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

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Darkmatters Review: The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven (12a)

Director Antoine Fuqua

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review over at: The Chronicle

“I seek righteousness. But I'll take revenge…”

Saddle up for some good ol rootin’ tootin’ slick gun-slinging action on the big screen as action director Antoine ‘Training Day’ Fuqua remakes the classic story of seven men willing to stand against impossible odds – as long as they get paid.

Original vs Newcomers

This modern vision may not have Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson or Yul Brynner but it does have guns, lots of guns and an explosions budget that would potentially win the war on terror.

So does The Magnificent Seven live up to its swaggering title? Well, kind of. If you’re a fan of the original put all thoughts of that aside as this new take is more like a western version of Suicide Squad –less back story and more action. I’m really not kidding about the action folks, pretty much the whole last hour of the film is a protracted gunfight which is both desperately exciting and wonderfully choreographed. If you’re averse to seeing people getting shot, stabbed, blown up or beaten then this really isn’t the film for you (and it’s quite violent for a 12 certificate).

saddle up heroes 

The plot sees the good ol town of Rose Creek under the dastardly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter ‘Black Mass’ Sarsgaard). The good ol townspeople who include the lovely Emma Cullen (Haley ‘The Girl On The Train’ Bennett) seek protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns. The good ol seven are led by Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), an honourable bounty hunter. Then there’s Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), a likeable gambler who enjoys blowing stuff up, Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), sharpshooter extraordinaire and expert tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio).

Also on the crew are Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a lethal assassin, token Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), a Comanche warrior. Yes, it’s a melting pot of races and creeds coming together as brothers for a single purpose – which made we wonder if on the frontier things were ever quite so good natured between such disparate folks.

mean looks

The build up to the violent showdown is handled well and even finds time to squeeze in some humour. Everyone goes about the gun-slinging business with gusto and damn Denzel Washington looks cool. The cinematography is decent and the action when it comes will delight those who enjoy a good big screen shootout.

So whilst not quite ‘magnificent’ this seven is certainly exciting and well worth a look!

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


(3.5 - Justice is more than a number)...

Awesomeness öööö – The firefight climax is suitably incredible

Laughs ööö – Some real funnies

Horror öö – Not too nasty but certainly violent in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Vengeance isn't righteousness

For a spiritual take on this version see; The Christian Today review

Friday, September 16, 2016

Darkmatters Review: The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts (15)

Dir. Colm McCarthy

Reviewed by Matt ‘Hungry’ Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review at: The Hemel Gazette

“The mission now is to try and stay off the menu…”

Meet Melanie, she’s a special girl. Bright, polite and caring, full of wide-eyed wonder at the world around her – oh – and she’s not actually human, even thought you couldn’t tell by looking at her…

feeling hungry...

Welcome to the near future, mankind has been infected by a fungal like Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis – which is bad new because it turns you into a ‘hungry’. A state where your mental capacity is replaced with a predatory need to feed on the flesh of healthy humans – thus spreading the disease.

Director Colm ‘Sherlock’ McCarthy takes the excellent, heartbreaking novel by M.R. Carey and brings it to brutal life on the big screen. The ‘Girl’ with the gifts Melanie is played with superb warmth and likeable empathy by newcomer Sennia Nanua (who has the capacity to be a big star based on this breakthrough role).

yeah that's me (running towards left, behind bald patch guy)

Melanie’s world is one of confinement, locked in a cell, she and her classmates are only let out to be taught by kind teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma ‘Byzantium’ Arterton) or experimented on by the callous Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Close) – who’s trying to find a cure to the disease.

When the base they are on is overrun by ‘Hungries’ - the zombie like infected humans – these three main players along with Sgt. Parks (Paddy ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ Considine) and a couple of other soldiers go on the run. Further threats emerge en route the last human main base which include not just contamination and getting munched by the Hungries but also a very nasty bunch of feral half human / half hungry kids.

me on the left 'full hungry snarl'

It’s grim stuff but the plot cracks along and these are characters you’ll soon care about. The action scenes are fantastic considering the small budget and the cinematography of a UK which has been wrecked will haunt you – as will the ending.

The Hungries are superb – fast running, nightmares, all teeth and wild eyes. I had the privilege of being one of them for the base attack scene (look out for the one with very little hair leading the run past Arterton in the midst of the action!?). It was an absolutely blast to get to be part of this film and I’m delighted that it’s turned out so well!

Melanie is a messy eater

The Girl With All The Gifts is a scary thrill ride you really should take.

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


(4 - It's the Hungries that make it!! Best big screen zombie action of 2016)...

Awesomeness ööööö – Some unforgettable stuff goes down

Laughs ööö – Occasionally funny but it's laughter in the dark

Horror öööö – Strong horror violence - not for the squeamish

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Humans are so last year

Read my interview with Mike Carey who wrote the novel: INTERVIEW

blue top behind back of Landrover

I'm there somewhere...

just my standard look...

superb alternative poster

zombie photo byline this week in papers

Monday, September 12, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Suburra

Suburra (18)

Dir. Stefano Sollina

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Manfredi Anacleti came to my house and kidnapped my son. You said you’d protect me and you didn’t…”

Prepare yourself for an Italian apocalypse of criminal chaos, corruption, sleaze and heavy duty violence. Suburra is a powerhouse of a film that beguiles and thrills in equal measure. Detailing the violent aftermath of what happens when Filippo Malgradi (Pierfrancesco ‘World War Z’ Favino) a prominent MP gets caught up in a very sticky situation after an under age girl dies of an overdose in his hotel room.

Italy looks very cool in this movie

Blackmailed by Spadino (Giacomo Ferrara) the unstable scumbag who helps dispose of the body, Malgradi turns to a dangerous thug known as Number 8 (Aureliano Adami) to make him reconsider. Needless to say things don’t go to plan and an escalating spiral of violence, kidnapping, revenge and brutal extermination ensues thanks in no small part to local crime boss Samurai (Claudio Amendola).

Tension in the air

Suburra is a gutsy, beautiful and haunting neo-noir crime-em-up that grips from the start and doesn’t let go. The violent set pieces are just incredible, burning themselves into your mind’s eye – from an impromptu hit on carried out in a steamy spa complex through to a reckless shootout in a crowded supermarket – they are handled with the stony cool cinematic style of say Michael Mann at the top of his game.

Nice night for a walk

What also elevates Suburra above the trashier end of the crime flick genre is the quality acting and characterization backed up by superb cinematography and a killer soundtrack from M83. I really wasn’t expecting such high standards from a big screen effort financed by Netflix – but now can’t wait to see the planned follow up TV series!

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


(5 - Stunning cinematic crime & punishment - possible film of 2016)...

Awesomeness ööööö – Staggering, breath taking scenes

Laughs ööö – Wickedly comic but in darkest possible way.

Horror öööö – Gets seriously violent and deals in very adult themes

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Molto bene

Rainier than Se7en?

Friday, September 09, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur (12a)

Dir. Timur Bekmambetov

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“First to finish, last to die…”

The Romans eh? What have they ever given us cinematically? Well apart from Gladiator, Spartacus and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, plus maybe King Arthur if you’re a Kiera Knightley fan… And now we have updated remake of Ben-Hur, minus the religious sub title but with added sub-300 CGI this time.

Romans > Pumpkins

It was always going to be tough to follow up the classic 1959 Charlton Heston starring, multi-Oscar winning version of the ancient novel by Lew Wallace but cool action director Timur ‘Wanted’ Bekmambetoc gives it a go. Meet Judah Ben-Hur (Jack ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’ Huston) a Jewish prince who loses everything when his adopted Roman brother Messala (Toby ‘Warcraft’ Kebbell), turns on his family. Sentenced to slavery on a galley in the Roman navy, Judah vows to one day get revenge. Revenge in the circus! Not the clowns and trapeze variety but the bloody chariot racing where death and dishonour dished out in an ancient Fast & Furious destruction derby race.

Feel the need for speed

Cue an hour of tame background and vaguely interesting character build up in which Jesus (Rodrigo ‘Xerxes from 300’ Santoro) pops up in various cameos – doing some woodwork, obviously, saying some peacemaking soundbites and helping people including Judah when he stumbles on en route to his slavery commission. Also in the mix is Pontius Pilate (Pilou ‘Lucy’ Asbæk), hhhmmmm, I wonder if his seemingly random encounters with Jesus will have any pay off down the line?

21 Pilates - are you not entertained?

Anyway, Judah’s unlikely ticket to vengeance comes when his path crosses chariot team trainer Sheik Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) who is willing to wager his fortune to give the wronged Jew a chance at racing his traitorous brother. Everything bar one exciting sea battle feels like padding, it’s the chariots of fire that is the selling point of this movie but it takes a while to get to.

Ahoy there for CGI

The good news is that Bekmambetov unleashes his action violence chops at the climactic chariot showdown, and for that 15 mins, Ben-Hur becomes an adrenalin overload of brutal racing excitement.

As a Christian, I found the religious elements well handled, sure they are a little overcooked but not massively distracting from the main narrative and Santoro's depiction of Jesus is solid (- a million miles away from his bloodthirsty 'man god' Xerxes in both the 300 movies, which at least shows he's got acting range!).

Antiques Roadshow - this week we're 'joined' by Jesus

Should you check out Ben - huh?

If you’re in the mood for a mostly gentle sandal-em-up which pays off big time at the end, this is a decent enough effort. The chariot race is especially effective in IMAX where you can almost feel the sand in your eyes!

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


(2.5 - Chariot salvation* for earnest historical retread)...

Awesomeness öööö – Love that ancient pod racing stand out scene

Laughs öö – Couple of laughs, not all intentional

Horror ööö – Actually has few grim moments which adds credibility

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Check that carpenter guy out!

Original and still best!

*remove 1.5 stars if you don't like chariot races...

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Sausage Party

Sausage Party (15)

Dir.  Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Friends... Ramen... Country Club Lemonade... Lend me your ears of Corn. I'm Frank and I am a sausage...”

Welcome to Shopwell's Grocery Store – there are some great special offers available today. Get your well meaning hot dog wieners like Frank (Seth Rogen), or his shapely bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) – they make an especially tasty lead duo. Or maybe you’re in the mood for a fresh ‘Jewish’ flavour bagel - Sammy (Edward Norton) and his bickering Arab flatbread - Lavash (David Krumholtz), who trade all you can eat Middle East stereotype banter.

made for each other

If you’ve a hankering for amusing spicy, raunchy and vulgar animation, Sausage Party has it on the menu. The plot sees the products of Shopwell’s looking forward to being purchased by the human ‘gods’ so they can be taken to ‘the great beyond’ which they have been told is a heavenly existence outside of their wrapping. But a returned pot of unwanted Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) has seen the grim truth of what humans do to the food they buy… Can Frank and friends convince the food that they are doomed to be eaten, used and thrown away – an unpalatable message that goes against the phony fable that has been spread by the sage long lasting unperishable items of the store to prevent despair and panic amongst the commodities.

fear the 'gods'

Directors Greg ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’ Tiernan and Conrad ‘Shrek 2’ Vernon's filthy food-em-up is a foul mouthed blast of edible puns and sex organ sight gags – wrapped around a nihilistic analogy that mocks religious beliefs. It certainly isn’t for kids or anyone easily offended, Sausage Party’s talking food is possibly the sweariest film of the year so far, but it’s also very funny.

The humour certainly couldn’t be much less high-brow for the most part which does undermine any serious anti-religious messaging it tries for – but the scattergun bawdiness and simplistic racial stereotyping such as the Nazi-ish Sauerkraut encouraging the ‘extermination of the juice’ aim to offend so viewers should be prepared. This is a long long way from the family friendly Pixar classics but it packs some great voice acting such as a fun cameo from Paul ‘Ant Man’ Rudd as the ‘Dark Lord’ store employee who throws away goods with damaged packaging.

Middle Eastern verbal conflict

Sausage Party is a tasty new kind of comedy animation which delivers a filthy good time for adult fans of stoner comedies.

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


(3.5 - Funny tasting food with a side order of nihilism)...

Awesomeness ööö – Some well observed scenes that'll stick with you

Laughs öööö – Low brow but laugh-out-loud in places

Horror öö – Not overly grim but serious adult themes

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö - Nothing to report