DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

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Monday, May 27, 2019

A Whole New Aladdin... Review

Aladdin (PG)

Dir. Guy Ritchie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You really don't know who I am? Genie, wishes, lamp, none of that ringing a bell?”

Disney fans should prepare themselves for a whole new (non-cartoon) world as the much-loved animated Aladdin from 1992 gets a live-action reboot.

The 2019 retelling sees Will Smith step into the big blue Genie shoes so well filled previously by Robin Williams and the good news is that it works. Smith keeps the fun mischievous spirit but adds enough of his own Big Willie style to make this version something refreshingly new.

'nothing up my sleeve'

Full disclosure – I went to see this with very low expectations. Am a big fan of the original and worried that this remake was merely a cynical cash-in. Two hours later I found that I’d really enjoyed a colourful and good-natured sing-along romp and now actually look forward to seeing it again.

For those not aware – this is the tale of a cheeky chap named Aladdin (Mena ‘Jack Ryan’ Massoud) who meets a young woman in the marketplace of the town where he makes a living as a ‘street rat’ thief. Unaware that she is Princess Jasmine (Naomi ‘Pink Power Ranger’ Scott) incognito, he’s totally smitten he tries to woo her.

'all that jazz(mine)'

But the path of true love doesn’t run straight, and young Aladdin gets caught up in the plan of evil ‘want-to-be’ Sultan named Jafar (Marwan ‘The Mummy’ Kenzari) who craves a magic lamp containing a wish-granting Genie (Will Smith).

It’s no surprise Smith steals the whole film with his larger than life - literally – charisma plus his comedic timing and the slight hip-hop vibe on his songs really work. Scott is also great as the girl-power Jasmine, she gets a new song which adds to her feisty role and while not classic Kenzari does a good enough villainous performance.

The cinematography, animal CGI and costumes are well done and crucially the musical numbers are good. Lots of folk in the screening I was in were heartily singing along.

'what cha wishing for?'

Director Guy ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Ritchie takes the original plot and adds some nice new elements. It shows how far he has come as a director to deliver a great family friendly flick which is a million miles away from his Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels gangster days.

Aladdin is a Genie-em-up that delivers on at least some of the magical wishes of film fans!

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


(3.5 - Disney channel the quality remake vibe)

Awesomeness öööö – A jolly good show all round

Laughs ööö – Smith brings the funny

Horror ö – Threat from baddie but nothing too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - Sing for the moment!

Guest Review: Detective Pikachu

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (PG)

Director: Rob Letterman

Reviewed by Tom Wade (@LevelUpTom)

It was in November 1999 that I got my first ever detention at school. Caught skipping a PE lesson to play a friends copy of Pokémon Red in the school toilets, it was a risk worth taking as I was catapulted into a world of 8-bit graphics and 150 Pokémon to capture (don’t worry I got the Mew at a trading event a few months later to take me to 151). I was obsessed with Pokémon for years after. I wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was, to catch them was my real test, to train them was my cause.

Skip forward 20 years and I find myself asking my wife for permission to escape fatherhood for a few hours to see my second Pokémon film at the cinema (we won’t talk about Pokémon: The First Movie - some memories are not worth revisiting). It was a risk worth taking though as Detective Pikachu is not only the best videogame adaptation of all time, it’s a great film in its own right.

Detective Pikachu seems like a strange concept for a live action Pokémon film at first. Rather than go down the ‘young person travels the world training to be the Pokémon master’ route that many expected it to, Detective Pikachu instead takes inspiration from a lesser known handheld spin-off game. It was, however, a moment of pure inspiration to approach a Pokémon film from such a creative starting point, and Detective Pikachu ends up being the best video game adaptation yet seen on the big screen. It’s worth saying though that if you don’t know your Psyduck from your Jigglypuff this might be an experience you’re not quite ready for yet.

Those expecting a Game of Thrones complex plot would do well to remember that this is a) primarily a children’s film and b) a film about a talking Pikachu who is a detective. Taking more than just a sprinkling of inspiration from the classic ‘Who Framed Rodger Rabbit’, our plot sees the likeable Justice Smith as Tim Goodman, the estranged son of a detective who has recently been mysteriously killed in a car accident while on a secret case. Tim travels to his father’s city (a place where Pokémon and humans live side by side) to investigate further and it’s here that he meets his dad’s Pikachu Pokémon partner. Somehow Tim is able to understand Pikachu and together they set out to find out the details surrounding his father's death.

It has been well publicised that Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) is the voice of Pikachu, and while his quick wisecracks may not be for everyone’s taste, this is as close to a PG Deadpool that we are likely to see on screen. Reynolds’ Pikachu is thankfully a delight and considering the most Pikachu has said previously on screen is... ‘Pikachu’, his wit and sarcasm are welcome features. Fans will almost certainly overlook Detective Pikachu’s shortcomings because it hits so many nostalgia buttons correctly. The soundtrack hints at and includes themes from Pokémon games over the years whilst the actual Pokémon designs are really impressive. The film is also really funny. Young and old will appreciate the jokes along the way and the film isn’t afraid to make fun of the absurdity of it all. It’s an impressive feat to strike such a balanced tone and one wholly unexpected in a Pokémon film.

There are some pacing issues and the final quarter of the film might be one step too many into the bizarre for some, but overall Detective Pikachu is an unexpected triumph. So what are you waiting for? Grab your Pokédex from Professor Oak and head off to your nearest Pokémon Gym immediately.

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


(4 - You gotta catch em’ all)

Awesomeness öööö – Jurassic Pokemon Park

Laughs ööö – Reynolds is funny

Horror ö – Some Pokeviolence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Soul mates forever

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Matt's Thinking It's John Wick 3 Review Time...

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (15)

Dir. Chad Stahelski

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Mr. Wick broke the rules. I trust you understand the repercussions if he survives…”

The world’s premier super-assassin John Wick is back for a third instalment – and there’s more on the line this time than ever before. His life is forfeit after having crossed the ‘High Table’ by killing a fellow member of the international assassin's guild.

With a $14 million price tag on his head – Wick suddenly becomes the target of hit men and women everywhere – and must survive without the support of the Continental hotels due to his being excommunicated.

'guns and puzzles'

The good news for fans is that this third chapter is another excellent adrenaline-fueled action-packed entry in the series. Director Stahelski (who also directed the first two films) brings more superbly choreographed battles and stylish escapes.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is living a charmed life – he might be the best in the business, but he’ll have his work cut out as he must fight his way through the army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. Trying to escape New York City is one things but he’ll need to call on his friend / hitwoman Sofia (Halle Berry), who owes him a debt in order to try and find a way to get his life back.

The subtitle ‘Parabellum’ is Latin for ‘prepare for war’ and it certainly applies here. The plot is simple – it’s kill or be killed after the High Table send an Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to call in retribution on Wick. Along the way anyone who has helped him is also in the firing line – so that includes Winston (Ian McShane), the owner and manager of the Continental Hotel in New York and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) – could they be potential allies?

'Baddie needs that bulletproof glass!'

Nowhere is safe as Zero (Mark Dacascos), a master assassin is despatched by the Adjudicator to bring Wick down. Watching this cat and mouse hunt is compelling viewing (although it has to be said that John Wick’s mouse is hard as nails!?)

Reeves is effortlessly cool once more in the lead role and the action is so frenetic that you have to feel for him putting himself through this immensely physical role at a spritely 54.

John Wick Chapter 3 is a sensory overload which is likely to max out your adrenalin levels – and leave you wanting more!

'one horsepower chase...'

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


(4 - Another excellent entry in this kick-ass series!)

Awesomeness ööööö – Some of the best fights scenes on film

Laughs ööö – Darkly funny

Horror ööö – Crunching violence and injury detail

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Revenge is always an option!?

Read the Darkmatters review of John Wick 2

Read the Darkmatters original John Wick review

Evil has found its Superhero... BRIGHTBURN

Under a month till BRIGHTBURN...

We are very excited for this 'What if Superman was evil?' new horror-super-em-up!!

Check out these chilling new TV Spot for James Gunn's new feature - excellent use of the music of Billie Eillis.

What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?

With Brightburn, the visionary filmmaker of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Slither' presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror.

Produced by James Gunn and Kenneth Huang, Brightburn is written by Mark Gunn & Brian Gunn, and directed by David Yarovesky.

Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner...

BRIGHTBURN hits cinemas in the UK on 19th June.

'He's not here to save us...'

'Remember kids, don't try this at home!?'

Monday, May 20, 2019

Darkmatters Review: The Mirror and the Mountain

The Mirror and the Mountain

Luke Aylen (@lukeaylen)

"live your words and don't just speak..."

Fantasy fans (and Netflix children’s series commissioners) would do well to have a look at Luke Aylen’s The Mirror and the Mountain which is a kinda Narnia-em-up shot through with elements of Bridge to Terabithia and has the general feel of a George MacDonald story – especially The Princess and the Goblin.

This is the tale of how Summer and Jonah, two 11-year-olds, go on a life-changing adventure in a magical kingdom known as ‘Presadia’. In C.S. Lewis / Lewis Carroll style – the gateway between our normal world and this other is through an enchanted mirror – found via an old underground passage under a church.

What transpires in the war-torn kingdom of Presadia is your standard ‘quest to find the long-lost king’ deal and it packs plenty of the usual fantasy tropes of dragons, misty mountains, dwarves and elves along the way. Now before you go thinking this might be a younger Game of Thrones, it is very much a light and entertaining romp, without too much peril and absolutely nothing too nasty apart from an insidious fog that hangs over the land.

Aylen’s prose is concise and colourful, and owing to the publisher being a Christian organisation the plot also makes some important lessons around pride, greed, and how the tongue might be your own worst enemy.

It’s a fun a cheerful read which I’m sure children will enjoy and due to the biblical interlinkage at the end it has scope to be used by children’s workers in churches etc as well as parents who want to drop some meaningful conversation into their bedtime stories.

It would certainly make a fun animated movie or live-action fantasy and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

So for those whose kids aren’t quite ready for His Dark Materials or even Harry Potter – The Mirror and the Mountain is a great starter fantasy which will hopefully fire up imaginations and as readers join the heroic kids’ quest to find the king and restore peace to Presadia.

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


(3.5 - A fun, meaningful fantasy for the younger generation)...


Want something a little darker?

Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...

Monday, May 06, 2019

Matt gets Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (15)

Dir. Joe Berlinger

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have been witness to the unspeakable horrors of the defendant’s heinous crimes…”

Sometimes the worst monsters are the real ones. There have been many accounts of the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy but this new bio-crime thriller from Joe ‘Blair Witch 2’ Berlinger brings in the megastar Zac Efron to depict the twisted lead.

"beware the smiling monster"

Hitting the big screen and streaming services at the same time which gives viewers more choice as to how they watch, this effective retelling of the story is told through the perspective of Bundy’s long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily ‘Okja’ Collins).

It is fascinating to see how this woman fell completely under the charismatic spell of the prolific murderer and her struggle to accept the reality of Bundy’s nature. Collins brings a real poignancy to the role, showing how she desperately wanted to believe that the man she loved couldn’t be the one guilty of the heinous accusations against him.

"happy family?"

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile brings a compelling and engaging rework of the many traditional serial killer movies out there. Instead of depicting the many murders against the police work around the case - there is very little actual violence shown – it rather dwells on the consistent protestations of innocence by Bundy as he revels in the attention and media spotlight. The movie engages the viewer to get into the mindset and experience the fervent doubt of his guilt by not just his girlfriend and wife Carol Daronch (played well by Kaya ‘Maze Runner’ Scodelario) but also his many other female ‘fans’.

Efron makes an effective sociopath, hinting menacingly at the violent anger under the smarmy, charming, intelligent and highly charismatic, surface image he presents to the world.

"it's in the eyes"

Making the movie from the perspective of Kloepfer gives us a glimpse into the family life and ‘normality’ Bundy worked hard to hide behind during his campaign of horrific acts. As the net closes around him some powerful courtroom sessions spotlight the grisly evidence as well as his darkly captivating performances as he tries to present his innocence.

John Malkovich is great as the sharp-tongued judge Edward D. Cowart and Jim ‘Big Bang Theory’ Parsons also pops up as Florida Prosecutor Larry Simpson. The quality of the actors helps elevate this to a very watchable level.

"bad call"

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is a fascinating film liable to unnerve viewers in a very effective way, leaving an uncomfortable taste in the mouth and make you wonder just how well do we ever really know the hearts of those around us…

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


(3 - Strong bio-em-up shining a light on a charismatic monster)

Awesomeness ööö – Effectively creepy and poignant

Laughs ö – Not a funny flick

Horror ööö – Extremely nasty subject matter but not much shown

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Who is that person watching you??

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Matt is Dragged Across Concrete (review)

Dragged Across Concrete (18)

Dir. S. Craig Zahler

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Do not prioritize money over having a heartbeat.”

From the slightly twisted mind behind Bone Tomahawk comes this violent tale of two overzealous policemen, old-timer Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his volatile younger partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn). The duo get results but work in a no-nonsense old school style which leads them to getting suspended when a video of their very strong-arm tactics against an ethnic drug dealer gets leaked to the media.

Both have cash issues – and people who need them - Lurasetti is about to propose to his girlfriend, Ridgeman’s wife is suffering from MS and his daughter keeps being assaulted in the dodgy neighbourhood where they live. With seemingly no other options, these two embittered men descend into the criminal underworld to try and gain their just due, but instead, find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows.

'This might not end well!'

Director S. Craig Zahler is on top form – having already written and directed two brutal masterpieces across different genres, Dragged Across Concrete sees him add crime-em-up to his resume. This would play as a hard-boiled Bad Boys kind of ‘buddy cop’ movie were it not so gut-wrenchingly violent. Zahler has a knack for creating characters who viewers want to spend time with and Gibson and Vaughan are both great here.

The script is packed with sharp, witty dialogue and the action takes its time with a slow burn build up where we get invested in the lives of the characters. This makes it oh-so-much worse when bad things happen and be warned - Dragged Across Concrete gets very dark.

Coming in at an epic 159-minute running time – the plotting is so good that the time flies by. It’s been a while since a crime thriller (or Mel Gibson for that matter) has been as compelling – if you love heist movies such as Reservoir Dogs, Hell or High Water - then this may well be a potential film of the year for you.

'battle time'

Some have complained at the use of such potentially gratuitous violence, but it feels connected and really resonates when it hits – the climactic shootout is actually one of best I’ve witnessed. The cold, hard cinematography employed world Zahler is a perfect foil to the moments of sentiment such as new mother (a great cameo from Jennifer ‘Emily Rose’ Carpenter) who has to return to work.

Dragged Across Concrete is a stunning grindhouse crime noir, recommended but only for those who can deal with the evil that men do…

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


(4.5 - Buddy cop heist-em-up darkness)

Awesomeness öööö – Some very memorable scenes

Laughs ööö – Really funny in places

Horror öööö – Extremely strong violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Some things are worth fighting for, but how far is too far?