DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Choose your own Bandersnatch Black Mirror review


Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (15)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

"You think Pac-Man is a happy game? It's not, PAC stands for 'Program and Control'..."


How to play:

i. Load up Netflix

ii. You enter a brief tutorial, specific to the device being streamed on, explains to the viewer how to make choices.

iii. You have ten seconds to make choices, or a default decision is made.

iv. Once a playthrough ends, you are given an option of going back and making a different choice.

v. The average viewing is 90 minutes, though the quickest path ends after 40 minutes.
(My viewing experiences so far have varied, witnessing each ending through re-choosing options...)


'do you want to play a game?'

Plot:

Back in 1984, young Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a game designer, has a dream of adapting Bandersnatch - a "choose your own adventure" book written by Jerome F. Davis (Jeff 'Tempest' Minter) into a computer game. The book author Davis was a troubled genius who descended into madness and cut off his wife's head, so that's not very promising...

As the viewer, you are given the choice to pick which breakfast cereal Butler gets to eat, which '80s music he listens to on the bus etc. It's slick and feels intuitive - this really might be the future of TV we're witnessing here... Plus you can really pirate this format which is likely to please studios...

'Bandersnatch foreshadowed back in Black Mirror Season 3!'

Butler's game would be revolutionary - a non-text input 3D adventure video game in a time of 2 D tape-based games on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. Leading video game company Tuckersoft, run by Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry) who employs the famous game creator Colin Ritman (Will Poulter) is interested. Butler is given the choice of accepting or rejecting help from the company in writing the storylines. This is a major plot point where you as a viewer can 'fail' and have to restart with a quick flashback of decisions up to that point. If you accept the offer, Ritman says he chose the "wrong path" and you get to live the day again, being given the same choice - pick it again and the film ends.

'choose your adventure'

I won't share any more plot but there are several key players in Butler's life that include therapist Dr. R. Haynes (Alice Lowe) who helps him discuss childhood traumas and his father Peter (Craig Parkinson). Charlie Brooker's writing is so good that as he incrementally breaks the 4th wall, it gets to the point where we are made to feel accountable for our actions.

'nostalgic vibes a go go'


Bandersnatch really might change the future of how we consume TV media - it is at the vanguard of the game/ film fusion. It's impressive in being able to immerse you in the action and as a gamer (who as my wife says 'spends too much of my life in virtual worlds') - this feels like a natural next step. Hat's off to Netflix for pioneering this!

'a lost masterpiece?'*
Fun Fact:

Turns out there was an ill-fated game named ‘Bandersnatch’ developed by a UK studio back in 1984, which is the year ‘Bandersnatch’ the Black Mirror episode takes place...

Like most Black Mirror episodes - there is a sinister underbelly, some graphic language and violence - wrapped up in an engaging mystery. With plenty of pathways to alter the plot and deep 'easter eggs' to be found through seemingly arbitrary choices, it makes for a brilliant experience. The production values are great, the attention to '80s detail superb (if you lived through tape loading computer games it's a rush to get to see behind the scenes)...

'reading can be dangerous fun'

If this is the future then Netflix surely owns it and with a very cool re-watchability factor i'm all in on it!


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

ööööö

(5 - Witness the future of TV today...)

Awesomeness ööööö – The plot picking device is freakin superb

Laughs ööö – patented dark funny

Horror öööö – grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - test of moral character included!


*found by @jeeveswilliams

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Matt Flies A Kite with Marry Poppins Returns Review





Marry Poppins Returns (PG)

Dir. Rob Marshall

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“Nothing's gone forever, only out of place...”

In 1964, a crack magic nanny was sent to assist a family for a crime they didn't commit (not engaging with their kids). She promptly helped them escaped from a maximum-security stockade of dullness with the help of songs and quality imagination. Twenty years later, still wanted by the government she survives as a flying soldier of fortune.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find her.... maybe you can hire Mary Poppins (she’ll want to take every other Tuesday off).

"fantasy time!"

Yes, the nanny who breaks all the rules and reinstalls childhood magic to families in need is back. This time it’s depression-era London, a now-grown-up Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) Banks, along with Michael's three children Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).

Through her unique skill set, and with the aid of her friendly lamp lighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives and might just find a way to stop the bank repossessing their house.

"The Aqua-Man cross over was unexpected!"

The big question is whether more than half a century on is – are cinema goers all still children at heart who will allow our imaginations to embrace the slightly kooky magic-and-manners-em-up.

The performances are mostly great, Blunt really nails it as Poppins and the kids are good. Director Rob ‘Chicago’ Marshal packs in plenty of dancing and a couple of standout fantasy sequences, but overall the story felt contrived and Disney by numbers

It’s a fun romp that channels the feel of the original (almost too much because this isn’t as good) but anyone who enjoyed the first – there is just about enough childhood wonder to make a return visit to 17 Cherry Tree Lane worthwhile.

"Magic super team assemble"

The most memorable scenes are the animated fusions that are really eye-popping such as a subaquatic afternoon bath and a sing-along trip into a world held in a dish. The songs are passable but forgettable and it whilst it tries to shoehorn in some political elements there’s nothing here to engage long term.

So not entirely Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious but worth checking if you need a nostalgic hit of child-friendly magic.

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

ööö

(3 - Machine tooled Disney magic)

Awesomeness ööö – Sparkles in places

Laughs ööö – sweetly funny

Horror ö –  very mild peril

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Mary Poppins should come help The Avengers!!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Darkmatters Top Ten Films 2018


Top 10 films 2018

Another year of cinematic wonder - and some turkeys for good measure...

The box office might be at a 30 year high but there's still a lot of dross being pumped out (looking at you The Meg etc) but thankfully there are some excellent films too!

Here's what Darkmatters Editor Matt Adcock enjoyed the most:



10. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

"I see this spark in you. It's amazing. Whatever you choose to do with it, you'll be great."

Enough to make everyone want to get bitten by a radioactive spider - the Spider-Verse was a refreshing burst of comic-book energy. Miles Morales as Spider-Man meeting Peter Parker, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham and more to battle Kingpin. Both a loving homage and a kick-ass adventure, this even put the return of The Incredibles in the shade and was by far the best animated film of the year!


9.  I, Tonya

“America. They want someone to love, they want someone to hate.”

This was worth getting your skates on for a winning ice-skate-em-up which delves behinds the scenes of one of the most notorious incidents in sporting history. Olympic U.S. ice skater Tonya Harding (a superb redneck Margot Robbie) became infamous for supposedly having her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked back in 1994. I Tonya gives a fascinating, darkly amusing and engaging insight into the lives of Harding and those around her in the lead up to the attack and details the fallout afterwards too.


8. The Shape of Water

“If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after?”

Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have? Ever felt that special spark arc between you and someone completely unexpected or from so left field that it doesn’t even feel real until you’re in the moment and head-over-heels? But have you ever developed feelings for, erm, a fish person?


7. A Star is Born

"Unless you get out there and try to do it, you'll never know. That's just the truth."

A Star Is Born follows a country singer with a drinking problem who discovers and falls in love with a younger undiscovered singer (Lady Ga Ga). Bradley Cooper directed and acted his heart out in this tragic movie which packed some great tunes too.


6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

“You know, if you hadn't stopped coming to church, you'd have a little more understanding of people's feelings...”

Not much can prepare you for this brutally dark comic drama from Academy Award nominee Martin ‘In Bruges’ McDonagh. The harrowing story is set some months after the horrific rape and murder of a young woman. The plot packs gut-churning raw grief and recriminations, but also some wonderful laugh-out-loud dialogue. It’s a killer combo of superb acting and incredible cinematography that elevates Three Billboards to classic status.


5. You Were Never Really Here

"Wake up, it's a beautiful day!"

When a teenage girl goes missing, a jaded, brutal enforcer (Joaquin Phoenix) attempts a rescue mission. So far, so standard but as the plot uncovers corruption and abuse of power and ramps up the tension You Were Never Really Here becomes a dark masterpiece that brings righteous vengeance and much violence but will captivate you and leave you breathless.


4.  Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado

"No rules this time..."

What if Isis started moving suicide bombers into the United States through Mexico? We get to witness the US government response which sends gruff agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and specialist assassin Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) work to incite a fully-fledged war between the cartels by kidnapping the spoilt teenage-princess daughter of a cartel boss, Isabel Reyes (a career-making role for Isabela Moner). This is macho action with a strong political element, edge of your seat stuff!


3. First Man

“That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It’s hard to believe that we managed to send men to the moon in the 1960s… But it sure makes for a great cinematic event watching Armstrong (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling) struggle both with the mission and his family situation. From the nail-biting Top Gun adrenalin rush of the opening atmosphere busting altitude test flight through to the epic, inspiring and the breath-taking climactic moon landing, First Man is an intelligent and thought-provoking film.


2. First Reformed

"These kids, they want certainty. You know, they don’t think, follow. They fall prey to extremism. It’s a world without hope."

The pastor of a small church in upstate New York spirals out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife. First Reformed delivers a powerful meditation on faith’s place in the modern world and Ethan Hawke in the lead role (who Empire Mag described as a 'kind of Travis Bickle in a dog collar') is incredible. As a believer, I found this treatise on church, religion and suffering super strong stuff.


1. Avengers: Infinity War

“ Fun isn't something one considers when balancing the universe. But this...
... does put a smile on my face.”

Nothing could have fully prepared you for this most epic of superhero showdowns. Over ten years Marvel have brought the Avengers and their allies from their comic books to impressive big screen life. Infinity War though is the first time pretty much all of them were brought together and even threw in the Guardians of the Galaxy into the action too. Everything 'clicked' (if you've seen it you'll get that ref) and a mightly epic smackdown ensued. Just a pure joy to witness.


Runners-up (you really should check these out too!):

Upgrade

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Beast

Bohemian Rhapsody

Ready Player One

Sorry To Bother You

Blackkklansman

Hereditary

Molly's Game

Black Panther

A Quiet Place

Widows

Phantom Thread


Read the 2017 top ten here





Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Does Aquaman Sleep with the fishes review


Aqua Man (12a)

Dir. James Wan

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“My father was a lighthouse keeper. My mother was a queen. But life has a way of bringing people together. They made me what I am.”

Here’s DC’s soggier alternative to Marvel’s Black Panther – a tale of an exiled king who must return to his kingdom and help his people… Arthur Curry / Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is half human / half Atlantean superhero – he can swim really fast, kick ass and erm, talk to fish.
Abandoned to live on the land after his mother, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) Queen of Atlantis is banished back to the sea, Aquaman wants nothing to do with his underwater legacy. That changes when princess Mera (Amber Heard) comes to the surface to warn that Curry’s half-brother Orm(Patrick Wilson) plans to attack the land dwellers and challenges him to return and save both those on land and sea from a war.

Also in the mix is a self-made supervillain Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a pirate with a grudge against Curry for his part in his father’s death. But can the hard-drinking, laid-back fishy muscle dude battle all the enemies, find the legendary trident that will secure his birth right to the throne of Atlantis and maybe find time to woo Mera along the way?

Director James ‘Saw’ Wan has his work cut out as he ramps up the comic book action along with trying to build an almost Star Wars alike subaquatic nation whose people ride sharks and sea horses, have power rifles that work both under water and in our atmosphere and whose tribes include the piranha headed monsters of ‘the trench’.

There is a lot of creativity packed into Aquaman – but it cracks along at such a furious pace that it feels a little hard to keep up with all the mythos being thrown at the screen.

The fight scenes are probably the highpoints of the film even if the underwater ones feel weird due to the weightlessness of suspended gravity-less movement. Momoa proved adept at battling baddies in Justice League alongside Superman etc – but whilst the events of that film are referenced he doesn’t get to call on the help of his super pals to help out this time. The obligatory massive scale final battle is an eye-popping CGI extravaganza as various factions including those ruled by stony faced Nereus (Dolph Lundgren – getting more work than ever at the moment).

Aquaman could have been a massively fishy flop but due mostly to its sheer gusto and a winning lead character it somehow manages to be an entertaining action romp. This fish out of water adventure is worth a look.

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

ööö

(3 - Not very new but entertaining none the less)

Awesomeness ööö – Occasionally bursts into life

Laughs ööö – some good funnies

Horror öö –  Mild peril and a occasional scares

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - What is greater than a King? A hero...





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