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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Cinderella

Cinderella (U)

Dir. Kenneth Branagh

Reviewed by Gail Adcock (@nonblondie37)

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

'Sssh! Let's keep this to ourselves, but this review has quite literally been hijacked! No swashbuckling, shoot-em-up or super hero antics this week. Instead sisters are doin' it for themselves and bringing the girl power by viewing, well, the er, totally brand new retelling of 'Cinderella' actually...

Lily James stars as Ella (who's later cruelly nicknamed Cinder-Ella by her step sister as she cleans the fire) in a classic adaptation of the fairy tale that nods to its Disney animated predecessor. As her Fairy Godmother, Helena Bonham Carter, lavishes magical dust to enable an outing to the ball she flourishes her wand with a "Bippiti-boppity-boo", Cinders dazzling ballgown, the bluebirds and friendly mice are all borrowed from the 1950s classic.

"A bride finding ball..."

Branagh's fairytale world is lavish, set in lush green lands, which the camera swoops over bringing the epic story to life, costumes are opulent and attention to detail exquisite. Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchette) is a force to be reckoned with, not only for her cruel, bullying actions but also her sharp, coutured 1940s inspired silhouette. Her style and presence steal every scene she's in but her wickedness isn't a patch on Margaret Lockwood's stepmother in 'The Slipper and the Rose', arguably the best version of 'Cinderella' to ever grace the screen.

The cast succeed in walking a fine line between inhabiting their well known characters whilst not caricaturing their roles, there are solid performances from Derek Jacobi, Sophie McShera, Richard Madden and Stellan Skarsgard (despite the abundance of radiant white actor teeth that glisten to distraction from beginning to end!)

"fancy footwear!?"

The story told here seeks to 'fill out' characters, providing added details to create more 3-dimensional human beings with motives and emotions. The emphasis on presenting Ella's early life and loss of her parents brings a sadness that the fairy tale merely alludes to but forms the basis of her desire to faithfully follow their example in living a lowly life. There are subtle undercurrents of the complexity of relationships and family life here, ambitious for a retelling of such a well known tale.

For all its splendour and opulence, though, the film ultimately lacks real substance. Lily James' Cinderella lives by the ethos passed on by her mother in her final moments to 'have courage and be kind', which she does selflessly throughout. Yet for the young girls I watched with she needed more feistiness and wit to earn any right to be a contemporary role model for them. Perhaps that's the biggest challenge the story faces - to bring this character and much loved tale to the screen relevantly for a 21st century audience?'

"horsing around"

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


(3 - 
Bippiti-boppity-not-bad )

Awesomeness ööö – almost awesome in places

Laughs öö – some fun

Horror ö – nothing grim

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Whose your fairly Godmother?

Recommended Hashtags: #MidnightIsJustTheBeginning

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Off the Reservation: Stories I Almost Took to the Grave and Probably Should Have

Off the Reservation: Stories I Almost Took to the Grave and Probably Should Have

By Michael Rossi

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“This story is meant to entertain, not teach.”

There are many many books I want to read, I love reading, always have and my ‘to read’ list trails off into the middle distance like Star Wars opening text crawl. So it is very rare that a book gets to jump the queue, especially memoirs as I’m much more of a fiction kind of guy.

But thanks to the connectedness of twitter I came across Michael Rossi’s superbly titled ‘Off the Reservation: Stories I Almost Took to the Grave and Probably Should Have’.

I didn’t know anything about this Rossi guy but after just a couple of taster pages I knew two things:

1. I was going to read this book straight away
2. This memoir was darker yet more funny than many fictional novels I’ve read

In many ways it is better to go into Off the Reservation not knowing too much about the plot. Be prepared though for a wild ride which encompasses abuse, addiction, depravity and manic behaviour. This is the tale of a life lived far beyond the safety nets that hold most of us. You’ll laugh, wince and possibly doubt the narrative due to there being so many sheer ‘whoa, no way!’ moments – but Rossi’s is a life that you’ll feel enriched by for having read.

Brutally frank in his confessional manner, the narration of such a reckless existence shines a light on the challenges of being a bipolar alcoholic with serious personality issues. This book tries not to glorify the drinking, drug taking and debauchery but doesn’t shy away from detailing the reasoning as to why these vices have the pull that they do. There are a wealth of escapades here that would render any cinematic treatment of this tale (and I dearly hope that it is being planned) in to adult only viewing experience.

There are truly unforgettable events recorded in these pages, there’s not a man alive who won’t feel physically ill after reading the ‘girlfriend in the pocket’ incident and anyone of a romantic disposition will be sobbing at the heartbreak peppered throughout.

The most engaging element of ‘Off the Reservation’ is how hugely charismatic Rossi is – despite his many flaws and problems, I couldn’t help but find myself wanting to potentially share a beer and some time with such a character.

The flip side of his heavy partying lifestyle is writ large with the desperation, self-loathing and terrifying failed suicide attempts that expose an unapologetic insight into mental health problems albeit through a disturbingly darkly comic account.

As a believer I was interested in Rossi's relationship with God and religion too - I love his line: "I will always be a fan of Jesus Christ; he was the first, best anti-establishment radical in history."

Off the Reservation is a ‘must read’ – a book that will make you want to live a better life. I’m planning to buy copies for friends near and far and I recommend you do the same (after treating yourself of course).

Rossi is like an American Martin Amis - can't wait to see what he does next!

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


(5 - An epic, highly comic, true life, mental health thrill ride)...

GET YOUR COPY OF 'Off the Reservation' HERE

"In my mind's eye Michael Rossi looks like Alec Baldwin in the '90s classic Miami Blues"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Darkmatters Review: The Divergent Series: Insurgent

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

Dir. Robert Schwentke

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (agree or feedback: @Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review at: The Leighton Buzzard Observer

“Dark times call for extreme measures.”

Near future: a girl named Tris (Shailene ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ Woodley) is on a mission to stand against the corrupt draconian Government lead by the evil Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Tris can do this because she’s a ‘Divergent’, a person who exhibits powers from across the spectrum of Factions – the groups that people are divided into from which to service society.

"Meet the gang"

So the youth friendly sci-fi dystopian novel series is back for a second big screen installment. ‘Insurgent’ sees the action pick up directly following the events of Divergent – with Tris and her hunky boyfriend Four (Theo James), having begun to take the fight back against the Erudite oppressors.

Jeanine’s army are busy hunting down divergents, and searching for a strange totem box that might carry an important message from the founders of their society. Cue lots of running and negotiating between the heroic teens and the various people who might be able to help them to survive.

The Divergent Series is a strange cinematic beast, as it feels a bit ‘me too’ in the shadow of The Hunger Games – but it delivers an interesting ‘what if?’ take on a broken society without ever really commanding much real emotion from the viewers.

"Winslet and her box"

It all looks good – as you’d expect from a film with a decent budget – but the direction from Robert Schwentke is more from his awful R.I.P.D. than his fun RED and it will take something quite miraculous from the final double bill of movies ‘Allegiant – parts one and two’ to make this series go out with a bang.

Positives to be found here though are mostly from the female leads with Woodley making a gorgeous heroine and Winslet offering up a fun campy baddie. There are some cool action scenes peppered throughout – but even these could have done with a 15 rating to allow them more of a visceral punch. James is a decent potential action hero too – it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the Underworld series that is rumoured to be being rebooted.

"Where's Superman when you need him?"

Perhaps the "One choice can destroy you," strapline should have been taken to heart by the makers as their ‘safe’ choices see Insurgent never really ‘fire’ in the way that other series’ have, leaving the anticipation for the next episode lacking.

"Dress down Friday, bring a gun"

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


(3 - Defy everything, expect average entertainment )

Awesomeness ööö – a couple of times the film sparks to life

Laughs öö – minor comedy moments

Horror ö – nothing a 12 year old can't handle

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - limited

Recommended Hashtags: #PixieHairedHeroine

"classic foreign translation"

Read the Darkmatters review of DIVERGENT

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Run All Night

Run All Night (15)

Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra

Reviewed by Matt Adcock  (agree or feedback: @Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: Berkhamsted Gazette

“You know this has to end. And when it's done, and it will be done, then I'll let you die.”

It’s hard to review an action crime thriller starring Liam Neeson these days without comparing it to Taken (which reset the gold standard for them in 2008). Taken kick-started Neeson’s career as the ‘go to guy’ for a whole pulpy violent revenge subgenre. To date we have two tepid Taken sequels, the grim A Walk Among The Tombstones and Director Collet-Serra, who has found a groove in teaming up with Neeson and recycling the grumpy old action hero formula (he also directed Unknown and Non-Stop).

"nice parking son"

Now we have Run All Night which pits Neeson’s washed up hit man Jimmy Conlon against his former Crime Boss employer Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) and all his nefarious minions. You see after years of loyally bumping off people, Jimmy becomes the target himself after he kills Maguire’s nasty son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) to defend his own, Mike (Joel ‘Robo Cop’ Kinnaman).

Cue heavy duty chases, gunfights and macho banter dialogue through the space of one fraught night as the extremely world-weary Jimmy uses his special set of skills to wreak deadly force on all who come after his kin.

You could knock Collet-Serra for churning out many similar movies but he does have a gift for creating slick, watchable fare and Run All Night’s clichéd plotline is elevated by some clever David Fincher-alike camera swoop cinematography.

"unstoppable killers are us..."

The action bounces along with plenty of menacing moments – chief of which come from relentless bounty hunter Price (Rapper / Youth Counsellor turned actor ‘Common’) who simply will not quit until Jimmy and his son are dead.

There is a strong underlying theme of vengeance, justice and redemption embedded in Run All Night which seeks to explore the culpability of the ‘sins-of-the-father’ and some Christian rhetoric about sacrifice (Neeson knows a few things about this having been Aslan in the Narnia films). Here the viewers are party to Jimmy’s inner monologue reflecting on the burden of a lifetime of regrets and guilt about the lives he’s ‘taken’!?

"like father, like son?"

Ultimately this is a film that tips the hat to meaty theological subject matter but doesn’t in any way let that get in the way of by-the-book action shoot-em-up entertainment. In summation Run All Night feels a bit ‘run of the mill’ but it does deliver a couple of grittily viewer friendly hours.


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


(3 - Crime and punishment 'Taken' style )

Awesomeness ööö – some cool action / dialogue scenes

Laughs ö – not a comedy

Horror ööö – some crunchin violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - sacrifice

Recommended Hashtags: #MyDadShotYourDad

For a deeper look at the Christian themes of Run All Night - check Martin Saunders' review over at:
Christian Today

Friday, March 13, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Hit Team

Hit Team 

Dir. Mark Newton

Reviewed by Matt Adcock  (agree or feedback: @Cleric20)

“HHHhhmmm – you’re an intelligent cop there Mr…”

Here’s an indie comic crime trip about an incompetent ‘Hit Team’. Meet Max (Myles McLane) and Ruthie (Emerald Robinson), assassins on a mission in L.A. to take down six targets in one day. It’s a fun premise played fully balls-out OTT stupid…

"I'm going on top!"

OK so the acting is universally terrible, the script is pretty terrible and the production values flat out suck – but if you stick with it past the unconvincing and generally cringe-worthy first hour, something odd happens and you might actually find yourself digging this brain-dead romp. And there was me thinking that they’d somehow missed a letter ‘s’ off the title!?

So anyway, thanks to the miracle of streaming, low-rent movies like this can find an audience and Mark Newton’s "Hit Team" is at the vanguard of ultra crappy but weirdly watchable new-wave flicks.

If you want to be generous (and I kinda do, after all, McLane supplied viewing for Darkmatters) – there are certainly things in "Hit Team" you just don’t get to see in most mainstream movies. Hit man with a penchant for necrophilia? Check. Guy having a full clip of ammo emptied into his balls? Yep. Goofy comic lines about whores, a$$holes and an ill-advised tick for the Crimelord Boss (Douglas Macpherson) who sings opera-style responses to his team - delivered with terrible timing? Oh yes.

"necessary plot exposition"

Also on hand are doofus cop partners Akeem (Roger Payano) and Cynthia (Anita Leeman) plus eyecandy sidekick for the boss, ‘Sprinkles’ (the gorgeous Melanie Camp). Oh and various assorted victims.

There’s a fair amount of violence, a ton of sexual innuendo and an unseasonable curse to non-expletive ratio in the dialogue but if you’re up for a fast-paced smirk-em-up then there is a beating heart of creativity in the bowels of this movie somewhere (sorry about the unfortunate medical metaphor there)!

"good cop / incompetent cop"

Overall, if you want to calibrate your appreciation of big-budget films, every now and then you need to witness what a willing bunch of creatives can do with dreams that outstrip their resources.
"Hit Team" could one day be looked back at as a cult classic, it just might not be in our generation’s time…

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


(2.5 - putting the 'ass' into 'assassination' )

Awesomeness öö – there are scenes in this movie

Laughs ööö – you'll laugh in places if not throughout

Horror öö – some gunshot wounds n' stuff

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö - not a spiritual flick

In the US? Hit Team is available on YouTube Pay-Per-View at the link is below:


Sunday, March 08, 2015

Darkmatters Review: CHAPPiE

CHAPPiE (15)

Dir. Neil Blomkamp (District 9 & Elysium)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (agree or feedback: @Cleric20)

Read the Luton News version of this review: HERE

“He's the key to the revolution. A machine that can feel and think. He can outsmart the enemy and free us all.“

Meet Chappie (motion captured Shalto Copley) who, in the near future becomes a walking, talking ‘real’ Robocop. Chappie is a ‘Scout’ – a new breed of cyborg crime fighter that has been employed by the government in Johannesburg to patrol and violently enforce law keeping.

"Gangsta droid"

This new robot police force is provided by the slightly sinister tech corporation TetraVaal – run by no nonsense CEO Michelle Bradley (Sigouney Weaver). As well as the humanoid ‘Scouts’, TetraVaal has a more bulky heavy-duty weapons platform MOOSE (that looks uncannily like the ED209 from Robocop) created by deviant ex-army man Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman).

The robo police force have crime on the run but things take an ominous turn when one police Scout, who is given new programming by his designer Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), this makes him the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.


When this Scout is stolen he is taught to be a small time criminal by his adopted ‘parents’ Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones) and Yolandi (Yo-Landi Visser) – who make up real iife hip-hop group Die Antwod – “Chappie” as it comes to call himself becomes a perceived danger to society.

This engaging future ‘what if’ film is a fun mash up of movies like Robocop and Short Circuit – enthused with the trademark violence of District 9 director Neil Blomkamp. Chappie certainly looks the part. The special effects are superb, Chappie is an incredible feat of CGI, a robot that can express real emotion as well as kick serious ass.

"Future relationships"

The main human characters actually suffer in comparison to Chappie who steals every scene he’s in – that is high praise for a motion captured robot character (one who give the excellent Gollum from Lord of the Rings a run for his money).

Blomkamp is blessed with ‘more ideas than he knows quite what to do with’ which makes this a film that feels like it has enough material to go on for several more hours.

"You have 20 seconds to comply"

Chappie is an exciting mix of crime drama, A.I. dream and packs lots of laugh out loud moments along with some crunching violent action. This eclectic mix has flummoxed many reviewers with review scores ranging from very low to high.

Viewer feedback however seems to be positive, I was certainly impressed and am already looking forward to seeing Chappie again.

"ED 209 who?"

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


(4 - Humanity's last hope isn't human )

Awesomeness öööö – Chappie is action!?

Laughs ööö – good fun overall

Horror öööö – bit grissly in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Strength of soul

Recommended Hashtags: #FutureCopFun

"You be a bad robot?"

"Chappie calls her mommy"

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Darkmatters Review: It Follows

It Follows (15)

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review at: The Bedfordshire Times & Citizen

“Sometimes it can look like someone you love… I think it does that just to hurt you!?”

Meet lovely young 19-year-old Jay (Maika ‘The Guest’ Monroe), she’s scared for her life – and for good reason… Jay has been ‘marked’ after having sex with her new boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary) and so has attracted the attention of an unstoppable evil force. The killer entity tracks her day and night, taking on various human forms, always slowly walking towards her, wherever she is and the only way she can buy herself time is by ‘passing on’ the curse by sleeping with someone else.

"always look behind you!"

The genuinely scary ‘It Follows’ takes the time honoured horror movie plotline of sexual activity being the catalyst for dreaded retribution and creates a freaky new take on it that will get deep into your psyche and massively creep you out.

Director David Robert Mitchell creates an excellent, slow burning ‘voodoo’ feeling of unease as viewers are presented with the fallout of what happens when a group of teens find their lives destroyed by a force of unnatural evil. The question very much is ‘who will survive and what will be left of them!?’

"some dates don't go to plan"

The cinematography is deliberately low key – with muted colours and everyday locations but in a twisted way you just won’t be able to look away because every person in the shot just might be the ‘follower’. The audience are brought in on the action and allowed to see the evil creature – which is something in the plot that only those marked as targets can do. This makes every scene – some of which are incredibly disconcerting 360 degree pans - into diabolic versions of ‘Where’s Wally’ – you’ll find yourself checking everything human shaped in shot to see if it is the slow walking death bringer…

Jan’s traumatized group include her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), best friend Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and besotted childhood friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist) – all of whom give good support in their roles.

"nowhere is safe"

As the dread mounts, the climax sees the most unnerving swimming pool scene since Let The Right One In. So It Follows is a highly effective slice of horror that even references many of the ‘slasher’ flicks of the 70s / 80s – note the John Carpenter-alike synths on the soundtrack, which hark back to the heyday straight up horror films.

It Follows will likely leave you looking over your shoulder for some time afterwards.

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


(4.5 - Dread has a new form)

Awesomeness öööö – creeping shivery horrifying scenes

Laughs öö – limited fun

Horror öööö – suitably nasty in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - save sex for marriage!?

Recommended Hashtags: #AreYouBeingFollowed?

"fear stalks the streets"