DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Thor Ragnarok


Thor: Ragnarok (12a)

Dir. Taika Waititi

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Last time we saw you, you were trying to kill everyone. What are you up to these days?”

It can be tough being a super hero, God of Thunder. One day you’re saving earth from all kinds of threats, the next you’re imprisoned by a crazy dictator and forced to fight one your strongest team mates in a lethal gladiatorial contest… All the while letting your evil older sister who happens to be the goddess of death lay waste to your home world in the prophesied ‘Ragnarok’ Armageddon…

"she's Hela cool"

Yes, Thor the ‘Point Break Avenger’ (Chris Hemsworth) is back and things are looking grim for the blonde demi god. He’s lost his hammer, been dumped by his girl and finds himself trapped on planet Sakaar, which is a hive of scum and villainy governed by Grandmaster (the superb over acting Jeff Goldblum). If you’ve seen any of the posters or trailers it won’t be surprise to know that he finds Hulk ‘The Strongest Avenger’ (Mark Ruffalo) is there too, but so also is Thor’s untrustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddlston).

"get ready to rumble"

What follows is a kind superhero buddy movie and it’s a grin inducing riot of quality laugh out loud humour, crunching super smack downs and brilliant sci-fi, feel good heroics.

Directed by Taika ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ Waititi, takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe and gives it a endorphin boost. Not since Deadpool has a super hero film been such fun and Thor: Ragnarok manages to pack in jaw dropping action, laugh out loud gags (both visual and dialogue) and even keeps it all almost family friendly with a 12a certificate.

"He's a friend from work"

Baddie of the piece is the seemingly unstoppable and very nasty Hela (Cate Blanchett on imperious form). Also on hand is the kick-ass one-time Asgardian Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), faithful gatekeeper Heimdall (Idris Elba), Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and perhaps most fun of all - rock creature Korg (Taika Waititi – who gives himself many of the best lines). There’s another Avenger who shows up too for a class fun meeting with Thor.

I grinned so much watching Thor: Ragnarok that it made my face hurt but man it was worth it. Almost every scene will make any comic book loving soul burst with pleasure as the plot rattles through an upbeat and memorable romp, this is a million miles away from the somber reflective gloom of many superhero tales.

"Sworn to protect"

This is essential viewing, building up next year’s Avengers: Infinity War in fine style.


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

ööööö

(5 - BEST. THOR. EVER.)

Awesomeness ööööö – Incredible, this is just super...

Laughs öööö – Excellent well judged comedy humour

Horror öö – Comic book violence throughout

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - The gods aren't all friendly...

Darkmatters Review: Happy Death Day


Happy Death Day (15)

Dir. Christopher Beau Landon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I know this isn’t going to make any sense. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’ve already lived through this day…”

Here for Halloween comes a fun new time-looping slasher thriller directed and co-written by Christopher B. ‘Paranormal Activity’ Landon. This is the tale of queen bitch college student, Theresa ‘Tree’ Gelbman (Jessica ‘La La Land’ Rothe), who has to somehow relive the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity and why someone wants her dead.

"chemistry?"

It begins like a normal day for Tree, who wakes up on her birthday in the dorm room of classmate Carter Davis (Israel Broussard) after a drunken romp the previous evening. She spends her day in a self-centred, condescending whirlwind, mean to her classmates, evil to her previous hook-ups, and rudely ignoring her father's invite to take her out for her Birthday. Tree is also having an affair with her professor and generally acts like nobody else matters.

But someone is watching with murderous intent and after a freaky underpass Birthday surprise Tree is brutally killed, only to immediately wakes up again in exactly the same situation as she started the day. Before you can say ‘Groundhog Day’ Tree is living the same events over again – but even though this time she avoids the tunnel of death, the same masked killer manages to murder her again.

"when mascots attack"

The time-loop dynamic is used effectively here both for fun e.g. one day Tree decides to walk through the campus naked just for kicks, but also for some effectively nasty surprises. The violence isn’t extreme but there are many scream out loud moments (if the crowd I saw this with were any indication).

Part of the fun is in guessing how Tree will die each time – but the bad news for her is that each death is starting to weaken her and soon she is hospitalized by her unnatural injuries. Afraid and unable to work out who is killing her, Tree manages to convince Carter of her predicament by showing that she holds knowledge of the day's events.

"When you know someone's out to get you"

Can Tree crack the case of her own murder? Will she learn that she should be a nicer person in the experience? Sure the plot is pretty predictable but Happy Death Day delivers a fun if disposable mildly horrific thrill ride.

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Lots to enjoy, and re-enjoy, and re-enjoy)

Awesomeness öööö – Classier slasher moments than many out there

Laughs ööö – Very funny in places

Horror ööö – Gets nasty too

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Karma eh?




Monday, October 16, 2017

Darkmatters Review: The Ritual


The Ritual (15)

Dir. David Bruckner

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Observer

“It wasn’t your fault, mate…”

This is the unhappy tale of what happens following the untimely death of a nice guy called Rob (Paul Reid) whose pal, Luke (Rafe Spall), hid rather than stepped up to try and save him. Ridden with guilt Luke joins his other friends - Hutch (Robert James-Collier), Phil (Arsher Ali) and Dom (Sam Troughton) on a hike in Sweden in memory of Rob. But it’s not long before the group is being hunted through the forest wilderness by something terrifying and the body count starts to rise.

"not a happy shopper"

The Ritual is an effective survival horror which takes tropes from films such as The Blair Witch Project and The Wicker Man, mixes them up with some nasty Nordic mythology. The acting is surprisingly strong for a horror and the build-up works really well. Each of the friends has their own demons but together they are a good bunch of guys who bring some quality believable banter and plenty of laughs before they start to come apart (literally in some cases). Having real empathy with the protagonists makes you care about them when things start to get bad – and the nerve-shredding slow burn build up is expertly handled.

"what could go wrong?"

Director David Bruckner has a great eye for visuals and some of the Swedish landscape cinematography is just stunning. The friends I saw this with were suitably freaked out as the group stumble upon sinister warning signs after taking an ill-advised shortcut through a creepy forest.

When the running and screaming starts it delivers a fascinatingly twisted scenario and the plot shifts from a tense stalk n jump horror to full-on crazy Nordic ‘pagan-em-up’. It’s a shame that the ending – however unsettling feels a bit rushed and silly after the excellent work that has gone before.

"slightly sinister"

Even as the friends find themselves in a horrific life or death situation the chemistry and group dynamics hold firm elevating what could have been a very average horror effort to something that is really worth checking, as long as you have the stomach for grisly goings-on.

The ‘big bad’ in the film is something that hasn’t been seen on film before either which is a plus, but the trim running time means that there isn’t enough bridge from the hidden killer to the ‘well that’s just freaky’ monster mash.

"shock and awe"


If you go down to the woods today, you’ll be both scared and entertained but might not make it out alive…

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Beware the woods at night... scary stuff)

Awesomeness öööö – Some very effective chills on offer

Laughs ööö – Nice lads banter

Horror öööö – Icky and grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Would you die for a friend?


Friday, October 06, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Blade Runner 2049



Blade Runner 2049 (15)

Dir. Denis Villeneuve

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the less Voight-Kampff test version of this review which is published in the newspapers: HERE

“I was told you’re special. Your story isn’t over yet. There is still a page left. ”

Welcome, thank you for coming. Please look up and to the left while I examine your eyes. Now answer these questions, please answer quickly as reaction time is a factor…

You're watching TV. Suddenly you realise there's a wasp crawling on your arm. What do you do?

OK, you’re now watching the sequel to one of the most iconic and groundbreaking sci-fi films of all time. It’s incredible near future neo-noir stuff, heartbreaking and thrilling in equal measure. Denis ‘Sicario’ Villeneuve, the director, has packed it with retina burningly cool scenes and a stunning storyline that adds pathos to the events that follow on from thirty years before.

"she wants you"

This is the tale of a new Blade Runner on the block, LAPD Officer K (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling). K’s job is to hunt down surviving dangerous old model replicants (robots who look and act human) and when off duty he lives with his virtual girlfriend Joi (Ana ‘Knock Knock’ de Armas). After he has a run in with a rogue replicant K unearths a long-buried secret that he is intimately connected to and could plunge what's left of society into chaos.

Wanted by villainous tycoon Niander Wallace (Jared ‘Suicide Squad’ Leto) and hunted by the seemingly unstoppable replicant enforcer Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), K must find the original Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who has been missing for 30 years and who might hold the key to the mystery.

"ask questions later"

Blade Runner 2049 is everything that fans of the original could want in a sequel. Gosling is superb in the lead role and he’s ably backed up by the rest of the cast including Ford who delivers his best performance for many years.

The cinematography is eye-popping too, taking the incredible dystopian near future visuals of the first film and expanding them. The gadgets, vehicles and even the iconic skyscraper-sized adverts all add to the feel that the action takes place in very much the same Blade Runner universe.

At almost 3 hours this is a veritable feast for sci-fi lovers but despite the bum-numbing length it doesn’t drag. The storyline is poignant and moving, raising big questions about what it means to be human and what the value of life (even virtual life) is.

"she looks real enough..."

Blade Runner 2049 is an instant classic and possible film of the year. Make it your mission to hunt it down but be sure to have watched the original first.

"not so subliminal messaging"


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

ööööö

(5 - Wake up - time to die happy)

Awesomeness ööööö – Incredible, unforgettable scenes

Laughs öö – some sly humour

Horror ööö – gets violent in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - are we human? or are we dancer?


Monday, October 02, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Flatliners


Flatliners (15)

Dir. Niels Arden Oplev

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Observer

“You Haven't Lived Until You've Died…”

What happens when a bunch of medical students get obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of this mortal life? Well, in Flatliners (a remake of exactly the same film from 1990) they embark on a risky experiment - stopping their hearts for short periods to ‘die’ and then be resuscitated in order that they can actually experience the afterlife and live to tell the tale. What on earth could go wrong?


"do you like my head gear?"

First to defy death is Courtney (Ellen ‘Juno’ Page) – she’s obsessed with finding out if there is life after death due to the fact that she accidentally caused the death of her young sister. Then there’s Jamie (James ‘Grantchester’ Norton) who plays a womanising cad trying to get by doing the absolute minimum work. Also on this near-death ride is Marlo (Nina ‘The Vampire Diaries’ Dobrev) who is hiding a past fatal mistake and goody goody Sophia (Kiersey ‘Bad Neighbours 2’ Clemons) complete with an overly controlling mother.

Then there’s the more sensible Ray (Diego Luna) who refuses to go under and experience death but is happy to help with the procedure for his friends. Of course, death doesn’t like being tinkered with and the meddling students start to get all sorts of demonic hallucinations – that just might actually kill them!?

"at least it looks like the cast had fun on set"

Oh, there is an obligatory cameo - Kiefer Sutherland from the ‘90s version - who plays one of the medical professors but even he seems a bit bemused to be there. So slowly but surely the lurking dread tries to build up but it all feels a bit forced.

Once the film shifts gear from pseudoscience thriller into limp horror-wannabe, it’s all weak jump scares and unexpected loud noises. Have the sins of the past found a doorway through the near death and come to settle scores? What are the chances that every single one of the students has a sinister secret too huh?

Ala, the film starts to desperately drag despite the competent cinematography and great cast – especially Page who is just awesomely wasted in this role. Director Opley seems determined to slavishly make his version almost but not quite as good as the original (apart from the special effects).

"it's DOA alas"

Some lines shouldn’t be crossed and unfortunately, the line for tickets to see this new Flatliners is one of them.

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

öö1/2

(2.5 - Life after death shouldn't be this dull...)

Awesomeness öö – not much alas

Laughs ö – very few

Horror öö – not scary enough

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - some lines shouldn't be crossed

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