DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Choose your own Bandersnatch Black Mirror review


Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (15)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

"You think Pac-Man is a happy game? It's not, PAC stands for 'Program and Control'..."


How to play:

i. Load up Netflix

ii. You enter a brief tutorial, specific to the device being streamed on, explains to the viewer how to make choices.

iii. You have ten seconds to make choices, or a default decision is made.

iv. Once a playthrough ends, you are given an option of going back and making a different choice.

v. The average viewing is 90 minutes, though the quickest path ends after 40 minutes.
(My viewing experiences so far have varied, witnessing each ending through re-choosing options...)


'do you want to play a game?'

Plot:

Back in 1984, young Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a game designer, has a dream of adapting Bandersnatch - a "choose your own adventure" book written by Jerome F. Davis (Jeff 'Tempest' Minter) into a computer game. The book author Davis was a troubled genius who descended into madness and cut off his wife's head, so that's not very promising...

As the viewer, you are given the choice to pick which breakfast cereal Butler gets to eat, which '80s music he listens to on the bus etc. It's slick and feels intuitive - this really might be the future of TV we're witnessing here... Plus you can really pirate this format which is likely to please studios...

'Bandersnatch foreshadowed back in Black Mirror Season 3!'

Butler's game would be revolutionary - a non-text input 3D adventure video game in a time of 2 D tape-based games on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. Leading video game company Tuckersoft, run by Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhry) who employs the famous game creator Colin Ritman (Will Poulter) is interested. Butler is given the choice of accepting or rejecting help from the company in writing the storylines. This is a major plot point where you as a viewer can 'fail' and have to restart with a quick flashback of decisions up to that point. If you accept the offer, Ritman says he chose the "wrong path" and you get to live the day again, being given the same choice - pick it again and the film ends.

'choose your adventure'

I won't share any more plot but there are several key players in Butler's life that include therapist Dr. R. Haynes (Alice Lowe) who helps him discuss childhood traumas and his father Peter (Craig Parkinson). Charlie Brooker's writing is so good that as he incrementally breaks the 4th wall, it gets to the point where we are made to feel accountable for our actions.

'nostalgic vibes a go go'


Bandersnatch really might change the future of how we consume TV media - it is at the vanguard of the game/ film fusion. It's impressive in being able to immerse you in the action and as a gamer (who as my wife says 'spends too much of my life in virtual worlds') - this feels like a natural next step. Hat's off to Netflix for pioneering this!

'a lost masterpiece?'*
Fun Fact:

Turns out there was an ill-fated game named ‘Bandersnatch’ developed by a UK studio back in 1984, which is the year ‘Bandersnatch’ the Black Mirror episode takes place...

Like most Black Mirror episodes - there is a sinister underbelly, some graphic language and violence - wrapped up in an engaging mystery. With plenty of pathways to alter the plot and deep 'easter eggs' to be found through seemingly arbitrary choices, it makes for a brilliant experience. The production values are great, the attention to '80s detail superb (if you lived through tape loading computer games it's a rush to get to see behind the scenes)...

'reading can be dangerous fun'

If this is the future then Netflix surely owns it and with a very cool re-watchability factor i'm all in on it!


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

ööööö

(5 - Witness the future of TV today...)

Awesomeness ööööö – The plot picking device is freakin superb

Laughs ööö – patented dark funny

Horror öööö – grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - test of moral character included!


*found by @jeeveswilliams

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Matt Flies A Kite with Marry Poppins Returns Review





Marry Poppins Returns (PG)

Dir. Rob Marshall

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“Nothing's gone forever, only out of place...”

In 1964, a crack magic nanny was sent to assist a family for a crime they didn't commit (not engaging with their kids). She promptly helped them escaped from a maximum-security stockade of dullness with the help of songs and quality imagination. Twenty years later, still wanted by the government she survives as a flying soldier of fortune.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find her.... maybe you can hire Mary Poppins (she’ll want to take every other Tuesday off).

"fantasy time!"

Yes, the nanny who breaks all the rules and reinstalls childhood magic to families in need is back. This time it’s depression-era London, a now-grown-up Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) Banks, along with Michael's three children Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).

Through her unique skill set, and with the aid of her friendly lamp lighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives and might just find a way to stop the bank repossessing their house.

"The Aqua-Man cross over was unexpected!"

The big question is whether more than half a century on is – are cinema goers all still children at heart who will allow our imaginations to embrace the slightly kooky magic-and-manners-em-up.

The performances are mostly great, Blunt really nails it as Poppins and the kids are good. Director Rob ‘Chicago’ Marshal packs in plenty of dancing and a couple of standout fantasy sequences, but overall the story felt contrived and Disney by numbers

It’s a fun romp that channels the feel of the original (almost too much because this isn’t as good) but anyone who enjoyed the first – there is just about enough childhood wonder to make a return visit to 17 Cherry Tree Lane worthwhile.

"Magic super team assemble"

The most memorable scenes are the animated fusions that are really eye-popping such as a subaquatic afternoon bath and a sing-along trip into a world held in a dish. The songs are passable but forgettable and it whilst it tries to shoehorn in some political elements there’s nothing here to engage long term.

So not entirely Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious but worth checking if you need a nostalgic hit of child-friendly magic.

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

ööö

(3 - Machine tooled Disney magic)

Awesomeness ööö – Sparkles in places

Laughs ööö – sweetly funny

Horror ö –  very mild peril

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Mary Poppins should come help The Avengers!!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Darkmatters Top Ten Films 2018


Top 10 films 2018

Another year of cinematic wonder - and some turkeys for good measure...

The box office might be at a 30 year high but there's still a lot of dross being pumped out (looking at you The Meg etc) but thankfully there are some excellent films too!

Here's what Darkmatters Editor Matt Adcock enjoyed the most:



10. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

"I see this spark in you. It's amazing. Whatever you choose to do with it, you'll be great."

Enough to make everyone want to get bitten by a radioactive spider - the Spider-Verse was a refreshing burst of comic-book energy. Miles Morales as Spider-Man meeting Peter Parker, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham and more to battle Kingpin. Both a loving homage and a kick-ass adventure, this even put the return of The Incredibles in the shade and was by far the best animated film of the year!


9.  I, Tonya

“America. They want someone to love, they want someone to hate.”

This was worth getting your skates on for a winning ice-skate-em-up which delves behinds the scenes of one of the most notorious incidents in sporting history. Olympic U.S. ice skater Tonya Harding (a superb redneck Margot Robbie) became infamous for supposedly having her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked back in 1994. I Tonya gives a fascinating, darkly amusing and engaging insight into the lives of Harding and those around her in the lead up to the attack and details the fallout afterwards too.


8. The Shape of Water

“If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after?”

Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have? Ever felt that special spark arc between you and someone completely unexpected or from so left field that it doesn’t even feel real until you’re in the moment and head-over-heels? But have you ever developed feelings for, erm, a fish person?


7. A Star is Born

"Unless you get out there and try to do it, you'll never know. That's just the truth."

A Star Is Born follows a country singer with a drinking problem who discovers and falls in love with a younger undiscovered singer (Lady Ga Ga). Bradley Cooper directed and acted his heart out in this tragic movie which packed some great tunes too.


6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

“You know, if you hadn't stopped coming to church, you'd have a little more understanding of people's feelings...”

Not much can prepare you for this brutally dark comic drama from Academy Award nominee Martin ‘In Bruges’ McDonagh. The harrowing story is set some months after the horrific rape and murder of a young woman. The plot packs gut-churning raw grief and recriminations, but also some wonderful laugh-out-loud dialogue. It’s a killer combo of superb acting and incredible cinematography that elevates Three Billboards to classic status.


5. You Were Never Really Here

"Wake up, it's a beautiful day!"

When a teenage girl goes missing, a jaded, brutal enforcer (Joaquin Phoenix) attempts a rescue mission. So far, so standard but as the plot uncovers corruption and abuse of power and ramps up the tension You Were Never Really Here becomes a dark masterpiece that brings righteous vengeance and much violence but will captivate you and leave you breathless.


4.  Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado

"No rules this time..."

What if Isis started moving suicide bombers into the United States through Mexico? We get to witness the US government response which sends gruff agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and specialist assassin Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) work to incite a fully-fledged war between the cartels by kidnapping the spoilt teenage-princess daughter of a cartel boss, Isabel Reyes (a career-making role for Isabela Moner). This is macho action with a strong political element, edge of your seat stuff!


3. First Man

“That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It’s hard to believe that we managed to send men to the moon in the 1960s… But it sure makes for a great cinematic event watching Armstrong (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling) struggle both with the mission and his family situation. From the nail-biting Top Gun adrenalin rush of the opening atmosphere busting altitude test flight through to the epic, inspiring and the breath-taking climactic moon landing, First Man is an intelligent and thought-provoking film.


2. First Reformed

"These kids, they want certainty. You know, they don’t think, follow. They fall prey to extremism. It’s a world without hope."

The pastor of a small church in upstate New York spirals out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife. First Reformed delivers a powerful meditation on faith’s place in the modern world and Ethan Hawke in the lead role (who Empire Mag described as a 'kind of Travis Bickle in a dog collar') is incredible. As a believer, I found this treatise on church, religion and suffering super strong stuff.


1. Avengers: Infinity War

“ Fun isn't something one considers when balancing the universe. But this...
... does put a smile on my face.”

Nothing could have fully prepared you for this most epic of superhero showdowns. Over ten years Marvel have brought the Avengers and their allies from their comic books to impressive big screen life. Infinity War though is the first time pretty much all of them were brought together and even threw in the Guardians of the Galaxy into the action too. Everything 'clicked' (if you've seen it you'll get that ref) and a mightly epic smackdown ensued. Just a pure joy to witness.


Runners-up (you really should check these out too!):

Upgrade

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Beast

Bohemian Rhapsody

Ready Player One

Sorry To Bother You

Blackkklansman

Hereditary

Molly's Game

Black Panther

A Quiet Place

Widows

Phantom Thread


Read the 2017 top ten here





Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Does Aquaman Sleep with the fishes review


Aqua Man (12a)

Dir. James Wan

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“My father was a lighthouse keeper. My mother was a queen. But life has a way of bringing people together. They made me what I am.”

Here’s DC’s soggier alternative to Marvel’s Black Panther – a tale of an exiled king who must return to his kingdom and help his people… Arthur Curry / Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is half human / half Atlantean superhero – he can swim really fast, kick ass and erm, talk to fish.
Abandoned to live on the land after his mother, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) Queen of Atlantis is banished back to the sea, Aquaman wants nothing to do with his underwater legacy. That changes when princess Mera (Amber Heard) comes to the surface to warn that Curry’s half-brother Orm(Patrick Wilson) plans to attack the land dwellers and challenges him to return and save both those on land and sea from a war.

Also in the mix is a self-made supervillain Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a pirate with a grudge against Curry for his part in his father’s death. But can the hard-drinking, laid-back fishy muscle dude battle all the enemies, find the legendary trident that will secure his birth right to the throne of Atlantis and maybe find time to woo Mera along the way?

Director James ‘Saw’ Wan has his work cut out as he ramps up the comic book action along with trying to build an almost Star Wars alike subaquatic nation whose people ride sharks and sea horses, have power rifles that work both under water and in our atmosphere and whose tribes include the piranha headed monsters of ‘the trench’.

There is a lot of creativity packed into Aquaman – but it cracks along at such a furious pace that it feels a little hard to keep up with all the mythos being thrown at the screen.

The fight scenes are probably the highpoints of the film even if the underwater ones feel weird due to the weightlessness of suspended gravity-less movement. Momoa proved adept at battling baddies in Justice League alongside Superman etc – but whilst the events of that film are referenced he doesn’t get to call on the help of his super pals to help out this time. The obligatory massive scale final battle is an eye-popping CGI extravaganza as various factions including those ruled by stony faced Nereus (Dolph Lundgren – getting more work than ever at the moment).

Aquaman could have been a massively fishy flop but due mostly to its sheer gusto and a winning lead character it somehow manages to be an entertaining action romp. This fish out of water adventure is worth a look.

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

ööö

(3 - Not very new but entertaining none the less)

Awesomeness ööö – Occasionally bursts into life

Laughs ööö – some good funnies

Horror öö –  Mild peril and a occasional scares

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - What is greater than a King? A hero...





Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Is this just fantasy? or is it Bohemian Rhapsody (review)?



Bohemian Rhapsody (12a)

Dir. Bryan Singer

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“It’s a kinda magic...”

All we hear is radio ga ga, and it’s incredible, as this cinematic celebration of the hugely influential band Queen bursts with authentic feeling energy. Packed with their music and showing the rise of their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami ‘Mr. Robot’ Malek).

Born just a poor boy, from a poor family Freddie defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. Director Bryan ‘Man of Steel’ Singer does an impressive job of tracing the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic songs and revolutionary sound.

"The greatest showman"

Is this the real world? Queen tore up the rock-and-roll rulebook and went on to reach world-wide unparalleled success. The film details how Freddie, embattled by dubious influences, pursues the money and ego of solo career, embraces and hedonistic lifestyle and pays a heavy price – which is bold to not just gloss over some of the darker times of his life.

And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end - sums up the feeling when Freddie and his band-mates Brian May (Gwilym ‘Fresh Meat’ Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben ‘Only The Brave’ Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph ‘The Social Network’ Mazzello) reunite for the unforgettable Live Aid performance which forms a glorious climax to the film. The cinematography is stunning and the mass euphoria induced by Freddie’s crowd charming exploits on stage is captured with pumping energy has the feel of a live gig.

"Champions of the world"

I want to break free, Bohemian Rhapsody is a powerhouse musical experience, showing Queen rightly cementing a legacy that continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers and music lovers to this day. Even if you somehow never counted yourself as a fan, this really is two hours of your time well spent allowing a peek behind the curtain into the life of one of music's biggest legends.

"Love of my life"

You've broken my heart and now you leave me… The confusion and heart-break Mercury goes through with his sexuality and his marriage to Mary Austin (Lucy ‘Sing Street’ Boyton) is handled with sensitivity even though his eventual relationship with Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker) feels a little tacked on.

Forever is our today - Bohemian Rhapsody is a gorgeous testament to a unique talent. Worth experiencing in IMAX if possible, this is a kinda magic that will rock you!

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

öööö

(4 - The show must go on - in style)

Awesomeness öööö – Heavy Queen nostalgia, Live Aid is a show stopper!

Laughs ööö – Funny in places

Horror öö –  Tragic and heartbreaking too

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Born to entertain?


Monday, October 15, 2018

First Man - Darkmatters Review



First Man (12a)

Dir. Damien Chazelle

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It’s slightly hard to believe that we managed to send men to the moon in the 1960s… With limited yet revolutionary tech, the space race between the USA and the USSR was at boiling point. After the determined Soviets had beaten the United States to nearly every new breakthrough, the US goes ‘all in’ on the first manned mission to the moon.

"nervous tension"

First Man is the tale of astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling) who history tells was the first to set foot on the lunar surface. His life and the challenges he faces are what director Damien ‘La La Land’ Chazelle shines a thoughtful and insightful light on. Gosling is on incredible form showing the man behind the spacesuit as he has to deal with tragic personal loss whilst going through the punishing and draining NASA training.

Back home his wife Janet (Claire ‘Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Foy) frets every time Armstrong has to take part in the training flights and exercises – and with good reason because several astronauts died in the preparations. Foy is a good foil to Gosling as their family dynamic is pushed to breaking point – both deliver excellent performances.

"oooops"

The brave (or unhinged depending on how you look at it) decision Armstrong made to agree to captain the mission moon landing attempt, knowing full well that he may well not come back alive will live in infamy.

From the nail-biting Top Gun adrenalin rush of the opening atmosphere busting altitude test flight through to the epic, inspiring and breath-taking climactic moon landing, First Man is an intelligent and thought-provoking film.

The cinematography is staggering too, mixing handheld intimate, shaky shots with jaw-dropping CGI and the fact it’s shot on lower resolution stock for a much more authentic, almost ‘archive’ feel. Unsurprisingly it’s the space scenes that burn themselves into your mind’s eye – giving the film a mesmerising quality.

"home support"

The sound is an integral effective element too – hearing the rattle of the nuts and bolts of the quickly assembled craft popping and straining under the huge pressure of the space travel adds immensely to the tension.

First Man delivers deep human drama, along with staggering human achievement – this is a treat for the senses which deserves to the witnessed on the biggest screen you can find. Boldly go…

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

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Spectacular and heartfelt drama that is literally out of this world)

Awesomeness öööö – Inspiring, nerve-shredding and eye-popping scenes

Laughs öö – Limited funny business

Horror öö –  Loss and nervous tension

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Desire to serve humankind



Monday, August 06, 2018

Ant Matt meets The Wasp (review)


Ant-Man and the Wasp (12a)

Dir. Peyton Reed

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“Nothing can prepare you for what's coming.”

They say it’s not the size that matters but this sequel is a medium sized follow up that brings some light-hearted super fun in the wake of the epic Infinity War. Don’t come here for ‘what happens next to the Avengers’ though as the events occur at about the same time as the huge battle against Thanos (although that is never actually acknowledged unless you stay for the after the credit scene).

The big addition here is the Wasp (Evangeline “The Hurt Locker’ Lilly) who steals the show as the newest mini super-hero on the block. The Wasp packs an upgraded suit with wings and blasters – at one point Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) asks the suit creator Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) ‘So I take it you didn't have that tech available for me?’ to which he gets the reply ‘No, I did’…

"perfect partners"

Director Peyton Reed aims to keep the comedy knockabout feel from the first film and this is helped through Scott's efforts to avoid breaking his house arrest FBI curfew imposed on him after the events of Civil War. Alas, the writing whilst funny does miss even the remnants of Edgar Wright’s input to the first film and although amusing there is little that feels iconic.

Everything bounces along in fine style though packing in a new threat from a quantum shifting / walk-through-walls ‘ghost’ (Hannah ‘Ready Player One’ John-Kamen) which adds a fun dynamic to some of the fight scenes.

"new threats"

The main plot thread sees Hank’s desperate mission to attempt to save his wife from the trippy quantum realm. This is handled well as it’s pretty ‘out there’ kind of stuff for a mainstream Marvel action-comedy.

The set pieces mostly involve the size changing Ant-Man not having full control of his experimental new suit and they are often played for laughs. Watching Scott grow and shrink at the most inopportune times is comedy gold. One stand out scene sees him stuck at dwarf sized whilst attempting to steal something from his daughters’ school.

'mini teamwork'

Paul Rudd is so likeable that he helps carry the feel-good factor of the film and he’s helped by the return of bumbling thief-turned businessman Luis (Michael Peña) who has a blast – especially in a funny ‘truth serum’ scene.

Overall Ant-Man and the Wasp is a perfect throwaway fun summer superhero romp which will make you smile and engage you with its medium-sized action….

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Fun super action for all sizes)

Awesomeness öööö – Some great action set pieces

Laughs öööö – Lots of funnies

Horror öö –  Nothing too grim but some violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Teamwork FTW


Friday, August 03, 2018

Matt commits an Apostasy review


Apostasy (PG)

Dir. Daniel Kokotajlo

Reviewed by Matt (@Cleric20) Adcock

“Throw your burden on Jehovah and he will sustain you.”


All along the Watchtower – the faithful gather in Kingdom Halls striving to do the will of their maker. In this hard-hitting drama from ex-Jehovah’s Witness Daniel Kokotailo lifts the lid on what happens when real life situations fall outside those prescribed as ‘acceptable’ by their religion.

"Acceptable R n R"

Does an almighty God really want to see people struggle and be ‘disfellowshipped — the Jehovah’s Witness’ equivalent of excommunication - for not adhering to what seems to be arbitrary small print of not attending meetings or a point of disagreement with the leadership? What if a family member makes poor life decisions? Should they be cut off and treated like a stranger? How does a devout mother deal with being forbidden from supporting her wayward offspring?

If you don’t know much about Jehovah’s Witnesses this film gives an insiders insight – they don’t celebrate birthdays, also off the menu are Easter or Christmas which they view as ‘pagan’, oh and feminism is frowned upon as it is almost entirely controlled by male elders. There are currently some 8 million JWs worldwide with close to 130,000 in the UK and they are convinced that the world as we know it will end in ‘this generation’.

"Powerful emotions"

Director Kokotailo in an interview with The Guardian talked about some of the unrest that follows when a prophecy gives a date they believe Armageddon will occur doesn’t pan out - there was a big one in 1975 when people were so convinced that they sold their houses. He said ‘When we joined, they’d removed it [deleted it from the record] so we had no idea it had even happened.’

Apostasy is a fascinating study in dogmatic belief and the fallout it can bring when the teachings start to bear little consideration for the needs and lives of those who follow the faith or those they live alongside. The plot focuses on working mother Ivanna (Siobhan ‘Downton Abbey’ Finneran) who is a firm Witness, she faithfully attends the meetings at her local Kingdom Hall along with her daughters Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) and Alex (Molly Wright).

"We're sorry - you didn't get the job this time"

Things begin to get strained when older daughter Luisa, starts questioning the strict rules about choosing meetings over her college lectures, hanging out with non-Witness – and not being keen to do her duty standing offering Watchtower magazines to strangers on the street.

Younger daughter Alex is much more on message, enthusiastically evangelising her friends, learning Urdu to help reach out to the local non-English speaking community and willingly entertaining the notion of being paired off with an older and deeply uncool JW elder when he takes a shine to her. And this despite having had a blood transfusion at birth for her anaemia which is a ‘sin’ to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

"Inside the Kingdom Hall"

The family drama plotline is framed against talk of how Armageddon is imminent, and that things might be difficult not but soon all will be well when the ‘New System’ comes heralding a heaven on earth for those who have secured their place through works. At one point a big deal is made of how the meetings must be attended and duties fulfilled because ‘God’s love is conditional and must be earnt’…

It comes to a head when Luisa gets serious about a boy outside the faith and ending up pregnant. This leads to a brutal disfellowshipping where she is no longer allowed to mix with the JWs or have anything other than minimal contact with her family.

With Ivanna in a painful position – the rules dictate she can have only minimal contact with her distraught daughter – it’s a compelling build up to a ‘will she / won’t she’ do the right thing by her daughter climax…

"Heavy tensions"

The film is really well made with exceptionally real and raw performances from the three female leads. And whilst it is glumly shot and feels at points like a real-life documentary it also employs haunting and unnerving cinematic shots at the same time.

The writers might expose a lot of what appears to be negative about the JWs but Apostasy takes care to be somewhat balanced and doesn’t mock Jehovah's Witness beliefs. Rather it leaves the viewer to make up their own mind about the faith.

The powerful underlying message, however, is that any form of fundamentalism which removes an individual’s free will to care for those deemed ‘lesser’ or ‘sinful’ doesn’t feel much like the service of a loving God.

It seems that the road to hell truly can be paved with good intentions and build collateral damage along the way…

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

öööö

(4 - Powerful and heartbreaking - this needs to be 'witness'ed)

Awesomeness öööö – The inner struggles of a devout person writ large

Laughs öö – Limited mirth at points

Horror ööö –  Quitely harrowing

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Is God love?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Matt goes on a Mission Impossible: Fallout



Mission Impossible: Fallout (12a)

Dir. Christopher McQuarrie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The end you've always feared is coming. And the blood will be on your hands. The fallout of all your good intentions…”

Here we go then for the sixth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise which has banked almost $3billion so far. And the good news is that director McQuarrie (who helmed the last MI film too) smashes it here and delivers possibly the strongest Mission yet.

"easy rider"

Following on from the events of Rogue Nation, we find Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise – who I am strongly starting to suspect is lying about his age because he is just incredible for ‘56’) and his team up to their necks in strife. It seems that a botched mission leaves nuclear materials about to fall into the hands of an evil genius looking to bring suffering to the world. So the fearless IMF agents who include Simon Pegg’s comedy sidekick Benji and Ving Rhames’ Luther must face try to track down and acquire the warhead before millions die.

Along on the mission, at the insistence of the CIA, is agent August Walker (Henry ‘Man of Steel Cavill) – a one-man wrecking machine who oozes threat. Then there is also disavowed MI6 operative Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who returns with a personal objective that could put her in conflict with Hunt.

"argument over the paper towels in the men's room got a bit out of hand"

From the second the pre-credits action starts this movie grips and thrills in equal measure – the stunts and set pieces are jaw-dropping and the adrenalin rush that it takes you on is liable to leave you exhausted after this 147 mins ride.

Boasting possibly not only one of the best car chases ever but also the best helicopter action sequence and a crunching fight in a men’s bathroom that must push the 12a rating. It’s high praise though the director manages to deliver such high octane and ‘just brutal enough’ thrills without having to resort to graphic violence.

"helicopter hi-jinks"

Everything is machine tooled and slick and refreshingly free of shoddy CGI. The chemistry is enhanced with a richness and intensity that comes from the characterisations, if you’ve been following the film series you’ll already be invested in many of these folks so the jeopardy feels real.

Fallout is the film of the franchise that stands as an almost perfect state-of-the-art espionage masterpiece – out ‘Bond-ing’ James Bond and kicking Bourne into touch.
Action blockbusters really don’t come much better than this!!

"this is going to hurt"

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

ööööö

(5 - High octane Impossible Mission creep that needs to be witnessed!)

Awesomeness ööööö – Off-the-scale-cool action scenes

Laughs ööö – Pegg brings quality fun

Horror öö –  crunching but not overly violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - one life is still worth saving



Darkmatters review of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation




Monday, July 23, 2018

Matt Checks in to Hotel Artemis


Hotel Artemis (15)

Dir. Drew Pearce

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


“Work with what you got, not what you hope for…”

Welcome to the near future and things have got a little bleak. Water has been privatised which means only the well-off can afford drinking water. Cue riots that threaten to encompass the whole of this dystopian Los Angeles as angry, thirsty people air their anger by wrecking everything. Taking advantage of the distraction the riot provides, a four-man crew, led by brothers Waikiki (Sterling K Brow) and Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry), try to rob a bank.

"first aid kits at the ready"

Things go wrong, and the brothers end up in need of medical attention – luckily there is Hotel Artemis – a secret hospital that exists to patch up bad guys. Run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster who is on incredible form here) backed up by muscle-with-a-heart Everest (Dave Bautista).

So far so mildly interesting but writer/director Drew Pearce (who wrote Iron Man 3) ups the ante by adding a weird and wonderful mix of wounded criminals to the mix. Also in the Artemis is unlikeable arms dealer Acapulco (Charlie Day) and Nice (Sofia Boutella) an unstoppable assassin.

"Nice by name, naughty by nature"

Tensions arise between the guests and it transpires one of them is there with the express intent to break the first rule of the hotel: ‘no killing the other guests’. It all builds up nicely to when owner of the Artemis - who glories in the nickname ‘The Wolf King’ (Jeff Goldblum) requires urgent treatment himself and arrives with a small army of goons.

The ambience of the film is very John Wick and the hotel itself is an incredible place designed by Ramsey Avery who makes the cyberpunk art deco hotel virtually a character in its own right.

"what big eyes you have Wolf King"

Star of this show is two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster who is the emotional beating heart of the film. Eschewing the action, The Nurse is rather a troubled woman almost crippled by anxiety and guilt – it’s an incredible performance which you might not expect in an action/thriller like this.

When the violence kicks off it is strong and satisfying with one absolutely jaw-dropping scene involving Boutella’s Nice who surely deserves her own spin-off film (or a cameo crossover with a certain Mr Wick perhaps?).

"boo"

Director Pierce delivers a fun and thoughtful thriller/caper that invests in its characters rather than non-stop action and is stronger as a result.

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

öööö

(4 - Heavy duty think-em-up with super stylish visuals)

Awesomeness öööö  – Rocks some iconic scenes

Laughs öö  – Small doses of dark humour

Horror ööö – Gets violent

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Honour among thieves? Who's have thought?

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