DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge



Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge (12a)

Dir Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“ The dead have taken command of the sea. They're searching for a girl, a Pearl, and a Sparrow!”

Yo-ho, yo-ho a pirate’s life for cinema viewers again – for the 5th time!?

Yes that loveable rascal Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back and this time finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing on him even more strongly than in his previous sea-faring scrapes. It seems that a crew of deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), have escaped from the Devil's Triangle… Now every pirate at sea is a marked man and it’s not long before the pirate terminating baddies start to close in on Jack – aided by another of enemy Captain Barbossa (Geoffery Rush).

"ghost pirates ahoy"

What’s a rum sozzled pirate to do but try and find a mythical, all powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas… So the race is on to try and find the legendary Trident of Poseidon. That’s pretty much the plot.

Along the way Captain Jack teams up with Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), - son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) who is still languishing on the cursed Flying Dutchman and cool 'girl power' Carina Smith (Kaya Scodelario), a pretty astrologist and horologist who, due to her intelligence that scares the men around her is deemed to be a witch.

"she's no witch"

This new Pirates movie could have been a cash in but it's pleasing for fans to find that there has at least been some effort put in to make it tie up lots of loose plot points from the franchise so far… It works a lot better than the last instalment which I’ve already forgotten but there’s nothing here except for a superb opening bank heist that’ll be regarded as classic scenes in the Pirates world.

I caught this is 4DX and the sensations of being literally sprayed with waves, rolled in my seat on the high seas and blown by the gusts of storm winds really added to the fun. Without that extra stimulation it might all feel a little flat however. Also Depp’s Captain Jack has become a parody of himself – his perma-drunk status and unfunny jokes aren’t as fun as they used to be…

"zombie sharks are cool"

The good news is that series newcomer Scodelario stands out and steals all her scenes – she’s a much more believable heroine than the still lovely Keira Knightley (who pops up at one point for old times sake). Also really strong – but under used is Bardem who seems to be building a catalogue of iconic film villains.

"pocket sized pirate ships..."


All aboard for lightweight piratey fun then…

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

ööö

(3 - Decent in parts but no classic)

Awesomeness ööö – Almost gets awesome at times

Laughs öö –  The mirth is very hit and miss

Horror ööö – A bit scary and grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Limited

Monday, May 22, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Alien Covenant



Alien Covenant (15)

Dir. Ridley Scott

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“ Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”

In space, no-one can hear you sigh.

Alien Covenant is the 5th film in the classic sci-fi horror series and its events follow 10 years after the ill-fated Prometheus mission whose crew ran into hostile xenomorphs (as well as lots of ponderous semi-religious hokum).

"the final frontier"

This time we join plucky Ripley wannabe Daniels (Katherine ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ Waterston) awakened many years early - Passengers style - from her hyper-sleep when the Covenant is hit by a solar flare. With the lives of the 2,000 colonists on board in jeopardy there is no time to at least be grateful that it’s a life endangering spaceship crisis rather than a creepy planned space date by Chris Pratt.

The crew who include Captain Oram (Billy ‘The Flash’ Crudup), Pilot Tennessee (Billy ‘Watchmen’ McBride), Sergeant Lope (Demián ‘The Nun’ Nájera), Sergeant Hallett (Nathaniel ‘Rush’ Dean) and synthetic Walter (Michael Fassbender) bicker and then decide to stop off and investigate a nearby ‘earth like’ planet rather than continue to their original long haul destination.

"I'm back!"

From then on it’s kinda Aliens business as usual as the crew discovers that the planet is home to the a range of acid blood, face hugging, people eating nasties. Director Ridley Scott amps up the action quotient and effectively throws in many alien series nods (they mostly come at night, the gestation cycle varies on the importance of the character, the crew must use unorthodox methods to try and battle the slimy foes) but there is very little that feels ‘new’.

It all looks cinematically stunning and the aliens look great, plus there are some very nasty deaths and inventively mean situations engineered. The main problem though is that the plot can’t help but become another ‘lets’ get off this planet’ escape-em-up and we’ve seen this before.

Waterston and Fassbender are both good, Fassbinder in particular gives his all and carries the movie through some dubious plot points that feel unnecessary. The rest of the crew are pretty interchangeable alien fodder though and don't even get any memorable lines.

"This time its war"

If this was the first Alien film released it would score better but it stands in the shadow of the original Alien (and Aliens) both of which are truly excellent, and doesn’t even have the distinct ‘feel’ of the other entries. So Covenant delivers a good but not great addition to a series which really needs a world-class revival next time or the series risks drifting off into space losing viewers in the process…

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

ööö

(3 - A near miss, good but not great)

Awesomeness ööö – A few (but not enough) quality scenes

Laughs öö –  Some banter but not really a 'fun' film

Horror öööö – Gets very icky and grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Mankind might be better off alone 

Review - King Arthur: The Legend of The Sword




King Arthur: The Legend of The Sword (12a)

Dir.  Guy Ritchie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

 “I am here now because of you. You killed my family. You sharpened the blade. You created me.”

Cor-blimey if it isn’t that geezer King Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) – he’s a right royal sort, got a pretty nifty sword and a posse of pals… Yes, here’s the latest big-screen reboot of the Arthurian myth, from none other than Guy ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’ Ritchie.

"I'm the born King"

Kicking off with a handy flashback which shows nasty Uncle Vortigern (Jude ‘Spy’ Law) betray Arthur’s noble father - King Uther Pendragon (Eric ‘Lone Survivor’ Bana) - and orphan the poor young noble. Arthur is condemned to being brought up as a nobody in a brothel to escape his vicious usurper Uncle but thanks to a Rocky-like training montage with martial artist trainer George (Tom ‘Kick Ass 2’ Wu) he’s soon all grown up and adept at kicking butt.

Cue a tale of swords ‘n banter as the ‘true born King’ Arthur finds Excalibur, vows to avenge his family and possibly claim the throne for himself… Arthur is helped in his quest by one of his Father’s knights - Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou), a beautiful mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), plus his posse of Sir William "Goosefat Bill" (Aiden Gillen), Sir Tristan “Wet Stick” (Kingsley Ben-Adir), plus Backlack (Neil Maskell) and his son Blue (Bleu Landau). Can this rag tag bunch of rebels overthrow Vortigern’s evil empire and free the land from oppression?

"A 'mage'-ing"

So is this ‘Legend of the Sword’ actually any good? Ritchie brings his trademark quick cut narrative which he uses in his Sherlock films – its born out most effectively where Arthur talks through an entire negotiation in advance - rendering the actual plot development unnecessary. It’s quirky and unfortunately doesn’t fit well in the medieval setting – much better however are the brutal fight and battle scenes. When Arthur wields Excalibur, time slows down and bad guys die – end of…

There has a definite feel of being an origins tale – designed to kick off a franchise, it takes the much loved and multi-faceted legend, mixes up the mythos, playing fast and loose with it and delivers something entirely new. Jude Law is the weakest element (yes even with a David Beckham cameo) but Hunnam carries the film with his likeable charisma so all is not lost.

"Jude - do that 'boo hiss' face yeah"

This new King Arthur certainly won’t please purists and is no classic but for those looking for a creative, exciting, fantasy action romp there is much to enjoy.

"end of level boss"

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

öö1/2

(2.5 - Hit n Myth reworking...)

Awesomeness öööö – Great fights and Ritchie elements

Laughs öö –  Occasional mirth

Horror öö – Some violence and scares

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - True faith isn't a birthright

"On the head!"

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Darkmatters Guardians of the Galaxy Vol . 2


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (12a)

Director: James Gunn

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“There are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not.”

Buckle up sci-fi fans as Marvel’s loveable, universe saving heroes are back, bringing with them an 'Awesome Mixtape #2' which sets the light-hearted tone wonderfully for this full-scale galactic adventure.

"supremely arrogant beings"

The team led by Peter ‘Star Lord’ Quill (Chris “Jurassic World’ Pratt), backed up by the hot green skinned love interest Gamora (Zoe Saldana), genetically enhance raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the impossibly cute ‘Baby’ Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) – a sentient tree. But this time it is violent maniac Drax (WCW’s Dave Batista) who gets many of the best comic lines.

Director James Gunn returns and is right at home straight from the grin-inducing opening credits battle which sees the Guardians taking on huge space octopus creature to the sounds of ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’. All the while the little Groot dances around the battlefield lost in the melody and it’s so joyful that you’ll probably wish you could rewind it straight away and watch it again.

"heavy weapons"

The plot sees the Guardians in a scrape after a job the for proud Sovereign race goes pear-shaped when Rocket helps himself to the bounty they were paid to protect. Being pursued across the galaxy they cross paths with Quill's estranged father Ego (Kurt Russell) who invites Quill, Gamora and Drax, to his home, while Rocket and Groot to repair the ship and guard Gamora’s dangerous sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) who they have captured...

Also on hand are blue skinned Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker) who is desperate to win back favour of the Ravager high commander Stakar Ogord (a fun cameo from Sylvester Stallone which may even lead to a Ravager spin off movie).

"pals in mayhem"

Everyone goes about the madcap business with great heart and the action comes thick and fast. The winning combination of adventure and humour makes for a fantastic cinematic experience and bodes well for when the Guardians team up with the Avengers in the near future.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are fast becoming an iconic element of the Marvel cinematic universe – and Vol.2 is a big screen joy to behold. This is a sci-fi series to rival even Star Wars and it’s great to know that they will be back for more (as promised in the end credits). Speaking of which there are multiple extra scenes after the film so don’t rush off.

"seat of pants"

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

öööö

(4 - Highly recommended intergalactic viewing!)

Awesomeness öööö – Superb set pieces and incredible opening credits

Laughs öööö –  Really funny throughout

Horror ö – Not very grim

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Paternal instincts aren't always godly

Monday, May 08, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Sleepless


Sleepless (15)

Dir. Baran bo Odar

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“He knows the players, he knows their methods”

Dirty cops, stolen drugs and kidnapping are the order of the day for ‘Sleepless’ – a flashy but dim remake of the 2011 French thriller ‘Nuit Blanche / Sleepless Night’.

Meet Vincent Downs (Jamie ‘soon to be in Baby Driver’ Foxx) an estranged family man and tough Las Vegas cop, who's partner Sean Cass (T.I.) just might be crooked. When the duo are tipped off about a huge drug stash being moved they decide to steal the $8million package and get rich quickly.

"met his match?"

Cue violent death and recriminations as the cops take down the drug runners and assign themselves to the case in order to cover their tracks. Things just aren’t that easy though and get worse for Downs when it turns out the drugs he stole belong to dangerous crime family, the Novaks, who promptly kidnap his son Thomas (Octavius Johnson) and demand that he returns them for his son’s life.

Another complication is that Internal Affairs are sniffing around the pair – and the determined Jennifer Bryant (Michelle ‘Source Code’ Monaghan) wants to takes Downs erm, down after he lies to her. Also on the scene is Down’s nurse wife Dena (Gabrielle ‘Bad Boys 2’ Union) who thinks (rightly) that he’s not being straight about the whereabouts of their son…

"obligatory cool car"

As the night ticks on the tension ramps up and other players become involved including Casino boss Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), Bryant's partner, Doug Dennison (David Harbour) and the ruthless Robert Novak (Scott McNairy) who is liable to kill everyone to get his drugs.

Director Baran bo ‘The Silence’ Odar does an ok job with what feels a lot like a throwback to the fast moving 90s cop thrillers of Bruce Willis or Arnie. Alas there are some pretty massive plot holes and acts of stupid coincidence that undermine what would otherwise be a solid B movie.

"Did someone call for Bad Boys?"

The action kicks along nicely, the violence is pretty brutal and James Foxx holds it all together with a great lead performance. The cinematography is straight from the text book crime-em-up catalogue as used by films like Collateral or Run All Night, everything works well and but Sleepless won’t be remembered as a classic.

For a fun, disposable dose of dirty cop thrills, Sleepless delivers an hour and half of cool looking action.

"rent a crim"

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

öö1/2

(2.5 - Cops n thrills but nothing you'll remember for long...)

Awesomeness ööö – Occasionally delivers something cool

Laughs öö –  Some fun but not much

Horror öö – Real threat and implied torture

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Over your head is a bad place to be...

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Fast and Furious 8




Fast and Furious 8 (12a)

Dir. F. Gary Gray

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“What's it gonna be? You're gonna close your eyes on world war 3 or you're gonna saddle up and save the entire damn world.”

The Fast and Furious vehicular mayhem-em-up is back and shows no signs of slowing down. Following the ever escalating adventure of the ‘family’ of car racers / thieves / international heroes this time we have Dom (Vin ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Diesel) and Letty (Michelle ‘soon to be seen in Alita: Battle Angel’  Rodriguez) on their honeymoon when a mysterious woman seduces Dom back into the world of crime he’s tried so hard to escape.

"things get a little our of hand"

The seductive baddie is Cipher (Charlize ‘Mad Max’ Theron) a criminal mastermind and cyber-terrorist who makes Dom turn against his fam and thus we get a battle royale as the former pals must work against each other.

Is it as loud, stupid and fun as the previous entries? Oh yes and there’s more action, bigger set pieces and ridiculous dialogue – the Fast & Furious franchise has become something cinematically joyous to behold but dumb as you like.

"the traffic is killer"

You must know by now if this is your adrenalin pumping cup of tea or whether the whole clichéd crash-bang-wallop will leave you screaming in pain. Fans will lap up the insanity and those just looking for a no-brain cinema trip are well served but anyone in search of a meaningful plot, acting or semblance of sense should move along.

The plot (if you can call it that – stretches to over 2 and half hours) sees Dom having to work with previous mortal enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Along the way there are hacking of self-driving cars, tanks on ice, a car vs submarine showdown – yes this really is going to be hard to top for sheer ballsy auto-action.

"street racing makes a brief appearance"

It is all filmed in flashy style and director F. Gary ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Gray keeps it ticking along but it does start to feel like they might have gone as far as they can on this franchise’s ride. Especially missed here is Paul Walker – who helped hold the previous films together – his untimely death is always in the back of the mind when the car crashes are non-stop.

So there you have it the ‘Fate of The Furious’ as the film is called in the US is decided with a lot of explosions, banter, general macho posturing and a Helen Mirren cameo. Buckle up if you’re gonna take this trip – you’ll need to rest your eyeballs afterwards!

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

ööö

(3 - Fast and Furious but lacking anything meaningful)

Awesomeness ööö – OTT fun in places and some cool set pieces

Laughs ööö –  Funny in places

Horror öö – Slapstick violence and auto carnage mostly

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Gasoline isn't actually a god...

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