DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Getting chilly with it... FROZEN 2

Frozen II (PG)

Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I believe in you, Elsa. More than anyone or anything.”

It turns out that Disney couldn’t just ‘let it go’ and so here’s the follow up to world-conquering original freeze-em-up. Firstly though, I must thank my pals for ‘lending me’ their three daughters to come and help review this as they are far more the target market than me!?

With the huge Frozen fanbase established by the first film to please, there have been various short videos and games set in the universe, but now the gang are back together for a full-scale all singing, all life-lessoning adventure.

They're back...

Frosty Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), her kind sister Anna (Kristen Bell), comedy sidekick snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) and hunky Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) with his trusty reindeer Sven set off to unravel a mystery involving a mysterious magical voice from beyond the ice flow.

Unfortunately, there are some nature guardian spirits – air (nicknamed ‘Gale’), fire (a cute little pyro-lizard), earth (massive scary giant baddies) and water (embodied by a cool water horse) -to appease along the way. Also a time-locked forest, complete with aggrieved indigenous tribe and a possible dark secret make up the other plot points.

Co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee follow the Frozen game plan keeping the first film’s magical tropes and not straying very far from the Disney safe-zone of marketable cash-in creatures and new looks for the team. Elsa in particular gets a Gandalf the Grey to White transformation and there’s much exposition, especially from Olaf about accepting change and growing up.


The new songs are a mixed bag with nothing as iconic as the original ‘Let it go’ but I really enjoyed Groff’s power ballad (with Queen like backing from the Reindeer) that could slot pretty seamlessly into any Chicago or REO Speedwagon reunion tour.

My young friends all gave the film big thumbs up, they were suitably impressed by the fun banter, mild peril and ice-powered adventuring. The only negatives they picked up on was a lack of any very identifiable baddies and the slightly confusing plot that felt a bit episodic rather than a smooth whole.

Tribute to The Mist

Everything ticks along nicely; the animation is stunning in places and solid throughout. Whilst not hugely original or quite as good as the first, Frozen II delivers an all-age friendly package which should keep many families happy. I imagine this won’t be the last we see of the icy franchise!

Live action version?

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


(3 - Enjoyable if disposable follow up)

Awesomeness ööö – The animation is the star 'draw'

Laughs ööö – Occasionally funny

Horror ö – Not much scary stuff or trauma

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Heavy handed moralising ahoy

Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...

Monday, November 04, 2019

Matt visits The Forgotten Palace

The Forgotten Palace

Luke Aylen (@lukeaylen)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

"Light attacks where darkness defends..."

Just when you thought it was safe in the land of Presadia - deep in the heart of the Great Forest lie many secrets, including the ancient ruins of a once-magnificent palace. A chance encounter with a bedraggled stranger and the discovery of broken shards of a magical mirror lead 'unusually tall dwarf' Antimony on a journey of discovery.

Luke Aylen’s follow up to The Mirror and The Mountain is a more assured semi-sequel (it takes place partly alongside the original). With smoother prose and more action - big baddie 'the Usurper' is a great threat. I really enjoyed this fantasy romp which whilst written for kids is strong enough to please fans of Narnia and the like of all ages.

You'll get more from this story if you've read the first book as the world of Presadia has some nice twists on the standard fantasy elements. I was reminded at points of The Hobbit (which is high praise as I'm big Tolkien fan).

The story is fun, is packed with adventure and has a much more exciting finale than the first, you can feel Aylen enjoying his creation with more confidence this time. There is plenty of magical stuff along with some good life lessons (which are less blatant allegories this time around).

I'm told that there will be more Presadia based fiction to follow and if they keep improving then there is much to look forward to! Recommended fantasy-em-up for young readers (and young at heart) everywhere.

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


(4 - This new fantasy world is building nicely)...


Want something a little darker?

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

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Matt Shines with Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep (15)

Dir. Mike Flanagan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The world's a hungry place. A dark place…”

How does one follow up the masterpiece of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining? Well here with have an adaptation of Stephen King’s sequel novel which tells the tale of Danny Torrence (Ewan McGregor)’s life – he’s suffered a lifetime of post-ghost-stress-disorder thanks to his troubled childhood in the haunted Overlook Hotel.

Danny has struggled with his telepathic gift of ‘Shining’ which has allowed the dark spirits of his past to bother him. On the plus side he also gets occasional ‘Obi-Wan’ like visits from Dick Halloran (Carl Lumbly) who acts as a guide to him and who tips him off about the threat of child eating baddie ‘Rose The Hat’ (Rebecca Ferguson) – who literally feeds on those who can ‘Shine’.

"I'll swallow your soul"

Danny must battle through his drinking problem in order to help new super shiner Abra (Kyliegh Curran) who might only be a young teen but who has massive abilities – which alas has made her the target of Rose and her cult.

Doctor Sleep takes its time initially to explore the horror of Danny’s repressed trauma, and Ewan McGregor does good job as an adult Danny Torrance. But he is upstaged by Rebecca Ferguson who captivates as Rose the Hat. Director Mike Flanagan sets a great visual treat for Shining lovers everywhere, walking the tricky line between faithful interpreting the novel and mixing in the cinematic elements of Kubrick’s masterpiece.

"Overlook welcome committee"

There is plenty of gore and *trigger warning* violence against children so if not up for a trip into some real dark material this won’t be for you. It’s strong stuff and compelling too but the story comes undone a little towards the end when it takes the climax back to the Overlook itself. Here the Shining references are overloaded and yet feel a bit more like the homage in Ready Player One rather than a true sequel.

By overusing the resident of Room 237 and aping but never quite pulling off dynamics like the swooping aerial camera movement that Kubrick embraced whilst the Torrance's driving – the lesser quality of this film becomes apparent.

"Back to play with you forever"

Overall Doctor Sleep is a decent effort that can’t match the traumatizing horror of The Shining but adds to the story in a watchable way. Young Curran is one to look out for as she could be big.

The Doctor will see you now, just try not to fall asleep!

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


(3 - Don't Overlook this flawed but fun follow up!)

Awesomeness ööö – Psyche fights FTW

Laughs öö – A few darkly amusing bits

Horror öööö – Fairly grim stuff throughout

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Shine Jesus Shine

Want some more madness? 
Check out COMPLETE DARKNESS which delivers near future nightmares...