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, April 29, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Ghost In The Shell

Ghost In The Shell (15)

Dir. Rupert Sanders

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“We cling to memories as if they define us, but they don't. What we do is what defines us.”

In the near future, Major Motoko Kusanagi (Scarlett ‘Avengers’ Johansson) is the first of her kind – a cyber-enhanced human mind housed in an automaton weapon system ‘shell’.

Designed to be the perfect counter-terrorist weapon, Major is tasked with taking down the world's most dangerous criminals as part of Section 9, backed up by humans – many of whom also have some augmented cybernetic enhancements. She’s good at her job too – able to cloak in invisibility and kill without mercy.

"we can rebuild her..."

Major is, however, experiencing hallucinations or glitches in her reality – are they somehow related to her human past before she was ‘saved’ and put into her Robocop-esque body? Bothered by how little she remembers about her past and exposed to possible malware after diving into a hacked robot – it becomes clear that things aren’t quite what they seem.

This film is based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, "The Ghost in the Shell” and director Rupert ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Sanders brings the fantastical Blade Runner-alike world to vibrant life. There are some jaw-dropping visuals on display backed up with some kick-ass action set pieces. Ironically though, despite the best efforts of Johansson, "Beat" Takeshi Kitano (as her boss) and Pilou Asbæk as Batou, her partner in Section 9 – the film fails to really feel like it has a soul within its impressive machine tooled body.

"it's in the eyes"

There is much to enjoy though and for sheer style over substance Ghost In The Shell is a triumph of future gazing, creating a world that looks scarily possible soon. The concept of uploading human consciousness is one that has been explored in many sci-fi films and is surely a holy grail that science is grappling with behind closed doors.

Much has been made of the change in making the character of Major be played by a white actress rather than an Asian one, but within the huge budget multi-cultural landscape Johansson throws her all into the part and delivers an iconic performance.

"she means business"

Alas baddie Kuze (Michael Pitt), a cyber-terrorist who might know more about Major’s past then she thinks, doesn’t command sufficient threat and the neatly tied up plot feels a little lite-weight.

Ghost In The Shell is for sci-fi fans – switch off brain, sit back and prepare to be dazzled.

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


(3 -A visual but hollow feast)

Awesomeness öööö – Stylish and cool, exciting and brilliant

Laughs öö –  Ltd mirth

Horror ööö – Violence gets grim at points

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Souls are worth fighting for...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Their Finest

Their Finest (12a)

Dir. Lone Scherfig

Reviewed by Gail Adcock (@nonblondie37)

The trailer for 'Their Finest' might suggests a cosy, rose-tinted cinematic experience - one that when the DVD is released will sit neatly alongside last year's new version of Dad's Army. However for all it's pretty Devonshire countryside scenes, the promo truly doesn't do justice to the immaculately crafted and beautiful gem of a movie this is. Adapted from Lissa Evans’s novel, ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’ and directed by Lone ‘An Education’ Sherfig with an eye for capturing the individual and collective experiences with warmth, humour and an eye for detail.

The film tells the story of copy writer Catrin Cole, who is scriptwriting alongside Tom Buckley (Sam Clafin) on the creation of a propaganda film about the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France, 1940. It powerfully conveys the horror of the blitz, the daily striving to maintain normal every day life in the midst of great threat and harrowing events. Via a clever 'film-within-a-film' plot device, the movie slips effortlessly, with the propaganda film neatly mirroring the unfolding shifts in the lives and events of the real-life writers, actors and war staff.

"she's giving him the look"

The performances are great with Gemma Arterton asserting her presence in every scene, bringing warmth, a quiet determination and courage to her role as Catrin. Bill Nighy, predictably perhaps, steals the majority of the comedic moments as the vain Ambrose Hilliard, an actor past the peak of his career, desperate to shore up his fame for as long as possible on the strength of a much earlier role as Inspector Carnforth.

A recurring theme highlights the role of women during these war years and the inherent sexism encountered on a regular basis. 'Their Finest' recognises the vital contribution made to the war effort by millions of women. At numerous points the question is posed - will the women be willing to go 'back in their boxes' once the war is over and it's abundantly clear they have absolutely no intention of doing so. Through opting to tell this story from the perspective of Cole, an oft missed dimension to the world war movie narrative is reclaimed and given a new lease of life.

"shady goings on"

On completion of a draft script for the propaganda film Buckley comments to Cole that it's too long, saying "Lose half", "Which half?" she asks "The half that you don't need" is his answer - thankfully the script for 'Their Finest' kept the very best bits. It's is a pleasure to behold, melding heart and substance, delivering a mighty fine hour or two of superb comedy drama packed full of charm.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Free Fire

Free Fire (15)

Dir. Ben Wheatley

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“We’d like to leave with our money, and I’m sure that you boys would like to leave with the weapons.”

From the twisted mind of Ben ‘High-Rise’ Wheatley comes a new action comedy thriller set in 1970s Boston. Featuring one of the longest and most intense fire-fights ever to grace the screen, Free Fire is a kind of British Reservoir Dogs, packing quips and character shifts along with death and carnage.

tooled up

Meet wanna gangster hardmen Bernie (Enzo ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Cilenti) and Stevo (Sam ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’ Riley). Worse the wear from the night before, Stevo especially isn’t on top form but they are on duty for Frank (Michael ‘Black Mirror’ Smiley) and Chris (Cillian ‘Batman Begins’ Murphy) who are buying weapons for the unnamed Irish terrorist cause.

On the other side of the deal are the dangerous Ord (Armie ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Hammer) and Arms Dealer Vernon (Sharlto ‘District 9’ Copley) along with their thugs.

With itchy trigger fingers on both sides, distrust, unexpected prior bad blood between some of the muscle and some party crashers – things get very tense, very quickly.

Caught in the middle is Justine (Brie ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Larson) who actually brokered the meeting in a nicely deserted warehouse for the two groups. Who can be trusted and who will survive when the bullets start to fly is anyone’s guess.

a rose amoungst bullets

The warehouse itself is shot with all sorts of interesting lighting and the cinematography is dialed up to max with jump cuts that actually work rather than confusing the viewer about who is shooting who. The soundtrack is ace too both in terms of crackling gunfire and cool ‘70s music.

Free Fire is an absolute riot of gunplay, banter and double-crossing fun. The full-on shootout is magnificently handled with all characters getting moments to shine and the frantic action will live long in the memory. The carnage is broken up by lighthearted moments which add to the experience, like when one of gang shouts “I’ve forgotten which side I’m on” mid fight.

fight for your right to party

Wheatley is a superb director, it wouldn’t be unfair to call him a British Tarantino – Free Fire is another quality output and feels like the work of a filmmaker who is at the top of their game.

For a pure cinematic adrenalin rush of violence and fun, Free Fire hits the target, delivering a feel good flip on a classic crime tale.

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


(4 - Shoot-em-ups don't come much better)

Awesomeness öööö – Stylish and cool, exciting and brilliant

Laughs ööö –  Lots of cracking quips

Horror ööö – Death and disfigurement a go go

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - The law of the gun...