DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Darkmatters Review: A Cure For Wellness


A Cure For Wellness (18)

Dir. Gore Verbinski

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Do you know what the cure for the human condition is? Disease...”

With a name like ‘Gore’ it’s little wonder that Director Gore ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3’ Verbinski decided to go back to the horror genre (although some would say that his take on ‘The Lone Ranger’ was pretty grim). Anyway, here we have A Cure For Wellness, which sees corporate weasel Lockhart (Dane ‘Chronicle’ DeHan) sent to try and find out what’s up with his company's CEO, Roland Pembroke (Harry ‘Road To Perdition’ Groener) – because he’s holed himself up in an idyllic but mysterious "wellness centre" in the Alps and left a note that he’s not coming back – which is an issue as there’s a big deal which needs his signature.

lovely sinister camerawork

So, the scene is set and from then on A Cure For Wellness and there follows a tense, brooding and increasingly creepy build up as young Lockhart travels to the centre and finds much more than he bargained for… The spa is run by Dr. Volmer (Jason ‘Fury’ Isaacs) who recommends Lockhart try some of their unique therapies while he recovers from an accident. The problem is that the small print on these treatments would read something like “liable to induce unhinged nightmarish visions – mostly ripped off from other horror films”…

You really should floss

From this point A Cure For Wellness becomes a slow burn of freakish and disturbing elements that will make you squirm, scream and cringe. Whilst at the centre Lockhart meets a strange young girl named Hannah (the excellently name Mia Goth), who, like Dr. Volmer, takes the ‘cure’ – a weird serum only available at the spa.

Things get even more insane when it transpires there’s a horrible history to the castle the wellness centre is built on but enough of the plot – what you need to know is that this is an incredibly stylish, beautifully shot, living breathing nightmare writ large.

X-men training? 

It’s fair to say that A Cure For Wellness not so much ‘tips the hat’ at horror directors like Stanley Kubrick and John Carpenter as head-butts them in the face and makes off with some of their best bits… Verbinski doesn’t seem to know when to quit either letting the film run on for over two and half hours packed with some seriously 18 rated material which is liable to test those easily offended.

floats like a butterfly...

Not for the faint of heart, the Dr. will see you now...

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

öööö

(4 - An effectively lurid, dark fable of freakiness)...

Awesomeness öööö – Gore creates some memorably classic creepy scenes

Laughs öö –  Occasional dark humour

Horror ööööö – Strong horror, violence and disturbing sexual assault

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö - Hard to find much positive energy here

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Darkmatters Review: John Wick 2


John Wick Chapter 2 (15)

Dir. Chad Stahelski

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Leamington Courier

“The man. The myth. The legend. John Wick. You're not very good at retiring.”

Jaded ‘best in the business’ hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back, still angry, still looking to retire but this time he’s brought back into the violent world of assassinations due to an unpaid debt.

Director of the first movie, Chad Stahelski returns with a sequel that delivers exactly what fans will appreciate – slick visuals, deeper background lore and kick ass action on a whole new scale. John Wick Chapter 2 is a pure adrenaline rush of hyper violence, it’s not healthy and had dubious morals but it is undeniably exciting.

"My Wick would like a quiet word with you"

This time it’s bad guy Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo ‘Burnt’ Scamarcio), who challenges Wick to take out his sister Gianna (Claudia ‘The Passion of the Christ’ Gerini) and when he says ‘take out’ it’s not on a date. Knowing the Wick wants to retire, D’antonio, rather than kill his dog, motivates John by burning down his house!? Cue mayhem and death, lots of death, most of which is delivered by Wick in his graceful gun-fu fighting style which turns killing into a kind of art form.

Reeves even at 52 is completely believable as Wick and he makes this role a cool on screen icon to rival Neo from The Matrix. Speaking of The Matrix it’s fun to have a mini reunion with Morpheus himself, Laurence Fishburne who plays shady Crime Lord - The Bowery King who Wick turns to for assistance.

" These are not your friends"

With a comic book meets video game plot structure Joh Wick Chapter 2 piles on the action clichés but does so with so much style and energy that unless you really hate action movies you’ll be dragged along in a state of breathless anticipation for the next fight.

The underworld mythos of this murder-em-up is certainly fascinating and allows for potentially more Wick adventures in the future. Chapter 2 is a long film though and because it rarely lets up on the action it can leave you dazed and confused from the visual beating administered to your eyeballs.

Certainly not for everyone, and packing scenes that are liable to offend (can you really have a shoot out in a nightclub these days without uncomfortable real world news flashbacks?), this is an old school action movie redressed in cutting edge neo-noir style. These violent delights have violent ends as they say…

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

öööö

(4 - I'm thinking he's back, in style)...

Awesomeness öööö – Nobody dispatches bad guys quite like Wick

Laughs ööö – Wry smiles to be had between the carnage

Horror öööö – Quite nasty comic book violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Payback isn't good for the soul

Read the Darkmatters original John Wick review

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Fifty Shades Darker



Fifty Shades Darker (18)

Dir. James Foley

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I want to renegotiate terms… “

So, unfortunately, the world’s favourite perv-em-up is back for mediocre second helpings of big screen sadistic flavoured relationship distortion. The billionaire with sex issues Christian Grey (acting like a plank again Jamie ‘Marie Antoinette’ Dornan) is still pursuing Anastasia Steele (the much too good for this tripe Dakota ‘Black Mass’ Johnson).

"foreplay"

The flimsy plot which is contractually obligated to pauses about every 10 mins for a bonk session sees Ana trying to move on from her relationship with Grey but he convinces her to resume their romance under new conditions. Alas their new more ‘normal’ relationship is soon threatened by characters from Grey’s past and Ana’s present.

If anything, this sequel is so poor that it makes the original look quite good in comparison (Darkmatters Review here) – Director James ‘Who’s That Girl’ Foley somehow manages to make the film unsexy despite the copious amounts of sex in it.

"I'm Batman"

Along for the unsavoury and cringe-worthy ride are Eric Johnson as Ana’s dodgy boss / wanna be boyfriend, Rita Ora as Mia Grey, Christian’s adopted younger sister and the mysterious Elena Lincoln, Grey’s business partner and former BDSM lover (Kim ‘9 1/2 Weeks’ Basinger). Then there’s Leila Williams (Bella ‘The Neon Demon’ Heathcote) - once one of Grey’s ‘submissives’ – who starts stalking Ana.

Quite why Ana is so drawn to the wrong un Grey - a messed-up character, certainly not a hero to be emulated – brings the dangerous message that apparently women should be prepared to put up with deviant abuse and sexual power games if the bloke has money and looks. Can you imagine how this film would play if Grey was a homeless obese redneck - it would feel much more like a horror film.

"a brief moment of excitement"

Fifty Shades Darker is worryingly still trying to normalise the disturbing notion of sadistic relationships aren’t all that bad. Having said that there’s not actually much excessive kinkiness on display and the pot boiling drama efforts would be embarrassing for a daytime TV Soap.

Based on merit, Fifty Shades Darker wouldn’t even make it as a direct to video release, the fact it’s part of a worldwide phenomenon is a tragic indictment on our cinematic tastes. Alas there’s still another one to come in this awful trilogy…

"Forgot my trousers again..."

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

ö1/2

(1.5 - More slap than tickle)...

Awesomeness öö – Occasional interesting scene

Laughs öö – Limited mirth, unless you count the unintentional stuff

Horror öööö – It's not fun or OK to be in an abusive relationship

Spiritual Enlightenment -öööö - Glossing over issues will end in tears

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Darkmatters Review: The Lego Batman Movie


The Lego Batman Movie (U)

Dir. Chris McKay

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I have seen you go through similar phases in 2016 and 2012 and 2008 and 2005 and 1997 and 1995 and 1992 and 1989 and that weird one in 1966.”

Everything is super awesome in this Bat-fun spin-off from the superb Lego Movie. Batman in his loveable Lego guise (gruffly voiced by Will Arnet) rises to the call when the Gotham is threatened by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and possibly the most terrifying all-star group of baddies and monsters ever assembled. But this time it’s possible that Batman – who always works alone - will need accept the idea of getting backup and not from his usual Justice League pals.

"Flashback"

Also on Batman / Bruce Wayne’s mind is having to deal with becoming the adoptive father to Dick Grayson / Robin (Michael Cera), thinking through his relationship with his mentor Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and working out his possible romantic feelings for new Gotham Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). And feelings are Batman’s one weakness…

"Boy Wonder"

The Lego Batman Movie is a hyperactive blast of feel-good superhero adventure which is totally meta and packed with a ton of quick fire Easter egg cultural references that will have anyone with even a passing interest in super-em-up films grinning from start to finish. Whenever the action lulls there are brilliant cameos from other movies and TV including King Kong, Voldemort, Sauron and even the Daleks (who the narrator tells US audiences to ask their ‘nerdy friends’ if they don’t recognize them).

"Emotions"

This might just be the most merchandisable film ever too – as you can pretty much buy every single vehicle, character and setting in all their Lego glory and play the virtual incarnation on your Playstation too.

The Lego Batman Movie is exactly what we need to put 2017 on track – providing a brilliantly irreverent comedy that feels like a kind of Deadpool junior (the opening credits themselves are some of the best ever). Bat fans everywhere are well served with classic characters, Batsuits and pop culture references but newcomers and for those too young to have witnessed The Dark Knight on the big screen this is likely to be an addictive gateway drug.

"You'll want this..."

A Bat-blast of fantastically fun big screen super action – The Lego Batman Movie is a triumph and hopefully a wake up call for those making the live action batflicks. Don’t deny yourself this undiluted endorphin rush, everything is awesome (again).

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

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Batman is awesome)...

Awesomeness öööö – So many incredible scenes

Laughs ööööö – Very very funny

Horror öö – Mild peril and comic book violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Feelings aren't to be feared




Darkmatters Review: Resident Evil - The Final Chapter


Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (15)

Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Observer

“We're here today to talk about our destiny. We're here to talk about the end of the world. One way or another, our world is coming to an end. The question is, will we end with it?”


Ah Resident Evil – we’ve come so far… With 5 films in the bag and over a billion dollars in the bank as a result, it looks like we might have come to the end of this action-over-substance videogame series.

"is this the end?"

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (although if this makes more cash I wouldn’t rule out them making more of these) picks up the end of the world carnage immediately after the events of 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is back as the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity's final stand against the undead. This time she must return to where the nightmare began - The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse – because they are even more intent on destroying the planet than any new presidents in the real world.

"suicide squad 2?"

Cue an hour and half of flashy images, frantic zombie battling action and scenes basically inspired by (I say inspired by but I mean ripped off) from a host of other films including Mad Max. All of it lacks any real sense of a narrative or anything you’d struggle to call a plot. The Final Chapter is basically the closest films have come to actually being a video game – just one you can’t play. It feels like the longest ever between level ‘cut scene’, like someone on their Playstation but never letting you have a go.

"level up"

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, does try to bring at least a little closure to those who have been paying to see this series since it kicked off 15 year ago but it fails to be the thrilling conclusion it obviously wants to be. The reason for this is that it is edited in such a confusing, jump cut, jumble that even scenes which could have been iconic, lose some of their currency due to the fact that you can’t always tell what’s going on.

"Mad Max 5?"

I have the same feeling with every single film ever made by Paul W.S. Anderson – I want to like it more than I actually do when I see it.  This is the guy who as well as the Resident Evil series has made Alien vs Predator, Solider, Shopping, Death Race and erm Pompeii – yet the only film he’s made that I’d be keen to watch again is his space horror Event Horizon.

"who's a pretty boy?"


So here we have the evil Umbrella Corporation using their infected zombie army, enhanced soldiers and a variety of ‘Boss – end of level’ bad guys to try and wipe out the last of humanity. Jovovich as rebellion heroine Alice is our last chance and fortunately, she might just be bad ass enough to pull it off. Whether you care or not is very much in the balance however…

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

öö

(2 - Of interest to those who have endured the other 5 films)...

Awesomeness ööö – Occasional 'oooh' factor but most lost in the edit

Laughs öö – Unintentionally funny in places

Horror ööö – A bit grim throughout with lots of gory violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Saving mankind is almost worth fighting for

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