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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (12a)

Dir. Christopher McQuarrie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Let me guess. Presumed dead?”
“… tonight, I just made it official!”

If the thrilling Mission Impossible films have shown us anything, it’s that Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is a veritable trouble magnet. From being set up and hunted in the first film, to having to fight terrorists packing bio weaponry in part 2, a weapon dealing mastermind in part 3 and more terrorists, this time with nuclear launch codes in Ghost Protocol.

"riding his luck"

Well, the bad news for Hunt and his IMF (Impossible Missions Force) pals is that the day very much needs saving again as new baddie Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) has created a ‘Rogue Nation’ which calls itself The Syndicate.

The Syndicate might be bad news for the world but it’s great news for cinema action lovers as Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation blasts straight in to a turbo charged adventure that crackles with exciting, jaw dropping set pieces. The stand out scenes for me included seeing Cruise at 53 clinging to the outside of plane as it takes off and an incredible car / motorbike chase / battle. Everything is slickly produced and beautifully shot too.

"girl power, but can you trust her?"

Cruise is still incredible in the lead role, delivering audacious fight scenes, high speed chases, death defying stunts and more than a little cool agent swagger. The IMF core team of Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner all give good support and each get a few moments to shine.

Female empowerment comes in the shapely form of Rebecca Ferguson who plays Ilsa Faust – a syndicate agent who just might hold the key to helping Hunt.
There are some excellent cameos too such as a fun turn as the British Prime Minister by Tom Hollander and a return to the spy games for Alec Baldwin.

"you'll believe BMWs can fly"

Rogue Nation feels right at home as a wining continuation of the Mission Impossible franchise and stands as both an over-the-top summer blockbuster action overload and a great piece of entertainment.

The iconic Mission Impossible theme is effectively used throughout (much like the Bond music in the Brit super spy films) and there is refreshingly limited use of CGI special effects – in a summer where we’ve had an overdose of fake effects in Terminator Genisys etc.

Director Christopher ‘Jack Reacher’ McQuarrie has got form of effectively working with Cruise and here he sets you a mission you should definitely accept.

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


(4 - another strong Mission for Cruise)

Awesomeness öööö – incredible action scenes

Laughs ööö – some real fun

Horror öö –  not overly grim violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - self belief is powerful

Caution: BMW placement overload, in what must be the most far-fetched element of any of the Mission Impossible films to date - bear with me as I know you will find this hard to believe -  but there are multiple scenes of BMWs being driven where the driver ISN'T either drug dealer or a total w&º¶er... come on Hollywood, you can only push things so far... :)

Darkmatters review of: Mission Impossible III

"don't mess with Faust"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Darkmatters Interview: Michael Carey - author of 'The Girl With All The Gifts'

Matt Adcock meets Michael Carey

original concept poster

The Girl With All The Gifts (formerly known as 'She Who Brings Gifts') is the Darkmatters tip as one of the films of 2016 you will need to see...

This is for two reasons:

Firstly, it's based on the excellent novel by M. R. Carey (@michaelcarey191) 'The Girl With All The Gifts'

Secondly, Darkmatters Editor Matt Adcock (@Cleric20) is in the film as one of the 'Hungries'

"Matt Adcock with Michael Carey on set of The Girl With All The Gifts"

MA: What was the initial inspiration for The Girl With All The Gifts?

MRC: Both the novel and the movie grew out of a short story, Iphigenia in Aulis.

I’d been invited to contribute to an anthology of dark fantasy and horror edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner. It was the latest in an annual series of themed anthologies. Every year they would come up with a very innocent, seemingly harmless topic and ask authors to produce a dark riff on it. Previous books had centred on home improvements and family holidays. In this instance the theme was school days.

But having said I’d write a piece for the book, I couldn’t come up with any good ideas. The deadline was getting closer and all I had in my head were bad Harry Potter rip-offs.

Then I woke up one morning with the idea of Melanie in my mind. There was no story, to start with – there was just the image of this little girl sitting in a classroom, writing an essay about what she was going to do when she grew up. Only she was never going to grow up because she was already dead and didn’t know it.

Everything flowed very smoothly from that first image. I wrote the short story in the space of four days, and sent it in. Charlaine and Toni were very happy with it. It was nominated for an Edgar Allen Poe award and for the Derringer short fiction prize. I sat back for a while and basked in the glory.

But I kept going back to the story in my mind. I knew there was more to Melanie than that, and more to her world than that. So I pitched it both to Little Brown as a novel and to Golden Arrow as a movie. And to my amazement they both said yes!

"Fantastic novel - read the Darkmatters Review"

MA: Where did the idea to set Hotel Echo at Henlow come from? And use the Hitchin area?

MRC: All the settings in the book are places where I’ve lived or worked. Camille Gatin, the producer on the movie, was highly amused when she found this out. She called me up one day and said “You basically set the zombie apocalypse in your back yard…”

And it does sound a little weird when you put it like that. But it was a habit I got into back when I was writing the Felix Castor novels. I had an idea, on the basis of no evidence at all, that if you’re writing speculative fiction – sci-fi or fantasy or horror – it’s crucial to get the real world stuff right as far as you can. Then when the fantastic elements come in the audience are more likely to accept them.

Having said that, I was chewed out at an event in Waterstones Piccadilly one time by a Stevenage resident who felt I’d got the geography of that town profoundly wrong. You can’t please all the people…

"shot from The Girl With All The Gifts"

MA: How do you feel about the name change for the film version?

MRC: I follow the logic. There have been a LOT of movies in the past few years that use the word girl very prominently in their titles. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels lead the pack, but we’ve also had girls leaping through time, girls on trains, gone girls and so on. The aim was to distance ourselves from existing properties and franchises.

I do love the alliteration of the book’s title, though – and the fact that it keeps up a certain ambiguity about those gifts. Are they qualities that Melanie possesses, or presents she’s offering to us? There’s a subtle difference there that might inform how you respond to the ending of the story.

"Gemma Arterton as Helen Justineau"

What are your thoughts on the casting of the main characters?

MRC: I’m in ecstasy! I guess if you went through the entire roster of actors living and dead you might be able to come up with a stronger cast, but you’d really have to work at it.

I had the privilege of watching a lot of the filming, and it’s hard to describe the pleasure of watching your dialogue spoken by such gifted people. The chemistry between the five core characters was perfect, and enthralling. There was no relationship that didn’t work, that didn’t convince.

Glenn Close as Caroline Caldwell is detached and chilling when she deals with the children on the base but also passionate, intelligent, convinced of the urgent necessity of what she’s doing. So convinced that she almost convinces us. Paddy Considine is a care-worn Sergeant Parks who genuinely looks out for the soldiers he commands, and whose changing feelings about Melanie are mesmeric to watch. Gemma Arterton as Helen Justineau is an inch away from breaking right from the start of the story, but always finds the strength within herself to keep faith with the little girl who depends on her. Fisayo Akinade as Gallagher is well-meaning, brave, and heart-breakingly gentle underneath his veneer of stolid manliness. And Sennia as Melanie manages to combine innocence and ruthless determination in a way that’s utterly plausible.

So yeah, I’m happy!

MA: Any plans for another book in the 'Girl WATG' universe?

MRC: Conversations have been had. Are being had. There’s certainly room for another novel in there, although I doubt very much that it would be a sequel. The ending of the original novel – and of the movie – changes the situation so drastically that a sequel wouldn’t even be in the same genre.

But I’m curious about things like how the Breakdown occurred, and what (apart from the obvious) happened to the crew of the Rosalind Franklin…

MA: Will there be a graphic novel / comic adaptation?

Again, I’ve talked about it. I would love to see what an artist like Mike Perkins (who did the adaptation of The Stand for Marvel comics) would make of a graphic version of Girl. But we’re not likely to make any decisions about that until the movie comes out. One adaptation at a time!

MA: What are your favourite zombie / horror films or TV shows?

MRC: I’m a big fan of the George Romero movies, especially Land Of the Dead, where the anti-capitalist satire of some of the earlier movies was ramped up to a theoretical maximum. How do you suppose he pitched that? “This is a movie about the real estate business after the zombie apocalypse…”

I also loved Zombieland (Darkmatters Review) and Warm Bodies  (Darkmatters Review) – both really original and entertaining hijackings of the genre tropes.

And Sarah Pinborough’s novel The Death House, which came out this year, was amazing. Very, very affecting.

"Matt 'Hungry' Adcock"

MA: Thanks so much for your time - anything else you'd like to add?

MRC: My next novel, FELLSIDE, is coming out in April 2016. It’s a ghost story set in a women’s prison.

Also coming up next year are two comic book projects: Rowans Ruin, for BOOM Studios, and Highest House, for Editions Glenat. That last one is going to come out in French first, but an English language edition will be available later in the year.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Southpaw

Southpaw (15)

Dir. Antoine Fuqua

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (follow me: @Cleric20)

“Billy Hope knows how to take a punch, but he also drops bombs.”

Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you the heavyweight cinematic prize-fight of the year! From the mind of Kurt ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Sutter and directed by Antoine ‘Training Day’ Fuqua – please put your hands together for the incredibly beefed up Jake ‘Nightcrawler’ Gyllenhaal who stars as Billy Hope, also known as “Southpaw”!!

"carnage embodied"

Aiming to take the undisputed boxing film title from the likes of The Fighter, Raging Bull and um Rocky, Southpaw follows the gut wrenching story of Hope – a champion prize fighter who hits rock bottom, sacrificing everything to his quest to be the best. Fuqua’s film goes full drama-em-up detailing how he must somehow find redemption and maybe a way to rebuild his life as well as his fighting career.

It sure is a long and emotionally draining journey that deals not just with the boxing training and fights but with the associated fallout of anger, damaging parenthood, wrecked relationships and ultimately a father's love for his child. Dismissed by some for its fairly predictable ‘featherweight’ plot, it is the cast who excel and make Southpaw something really worth checking. Gyllenhaal in the lead and Forest Whitaker as his trainer Tick Wills are excellent, Hope’s wife Maureen is given real heart by Rachel McAdams and his daughter Leila is a played by potential star in the making Oona Laurence. It all comes together well and delivers a slick upper cut of emotional cinematic entertainment.
"marriage made in heaven"

Even if you’re not a boxing fan, I’d say Southpaw is worth seeing due to the incredible cinematography alone. Everything is shot with a great eye for detail and the real life elements are just as watchable even if not as adrenalin pumping as the fights which come alive through the use of some clever first person viewpoints, really puttin you in the ring. This technique would make a superb PlayStation 4 game.


Sure the rags-to-redemption plot has been well served in many guises before, but Gyllenhaal really nails it as a vessel of aggressive, nitrous fuel righteous revenge. Backed up by the quality production values and solid casting which even generates a weirdly likeable roguish role for Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.

Southpaw is a triumph and can take its place amongst the great boxing films with honour.

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


(4 - not a 'paw' effort - this is a contender…)

Awesomeness öööö – some unforgettable fight action scenes

Laughs öö – not very much fun

Horror ööö –  bloody violence obligatory!

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - fight for your family...

"star making turn from young Oona Laurence"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Darkmatters Review: The Scopia Effect

The Scopia Effect (15)

Dir. Christopher Butler (@christopher_21s)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Death Should Be A Once in a Life Time Experience”

Meet Basia (Joanna Ignaczewska) a young woman suffering from mental health issues including depression. She tries hypnosis / regression therapy with Dr Edward Stanton (Louis Labovitch), but gets much more than she bargained for when her brain accesses a series of past lives. This is the fun sci-fi premise of Christopher Butler’s The Scopia Effect (which itself means ‘Phenomena that cannot be explained by conventional science’).

"not friendly"

The plot certainly takes a bit of concentration to ‘get’ as Basia’s memories and past lives start to infect the present – bringing some horrific visions and possibly genuine threat. Before long you’ll be with Basia in wondering just what is real and what isn’t…

There is a real sense of déjà vu in The Scopia Effect even though it’s an original story – if you’ve seen Shane Carruth‘s Upstream Colour, Nacho Vigalondo’s Time Crimes or Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England, you’ll be having flashbacks of your own. Butler battles valiantly to try and combine the seemingly discordant past lives – at times it works well and delivers some extremely unsettling imagery such as a sequence where Basia finds herself morphed through the walls of her apartment – with bits of her impossibly sticking through into adjoining areas!? It’s a scene that will embed itself in your head.

"the extremely watchable Ignaczewska"

It might not work on all levels overall and some viewers will almost certainly struggle to make it to the end but the dreamy horror and graphically violent elements combine with some truly eye-popping cinematography – and are anchored by the extremely watchable Ignaczewska’s central performance.

At the centre of the film is the question of Basia’s sanity – is she actually going mad or is she being haunted by more than just hallucinatory reincarnations of evil personas from a multitude of times gone by?

I can imagine repeated watchings might help unlock the mystery but I recommend that course of action only for those with a strong nerve.

"yes - Samurai's included!"

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


(3 - interesting sci-fi horror with a side order of madness)

"dreamy cinematics"

Friday, July 17, 2015

Darkmatters Review: ANT-MAN

Ant-Man (12a)

Dir. Peyton Reed (@MrPeytonReed)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

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

“Be the hero she already thinks you are…”

Following in the wake of big screen thrills of Avengers: Age of Ultron comes Marvel’s smallest superhero ‘Ant-Man’ but I’m delighted to report that he makes a just as huge a cinematic impact as Iron Man et al… Whilst the comic book law has been monkeyed with to have the original Ant-Man Hank Pym (played to perfection by Michael Douglas here) fit into the reworked Avenger friendly Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Ant-Man as a stand alone film feels fresh and brings a winning balance of action and comedy.

"new best friend"

So we have the really likeable and very funny Paul Rudd stepping up as Scott Lang / the new Ant-Man and he totally nails the lead role. Thanks to Rudd and some sublime writing (the credits for which include Edgar ‘Hot Fuzz’ Wright), Ant-Man is definitely the funniest Marvel film to date but it doesn’t let the humour dilute the threat, peril or epic action for a moment.

The plot sees master thief Lang trying to go straight and get reacquainted with his estranged daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) and wife Maggie (Judy ‘Jurassic World’ Greer) after doing a stint in incarnation. But scientist Hank Pym wants Lang to take on the mantel of his Ant-Man suit and try to prevent power crazed Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) developing his atom shrinking tech for military purposes.

"Thomas the Tank Engine crashes the party"

Yes it’s another superhero origins tale but Ant-Man stands out because it exists in a cinematic universe where his first suggestion can be to “call the Avengers”, and there’s a superb cameo by one of the world saving group. Also along for this wild ride are some fun crooked pals who get roped into the mission, bringing some ethnic diversity and slapstick humour. And love interest duties go to Evangeline Lilly who we might even see again in future Marvel films.

Baddie ‘Yellow Jacket’ is a quality foil for the Lang and his ants (who are incredible animated wonders to behold in action). The size jumping dynamic is really effective too with real world toys, household objects and the odd military vehicle all getting stand out moments thanks to the jaw dropping cinematic skills of the makers.

"punch like a girl (it's more effective)"

Ant-Man is an excellent movie that delivers on all counts. It even boasts one of the biggest teases for the next year’s Captain America: Civil War so be sure to stay and see both end credit scenes.

Small hero, massive fun!

Darkmatters FAV SCENE (don't read if you don't want to know):

There's an 'in briefcase' smackdown between the tiny hero and his equally miniature adversary - a huge iPhone is being crashed around along with the fighters and the other contents of the case - as it is falling from a helicopter... Ant-Man accidentally triggers the phone's SIRI command just as Yellow Jacket shouts "I will disintegrate you" - "playing Disintegration by The Cure" says SIRI and launches the wonderful Cure track 'Plainsong' which then booms out as the soundtrack to their fight. 

- I'm still grinning just remembering it!

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


(4.5 - 'Marvel'ous super entertainment…)

Awesomeness ööööö – some incredible action scenes

Laughs öööö – really funny too

Horror öö –  some comic book violence and adult themes

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - it's not the size that matters...

"He's got some cool friends"

"unofficial Avengers tie-in"

Friday, July 10, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Ted 2

Ted 2 (15)

Dir. Seth MacFarlane

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Oh, wait-wait-wait. I'm gonna take a picture and post it on Facebook.”

This is the heart-warming tale of a bear, a bear in need of human company, of friendship and yes love. It’s a gentle comedy about how the little bear gets into mischief – often with hilarious consequences… Oh wait, this isn’t Paddington, so scratch all that.


This is actually an offensive foul-mouthed comedy sequel from the makers of Family Guy which sees Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane who also directs), the furry teddy bear which was magically brought to life, caught up in a legal battle to try and prove that he’s a person.

It’s a weak plot that is basically just an excuse for a torrent of crude, infantile and sweary funny business as Ted and his best pal John (Mark Wahlberg), employ young inexperienced lawyer Samantha L Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) to fight his case.

"Ted finds John's internet history"

The reason behind Ted’s odyssey to prove his citizenship is that his marriage to the very human Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) is on the rocks and they couple decide that adopting a baby might save their unusual relationship. Adoption being the only route for the couple due to a. Ted not having the necessary anatomical man parts and b. Tami-Lynn’s ovaries being non functioning due to her excessive drug use…

Ah drug use. Ted 2 is a veritable ode to smoking weed, almost all the characters partake, often and graphically, it feels like there’s bong action in 90% of the scenes – so if you’re not looking for a stoner fantasy you might want to move along.

"marital probs" 

Ted himself is still the star of the show though and has been brought to life once again using some CGI genius which is up there with his more family friendly movie bear brethren Paddington.

Joke wise it’s MacFarlane’s usual shtick of ‘throw lots of potential funnies at the screen and hope that at least some of them work’ and alas this time round less of them do. But having said that there are some AAA cameos that boost the fun factor such as Liam Neeson in his ‘Taken’ persona and Morgan Freeman as a bigwig civil rights lawyer. Original Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) makes a return appearance too.

"Teddy love?"

As per the original, Ted is a furry subversive blast of very bad taste humour whose appeal may be restricTED to those with broad minds – but if you’re a fan then the chance to hang out with Ted again shouldn’t be sniffed at.

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


(3 - Ted has come again…)

Awesomeness ööö – couple of cool set pieces

Laughs öööö – very funny in places

Horror ööö –  not violent but bit icky

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö - dude what's 'en'lightenment?

"say cheesy rudeness"

Recommended Hashtags: #BadTeddy

Read the Darkmatters review of the original TED: click here

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys (12a)

Dir. Alan Taylor

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I'm not a man, not a machine... I'm more!”

In the future, sentient machines will attempt to wipe out all humans. Mankind however rallies around a brilliant leader named John Connor (Jason Clarke) and get to the point of destroying the machine control system called Skynet, thus ending the war. But the sneaky machines send a terminator back in time to kill John's mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), before she can have John, thus pre-emptively taking the win for the machines before the fighting even begins. Stop me if this sounds at all familiar…

Terminator Genisys attempts a hard reboot of the franchise, which really hasn’t been great since Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Director Alan ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Taylor uses some novel ideas in order to try and breathe new life into the decaying exoskeleton of the Terminator films and initially it pays off.

"best action scene..."

First up Genisys reuses not just the characters but also the actual locations, lines, scenes and pretty much everything cool about the first two Terminator films and for about 20 minutes it works! Fans will get a sweet nostalgic buzz seeing Arnie retracing his steps – only to be met with a few surprise twists, but after this promising start Genisys manages to go spectacularly wrong.

The plot disappears into mumbo jumbo, the actors – especially Jai Courtney who plays the new Kyle Reese, the brave freedom fighter sent back to protect Sarah Connor, seem to be intent on showing us just how much better the originals were in the same roles. Then the action kicks into CGI meltdown leaving viewers in a state of ‘meh’ as their eyeballs are assaulted with limited thrill scenes of 12a friendly moderate violence.

"how much did they pay you for this Arnie?"

Alas Terminator Genisys feels like a huge waste of time and effort by all concerned – it’s a shame because I’m a big fan of the Terminator concept and it pains me to see even the stoic Arnie struggling to recapture the coolness of his most iconic role.

So apart from the opening reworking of the original, is there anything of merit here? Well the special effects are top notch in places, and the machines in the future world where they have taken control look great – but these scenes are few and far between.

"not looking very bad ass"

It really doesn’t help that anyone who has seen the trailer will already know the big ‘surprise’ plot twist. And whilst the direction isn’t terrible, the writers of this ill thought through nonsense need to be terminated ASAP.

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


(2 - Hasta La Vista Terminator…)

Awesomeness ööö – moments of joyous nostalgic joy at the start

Laughs öö – tries too hard to be funny but fails

Horror öö –  moderate violence only

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - don't sully original greatness

Recommended Hashtags: #AnUnexpectedErrorOccurred

"the death of a franchise?"