DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Darkmatters Review: A Cure For Wellness


A Cure For Wellness (18)

Dir. Gore Verbinski

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Do you know what the cure for the human condition is? Disease...”

With a name like ‘Gore’ it’s little wonder that Director Gore ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3’ Verbinski decided to go back to the horror genre (although some would say that his take on ‘The Lone Ranger’ was pretty grim). Anyway, here we have A Cure For Wellness, which sees corporate weasel Lockhart (Dane ‘Chronicle’ DeHan) sent to try and find out what’s up with his company's CEO, Roland Pembroke (Harry ‘Road To Perdition’ Groener) – because he’s holed himself up in an idyllic but mysterious "wellness centre" in the Alps and left a note that he’s not coming back – which is an issue as there’s a big deal which needs his signature.

lovely sinister camerawork

So, the scene is set and from then on A Cure For Wellness and there follows a tense, brooding and increasingly creepy build up as young Lockhart travels to the centre and finds much more than he bargained for… The spa is run by Dr. Volmer (Jason ‘Fury’ Isaacs) who recommends Lockhart try some of their unique therapies while he recovers from an accident. The problem is that the small print on these treatments would read something like “liable to induce unhinged nightmarish visions – mostly ripped off from other horror films”…

You really should floss

From this point A Cure For Wellness becomes a slow burn of freakish and disturbing elements that will make you squirm, scream and cringe. Whilst at the centre Lockhart meets a strange young girl named Hannah (the excellently name Mia Goth), who, like Dr. Volmer, takes the ‘cure’ – a weird serum only available at the spa.

Things get even more insane when it transpires there’s a horrible history to the castle the wellness centre is built on but enough of the plot – what you need to know is that this is an incredibly stylish, beautifully shot, living breathing nightmare writ large.

X-men training? 

It’s fair to say that A Cure For Wellness not so much ‘tips the hat’ at horror directors like Stanley Kubrick and John Carpenter as head-butts them in the face and makes off with some of their best bits… Verbinski doesn’t seem to know when to quit either letting the film run on for over two and half hours packed with some seriously 18 rated material which is liable to test those easily offended.

floats like a butterfly...

Not for the faint of heart, the Dr. will see you now...

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

öööö

(4 - An effectively lurid, dark fable of freakiness)...

Awesomeness öööö – Gore creates some memorably classic creepy scenes

Laughs öö –  Occasional dark humour

Horror ööööö – Strong horror, violence and disturbing sexual assault

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö - Hard to find much positive energy here

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Darkmatters Review: John Wick 2


John Wick Chapter 2 (15)

Dir. Chad Stahelski

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Leamington Courier

“The man. The myth. The legend. John Wick. You're not very good at retiring.”

Jaded ‘best in the business’ hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back, still angry, still looking to retire but this time he’s brought back into the violent world of assassinations due to an unpaid debt.

Director of the first movie, Chad Stahelski returns with a sequel that delivers exactly what fans will appreciate – slick visuals, deeper background lore and kick ass action on a whole new scale. John Wick Chapter 2 is a pure adrenaline rush of hyper violence, it’s not healthy and had dubious morals but it is undeniably exciting.

"My Wick would like a quiet word with you"

This time it’s bad guy Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo ‘Burnt’ Scamarcio), who challenges Wick to take out his sister Gianna (Claudia ‘The Passion of the Christ’ Gerini) and when he says ‘take out’ it’s not on a date. Knowing the Wick wants to retire, D’antonio, rather than kill his dog, motivates John by burning down his house!? Cue mayhem and death, lots of death, most of which is delivered by Wick in his graceful gun-fu fighting style which turns killing into a kind of art form.

Reeves even at 52 is completely believable as Wick and he makes this role a cool on screen icon to rival Neo from The Matrix. Speaking of The Matrix it’s fun to have a mini reunion with Morpheus himself, Laurence Fishburne who plays shady Crime Lord - The Bowery King who Wick turns to for assistance.

" These are not your friends"

With a comic book meets video game plot structure Joh Wick Chapter 2 piles on the action clichés but does so with so much style and energy that unless you really hate action movies you’ll be dragged along in a state of breathless anticipation for the next fight.

The underworld mythos of this murder-em-up is certainly fascinating and allows for potentially more Wick adventures in the future. Chapter 2 is a long film though and because it rarely lets up on the action it can leave you dazed and confused from the visual beating administered to your eyeballs.

Certainly not for everyone, and packing scenes that are liable to offend (can you really have a shoot out in a nightclub these days without uncomfortable real world news flashbacks?), this is an old school action movie redressed in cutting edge neo-noir style. These violent delights have violent ends as they say…

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

öööö

(4 - I'm thinking he's back, in style)...

Awesomeness öööö – Nobody dispatches bad guys quite like Wick

Laughs ööö – Wry smiles to be had between the carnage

Horror öööö – Quite nasty comic book violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Payback isn't good for the soul

Read the Darkmatters original John Wick review

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Fifty Shades Darker



Fifty Shades Darker (18)

Dir. James Foley

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I want to renegotiate terms… “

So, unfortunately, the world’s favourite perv-em-up is back for mediocre second helpings of big screen sadistic flavoured relationship distortion. The billionaire with sex issues Christian Grey (acting like a plank again Jamie ‘Marie Antoinette’ Dornan) is still pursuing Anastasia Steele (the much too good for this tripe Dakota ‘Black Mass’ Johnson).

"foreplay"

The flimsy plot which is contractually obligated to pauses about every 10 mins for a bonk session sees Ana trying to move on from her relationship with Grey but he convinces her to resume their romance under new conditions. Alas their new more ‘normal’ relationship is soon threatened by characters from Grey’s past and Ana’s present.

If anything, this sequel is so poor that it makes the original look quite good in comparison (Darkmatters Review here) – Director James ‘Who’s That Girl’ Foley somehow manages to make the film unsexy despite the copious amounts of sex in it.

"I'm Batman"

Along for the unsavoury and cringe-worthy ride are Eric Johnson as Ana’s dodgy boss / wanna be boyfriend, Rita Ora as Mia Grey, Christian’s adopted younger sister and the mysterious Elena Lincoln, Grey’s business partner and former BDSM lover (Kim ‘9 1/2 Weeks’ Basinger). Then there’s Leila Williams (Bella ‘The Neon Demon’ Heathcote) - once one of Grey’s ‘submissives’ – who starts stalking Ana.

Quite why Ana is so drawn to the wrong un Grey - a messed-up character, certainly not a hero to be emulated – brings the dangerous message that apparently women should be prepared to put up with deviant abuse and sexual power games if the bloke has money and looks. Can you imagine how this film would play if Grey was a homeless obese redneck - it would feel much more like a horror film.

"a brief moment of excitement"

Fifty Shades Darker is worryingly still trying to normalise the disturbing notion of sadistic relationships aren’t all that bad. Having said that there’s not actually much excessive kinkiness on display and the pot boiling drama efforts would be embarrassing for a daytime TV Soap.

Based on merit, Fifty Shades Darker wouldn’t even make it as a direct to video release, the fact it’s part of a worldwide phenomenon is a tragic indictment on our cinematic tastes. Alas there’s still another one to come in this awful trilogy…

"Forgot my trousers again..."

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

ö1/2

(1.5 - More slap than tickle)...

Awesomeness öö – Occasional interesting scene

Laughs öö – Limited mirth, unless you count the unintentional stuff

Horror öööö – It's not fun or OK to be in an abusive relationship

Spiritual Enlightenment -öööö - Glossing over issues will end in tears

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Darkmatters Review: The Lego Batman Movie


The Lego Batman Movie (U)

Dir. Chris McKay

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I have seen you go through similar phases in 2016 and 2012 and 2008 and 2005 and 1997 and 1995 and 1992 and 1989 and that weird one in 1966.”

Everything is super awesome in this Bat-fun spin-off from the superb Lego Movie. Batman in his loveable Lego guise (gruffly voiced by Will Arnet) rises to the call when the Gotham is threatened by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and possibly the most terrifying all-star group of baddies and monsters ever assembled. But this time it’s possible that Batman – who always works alone - will need accept the idea of getting backup and not from his usual Justice League pals.

"Flashback"

Also on Batman / Bruce Wayne’s mind is having to deal with becoming the adoptive father to Dick Grayson / Robin (Michael Cera), thinking through his relationship with his mentor Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) and working out his possible romantic feelings for new Gotham Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). And feelings are Batman’s one weakness…

"Boy Wonder"

The Lego Batman Movie is a hyperactive blast of feel-good superhero adventure which is totally meta and packed with a ton of quick fire Easter egg cultural references that will have anyone with even a passing interest in super-em-up films grinning from start to finish. Whenever the action lulls there are brilliant cameos from other movies and TV including King Kong, Voldemort, Sauron and even the Daleks (who the narrator tells US audiences to ask their ‘nerdy friends’ if they don’t recognize them).

"Emotions"

This might just be the most merchandisable film ever too – as you can pretty much buy every single vehicle, character and setting in all their Lego glory and play the virtual incarnation on your Playstation too.

The Lego Batman Movie is exactly what we need to put 2017 on track – providing a brilliantly irreverent comedy that feels like a kind of Deadpool junior (the opening credits themselves are some of the best ever). Bat fans everywhere are well served with classic characters, Batsuits and pop culture references but newcomers and for those too young to have witnessed The Dark Knight on the big screen this is likely to be an addictive gateway drug.

"You'll want this..."

A Bat-blast of fantastically fun big screen super action – The Lego Batman Movie is a triumph and hopefully a wake up call for those making the live action batflicks. Don’t deny yourself this undiluted endorphin rush, everything is awesome (again).

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

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Batman is awesome)...

Awesomeness öööö – So many incredible scenes

Laughs ööööö – Very very funny

Horror öö – Mild peril and comic book violence

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Feelings aren't to be feared




Darkmatters Review: Resident Evil - The Final Chapter


Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (15)

Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Observer

“We're here today to talk about our destiny. We're here to talk about the end of the world. One way or another, our world is coming to an end. The question is, will we end with it?”


Ah Resident Evil – we’ve come so far… With 5 films in the bag and over a billion dollars in the bank as a result, it looks like we might have come to the end of this action-over-substance videogame series.

"is this the end?"

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (although if this makes more cash I wouldn’t rule out them making more of these) picks up the end of the world carnage immediately after the events of 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is back as the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity's final stand against the undead. This time she must return to where the nightmare began - The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse – because they are even more intent on destroying the planet than any new presidents in the real world.

"suicide squad 2?"

Cue an hour and half of flashy images, frantic zombie battling action and scenes basically inspired by (I say inspired by but I mean ripped off) from a host of other films including Mad Max. All of it lacks any real sense of a narrative or anything you’d struggle to call a plot. The Final Chapter is basically the closest films have come to actually being a video game – just one you can’t play. It feels like the longest ever between level ‘cut scene’, like someone on their Playstation but never letting you have a go.

"level up"

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, does try to bring at least a little closure to those who have been paying to see this series since it kicked off 15 year ago but it fails to be the thrilling conclusion it obviously wants to be. The reason for this is that it is edited in such a confusing, jump cut, jumble that even scenes which could have been iconic, lose some of their currency due to the fact that you can’t always tell what’s going on.

"Mad Max 5?"

I have the same feeling with every single film ever made by Paul W.S. Anderson – I want to like it more than I actually do when I see it.  This is the guy who as well as the Resident Evil series has made Alien vs Predator, Solider, Shopping, Death Race and erm Pompeii – yet the only film he’s made that I’d be keen to watch again is his space horror Event Horizon.

"who's a pretty boy?"


So here we have the evil Umbrella Corporation using their infected zombie army, enhanced soldiers and a variety of ‘Boss – end of level’ bad guys to try and wipe out the last of humanity. Jovovich as rebellion heroine Alice is our last chance and fortunately, she might just be bad ass enough to pull it off. Whether you care or not is very much in the balance however…

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

öö

(2 - Of interest to those who have endured the other 5 films)...

Awesomeness ööö – Occasional 'oooh' factor but most lost in the edit

Laughs öö – Unintentionally funny in places

Horror ööö – A bit grim throughout with lots of gory violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Saving mankind is almost worth fighting for

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Darkmatters Review: T2 Trainspotting


T2  Trainspotting (18)

Dir: Danny Boyle

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review in: The Harborough Mail

“You’re a tourist in your own youth…”

Choose life. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, wishing you'd done it all differently and choose watching history repeat itself… Choose being challenged and engaged by an incredible sequel to one of the coolest films of all time.

"it's a state of mind"

Here we are then, after 20 years Director Danny ‘Steve Jobs’ Boyle brings Irvine Welsh’s druggie scallywags back to the big screen in this powerful sequel based loosely on the novel Porno. Much has changed - Mark ‘Rent-boy’ Renton (Ewan McGregor) has escaped the drugs ironically living in Amsterdam – but nagging regrets about ripping off his friends sees him return to the only place he can ever really call home.

Waiting for him are his old ‘pals’ - lifetime loser Spud (Ewen Bremner), Simon / ‘Sick Boy’ (Jonny Lee Miller), and furious psycho Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Also there is Diane (Kelly Macdonald) Renton’s ‘one that got away’ and a host of sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, heroin, self-destruction, oh, and mortal danger…

"new plans"

New to the troubled goings on is Veronika (the excellent Anjela Nedyalkova), she’s Simon’s girlfriend / partner in a criminal activity but she immediately catches Renton’s eye which could put strain on their already fraught relationship.

While T2 can’t hope to match the iconic freshness of the original, it certainly brings a fascinating take on a full on cinematic mid-life nostalgia. Perhaps it’s because I’m the same age as Renton but his seeking for meaning and redemption is one that I can see resonating with many who pause to take stock of their lives. Just what have you achieved? Who really loves you and who do you really care about? What is there left for you going forward?

"party times"

Boyle does a great job of delivering both a reality check for sentimental fans of the original and a cool account of the further chaos that follows these characters around like restless malevolent shadows. The cinematography is excellent, there’s a pumping new soundtrack which includes the awesome ‘Silk’ by Wolf Alice and some great vibrant jumbled visuals that keep this very much in the vein of the first film.

We’re all addicts of some sort, so be addicted - just be addicted to something better. Choose the ones you love. Choose your future. Choose life. Choose T2 Trainspotting.

"old flames"



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

ööööö

(5 - Choose catching up with the trainspotters 20 yrs later)...

Awesomeness ööööö – A new lust for life

Laughs ööö – Very funny in places

Horror öööö – Grim in parts with violence and drugs

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Choosing life isn't always easy

Friday, January 27, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Hacksaw Ridge



Hacksaw Ridge (15)

Dir: Mel Gibson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the CVM Blog version of this review: CVM BLOG

 “What you did on that ridge is nothing short of a miracle…”

War is absolute hell but occasionally there are still angels to found – even on the battlefield and this ‘based on true events’ film shines the spotlight on one unlikely such hero who stood by his Christian faith and made an incredible difference as a result.

"under fire"

Hacksaw Ridge is the astonishing story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew ‘Amazing Spider Man’ Garfield) – a Seventh Day Adventist who became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Military Medal of Honour. He achieved this feat on the front line of the battle of Okinawa – which was a desperate attempt by the US to take the tactically important ridge despite the Japanese being dug in to defend it - whilst refusing to carry a weapon or attack the enemy. Doss served as a field medic and his willingness to stay behind and try to save those injured when his battalion was overrun saw him single-handedly save the lives of over 75 of his comrades.

"comrades"

Director Mel Gibson begins the film with Doss’s early life in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where his embittered war veteran father Tom Doss (Hugo ‘The Matrix’ Weaving) is quick to anger and often whips him and his brother with his belt. We get to know young Doss and journey with him as he awkwardly woos hottie nurse Dorothy (Teresa ‘Triple 9’ Palmer), and finds a better use for his belt in saving an injured man’s leg with by using it as a tourniquet after a car accident.

When the Second World War involves America, Doss signs up for military training but his faith based refusal to wield a weapon brings him into the firing line of Vince Vaughn’s task master sergeant as well as barracks bullyboys including Lucky Ford (Gibson’s son Milo).
Eventually facing a Court-martial for his objections, Doss fights for the right to enter combat only with his medical kit.

"sweetheart"

The final half of the film is an inferno of visceral war sequences – be prepared for some of the most brutal, harrowing and probably accurately grim scenes every committed to screen. The battle scenes are up there with Saving Private Ryan in their brutality and excellent depiction of just how random, awful and desperate man to man combat is.

Doss’s improbable bravery in the face of sheer horror is very well handled, Garfield is superb in the lead role and the despite Gibson laying on the faith angle hard it never weakens the film, unlike in many films that try to depict faith in a positive way and end up as almost unwatchable sermons-in-disguise. Hacksaw Ridge is an emotionally charged and intensely intimate study of one man’s struggle to make a difference and the huge impact it had. It’s is also an epic and unforgettable film that deserves to be seen.

"brothers"


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

ööööö

(5 - You don’t have to go to war to be a hero, it’s all about how you live your life.)...

Awesomeness ööööö – Memorable for so many reasons

Laughs öö – A few funnies

Horror öööö – Extremely gory and grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - True faith against all odds

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Split


Split (15)

Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review in the: Buckingham Advertiser

“He's done awful things to people and he'll do awful things to you…” 

No not Director M. ‘Sixth Sense’ Shyamalan – although his recent cinematic output has been pretty painful but rather this quote refers to Kevin Wendell Crumb (James ‘Filth’ McAvoy). Kevin, you see, isn’t the only person in his body as he suffers from a dissociative identity disorder meaning that there are effectively 23 people time sharing him. Some of his personalities are borderline ‘normal’ but many are much much more messed up…

"hanging with the kids"

When three girls are kidnapped by Kevin – in his creepy bookish Dennis personality they get to meet a range of alter-egos who include uptight English sounding Patricia, Kanye loving child Hedwig and a host of others. Worse of all whilst Dennis isn’t ‘allowed’ to hurt the girls there is a secret 24th personality deemed only “The Beast” who certainly wants to…

"feel the fear"

The captives - Casey (Anya ‘The VVitch’ Taylor-Joy), Marcia (Jessica ‘Honeytrap’ Sula) and Clare (Haley Lu ‘Edge of Seventeen’ Richardson) are good as a bunch of friends making mostly dumb decisions whilst facing a nightmare situation. But McAvoy is on fire here fully throwing himself into the freakish role and delivering a truly mesmerising and engrossing horror baddie as a result.

"all girls together?"

Split certainly won’t win any awards for its depiction of mental illness as anything other than a killer plot twist / X-Men like mutation freak-em-up but if you can get over the seriously non-PC premise there is a hair-raising thriller on offer here that will get inside your head and mess with it. For fans of films such as Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’ or De Palma’s ‘Raising Cain’, Split is a must-see nail-biter. The tension ramps up as the hostages make increasingly desperate attempts to reason with at least one of the personalities holding them and the film doesn't cop out on a suitably grim ending.

"echoes of Taxi Driver"

Shyamalan has always had a great affinity with his bad guys – and with Kevin Crumb he gets to show the different facets of a monster by literally displaying its many faces. This is the closest of his films to the excellent ‘Unbreakable’ and seeing as it exists in the same Shyamalan universe it even leaves the way open to a joint sequel...

"the therapy might not be working"

Not for the faint of heart or those campaigning for people with multiple personalities to be taken seriously – Split will very likely, erm, ‘split’ audiences as you will need to seriously suspend your disbelief to allow this horror hokum to fully engage.

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Split the difference and soak up the atmosphere)...

Awesomeness ööö – Freaky and tense with a fantastic tease ending

Laughs öö – Occasional dark mirth to be had

Horror öööö – Puts its people through some very unpleasant situations

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - True self should take the light




Saturday, January 14, 2017

Darkmatters Review: La La Land


La La Land 12a

Dir: Damien Chazelle

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read Matt's Telegraph review: HERE

“You could just write your own rules. You know, write something that's as interesting as you are.”

Welcome to a La La Land, no that’s not my stuttering, this is a cinematic place of musical wonder and smoldering romance which will leave you dazed and amused in the best possible way…

Love is very much in the air for La La Land as it has already bagged 7 Golden Globes, a host of Bafta nominations and will likely get some Oscar love too. The thing is, this isn’t one of those ‘all hype and no trousers’ flicks, oh no, this is a singing, dancing odyssey to dreamers everywhere and a bittersweet celebration of the power of love!

a fool who dreams

At heart it’s a simple story of struggling musician - Sebastian (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling), who meets aspiring actress - Mia (Emma ‘Birdman’ Stone), set against the handy backdrop of gigs, parties, auditions and clubs. Can Sebastian’s jazz piano skills set the world on fire, and perhaps more importantly – can his tunes win the heart of the actress who has the skills but not the breaks to dazzle tinsel town?

feel the joy

Director Damien ‘Whiplash’ Chazelle packs the film not just with infectiously catchy songs, heart warming dance numbers and savvy observations but also finds time to look at the trials and tribulations of star-crossed lovers everywhere. What La La Land does best is to grip your heart and make you yearn to see true love win the day. This is the cinema equivalent of a sugar rush mixed with a roller coaster which delivers quite a high and yet might also put a tear (of joy) in your eye.

written (and danced) in the stars

Also on hand for some able support are Finn ‘The Big Short’ Wittrock as Greg – Seb’s love rival and singer / song writer John Legend as Keith, one of Seb’s high school classmates / bandmates. But it is the main duo who rightly steal the show here – and they really sparkle with infectious chemistry and gleeful dance moves. Gosling proves that he is super versatile and looks gorgeous doing so, whilst Stone is right at home as a classic screen heroine and rocks some fantastic costumes. Plus massive props to the makers for featuring the ‘80s-tastic ‘I Ran (So Far Away)’ by A Flock of Seagulls.

sparkle in the eyes

Everything about La La Land is pure class and it deserves the heaps of praise it is getting. If ever a movie could single-handedly re-launch the big screen musical this is the one.

Here's to the fools everywhere who dream – my advice is to go and join them in the cinema as soon as you can!

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

ööööö

(5 - An infectiously gorgeous charming good time)...

Awesomeness öööö – Eye-popping scenes and great style throughout

Laughs ööö – Some good funnies but not a comedy

Horror ö – Nothing unless you can't stand jazz

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - that's the power of love...


Monday, January 02, 2017

Darkmatters Review: A Monster Calls


A Monster Calls (12a)

Dir. J.A. Bayona

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The story begins with a boy, too old to be a kid, too young to be a man. A boy who called a monster…”

A Monster Calls kicks off 2017 with a powerful and emotional tale of wisdom which deals with life. Seen through the eyes of young Conor (Lewis ‘Pan’ MacDougall), his existence is one of misery as cruel and unfathomable events threaten to break him, drive him mad with the feeling of helplessness. Stuck in a small UK village where his mother (Felicity ‘Rogue One’ Jones) is ill and not getting better, his father (Toby ‘Warcraft’ Kebbell) has left them for a new life in America and the only attention he gets at school is regular beatings from his bully classmates.

evening - nice night for a walk...

Conor is tired all the time, his sleep every night broken by a nightmare where his mother is swallowed up by an earthquake and he isn’t strong enough to save her. What’s a lad to do with only his imagination and his strict grandmother (Sigourney ‘Chappie’ Weaver) looking out for him.

Then one night an incredible, huge ‘Lord of the Rings Ent-like’ tree monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) comes to visit and challenges him to hear three tales before facing his own difficult truth.

troubling times

A Monster Calls is a visual marvel – channeling the art style from the bestselling novel about love, loss and hope from the double Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness. The tale might deal in tough life situations but it uses fantasy to deliver deep wisdom and a strong life lesson for all ages about how: ‘There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.’

life is tough

The monster’s tales challenge Conor’s thinking and provide a ton of talking points for you to consider or discuss afterwards. Faith, truth and the power of stories which are described as ‘wild creatures’ are depicted in a watercolour world that is wonderful to behold.

some monsters walk in human form

A Monster Calls is an astonishing and highly impactful film super charged with an emotional core that deserves a wide audience. You’ll be moved, challenged and maybe shed a tear or two. This is a great alternative to the wham bang action spectacles out there and a monster tale which is a wild tale indeed and will engage on many levels. Pan's Labyrinth is the nearest kin to this - freaky in such a good way!!

Vital viewing!

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

öööö

(4 - Monstrous adventure and life-affirming wisdom )...

Awesomeness öööö – Some jaw dropping scenes

Laughs öö – Limited mirth, occasional dark humour

Horror öö – Slightly scary and disturbing nightmare / adult themes

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - power is within




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