DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Matt reviews The Kid Who Would Be King

The Kid Who Would Be King (PG)

Dir. Joe Cornish

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“There's something written on the guard. Put it into Google Translate - It means ‘Sword of Arthur’. What if it's the Sword in the Stone?”

Old school magic meets the modern world in a woke new epic adventure from the director of the excellent ‘Attack The Block’. The Kid Who Would Be King brings a heart-warming take on the Arthur mythos where young Alexander (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he's just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical sword in the stone, Excalibur.

What follows is an all-age friendly quest as Alex enlists both his only friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) and the mean school bully Lance (Tom Taylor), and his loyal minion, Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) to try and defeat an ancient wicked enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). You see Arthur’s evil half-sister lusts for Excalibur and plans to enslave mankind under the cover of an upcoming solar eclipse.

"destiny calls"

The young cast are great and include a brilliantly awkward Merlin (Angus Imrie) but he’s also Sir Patrick Stewart in his ‘old form’. I took some friends with me to get their opinion on this family-friendly adventure they were quite impressed. Ruby age 10 said: “what I loved was the comedy which was really funny e.g. the lines ‘where did you learn to drive?’… ‘Mario Kart’ – which I won’t forget.” Amelie aged 12 added, “this is an exciting film that children and adults will enjoy with both action and humour!”

There are some mildly scary scenes but no gore thanks to the baddie demonic minions combusting in satisfying mini firework explosions when hit. What is really nicely captured though are the adolescent struggles with insecurity and social standing that pepper school life.


There are fun sword battles although the stand-out scene is probably a chase through the city streets which sees gives Lady Kaye chance to show off her Mario Kart skills. The climax sees a full-scale assault by Morgana’s forces storm Alex’s school – and the pupils have to ‘knight up’ and fight to protect each other in a great battle.

There are strong positive messages running through the film about uniting both friends and enemies into a band of knights and following a code. Director Cornish also manages to slip in some mild Brexit comment about how ‘lost and leaderless’ Britain has become.

"baddies ahoy"

With all our futures at stake, joining Alex on his quest is a great cinematic family treat.

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


(3 - Quality fun adventuring for the young and young-at-heart!)

Awesomeness ööö – Battles and Teenage Angst a go go

Laughs ööö – Some good nicely observed humour

Horror öö – Mild peril

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - True hearts can win the day

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Matt opens the Green Book

Green Book (12a)

Dir. Peter Farrelly

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“Being genius is not enough, it takes courage to change people's hearts.”

Every now and then you find a film director switching up and refining their style – and here we have Peter ‘There’s Something About Mary’ delivering a classy, good-natured road-trip relationship heart warmer rather than his staple more shock-em-up comedy.

Green Room tells the based-on-fact tale of Tony "Tony Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo ‘A History of Violence’ Mortensen), a tough guy bouncer with a good heart. When the club he works at is shut for renovations he takes a two-month job as driver for the African-American classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala ‘True Detective’ Ali) for a potentially problematic concert tour into the segregated Deep South states.

The two men with very little in common come to learn a lot from each other as they face adversity and racism that you’d find hard to believe if it wasn’t based on a portion of near history. The Green Book of the title is a guide for ‘The Negro Motorist’ issued to Tony which lists hotels that will allow his cultured, genius, virtuoso boss to stay or even buy something to eat.

"classy double act"

The film, co-written by Vallelonga’s son Nick, packs a superb emotional punch thanks to the two central performances. Watching these men form a real bond of lasting friendship, overcoming mistrust and prejudices is a message of what’s possible if we just look beyond the outside and see each other as fellow humans.

This is a great film that really should be seen by as wide an audience as possible – not just for the strong positive message at its heart but also for the experience of diving through well-drawn characters that bring family, culture, dignity and respect entertainingly to life.

Green Book is up for 5 Oscars and the superb performances from Ali and Mortensen whose rapport and chemistry crackle from the screen deserve recognition. Each take what could have been one-note characters and unpack the issues each man has – creating an effective treatise on the inner isolation, masochism and expectations of presenting a ‘strong front’ that men everywhere have to deal with.

"love letter help"

Great cinema has the power to challenge, uplift and inspire all at once and Green Book is a film that will re-ignite hope in mankind, and, could even potentially make you leave wanting to be a better human being.

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


(4 - Delivers big time friendship, chemistry and feels)

Awesomeness öööö – Hard to believe some of this happened (but glad it did)

Laughs ööö – Nicely balanced laughs throughout

Horror öö – Racism can't be tolerated

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Friendship crosses cultural boundaries

Monday, February 11, 2019

There must be a 'Battle' Angel playing with my heart...

Alita: Battle Angel (12a)

Dir. Robert Rodriguez

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“I'd do whatever I had to for you. I'd give you whatever I have. I'd give you my heart.”

The future isn’t going to be great, unless you are rich and can live in the utopia of Tiphares, a floating city of dreams that is. Most of the populace alas have to exist in the brutal reality of the Iron City where crime is rampant despite bounty hunters enforcing violent retribution on wrongdoers.

Director Rodriguez’s stunning big-screen take on Alita: Battle Angel is based on the Yukito Kishiro manga ‘Gunnm’. It tells the tale of a young cyborg, Alita (Rosa Salazar), who is found by a cybernetics boffin, Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz), in the junkyard beneath Tiphares.

"ready for battle"

Alita doesn’t remember who or what she is, but it soon becomes apparent that she might be a lethal battle machine and the biggest threat to the ruling elite possible. Is she an angel from heaven or is she a robotically enhanced angel of death?

James Cameron who wrote the screenplay is a huge fan of the original comic books and it shows because there is a powerful fanboy vibe running through this eye-popping cinematic interpretation. This film could have been all style over substance but this has a real beating heart and more soul than you’d expect from a tale of cyborgs.

"careful who you trust"

The visual effects and CGI work are incredible, Alita herself is an immediate action icon in the making due to her innocent look (her eyes are enlarged to capture the original Manga drawings’ art style). The whole look and feel of the movie is meticulously created – the living, breathing sprawling metropolis is packed with details that will bear repeat viewings.

The plot is action-packed and the fights are crunching – as you might expect from the director of Sin City – but it’s not too gory so would be a great choice for those younger teens who can handle some threat. There is, of course, a love interest – teen human Hugo (Keean Johnson) - who has a dark side where his gang attack cyborgs and harvest their body parts for resale. Might Alita be the cyborg to change his ways?

Quality support is provided by the baddies Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali who add class to compliment Waltz’s quality fatherly figure. Alita: Battle Angel could have been just another dystopian action-em-up but rather it delivers on every level and even sets up a tantalising potential sequel.

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


(3.5 - Quality Manga Adaptation that kicks cyborg ass)

Awesomeness öööö – The action is where it takes off...

Laughs ööö – Good humour modules interfaced nicely

Horror öö – Some violence and threat

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Will cyborgs ever acknowledge a 'God'?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Matt gets SEVERED Darkmatters review (Matt Hunter Book 3)


by Peter Laws (@revpeterlaws)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“When the wind roared David knew it was the devil, sighing with contented achievement…”

It’s been a rough few books for Matt Hunter, the ex-Minister turned professor of sociology who is now established as the ‘go-to-guy’ for the police when they stumble upon murders that might have a religious or satanic slant.

Everywhere the poor atheist goes, there is sure to follow a Midsomer sized body count and the deaths you can be sure will be gory and unsettling. So, when during a communion service at a village church, the teenage son of a vicar brutally tries to decapitate his father with an axe, all hell breaks loose.

The horrified congregation, police and family suspect devil worship, but there might be something else, equally dark at work… The fact that there is a crazy cult up the road who worship Jesus but hate God the Father and who believe that the world is filled with demons called Hollows may not be a coincidence.

Before you can say ‘religious nutters’ Matt Hunter and his scene-stealing cool wife Wren are once again up to their necks in bizarre murders and frightening religious mania.

Severed is the third crime-em-up by Rev Peter Laws and it is a cracking thriller, shot through with serious horror elements. The fast-paced narrative drags the reader kicking and screaming into a world of madness and death, encompassing some hot button topics along the way such as the bigotry of many Christians’ attitudes to gay folk and the manic lengths fundamentalists will go to.

This is a trip of scrambled theology, murder-most-foul and a great building sense of voodoo threat that will leave you shaken and stirred. The characters really work (although Hunter might need to possibly reign in his goofy quirks as he’s at risk of becoming a bit Mr Bean at times in this adventure).

By the time you hit the last few chapters, it’s virtually impossible to put down and if there isn’t a Netflix series of these books I’m going to complain!

Severed is very much worthy of a read – whatever your religious persuasion. And much like films such as Natural Born Killers, it will leave you nervous of those around you… Enjoyable religious-themed hokum doesn’t come much better!!

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


(4 - hits like a twisted theological axe to the back of the head)...


Read the Darkmatters review of Purged (Matt Hunter book 1)

Read the Darkmatters review of Unleashed (Matt Hunter book 2)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Matt get destroyed by Destroyer (review)

Destroyer (15)

Dir. Karyn Kusama

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I’m mad. I’m still mad. It’s burnt a circuit in my brain.”

What do you do when you’ve lost yourself in guilt, recrimination and self-loathing? These are just some of the issues that L.A. PD detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) is dealing with in this hard-boiled crime-em-up where crimes of the past come back to exact vengeance on her.

As well as the threat of a criminal gang lord being released from prison and gunning for her, she must also cope with her disaffected daughter, Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn), who is out of control and in danger of following in her self-destructive life path.

"don't mess with her..."

Kidman is on scenery-chewing form and has undergone a physically incredible transformation to show the horrific state she’s in after years of alcohol abuse. Her present-day looks contrast sharply with flashbacks to when she was a bright-eyed, beautiful young cop sent undercover to infiltrate a dangerous gang of bank robbers. Things didn’t end well back then and her partner/lover Chris (Sebastian Stan) was killed but over the course of two hours, we get to try and work out quite what happened and why Erin never seemed to recover.

Director Karyn ‘ Jennifer's Body’ Kusama walks us through Erin’s personal hell of existence – she’s the destroyer of the title and it is those around her who pay the price. Having lost her moral compass and fearing repercussions of her past Erin blazes a trail of violence as she seeks answers and tries to pay back those who wronged her. But is there any form of redemption on offer – or just an all-encompassing bleakness?

"back in the good ol days"

The obvious stand out here is Kidman’s physical transformation but she attacks the role with such gusto that it’s hard to believe she’s the same actress from lighter fare such as Moulin Rouge. The cinematography is hard-edged, and the cast are on form – praise to Sebastian Stan who brings a searing emotional heart to the relationship with Kidman.

Destroyer isn’t a feel-good film in any sense of the word. It has divided audiences and critics alike but for me it burnt an indelible memory and is likely to be one of my films of the year. Kidman really should have had an OSCAR nom for this role but has been overlooked, whatever, this is a heavy-duty piece of crime noir that deserves to be seen.

"destroy the heart she said..."

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


(4.5 - Crunching bleakness that is hard to look away from)

Awesomeness öööö – Strong scenes...

Laughs ö – very limited mirth

Horror ööö – Dark and violent

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - How broken is 'too far gone?'

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Darkmatters review: UNLEASHED (Matt Hunter book 2)


by Peter Laws (@revpeterlaws)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“And there it was, pinning Lauren to the bench. A huge black animal…”

When something goes bump in the night and leaves a spooky body count – who ya gonna call? Well in the UK seeing as we don’t have a functioning crew of Ghostbusters, former Minister turned professor of sociology Matt Hunter is your man. In his second adventure, we find him still unsettled by the events of the crazed Hobbs Hill baptism killer but called into action again when people start dying in Menham, South London.

You see some fifteen years ago, 29 Barley Street became notorious as the scene of alleged poltergeist activity which led to the death of young girl - Holly Wasson. Holly’s older sister Rachel is called back home when her childhood friend Steph Ellis is killed – is there a link to the fabled local poltergeist? Can oddball psychic couple Bob and Joyce Hodges trace the possibly supernatural killer? Because the police are certainly struggling which is why they bring in Matt Hunter.

"The Rev himself"

Unleashed is a semi-sequel to Purged, not in terms of plot but it forms the ‘what happened next' to Matt Hunter and his family. Part thriller, part horror, this is a nicely twisted crime-em-up that has the power to unnerve. Author Rev Peter Laws really finds his stride with this follow-up and it encompasses engaging characters, weird ritualistic deaths and the mystery of whether there is a supernatural agent involved in the killings or just a disturbing human element.

Caution - if you've ever been unnerved by rabbits or traumatised by Watership Down, Unleashed is likely to be very troublesome for you to deal with!?

Hunter and his cool wife Wren are characters that it is fun to hang out with – their relationship is believable and their family dynamic well established. These are people it’s easy to care about and that gives the possible threats greater bite. Speaking of threats, there are plenty of suspicious characters to pick through so those who like a ‘whodunit’ will be satisfied – although here you can’t rule out the ‘whatdunit’ possibility too…

Overall Unleashed is a fun and spooky thrill-ride that is highly worth taking a trip on!!

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


(4 - dark and intense, creepy and quirky - in a good way)...


Read the Darkmatters review of Purged (Matt Hunter book 1)

Read the Darkmatters review of Severed (Matt Hunter book 3)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Matt is shattered by GLASS review

Glass (15)

Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“This was an origin story the whole time...”

Everything has led up to this. From the moment back in 2000 when we got to know the ‘Unbreakable’ security guard, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his brittle nemesis Elijah Price ‘Mr Glass’ (Samuel L. Jackson), the Eastrail 177 trilogy has been in motion.

In 2016 the game changed when the multiple personality freak-em-up movie Split introduced The Horde – 24 different identities in one body (James McAvoy) into the same universe. And now we have the concluding chapter where Dunn, Price and The Horde’s paths cross one last time – for a super-hero showdown very different to most comic book flicks.

"Let battle commence"

As a huge fan of Unbreakable, (which was the second film I reviewed back when I first started this gig 19 years ago), I’m delighted that director M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass turns out to be a cinematic masterpiece. Not an all-out action-packed romp - although there are some seriously great fights - but rather a compellingly thoughtful and complex analysis of the very nature of what it means to be super-human.

The homage to comic book mythology that tone of the first film is writ large here it begins showing how Dunn (now known as The Overseer by the public) has been protecting the people of Philadelphia. At the same time The Horde has been terrorising young women and so the collision course of good and evil is set. Mr Glass, however, has been incarcerated in a mental asylum and is being treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah ‘Bird Box’ Paulson) who specialises in those who she believes have delusions of having superpowers.

"The Overseer will protect you"

When the actions of Dunn and The Horde lead to their getting locked up with Mr Glass for therapy - the film becomes a time bomb waiting for these three unique individuals to violently interact.

McAvoy steals the show – his multiple personality acting is just jaw-dropping to behold – but Jackson brings a cool sinister gravitas to his evil mastermind role and Willis is on good form reprising one of his most iconic roles.

"Are they mad?"

Glass feels like a spiritual odyssey that tackles the mystery of what it is to be human as much as it is a thinking person’s comic book tale. It is gorgeously shot and cleverly ties in the previous films to leave audiences broken and challenged.

A cracking cinematic achievement, Glass is the antidote for anyone who is suffering from super-hero burnout.

Highly recommended!

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


(5 - A superb conclusion - not for thrill junkies but for true comic book believers)

Awesomeness ööööö – Both the action and the thought processing are great

Laughs öö – Some dark humour

Horror ööö – Gets a little grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Search for the hero inside yourself

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Matt's Favourite film of 2019 so far...

The Favourite (15)

Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“As it turns out, I'm capable of much unpleasantness.”

Prepare for a subversive, mischievously dark and bawdy romp which takes you back to early 18th century England. Whilst a bloody and expensive war rages against the French, the English Court is more caught up in frivolous duck racing, gossiping and pineapple eating.

The ill-tempered Queen Anne (Olivia ‘Peep Show’ Colman) occupies the throne but it is her close friend and advisor Lady Sarah (Rachel ‘My Cousin Rachel’ Weisz) who really governs the country in her stead.

'prepare for both pride and prejudice'

Things get shaken up when Lady Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, down on her luck having been ‘lost’ by her father in a game of cards. But Abigail will stop at nothing to win the Queen’s ear, employing her charm and ruthlessness in equal measure – can she oust Lady Sarah as the queen’s ‘favourite’?

The Favourite is loosely based in fact, but it delivers big time laugh-out-loud, sublimely verbose royal and political antics. Far from a Merchant Ivory period effort – packing explicit language and sexual shenanigans alongside the razor sharp witty exchanges. Director Yorgos ‘The Lobster’ Lanthimos channels and builds on some of the excellently subversive vibes found in ‘Love & Friendship’ from 2016 – the result is an entirely enjoyable experience!

'The Queen in full effect'

Memorable scenes include Queen Anne’s hilariously impetuous outbursts at unsuspecting footmen, the vicious interplay between the two wannabe favourites and possibly the best / most ridiculous dance scene ever.

The cinematography is classy and the plot gallops along at pace. There are lots of juicy issues being explored here too from the overt weaponization of feminine traits through to dastardly manipulation and betrayal. The Queen’s sadness and possible mental health issues stemming from her loss of her 17 children – who she has replaced with rabbits to remember them by – is also heart breaking.

'pistols at dawn'

There are strong supporting roles from Nicholas Hoult as the politician Robert Harley who crosses swords with Lady Sarah and Joe Alwyn as Abigail’s love interest / ticket back to aristocracy Samuel Masham.

Watching the two leading ladies locked in a battle of wits, with the Queen’s favour the prize, is diabolical fun that pulls no punches. It’s not just the loyalties of the Court that are switched and played with as events take dubious twists – viewers too are in for an emotional rollercoaster ride.

The Favourite might well live up to its name – a cracking start to the year.

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


(5 - An excellent, memorable and untamed experience)

Awesomeness ööööö – Battle of sensibilities gets dark

Laughs öööö – Really funny, black humour

Horror öö – Some violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Who can you trust?

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?'


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:


(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:


(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!):


Mission Impossible: Fallout


Bohemian Rhapsody

Ready Player One

Sorry To Bother You



Molly's Game

Black Panther

A Quiet Place


Phantom Thread

Read the 2017 top ten here

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