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, October 28, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange (12a)

Dir. Scott Derrickson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the Newspaper version of this review at: The Dunstable Gazette

“Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats...”

The Doctor will see you now – but Marvel's Doctor Strange is the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict ‘Sherlock’ Cumberbatch) who, after a nasty car accident, travels to the mystical Far East to try and find healing. What he encounters however changes everything and with the world in peril he must put his massive ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions.

this might sting a little

Director Scott ‘Sinister’ Derrickson has come and a long way since making direct to video Hellraiser sequels, here he crafts the compelling origin tale for a key new member of the Avengers – just in time for the Infinity War which hits screens in 2018. Doc Strange is not like the other Avengers in that he wields magic as his super power (and is helped no end by his superb Cloak of Levitation which has more personality than many side kicks).

Packing a vast array of metaphysical abilities (OK spells then) and Doctor Strange might sound like a Marvel Cinematic Universe take on Harry Potter but this is by far the coolest magic we’ve seen on the big screen to date. Strange makes Harry Potter’s wizarding world look weak in comparison (and has certainly thrown down the mystical gauntlet to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in terms of sheer jaw dropping ‘oohhhhh factor’).

best on screen cloak since Spawn!

Everything about Doctor Strange, as a film, feels fresh and exciting, giving the Avengers universe a nice ‘Inception’ world-folding boost in the process. The visuals are just incredible and the plot bounces along without dragging, working to establish and make viewers care about what is quite an odd character.

On hand to support Strange are the female contingent of the movie. His gorgeous and talented one-time girlfriend Christine Palmer (Rachel ‘True Detective’ McAdams) who is handily a surgeon to patch him up and The Ancient One (Tilda ‘Narnia’s own White Witch’ Swinton) who trains him in the arcane ways are both great too.


Also on hand is baddie Kaecilius (Mads ‘Casino Royale’ Mikkelsen) a sorcerer who has turned to the dark side and now seeks to usher in the dark dimension for his big boss Dormammu and end the world. Can Strange save the day? It’s a new kind of magic.

Superhero fans should book an appointment with Doctor Strange ASAP and be sure to stay for not one but two end credit scenes.

spin that top and see what's real...

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


(4.5 - It's a groovy Marvel kind of magic)...

Awesomeness öööö – Fantastic battles and where to find them

Laughs ööö – Some great 'Ant Man' kinda comedy

Horror öö – If you're averse to magic incantation usage, step away

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - There's no God in here but there is eternal life apparently

Sunday, October 23, 2016

EVE: Valkyrie PlayStation VR Review

EVE: Valkyrie PlayStation VR Review 

(PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

For the last week or so Darkmatters editor Matt Adcock has been mostly hooked up to the new PlayStation VR - and whilst he's played or demo'ed a good number of the 50 launch games, one has stood out as a stone cold classic. That game is EVE: Valkyrie...

Here's a preview of my review for @PushSquare:

It's a virtual EVE-olution

EVE: Valkyrie is a strong space dogfighting sim that got quite a lot of love when it launched on the Oculus Rift, and now it deserves to get more love as it hits PlayStation VR, as the cheaper PlayStation version holds up really well compared to it's much more expensive stable-mate (whose users you can battle or team up with thanks to cross-platform play).

Fast reactions required...

Taking the persona of a cloned elite fighter pilot, EVE: Valkyrie immerses you in virtual reality space combat that will fulfil any intergalactic dog fighting urges you may have. Becoming a spaceship pilot in the wider sci-fi universe of EVE sees you joining the 'Valkyrie', an outlaw band of galactic pirates, who are resurrecting clones to do their nefarious business. By nefarious business we mean shoot-up enemy spaceships great and small in a beautifully rendered universe that looks incredible and "feels" fantastic to fly around in.

In space nobody can hear you whooping with joy

From the second you fire up EVE: Valkyrie, it feels like a class act; the menus and set up – even choosing your pilot is very nicely put together. The PlayStation VR headset renders the hangars where you pick options in groovy low light detail; looking to choose which menu you require gives you the feel that you're getting a glimpse of the future right in your living room.

When you first take to the skies, you'll immediately be hit by the scale of your surroundings. Asteroids and debris will give you some practice at navigating, and then, just as you're gaping at the huge planet in the distance with a sunburst coming off it, you'll be in the thick of the fight as the enemies engage you and the adrenaline ramps up. There may not be many maps to fight out scenarios on, but each is rich in detail and offers a great deal of aerial engagement possibilities as you swoop between (or into) structures and try to get the drop on your opponents...

It's heady stuff - read the rest of my review over at PUSH SQUARE!

Darkmatters Review: Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man (15)

Dir. Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (The Daniels)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

"We're gonna die. That's a thought. Everybody dies. I'm sorry if this makes me weird or you don't understand, but I wish I was dead again."

Death eh? Not really a laughing matter but then neither is being stranded on a deserted island, slowly going mad as the years creep past... Anyway, Swiss Army Man finds young Hank (Paul '12 Years A Slave' Dano) lost, lonely and fast losing hope as he finds himself shipwrecked.

Cheers amigo

Preparing to end it all,  he suddenly spots a body (Daniel "Harry Potter' Radcliffe) washed up on the shore.  Is Manny - this dead body actually Hank's salvation? Actually yes, using the flatulence of the gassy body to his advantage, Hank 'rides' the body like a jet ski across the sea back to the mainland.

However - Hank now finds himself lost in the wilderness with just Manny who begins to start talking despite his corpse status and together they find new meaning in life (or afterlife or whatever you call it when a dead body becomes sentient but not actually alive, and not in a Walking Dead kind of way!?)...

Writer / Directors  Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (the Daniels), have a reputation for wacky and entertaining shorts and music videos. With their big screen debut - Swiss Army Man has delivered a fascinating head trip that combines absurdity, mystery, mental health issues and an insight into the human heart.

Look it's my sanity

Hank's bromance with Manny is kind of similar to Chuck Nolan's with the basketball Wilson in Cast Away - just with a lot more farting. The relational dynamic at the heart of the film holds up a Black Mirror-esque reflection on societal behavior and what is considered weird vs. what is normal.

There is also the Fight Club possibility that the narrative we're being fed might not actually be all that reliable. I certainly wondered if the narrator and Manny going to turn out to be the same person at points but the surreality fused with an odd spirituality make this existential journey one which could be taken as a dead man's boner pointing straight into madness.

Life eh? What's it all about...

Stylishly shot and wickedly funny, Swiss Army Man is an oddball gem which will make you consider life, death and the importance of being yourself... Sure if you're at all squeamish about dead bodies - this isn't the film for you but for those with a sense of adventure and a seeking nature - this is a must see experience.

I'll leave you with some wisdom from Manny himself:

"If my best friend hides his farts from me then what else is he hiding from me, and why does that make me feel so alone?"

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


(4 - Freaky and weird but kinda wonderful too)...

Awesomeness öööö – Unique and mind bending

Laughs ööö – Very funny but very dark

Horror ööö – Icky and grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Strange pathos can be revealing

Darkmatters Review: Jack Reacher - Never Go Back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (12a)

Dir. Edward Zwick

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: Bedfordshire Times

“You’re a legend. Folks wonder why you left. Purple Heart, Silver Star. There is this big dent desk, people say you made it with someone’s head.”

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is back doing what he does best: kicking ass and looking moody, not following orders or protocol but getting the job done. The ‘job’ this time is uncovering a sinister arms deal conspiracy possibly being carried out by rogue elements of the US Military.

I said I wasn't giving you a tip!

Jack isn’t happy when the foxy Major Susan Turner (Cobie ‘The Avengers’ Smulders), who he has been flirting with over the phone, is arrested on trumped up charged. She isn’t happy that some of her soldiers have been executed whilst investing odd weapons transfers overseas. Also unhappy is the bad-ass bad guy of the piece – ‘Hunter’ (Patrick ‘Black Swan’ Heusinger) who is hell bent on wiping Reacher out.

Never Go Back is a standard action thriller which doesn’t ever quite kick into top gear but is very watchable and refreshingly not too nasty for a 12a cert. Cruise is totally at home in this role which requires him to run about, punch and shoot people and drive fast for most of the movie. A nice additional twist here though comes in the form of young Danika ‘Heroes Reborn’ Yarosh who plays Samantha, a girl who just might be Reacher’s estranged daughter. This means Cruise has to dig deep and twitch his jaw muscles occasionally to show that he is connecting with his possible offspring (when he’s not saving her from continually stumbling into the path of the army of baddies).

There's lots of running in this movie

The action scenes of note include an impressive rooftop fist fight, a night firefight and a chase through New Orleans’ Mardis Gras carnival – if none of those sound particularly new, that’s because everything here is strictly by-the-book.

Director Edward ‘Blood Diamond’ Zwick delivers competent, fast-moving thrills but they are fleeting diversions which are fun while viewed but instantly forgettable. Everything looks good, Cruise gets his shirt off to show that men in their 50’s can still be buff, Smulders gets her shirt off to show she has muscles too. Yarosh is a likable sulky teen and the baddie Hunter is suitably driven even if his team of military goons are so disposable you almost feel sorry for any of them that go up against the unstoppable force of nature that is Reacher.

You're charged with making this sequel not as good as the first film

Perfect non-taxing action thrills, you should watch it once but you probably won't go back…

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


(3 - Solid and enjoyable action - just no classic )...

Awesomeness ööö – Gets going in places

Laughs öö – Occasional mirth

Horror öö – A bit of meaty fisty cuffs

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Loners can win the day

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Inferno

Inferno (12a)

Dir. Ron Howard

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“There’s a switch, if you throw it half the people on earth will die, but if you don’t in a hundred years then the human race will be extinct. I left you a path, the hardest one yet, only you can finish it. You are humanities final hope.”

The mystical ‘switch’ that dastardly baddie Bertrand Zobrist (Ben ‘Warcraft’ Foster) is refereeing to might as well be the exit door handle of your local cinema alas because this 3-quel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons is a bit of a brain melting bore…

Hanks users with PlayStation VR vision to spot the baddies

Sure we’ve got plucky Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks reprising his permanently perturbed looking brainy symbologist Robert Langdon, once again running about good looking locales on a trail of clues tied to the great Dante himself. But it gets very hard to care for long as Inferno takes dull explanatory dialogue to levels that could comatose most mortal men.

This time, Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, which might go some way to explain why he feels the need to go into micro level detail about everything he is currently looking at - out loud to whoever will listen. It’s almost funny for a while but after the first hour or so it really gets tedious. The good news is that his obligatory museum-clue-finding-em-up partner here is the much cooler Sienna Brooks (Felicity ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories. But honestly, she’s much too good for him.

also known as Rocky Horror 2

Anyway, together, they race around Europe, looking at things and saying what they looking at out loud just in case the audience can’t somehow see the same thing as they are. Of course, it’s all against the clock in a bid to try and to stop mad Zobrist from unleashing a global virus that will wipe out half of the world's population.

It actually sounds much better on paper than it plays on screen – yes Director Howard knows how to shoot a location with style and the production values of this money spinning series are sky high.

Hanks is a fantastic actor, and has made some incredible films but the Da Vinci series have for me been the low points of his career and alas Inferno doesn’t do anything much to stop that trend.

Hanks realises just how bad the film is...

Should you go see Inferno? Infer- NO

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


(2 - Dull is as Dull does )...

Awesomeness öö – Average moments abound

Laughs ö – Not much fun at all, unless you laugh at exposition

Horror öö – Might cause brain death?

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Museums will save us all

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Darkmatters Review: The Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train (15)

Dir. Tate Taylor

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I read once that when a train hits it can rip the clothes right off of you.”

The train company would like to apologise for the unexpected delays to your service today. It seems that the impossibly good looking couple in the house near the tracks are doing saucy things and it has distracted the driver and at least one of the passengers. Also, in an entirely unrelated note, if there are any devious murderers on board, would they please make themselves known to a member of the team. 
Thank you.

OK so here comes the big screen adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s hit novel, it's been relocated to America and monkeyed with a little but still tells the tale of Rachel Watson (Emily ‘Sicario’ Blunt), an alcoholic who divorced her husband Tom (Justin ‘Mulholland Drive’ Theroux) after she caught him cheating on her - but whose life has fallen apart.

the bridge of sighs

Rachel takes the train to work daily (even though she had no job) and fantasises about the steamy relationship of seemingly perfect couple Scott (Luke ‘High-Rise’ Evans) and Megan (Haley ‘The Magnificent Seven’ Bennett) Hipwell, during her commute. Everything changes however when one day she witnesses something odd from the train window and finds out that Megan is missing, presumed dead.

Unfortunately for Tate Taylor’s The Girl On The Train, it walks in the shadow on the magnificent Gone Girl to which this movie owes a lot, not least the icy cold detached view of events getting ever more out of hand. Sure this is a passable dose of sadistic thriller, laced with overly dramatic cruelty and a strong vein of ‘who can you trust’ almost Hitchcock-like mystery.

be careful what you see from the train

And whilst it all looks good and is nicely shot, the performances are extremely variable – props to Blunt who gives great alcoholic malaise in the main role and Bennett who is also good but it’s the men here who derail much of the film with some spectacularly hammy acting.

The plot jumps in time quite a bit but this dynamic feels a bit forced at points as do the shoehorned false memories slapped in to try and keep those who’ve read the book interested and not just sitting waiting for the big twist reveal.

The Girl On The Train is certainly worth a punt for those who like some melodrama and it keeps the strong feminine messaging of how and from what women draw their self-worth and the intolerable abuse they can suffer.

In the end I wanted more than this delivered, I guess I wanted to like it more than I did, a bit like my experiences on Great Northern trains!?

secrets to hide?

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


(3 - All aboard for good but not great pot boiling thrills)...

Awesomeness ööö – Some decent moments

Laughs ö – Not much fun at all

Horror öö – Gets violent in places (but not tense enough)

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Grief not for yourself

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Review

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (12a)

Dir. Tim Burton

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: Northampton Chronicle

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”

When young Jacob (Asa ‘Enders Game’ Butterfield) discovers a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he comes across a magical place known as Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Imagine X-Men with magical kids and extra ‘kookiness’ which comes as standard with films directed by Tim ‘Beetlejuice’ Burton.

Miss Peregrine (Eva ‘Dark Shadows’ Green) runs a home for children with special powers – be that prophecy, invisibility, super strength or having an extra mouth in the back of their heads!? It makes for an exciting weird vs evil fairy tale as an army of monsters (Wights) led by the terrifying Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) try to wipe out the children – so he can claim immortality.

odd bunch

The ace in the hole here is the script by Jane ‘Kick-Ass’ Goldman who brings this odd superhero tale to vivid life – she has good form for super heroics after also writing X-Men: First Class. Miss Peregrine is an instant cinematic icon – a ‘Ymbrynes’ who can create time loops and use them to great effect – the reason she holds time at bay is both fascinating and sinister. Jacob is a likeable hero who follows in the footsteps of his grandfather who also had the ability to see and fight the Hollowgasts and Jackson makes Mr. Barron is a decent baddie too.

The Welsh locations looks superb in this gothic-em-up which mixes elements of groundhog day, ghost stories and even World War II. It’s an adventure film at heart but one that frequently makes you stop and just gape at the overcharged imagination at work – packing some serious visual highlights.

lite on her feet

Although billed as a young adult / children’s tale, the film is often pretty scary so should only be attempted those braver youngsters out there. The tentacle tongued ‘Hollowgasts’ especially are the stuff of nightmares.

The ‘aerokinetic’ Emma Bloom (Ella ‘The Legend of Tarzan’ Purnell) steals all of her scenes as well as Jacob's heart as his love interest. And the final conflict where all the peculiarities of the children are unleashed is a joy to behold, even if it feels like Burton is holding back a little which prevents this being quite a pulse pounding as it could have been.

Weird and somewhat wonderful, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is certainly worth a visit.

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


(3 - X-fun children in a strangely compelling tale)...

Awesomeness ööö – Lots of oddity to enjoy

Laughs öö – Could have done with some more levity

Horror ööö – Scary in places and unnerving overall

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Freaks FTW