DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Brightburn brings the superbaddie fun


Brightburn (15)

Dir. David Yarovesky

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Maybe there is something wrong with Brandon. He may look like us. He's not like us…”

What if Superman crash-landed on earth and instead of wanting to help us, decided that he was going to kill us? That’s the excellent alt-superman concept behind David Yarovesky’s Brightburn where we get a preteen Zod who means us harm.

"maybe put him back before bad things happen?"

It starts off in a reverential homage to the man of steel. Small town wannabe parents Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman) can’t get pregnant but find a crashed comet, take in the baby and raise him as their own on their farm etc. But when puberty begins to kick in young ‘Brandon’ (Jackson A. Dunn – who played a young Antman in Avengers Endgame) increasingly becomes a homicidal monster and there is very little we puny humans can do to stop him…

"He's not here to save us"

They is so much to enjoy here for super-fans that want something nastily different from the glut of superhero flicks that populate the big screen currently. Brightburn goes all out in bringing horror elements to the mix –the grisly deaths will likely stay with you after the credits roll, especially a brutally enforced car crash.

Working with a tiny budget, Director Yarovesky, aided by James ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Gunn whips up a great creepy atmosphere. The special effects are used sparingly but deliver some excellent thrills. This is an origin story that really works – mixing schlocky kills, a creeping eeriness of tone and a lot of fun into something refreshing and cool.

"you can run but you can't hide"

The cast go about the business with gusto, props to newcomer Emmie Hunter who plays Brandon’s unfortunate schoolgirl crush Caitlyn (it’s never wise to reject the loner kid at school). Brightburn also doesn’t wimp out on racking up a slasher style body count and Brandon’s home-made mask / cape costume is an instantly iconic look.

Strong imagery and cinematography help elevate this essentially indie flick to stand alongside other great antihero films such as the excellent ‘Chronicle’ or Gunn’s own ‘Super’. It has a darkly comic underbelly that will go down well with anyone who is over all the super-smug self-righteous superheroes.


Brightburn isn’t perfect but it deserves to be a cult classic and for once the hinted sequel would be absolutely welcome, especially if the filmmakers could get their hands on a bigger budget to embrace the potential mayhem.

An innovatively grim addition to the superhero cinematic roster and one that deserves a wide audience!

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

öööö

(4 - Evil Has Found Its Superhero)

Awesomeness öööö – Super death scenes are a riot

Laughs ööö – Lots of dark humour

Horror öööö – Scary and grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - Not all aliens are friendly...


Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Matt gets Booksmart (review)


Booksmart (15)

Dir. Olivia Wilde

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Amy: We'll probably just do a Korean face-mask.
Her mum: I don't need to know all the words.”

High school comedies don’t often make girls their main characters but Olivia Wilde’s feature directorial debut, Booksmart, is basically Superbad with girls and all the better for it.

This is the tale of best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) who were those serious scholarly school girls you remember – you know – the ones who didn’t party and got great grades. But at the end of their senior year, when they realise that their hard-partying pals have mostly got into the same good colleges as them – they decide to taste a little of the forbidden debauched fun by throwing caution to the wind and finding the biggest party they can find.

'don't do drugs kids'

So, before Graduation Day dawns these ‘booksmart’ pals find themselves on a ‘Before Midnight’ odyssey where danger, romance and crazy situations lurk around every turn. Boosted by some very smart writing that feels very authentic (as a parent of a teenager), the film packs in a ton of coming-of-age tropes and is an absolute joy to watch!

Director Olivia ‘Tron Legacy’ Wilde goes all out including many unforgettably funny scenes including a genius animated feminist-friendly sequence where the pals are transformed into Barbie dolls and spend some drug-fuelled time admiring and discussing their new sex-organ-less but shapely bodies.


Booksmart is super sharply written and innovative – blessed with a fantastic cast who include a winning turn as uber driving school principal (Jason Sudeikis), plus Will Forte and Lisa Kudrow as Amy’s super-Christian, gay-supportive parents and Gigi (Billie Lourd) – an unhinged Heathers / Mean Girls type.

'schools out'

Sure, sex jokes and crudities abound but they land with self-aware and self-referential contexts and are often subverted such as in Molly Gordon who plays a girl nicknamed ‘Triple A’ because she’s rumoured to have given ‘roadside assistance’ to three guys but has more to her story than the gossip allows.

The acting is top notch, the mostly young cast are great and likely destined for big futures. You can almost smell the adolescence and feel the heartbreak as Wilde delivers so many superb cinematic experiences – all backed up with a killer soundtrack.

'dude - we're dolls!'

Booksmart is a must see movie for anyone who works with young people or even was a young person once!?

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

ööööö

(5 - Excellent, hilarious and heartwarming, being young eh?)

Awesomeness öööö - Heavy duty partying FTW

Laughs ööööö – Awesome funny, if you don't laugh you're probably dead!

Horror öö – Drugs n drinking in excess

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Friendship can be everything

Monday, June 03, 2019

Reviewzilla: Godzilla King of the Monsters



Godzilla: King of the Monsters (12a)

Dir. Michael Dougherty

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


“Sometimes I think this is Godzilla's world. We just live in it.”

The God-Lizard kaiju himself is back on the big screen and he’s here to kick-ass. Godzilla: King of the Monsters brings more monster on monster combat than anyone might ever need – these giant beasties look great and smash everything in their path. Fans of wanton wreckage are certainly in for a treat as literally there’s more city destruction in this film that all of the Transformers have managed to date.

Yep, if it’s monster mayhem you want, sign straight up. But, and it’s a Godzilla sized ‘but’ – the plot, human elements, script and general storyline are so weak it undermines the action.
Director Michael ‘Trick r Treat’ Dougherty doesn’t have to worry about origins so if free to jump in with a crazy selection of Godzilla’s greatest monster friends and enemies and crash them together as much as possible. There is an effective sense of scale at play (although plot holes such as ‘how does Godzilla wade through miles deep oceans alongside boats, looking like the waves only come up to his substantial belly?’ undo some of the good work).

'subtle religious imagery'

The movie tries to have a beating heart core around a broken family: parents Mark and Emma Russell (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga) who both have connections to the shady monster tracking agency Monarch. Emma’s made a device known as ‘Orca’ which can send out sound waves recognisable to the monster and that makes her a target for anyone looking to, oh I don’t know… make them attack civilisation!?

Mark, however, travels the world photographing wildlife – but is drawn into the monster action when their daughter Madison (Millie ‘Stranger Things’ Bobby Brown), is kidnapped along with Emma by enviro-nut ecoterrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance).

'humans assemble'

Enough about the plot – all you really need to know is that the big ‘Titan’ monsters (including lumbering references to a certain King Kong but he’s not allowed out to play this time) destroy stuff, fight each other and destroy some more. The special effects are great – ‘King’ Ghidorah a three-headed alternate alpha seems to be pulling the strings. For an example of the script when the scientists say ‘Ghidorah’ for the first time one of the other cast members mugs to the camera asking ‘gonorrhoea?’ – boom boom!?

'fight'

This kaiju-em-up is big on monsters but weak overall.

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

öö

(2 - all is destroyed including the script)

Awesomeness ööö – Monster destruction 100

Laughs öö – Misses the mirth mark

Horror öö – Collateral damage is worst way to go...

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - 'God'zilla is a cruel deity

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Whole New Aladdin... Review




Aladdin (PG)

Dir. Guy Ritchie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You really don't know who I am? Genie, wishes, lamp, none of that ringing a bell?”

Disney fans should prepare themselves for a whole new (non-cartoon) world as the much-loved animated Aladdin from 1992 gets a live-action reboot.

The 2019 retelling sees Will Smith step into the big blue Genie shoes so well filled previously by Robin Williams and the good news is that it works. Smith keeps the fun mischievous spirit but adds enough of his own Big Willie style to make this version something refreshingly new.

'nothing up my sleeve'

Full disclosure – I went to see this with very low expectations. Am a big fan of the original and worried that this remake was merely a cynical cash-in. Two hours later I found that I’d really enjoyed a colourful and good-natured sing-along romp and now actually look forward to seeing it again.

For those not aware – this is the tale of a cheeky chap named Aladdin (Mena ‘Jack Ryan’ Massoud) who meets a young woman in the marketplace of the town where he makes a living as a ‘street rat’ thief. Unaware that she is Princess Jasmine (Naomi ‘Pink Power Ranger’ Scott) incognito, he’s totally smitten he tries to woo her.

'all that jazz(mine)'

But the path of true love doesn’t run straight, and young Aladdin gets caught up in the plan of evil ‘want-to-be’ Sultan named Jafar (Marwan ‘The Mummy’ Kenzari) who craves a magic lamp containing a wish-granting Genie (Will Smith).

It’s no surprise Smith steals the whole film with his larger than life - literally – charisma plus his comedic timing and the slight hip-hop vibe on his songs really work. Scott is also great as the girl-power Jasmine, she gets a new song which adds to her feisty role and while not classic Kenzari does a good enough villainous performance.

The cinematography, animal CGI and costumes are well done and crucially the musical numbers are good. Lots of folk in the screening I was in were heartily singing along.

'what cha wishing for?'

Director Guy ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Ritchie takes the original plot and adds some nice new elements. It shows how far he has come as a director to deliver a great family friendly flick which is a million miles away from his Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels gangster days.

Aladdin is a Genie-em-up that delivers on at least some of the magical wishes of film fans!

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Disney channel the quality remake vibe)

Awesomeness öööö – A jolly good show all round

Laughs ööö – Smith brings the funny

Horror ö – Threat from baddie but nothing too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - Sing for the moment!

Guest Review: Detective Pikachu


Pokémon Detective Pikachu (PG)

Director: Rob Letterman

Reviewed by Tom Wade (@LevelUpTom)

It was in November 1999 that I got my first ever detention at school. Caught skipping a PE lesson to play a friends copy of Pokémon Red in the school toilets, it was a risk worth taking as I was catapulted into a world of 8-bit graphics and 150 Pokémon to capture (don’t worry I got the Mew at a trading event a few months later to take me to 151). I was obsessed with Pokémon for years after. I wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was, to catch them was my real test, to train them was my cause.

Skip forward 20 years and I find myself asking my wife for permission to escape fatherhood for a few hours to see my second Pokémon film at the cinema (we won’t talk about Pokémon: The First Movie - some memories are not worth revisiting). It was a risk worth taking though as Detective Pikachu is not only the best videogame adaptation of all time, it’s a great film in its own right.


Detective Pikachu seems like a strange concept for a live action Pokémon film at first. Rather than go down the ‘young person travels the world training to be the Pokémon master’ route that many expected it to, Detective Pikachu instead takes inspiration from a lesser known handheld spin-off game. It was, however, a moment of pure inspiration to approach a Pokémon film from such a creative starting point, and Detective Pikachu ends up being the best video game adaptation yet seen on the big screen. It’s worth saying though that if you don’t know your Psyduck from your Jigglypuff this might be an experience you’re not quite ready for yet.

Those expecting a Game of Thrones complex plot would do well to remember that this is a) primarily a children’s film and b) a film about a talking Pikachu who is a detective. Taking more than just a sprinkling of inspiration from the classic ‘Who Framed Rodger Rabbit’, our plot sees the likeable Justice Smith as Tim Goodman, the estranged son of a detective who has recently been mysteriously killed in a car accident while on a secret case. Tim travels to his father’s city (a place where Pokémon and humans live side by side) to investigate further and it’s here that he meets his dad’s Pikachu Pokémon partner. Somehow Tim is able to understand Pikachu and together they set out to find out the details surrounding his father's death.


It has been well publicised that Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) is the voice of Pikachu, and while his quick wisecracks may not be for everyone’s taste, this is as close to a PG Deadpool that we are likely to see on screen. Reynolds’ Pikachu is thankfully a delight and considering the most Pikachu has said previously on screen is... ‘Pikachu’, his wit and sarcasm are welcome features. Fans will almost certainly overlook Detective Pikachu’s shortcomings because it hits so many nostalgia buttons correctly. The soundtrack hints at and includes themes from Pokémon games over the years whilst the actual Pokémon designs are really impressive. The film is also really funny. Young and old will appreciate the jokes along the way and the film isn’t afraid to make fun of the absurdity of it all. It’s an impressive feat to strike such a balanced tone and one wholly unexpected in a Pokémon film.

There are some pacing issues and the final quarter of the film might be one step too many into the bizarre for some, but overall Detective Pikachu is an unexpected triumph. So what are you waiting for? Grab your Pokédex from Professor Oak and head off to your nearest Pokémon Gym immediately.

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

öööö

(4 - You gotta catch em’ all)

Awesomeness öööö – Jurassic Pokemon Park

Laughs ööö – Reynolds is funny

Horror ö – Some Pokeviolence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Soul mates forever



Thursday, May 23, 2019

Matt's Thinking It's John Wick 3 Review Time...



John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (15)

Dir. Chad Stahelski

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


“Mr. Wick broke the rules. I trust you understand the repercussions if he survives…”


The world’s premier super-assassin John Wick is back for a third instalment – and there’s more on the line this time than ever before. His life is forfeit after having crossed the ‘High Table’ by killing a fellow member of the international assassin's guild.

With a $14 million price tag on his head – Wick suddenly becomes the target of hit men and women everywhere – and must survive without the support of the Continental hotels due to his being excommunicated.

'guns and puzzles'

The good news for fans is that this third chapter is another excellent adrenaline-fueled action-packed entry in the series. Director Stahelski (who also directed the first two films) brings more superbly choreographed battles and stylish escapes.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is living a charmed life – he might be the best in the business, but he’ll have his work cut out as he must fight his way through the army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. Trying to escape New York City is one things but he’ll need to call on his friend / hitwoman Sofia (Halle Berry), who owes him a debt in order to try and find a way to get his life back.

The subtitle ‘Parabellum’ is Latin for ‘prepare for war’ and it certainly applies here. The plot is simple – it’s kill or be killed after the High Table send an Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to call in retribution on Wick. Along the way anyone who has helped him is also in the firing line – so that includes Winston (Ian McShane), the owner and manager of the Continental Hotel in New York and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) – could they be potential allies?

'Baddie needs that bulletproof glass!'

Nowhere is safe as Zero (Mark Dacascos), a master assassin is despatched by the Adjudicator to bring Wick down. Watching this cat and mouse hunt is compelling viewing (although it has to be said that John Wick’s mouse is hard as nails!?)

Reeves is effortlessly cool once more in the lead role and the action is so frenetic that you have to feel for him putting himself through this immensely physical role at a spritely 54.

John Wick Chapter 3 is a sensory overload which is likely to max out your adrenalin levels – and leave you wanting more!

'one horsepower chase...'

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

öööö

(4 - Another excellent entry in this kick-ass series!)

Awesomeness ööööö – Some of the best fights scenes on film

Laughs ööö – Darkly funny

Horror ööö – Crunching violence and injury detail

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Revenge is always an option!?


Read the Darkmatters review of John Wick 2

Read the Darkmatters original John Wick review

Evil has found its Superhero... BRIGHTBURN



Under a month till BRIGHTBURN...

We are very excited for this 'What if Superman was evil?' new horror-super-em-up!!

Check out these chilling new TV Spot for James Gunn's new feature - excellent use of the music of Billie Eillis.

What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?

With Brightburn, the visionary filmmaker of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Slither' presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror.

Produced by James Gunn and Kenneth Huang, Brightburn is written by Mark Gunn & Brian Gunn, and directed by David Yarovesky.

Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner...


BRIGHTBURN hits cinemas in the UK on 19th June.


'He's not here to save us...'



'Remember kids, don't try this at home!?'

Monday, May 20, 2019

Darkmatters Review: The Mirror and the Mountain



The Mirror and the Mountain

Luke Aylen (@lukeaylen)


"live your words and don't just speak..."

Fantasy fans (and Netflix children’s series commissioners) would do well to have a look at Luke Aylen’s The Mirror and the Mountain which is a kinda Narnia-em-up shot through with elements of Bridge to Terabithia and has the general feel of a George MacDonald story – especially The Princess and the Goblin.

This is the tale of how Summer and Jonah, two 11-year-olds, go on a life-changing adventure in a magical kingdom known as ‘Presadia’. In C.S. Lewis / Lewis Carroll style – the gateway between our normal world and this other is through an enchanted mirror – found via an old underground passage under a church.

What transpires in the war-torn kingdom of Presadia is your standard ‘quest to find the long-lost king’ deal and it packs plenty of the usual fantasy tropes of dragons, misty mountains, dwarves and elves along the way. Now before you go thinking this might be a younger Game of Thrones, it is very much a light and entertaining romp, without too much peril and absolutely nothing too nasty apart from an insidious fog that hangs over the land.

Aylen’s prose is concise and colourful, and owing to the publisher being a Christian organisation the plot also makes some important lessons around pride, greed, and how the tongue might be your own worst enemy.


It’s a fun a cheerful read which I’m sure children will enjoy and due to the biblical interlinkage at the end it has scope to be used by children’s workers in churches etc as well as parents who want to drop some meaningful conversation into their bedtime stories.

It would certainly make a fun animated movie or live-action fantasy and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

So for those whose kids aren’t quite ready for His Dark Materials or even Harry Potter – The Mirror and the Mountain is a great starter fantasy which will hopefully fire up imaginations and as readers join the heroic kids’ quest to find the king and restore peace to Presadia.

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - A fun, meaningful fantasy for the younger generation)...

BUY YOURSELF A COPY HERE




Monday, May 06, 2019

Matt gets Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile



Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (15)

Dir. Joe Berlinger

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have been witness to the unspeakable horrors of the defendant’s heinous crimes…”

Sometimes the worst monsters are the real ones. There have been many accounts of the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy but this new bio-crime thriller from Joe ‘Blair Witch 2’ Berlinger brings in the megastar Zac Efron to depict the twisted lead.

"beware the smiling monster"

Hitting the big screen and streaming services at the same time which gives viewers more choice as to how they watch, this effective retelling of the story is told through the perspective of Bundy’s long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily ‘Okja’ Collins).

It is fascinating to see how this woman fell completely under the charismatic spell of the prolific murderer and her struggle to accept the reality of Bundy’s nature. Collins brings a real poignancy to the role, showing how she desperately wanted to believe that the man she loved couldn’t be the one guilty of the heinous accusations against him.

"happy family?"

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile brings a compelling and engaging rework of the many traditional serial killer movies out there. Instead of depicting the many murders against the police work around the case - there is very little actual violence shown – it rather dwells on the consistent protestations of innocence by Bundy as he revels in the attention and media spotlight. The movie engages the viewer to get into the mindset and experience the fervent doubt of his guilt by not just his girlfriend and wife Carol Daronch (played well by Kaya ‘Maze Runner’ Scodelario) but also his many other female ‘fans’.

Efron makes an effective sociopath, hinting menacingly at the violent anger under the smarmy, charming, intelligent and highly charismatic, surface image he presents to the world.

"it's in the eyes"

Making the movie from the perspective of Kloepfer gives us a glimpse into the family life and ‘normality’ Bundy worked hard to hide behind during his campaign of horrific acts. As the net closes around him some powerful courtroom sessions spotlight the grisly evidence as well as his darkly captivating performances as he tries to present his innocence.

John Malkovich is great as the sharp-tongued judge Edward D. Cowart and Jim ‘Big Bang Theory’ Parsons also pops up as Florida Prosecutor Larry Simpson. The quality of the actors helps elevate this to a very watchable level.

"bad call"

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is a fascinating film liable to unnerve viewers in a very effective way, leaving an uncomfortable taste in the mouth and make you wonder just how well do we ever really know the hearts of those around us…

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

ööö

(3 - Strong bio-em-up shining a light on a charismatic monster)

Awesomeness ööö – Effectively creepy and poignant

Laughs ö – Not a funny flick

Horror ööö – Extremely nasty subject matter but not much shown

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Who is that person watching you??

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Matt is Dragged Across Concrete (review)


Dragged Across Concrete (18)

Dir. S. Craig Zahler

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


“Do not prioritize money over having a heartbeat.”

From the slightly twisted mind behind Bone Tomahawk comes this violent tale of two overzealous policemen, old-timer Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his volatile younger partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn). The duo get results but work in a no-nonsense old school style which leads them to getting suspended when a video of their very strong-arm tactics against an ethnic drug dealer gets leaked to the media.

Both have cash issues – and people who need them - Lurasetti is about to propose to his girlfriend, Ridgeman’s wife is suffering from MS and his daughter keeps being assaulted in the dodgy neighbourhood where they live. With seemingly no other options, these two embittered men descend into the criminal underworld to try and gain their just due, but instead, find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows.

'This might not end well!'


Director S. Craig Zahler is on top form – having already written and directed two brutal masterpieces across different genres, Dragged Across Concrete sees him add crime-em-up to his resume. This would play as a hard-boiled Bad Boys kind of ‘buddy cop’ movie were it not so gut-wrenchingly violent. Zahler has a knack for creating characters who viewers want to spend time with and Gibson and Vaughan are both great here.

The script is packed with sharp, witty dialogue and the action takes its time with a slow burn build up where we get invested in the lives of the characters. This makes it oh-so-much worse when bad things happen and be warned - Dragged Across Concrete gets very dark.

Coming in at an epic 159-minute running time – the plotting is so good that the time flies by. It’s been a while since a crime thriller (or Mel Gibson for that matter) has been as compelling – if you love heist movies such as Reservoir Dogs, Hell or High Water - then this may well be a potential film of the year for you.

'battle time'

Some have complained at the use of such potentially gratuitous violence, but it feels connected and really resonates when it hits – the climactic shootout is actually one of best I’ve witnessed. The cold, hard cinematography employed world Zahler is a perfect foil to the moments of sentiment such as new mother (a great cameo from Jennifer ‘Emily Rose’ Carpenter) who has to return to work.

Dragged Across Concrete is a stunning grindhouse crime noir, recommended but only for those who can deal with the evil that men do…

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

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Buddy cop heist-em-up darkness)

Awesomeness öööö – Some very memorable scenes

Laughs ööö – Really funny in places

Horror öööö – Extremely strong violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Some things are worth fighting for, but how far is too far?



Friday, April 26, 2019

Matt reviews Avengers: Endgame



Avengers: Endgame (12a)

Dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: COURIER


“We lost. All of us. We lost friends. We lost family. We lost a part of ourselves. This is the fight of our lives…”

Here is it then – the climactic finale of the first realm of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Endgame is a direct sequel to Avengers: Infinity War and it comes packing a huge amount of emotional baggage, in the last film we saw the mighty Avengers humbled and life across the universe decimated when the mad titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) ‘won’.

Now we see the fallout, there is deep grief and much reflection as the surviving heroes Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and friends including their powerful new pal Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) try to rally and find a way to fight back. I’m absolutely not going to share key plot points – all you need to know is that the Avengers want to live up to their name – as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) says “that’s what we are right – the Avengers – we strike back.”

"teaming up"

With so many of the heroes lost to Thanos in the last film and morale at an all-time low the Avengers certainly have an almost impossible task on hand. It’s impressive that the directors Anthony and Joe Russo don’t let the magnitude of the job daunt them and manage to craft a tale that is both reverent to all that has gone before and a rousing conclusion that will please fans both old and new.

At three hours, the runtime might be butt-numbing, but it’s certainly never dull. The winning interplay of the heroes and a cleverly worked renewed threat mean that Endgame delivers both some excellent fun moments (Thor playing Fortnite!?) and the crunching action scenes that scale intimate duels and epically huge final showdown with a deft touch. As in the last film, there is resonance and cost to choices made and a great insight into the psychological damage that ‘losing’ did to earth’s mightiest heroes.

"back for more"

It’s impressive just how natural the special effects feel now – this might have cost millions to make but you won’t see more eye-popping spectacle anytime soon. And as it looks like it might reap over $1billion in the opening weekend Disney’s money men will be seeing it as an investment paying off.

Payoff is exactly what this delivers - for a supremely satisfying, total adrenaline rush of superhero adventure – there is simply nothing to match Avengers: Endgame – see it on the biggest screen you can find!

"new allies"


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

ööööö

(5 - Avenging the fallen in epic style...)

Awesomeness ööööö – Unforgettable scenes

Laughs öööö – Really funny (yes Korg steals his scenes again)

Horror ööö – Comic book violence, and some trauma

Spiritual Enlightenment ööööö - Rousing, spiritually charged superheroic joy!!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Matt goes to Hell(boy) Review



Hellboy (15)

Dir. Neil Marshall

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


“Why do you fight for those who hate and fear you?”

Here’s another half-backed reboot of a decent franchise which sullies the memory of the original two (can it really be 15 years since Guillermo del Toro first directed Ron Perlman in the lead?). So Mike Mignola’s graphic novel hero Hellboy – a demon who fights for the good of mankind is back on the big screen, but alas as mentioned this is not a glorious return.

Despite the ton of negative reviews, this film is soaking up, I was holding out some hope that Director Neil ‘Dog Soldiers’ Marshall’s effort might be at least a fun addition to the comic book sci-fi / hero genre. I was wrong. If there is a circle of hell set aside for terrible filmmakers, Marshall could well have bought himself a one-way ticket there for this scrappy, badly edited and altogether bungled embarrassment.

'big red in the house'

The plot sees Hellboy’s employer - the B.P.R.D. (an international non-governmental agency, who fight evil) - trying to halt Nimue, a witch who delights in the title ‘the Blood Queen’ (played with generic baddie style by Milla Jovovich). Nimue was last thwarted by King Arthur himself but is now plotting to come back from the dead and unleash a plague on mankind. Hellboy (David ‘Stranger Things’ Harbour) is dispatched to the UK to help stop her. He’s joined by a young seer named Sasha (Alice Monaghan) who speaks annoying ‘street’ like a wannabe grime artist and British special forces Major Ben Daimo (Daniel Dae Kim) who can transform into a very dodgy CGI cat creature.

The story jumps about throwing random enemies into the mix including giants running wild in the forests of England, a wrestling vampire and a weird and unnecessary visit to another dimension visiting the chicken-legged house where an evil called Baba Yaga resides. By the time the Arthur myth is dug up so that Hellboy has to find Merlin to help him too – most people will past caring – in fact several walked out of the screening I was in.

'London has gone to hell'


The fun elements of the original films have been traded in for excessive amounts of CGI gore – pretty much every character has to die in slo-mo explosions of blood – and the dialogue is butt cringingly ridiculous.

Harbour is probably the best thing about the film in the lead role but this demonic hero is given so little to work with that everything feels like a waste of time.

Hellboy is a terrible waste of time and effort.

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

ö1/2

(1.5 - Straight to hell...)

Awesomeness ö – S

Laughs öö – Some mirth

Horror ööö – Goryviolence

Spiritual Enlightenment -ö - Diabolical!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Matt feels the Cold Pursuit


Cold Pursuit (15)

Dir. Hans Petter Moland

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“When you drive the same road day after day, it’s easy to think about the road not taken. I was lucky, I picked a good road early and I stayed on it.”

What happens when you push a quiet, decent family man too far? Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is a hard-working snow-plough driver who keeps the roads of his home town resort open. But no sooner is he awarded the "Citizen of the Year" life when his life is turned upside down by the murder of his son.

Now with nothing to lose, he goes all out for answers and violent vengeance. Uses his hunting skills and sense of outrage he sets out to dismantle the local drug cartel single-handed. Nels' actions ignite a turf war between a manically unpredictable gangster known as Viking (Tom Bateman) and a rival gang boss - the Native Indian 'White Bull' (Tom Jackson).

caution: trees

Cue a fun snowy Fargo-esque revenge-em-up which gives Neeson the chance to channel his ‘Taken’ persona and put it to better use than the recent cash in action efforts he’s been making. Cold Pursuit is actually a minor classic re-spin of the one man can make a difference plot, the writing is crisp and genuinely funny, the action builds up nicely and the characters each get their own title cards when they die. And lots of people die as the body-count rises throughout and then explodes in a fantastic climactic shootout that is captured in one superb rolling, erm, ‘shot’.

The action cracks along at an engaging pace, and director Moland gets a brilliant, darkly comic performance from Neeson – if you enjoyed ‘In Bruges’ you’ll find plenty to love here. This isn’t a film for the squeamish however as it gets grisly in places and Bateman gives a terrifyingly psychotic turn as Viking.

The chilly snowbound setting keeps it all feeling nicely claustrophobic and whilst you don’t need PhD in cinematic studies to guess the ending – it’s smart and funny enough to put a smile on your face.

meet my little friend...

All the cast put in good performances – the fact that most of them have code names like Speedo, Wingman and Mustang just adds to the madcap nature of it all. The writers manage to cram a rich mix of heartbreak, same-sex relationship drama and macho gangster posturing as well as racist conflict with the  American Indians.

For fans of Coen Brothers output and/or Taken style justice action Cold Pursuit is a great Friday night flick that should find a cult following. Worth seeking out.


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


ööö1/2

(3.5 - Effective brutal revenge thrills on ice...)

Awesomeness ööö – Some memorable scenes

Laughs ööö – The laughs populate the script

Horror ööö – Strong violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Some things are worth fighting for!


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Dead is Bleaker: Pet Sematary Review


Pet Sematary (15)

Dir. Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Sometimes, dead is better.…”

Prepare for a whole different tale of resurrection arriving just in time for Easter. This remake / reimagining of the ‘80s Stephen King novel (and film) updates the dark tale of grief, horror and tragedy with effective scares and some excellent new ideas. Fans of the original will be right at home in this ominous retelling of the eerie power of reanimation that lurks in the New England Forests.

Big city surgeon, Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moves his family - wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), eight-year-old daughter Ellie (a fantastic turn from Jeté Laurence) and young Gage (shared between Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie) - to rural Maine in hope of a quiet life. But it turns out that in the extensive woods of their new home there is a ‘Pet Sematary’ where the town’s folk bury their animals. There is also a cursed other burial ground marked out by the native tribes as a place of danger years before, a place that is rumoured to give life back to the dead, at a cost.

cool cat...

As both Louis and Rachel start to be plagued with terrifying visions, there is a growing sense that the place is having an unnatural effect on their family. When they lose their beloved cat ‘Church’ (short for Churchill) to a hit and run, their neighbour Jud (John Lithgow) suggests that it doesn’t have to be the last they see of the kitty. But things that return from the burial ground are not what they once were - and the reanimated Church is mean and dangerous.

You can imagine how the story goes when one of the children is also killed… This harrowing plot is handled in a more gung-ho way by the new directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer who worked on the Scream TV series. Jump scares and a remix of some key plot points including more bleak ending mean that this version has enough new surprises to please those who liked the source material.

weird kids...

There is some really effective camerawork and haunting use of the wilderness setting that is shot through with effectively eerie notes of something primaeval that lurks in the woods. From the beginning, this is a family on the brink of damnation, manipulated by forces beyond their reckoning.

Pet Sematary delivers a great scary experience for those who can handle the disturbing subject matter. But is not for the faint of heart.

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

öööö

(4 - Sometimes Dead is Bleaker but it's a wild ride!)

Awesomeness öööö – Stong cinematic horror

Laughs ö – Not very funny

Horror öööö – Beware, this is grim and harrowing in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Here kitty kitty...


intergenerational horror...

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