DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

Listen to the PODCAST I co-host: Hosts in the Shell

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Darkmatters Review: The Hunger Games Mockingjay pt1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (12a)

Dir. Francis Lawrence

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Read the newspaper version of this review at: The Luton News

As the hit ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ by Lorde from the soundtrack says “This is the start, of how it all ends…” and it’s fitting because Mockingjay Part 1 is exactly that, the first part of the conclusion to the massively popular teen friendly near future dystopia-em-up…

Picking up immediately after The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, we join the plucky heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who in the aftermath of the 75th Games has been whisked away to District 13 by the anti Capitol rebels led by Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and President Coin (Julianne Moore).

"The Mockingjay"

But rebellion doesn't come easy, especially as Katniss’ childhood friend Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) was left behind, captured and is being used by evil Capitol President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to spread moral sapping propaganda messages.

What’s a girl to do? Well Katniss takes on being the rebels’ symbol of resistance – the Mockingjay – and inspire those sworn to take down the corrupt Capitol regime in planning just how they might fight for freedom for all the Districts.

As the Capitol begin to up the ante by blanket bombing District 13, the rebels strike back by knocking out one of the main hydro-electricity dams which disrupts power to their anti air defences and allows for a potential daring mission led by Katniss’ romantic interest Gale (Liam Hemsworth). As Katniss says: “I have a message for President Snow: If we burn, you burn with us!”

"Don't say 'Stormtroopers'"

So Mockingjay moves the action beyond the original Hunger Games, and replaces the life & death arena struggles with grittier bigger picture all out civil war. Having not read the books I was pleasantly surprised because I wasn’t looking forward to any more ‘games’ and was wondering where author Suzanne Collins’ was going to take the action.

With kick ass special effects, several nail-biting set pieces and an overall ramp up of tension, Mockingjay delivers not just an interesting political element but also a rousing human spirit adventure which is well worth checking out for fans of the books and sci-fi movie lovers too.

As this is only ‘Part 1’ the end of Mockingjay is left hanging meaning that viewers will have to come back and find out how it all ends.

"boo hiss"

And to pass the time it is well worth checking the soundtrack album which as well as Lorde has new tracks by Chvrches and Chemical Brothers.

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


(3.5 - Holding pattern till pt 2)

Awesomeness ööö – The rescue mission is the stand out scene

Laughs öö – not much

Horror öö – Capitol aren't friendly

Babes ööö – Lawrence wears good armour

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - values or propaganda?

Recommended Hashtags: #FireIsBrightInDarkness

"worth checking!"

"Mockingjay premier"

Darkmatters Review: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game (12a)

Dir. Morten Tyldum

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

Welcome to a powerful biopic of code breaking maths genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) – an incredible unsung war hero whose single-minded dedication to breaking the German Enigma code was a defining element of the Allied victory in World War 2.

"Boffins might just save us all!"

The Imitation Game dramatizes the ground-breaking work of Turing and his team which includes Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) at Bletchley Park. The plot is fleshed out with flashbacks to his awkward formative school days at Sherborn – young Turning played by Jack Bannon and his tragic final years after the war where he was the focus of a Police investigation.

Cumberbatch is absolutely superb in the lead role, and he is ably backed up Keira Knightley who plays Joan Clarke – Turing’s one time fiancé who also worked at Bletchley. There is a delicious warm chemistry between the two equally awkward logic lovers, which encompasses Turing’s sexuality and the issues that brings to his life. Also on hand are MI6 Major Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) and Commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance) who play good cop / bad cop in regard to Turing’s expensive plans to build a machine that just might crack the Nazi code.

"Failure will lead to doom"

It’s not easy being a cryptanalyst though and Cumberbatch (who really should be getting an Oscar nod for his work here) captures the alienation of his existence in a believable and moving way. Credit must go to Director Morten Tyldum too though who keeps passages that could have been stilted - such as when the team wait for any sign that Turing’s machine might actually work - into a nail-biting race against time. Adding footage of Nazi bombing runs and battle progress across Europe helps highlight the urgency and human cost of the code-cracking mission and brings the achievement made into sharp focus.

I took my dear old mum to see this and she was impressed – this is a film that works across generations and is much better than the similarly themed Enigma from 2001.
The Imitation Game cracks along at a pleasing pace and delivers a quality tribute to Turing whose incredible legacy is one that has benefited the whole world.

"Stiff upper lips ahoy"

Go and check it out, history like this is worth investigating.

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


(4 - Worthy wartime thriller, that thrills!)

Awesomeness ööö – make code cracking, cracking at points

Laughs öö – limited mirth

Horror öö – Nazis are not nice

Babes ööö – Keira!

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Bravery beyond personal cost!

Recommended Hashtags: #TuringFTW

"saviour material"

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Darkmatters Review: Interstellar

Interstellar (12a)

Dir. Christopher Nolan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.”

In the near future, things are going to get a bit grim for us humans on planet earth… We face an apocalypse of starvation thanks to the combined threats of crop blight and massive dust storms, which are robbing us of renewable agriculture and a viable future.

"day tripping"

Our last chance is to reach to the stars – to find a new planet that can support life and then somehow get us there – it’s a big ask. But step forward widower Cooper (Matthew ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ McConaughey) NASA test pilot and engineer turned farmer who is trying to make a living with his small family.

Cooper lives with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow), son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and young daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) —who he calls "Murph." There is also the possibility that their farmhouse is haunted by a ‘ghost’, which seems to be trying to communicate them somehow through gravitational pull.

Don’t worry too much about the plot though; Director Christopher ‘Inception’ Nolan and his brother Jonathan who co-writes here go large on the sci-fi mind bending metaphysics. Sure there’s Gravity-alike space peril and a pulse pounding race against time but Interstellar goes above (literally) and beyond in all directions.

"He's behind you"

In fact Nolan boldly goes where filmmakers like Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick and James Cameron have gone before, bringing his own genius to the final frontier. Aided and abetted by having a ‘stellar’ cast which includes not just great work by McConaughey but also Matt Damon, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine.

The human elements are core to the story but the real ‘stars’ of the show are the stars themselves, well, stars, planets, space vistas and black hole event horizons. The visuals conjured up here are some of the most impressive ever to hit the big screen – and should be seen at the largest (IMAX if possible) cinema you can find.

Oh and it wouldn’t be right not to mention my favourite character – TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) - a marine robot who packs lots of handy functions and a gleefully sarcastic humour setting. It is TARS that comes out with lots of the film’s best lines and many references to other sci-fi films including 2001’s HAL 9000.

"great view"

Interstellar really deserves repeated viewings, remember, mankind's next step will be our greatest.

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


(5 - In space no-one can hear your jaw drop!)

Awesomeness ööööö – incredible sci-fi epic-ness

Laughs öööö – TARS is a stand up comic genius

Horror öö – mind stretching but not too grim

Babes ööö – Anne Hathaway looks good even with helmet hair

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - are we alone?

Recommended Hashtags: #ItsFullOfStars

"Space Cadet Anne Hathaway"

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Darkmatters Review: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler (15)

Dir. Dan Gilroy

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Read the Luton News version of this review: The Luton News

“My motto is, 'if you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket.'"

Hello there, I’m Nightcrawler, Lou (Jake Gyllenhaal) – no not the blue skinned teleporting X-man – but a freelance crime journalist. I’m the guy who gets to crime scenes and films as soon as possible after getting tipped off by my police scanner. If I can tape the gory details with my camcorder there’s a good chance I can sell them on to a TV news station.

"messy work"

Yes my methods are frowned upon by many people – I mean if you’re dying from a car crash or mugging attack, I'm sure the last thing you’ll want to see is my standing over you filming your final moments but everyone loves inside scoops on crimes and accidents don’t they?

At the moment I'm in a bit of a pickle, I hit the mother lode when I got to a home invasion-murder scene before the police. I even managed to capture footage of killers leaving the scene… so my life could be in danger but then again, I possibly might just be a hero here and bag the best ever ‘live crime footage’ into the bargain!?

Nightcrawler is the stunning debut film by Director Dan Gilroy and he has created an impressive pulse pounding terror ride that feels like a cross between American Psycho, Drive and Broadcast News. Gyllenhaal is just incredible in the lead role, a walking overdose of unhinged energy, manic determination and charismatic vigour.

"Psycho face"

Watching Lou get ever closer to the very crimes he is recording is truly unnerving and when the line between observer and participant begins to be crossed, all bets are off.

The rest of the cast that include Bill Paxton as a rival crime journalist, Riz Ahmed as Lou’s long suffering employee and Rene Russo as the TV broadcaster who buys Lou’s footage are all on top form too.

Nothing can adequately prepare you for the dark heart that throbs throughout this film. Not for the faint of heart, there are disturbing scenes and violence and adult themes throughout but if looking for a powerful thriller that will blow you away, there isn’t anything else out there like this.

"tools of the trade"

I can honestly say that the climactic 20 minutes of Nightcrawler are potentially the tensest I’ve experienced, I left the cinema with sweaty palms and a grin on my face.

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


(5 - The City Shines Brightest at Night)

Awesomeness ööööö – scary and compulsive, must see thrills

Laughs öööö – deranged dark humour

Horror öööö – nasty and gory in places

Babes ööö – Russo is still hot

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - the human soul can be a place of darkness

Recommended Hashtags: #NightcrawlerDarker

Russo in her 'iconic' days