take on humanity’s first contact with extra-terrestrial life, as witnessed through the experiences of language expert Louise Banks (Amy ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Adams). Banks is given the task for trying to communicate with our alien visitors – no small feat seeing as these Heptapods are octopus kinda creatures that ‘speak’ in booming resonance tones unlike anything on earth.

that's no moon...

As Mankind reacts with suspicion, aggression and fear, the world is brought to the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers, can Banks find a way to save the day? What will it take for us to put our puny squabbles aside and rescue humanity from annihilation?

Adams is great in the lead role giving a nuanced and moving performance as Louise and she is ably supported by math and physics expert Ian Donnelly (Jeremy ‘The Avengers’ Renner). Together these two desperately try to connect with the aliens in order to ascertain just ‘what do they want with us?’

Also on hand is Colonel Weber of the U.S. Army (Forest Whitaker) who is under pressure to get meaningful results from the communication process. His men, however, are getting jumpy and keen to blow the uninvited visitors back to out space.

but what are you?

The Heptapods themselves are wonderfully realized and are worthy additions to the growing catalogue of cinematic aliens. For creatures that are so very obscurely different to us there are even moments when you’ll find yourself caring about the main duo who Donnelly affectionately nicknames ‘Abbott and Costello’.

Arrival, however, isn’t a ‘shooty’ sci-fi, this is a meticulous, deeper, thought-provoking communicate-em-up which is tinged with a haunting melancholy. Don’t let that put you off though, as it is rare to find a film so well made and so engaging despite its slow pace and ponderous build up.

there mostly come at night, mostly

Even those looking for another Independence Day sci-fi action romp should readjust their expectations and take this trip as the plot sees we humans struggling to come to terms with suddenly not being alone in the universe. Arrival will certainly leave you wondering what you would do should we ever find ourselves in such a situation and it may well stimulate meaningful conversations with your loved ones about the nature of life, destiny and hope.

Arrival is mind expanding, jaw-dropping essential viewing for all sentient creatures.

high five?

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

ööööö

(5 - Incredible beasts from outer space and where to find them)...

Awesomeness öööö – The 'dialogue' scenes are bewitching

Laughs öö – Not a great deal of fun

Horror öö – Unnerving but not too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - let's live in peace?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Darkmatters Review: War On Everyone





War On Everyone

Dir. John Michael McDonagh

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)



Lt. Gerry Stanton: I received very serious allegations of an assault. Corruption charges against you. Now what have we learned?

Bob Bolaño: Bribery and corruption are bad.

Lt. Gerry Stanton: Yes! Progress has been made.


Meet Detectives Terry Monroe (Alexander 'Legend of Tarzan' Skarsgard) and Bob Bolaño (Michael 'The Martian' Pena) are two of the most corrupt cops ever to grace the cinema screen.  They don't so much enforce the law as use it entirely as a means to enjoy life - be that beating up criminals, doing drugs, stealing money or generally not caring... But they still somehow manage to bring bad guys to book.

bad cop, bad cop

War on Everyone Director John 'The Guard' Michael McDonagh has created an offensive masterpiece of violent buddy cop action. The profanity will offend many, the dubious nature of our 'heroes' will turn off others but the corrosive wit and superb action scenes mix genuine laugh-out-loud funnies with powerful, hard-hitting social commentary.

The plot sees the shady cops uncovering plans for a $1 Million bank heist which they obviously feel they should get a cut of, cue leaning hard on informers such as the hilarious Reggie (Malcolm 'The Office' Barrett) who gets lines like 'who am I? Huggie Bear?' and in a movie-stealing surreal moment flees to Iceland which leads to an unforgettable manhunt.

time to right some wrongs

Pena and Skarsgard have a brilliant chemistry, the jokes are dark, so very dark in their humour and the Monroe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo steals the show by virtue of being pretty much indestructible. Big baddie of the piece is James Mangan (Theo 'Underworld Awakening' James) who ups the ante for hateableness by committing unforgivable crimes which need vengeance, aided by his awful henchman Birdwell (Caleb 'Byzantium' Landry Jones). When it comes to picking sides for the final showdown, Monroe and Bolaño are very much the 'good' guys.

War on Everyone might not be The Nice Guys but I loved its dark heart even more than it's bigger budget co-cop-comedy competitor and the stylish production really adds to what has proved to be a divisive film. These 'bad boys' look great in their cool suits and Monroe's love interest Jackie (Tessa Thompson) brings a strong female counterpoint to his over the top antics, even introducing a very modern form of possible salvation as a dysfunctional family unit when they take in runaway kid.

informers = fair game

Effectively sending up everything from True Detective to Starsky & Hutch, War on Everyone has more in common with films like In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang than Ride Along or such.

This is a very entertaining lethal weapon, only likely to be enjoyed by those with liberal and bullet proof senses of humour, in a word 'superb'.

always time for a feel good dance scene

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

öööö

(4 - Bad boys whatcha gonna do? Sit back and enjoy!!)...

Awesomeness ööööö – Staggeringly over the top set pieces

Laughs öööö – Strong, balls out dark humour

Horror öööö – Very violent and quite nasty in parts

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Buddy cops for life

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Nocturnal Animals


Nocturnal Animals (15)

Director: Tom Ford

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

"Do you ever feel like your life is turning into something you never intended?"

Welcome a highly unsettling cinematic ‘tale within a tale’ of Susan Morrow (Amy 'Batman v Superman’ Adams) receives a manuscript of a disturbing novel entitled ‘Nocturnal Animals’ from her ex-husband Edward (Jake ‘Nightcrawler’ Gyllenhaal)…

It's art darling

Edward was the love of her life but Susan left him and destroyed is life by aborting his child. Now their paths look set to cross again after 20 years as he wants her opinion on his novel.

We meet Gyllenhaal again as the fictitious Tony, a guy with a lovely family – gorgeous wife Laura (Isla Fisher on great form) and teenage daughter India (the incredible Ellie ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’ Bamber). One night on a long road trip their lives become a living nightmare when they run into some very unfriendly ‘Nocturnal Animals.’ The aftermath of which leaves Tony broken and desperate for revenge.

harsh times

The clever interplay of the exceedingly hard to watch attack on the family and the effect the novel has on Susan is masterfully handled – the resulting emotional damage is both intense and riveting. Adams is great showing real range as Susan as she recalls her first marriage and starts to confront some dark truths about herself whilst all the while affecting an ‘everything’s cool’ outer veneer. Her facetious art world buddies are no help and her current husband Hutton (the superb Armie ‘Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ Hammer) is more interested chasing other women.

Director Tom Ford whose day job is as a fashion designer delivers a super stylish, very dark thriller based on the book ‘Tony and Susan’ by Austin Wright. Ford’s arty stylings are apparent from the titles as hugely overweight naked women dance naked as part of an art exhibition, it’s mesmerizing but also slightly queasy at the same time – and certainly throws down a challenge to potential viewers.

danger signs

Nocturnal Animals is an absorbing, melancholic revenge-em-up that will leave you pondering the dark heart of man and the very nature of relationships. The performances are excellent, special props to Adams, Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon (as local cop Bobby Andes who just wants to bring a little more justice to the world before he dies from lung cancer). Jena Malone gives good cameo support along with Andrea Riseborough whilst big villain of the novel Ray Marcus (Aaron ‘Kick Ass’ Taylor-Johnson) is a brilliant character study in swaggeringly hateable but charismatically unsavoury drifter.

at least the cast had fun making it by looks of things

Everything really works to create a masterful dark thriller that will burn into your subconscious and leave you shaken and stirred.


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

ööööö

(5 - Beware but enjoy the animals of the night )...

Awesomeness öööö – Clever and disturbing scenes abound

Laughs ö – Not much by way of funnies

Horror öööö – Very nasty in places and uncomfortable throughout

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Treat those you love with care





Sunday, November 06, 2016

Darkmatters Review: The Accountant


The Accountant (15)

Director: Gavin O'Connor

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Hemel Gazette

“Sooner or later, different scares people.”

My name is Christian Wolff I’m good with numbers, I have an affinity with them, people though… Not so much. I work in finance as an accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations, I kind of make their book-keeping look like it might be OK but there’s this Treasury guy who is trying to shut me down. So it looks like I’m going to have to use my other set of skills – those as a ruthless and unstoppable killer – in order to make things turn out alright.

Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an interesting character, part Raymond Babbitt - Rain Man, part Jason Bourne - Assassin. The plot however is mixed bag of million-dollar accounting discrepancy investigation, potboiler dodgy deeds thriller and surface level study into Asperger's Syndrome (used as a kind of super power which feels odd). Director Gavin ‘Warrior’ O’Connor injects some good action scenes whenever the financial stuff gets a bit dull and there is a decent body count for those looking for an unusual action thriller.

the overdue tax penalties were harsh

The Accountant isn’t however, a film you’ll be able to take very seriously, everything from the flashbacks of how Wolff’s father (Robert ‘House of Cards’ C Treveiler) had him trained in a kind of Batman-lite sort of assassination school – in case he got picked on for his condition, through to his motivation for helping young struggling junior accountant Dana Cummings (Anna ‘Pitch Perfect’ Kendrick) doesn’t really click.

Having said that the production values are high and Affleck brings his hunky charisma to this killing by numbers party. The list of potential bad guys is topped by Lamar Black (the awesome John Lithgow) who may be behind the missing millions but things are complicated as Wolff himself is being investigated by Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and his coerced minion operative Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson).

bad guys a go go 

As the danger amps up alongside the number of people who Wolff has to shoot, the book-keeping is left on the shelf and the film goes all out for climactic thrills. This makes the many scenes of painstaking paperwork seem more like plot gimmicks used to dress up a by the numbers action effort.

If you’ve a hankering for some big screen accounting mixed with some effective brutal action kill streaks, make an appointment with The Accountant. It’s a decent effort but just don’t expect it all to add up to much.

pulse pounding figurework


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

ööö

(3 - Calculated action thrills that work)...

Awesomeness ööö – Slick and likeable scenes aplenty

Laughs öö – Occasional mirth

Horror öö – Moments of violence but not too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Life is like a box of chocolates






Darkmatters Review: Hell or High Water



Hell or High Water (15)

Dir. David Mackenzie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


"He wouldn't know God if he crawled up his pant leg and bit him on the pecker."


Heartbreaking bad life choices and a viciously anti-consumer banking system drive a divorced father and his nasty ex-con older brother to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas.

Despite its crime-em-up stylings, Hell or High Water is a film that has family at the heart. Exciting bank heists, shootouts, chases and a body count follow but relationships form the core and it is the family dynamic that makes Director David 'Starred Up' Mackenzie's film so engaging.


The writing is fantastic throughout, these are  living, breathing, believable characters who it's easy to get attached to. Jeff Bridges really shines and has rarely ever been better, delivering a masterpiece of grizzled Texas Ranger (who has hilarious banter with his long-suffering half Mexican / half Comanche partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) - the interplay between these two crackles with uncomfortable energy thanks to Taylor Sheridan's razor-sharp script.

The outlaw brothers at the heart of the film are portrayed by the stoic Toby (Chris 'Star Trek' Pine) and the crazed Tanner (Ben '11:14' Foster) - both delivering pitch-perfect performances. These two anti-heroes are dangerous to hang out with but compelling company, even when they are just shooting the breeze in a diner or hitting on women in Casinos post-heist. The awkwardness of brotherly love that transcends the law and muddies the moral compass is wonderfully written and portrayed.

violent times

Just how far will a good man go when desperation closes in around him from every angle? This is a strong visual hell of slow-burning tension and rising stakes which uncovers the full extent of both the selfless actions of the brothers from two contradicting angles. Toby is at heart an honourable cowboy fighting against injustice whilst Tanner is his dark and volatile flip side - a high plains drifter who leaves chaos in his wake.

The stunning cinematography which evokes the desolate sadness that haunts the run down areas around Texas that really makes this like a modern day Western. Everything comes together to deliver a powerhouse cinematic experience which is one of the best of the year.

Hell or High Water is a must-see film that should be regarded as a classic going forward.

hunting season

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

öööö

(4 - Heavy duty emotion and crime make good bed fellows)...

Awesomeness öööö – Intense robberies and more

Laughs ööö – Strong dark humour throughout

Horror ööö – Violent and unflinching

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Strange pathos can be revealing

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