DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Avengers Age Of Ultron


Avengers: Age of Ultron (12a)

Dir. Joss Whedon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“ I know you're good people. I know you mean well. But you just didn't think it through. There is only one path to peace... your extermination.”

"Avengers: age of iconic!?"

Prepare yourself, the Avengers are back – just in time to try and save us from an extinction level event in the shape of Ultron, part computer virus, part terminator-alike exo-skeleton, all bad guy…

If you’re looking for incredible superhero action, you’ve certainly come to the right place. It’s pure comic book joy to witness the world’s mightiest heroes: Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and leader Captain America (Chris Evans) jump straight into it with no need for any origin tales or even scene setting.

"new baddie"

First up is an all out attack on the dastardly Hydra base that sharp eyed viewers glimpsed in the end credits of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The evil Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) you see has been experimenting with Thor’s brother Loki's Sceptre – and has created two new super beings or ‘enhanced humans.’ Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) can mind control, use telekinesis and can conjure red energy from her hands and her brother Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who has super speed (yes the same character from Xmen universe).

"fight"

Director Whedon who returns from the first Avengers film is right at home as the threat of Ultron comes into play – it’s impressive how the sharp dialogue really brings the CGI robot to life (voiced by James Spader).

"zap"

Everything crackles along with adrenalin fuelled energy – stand out scenes of which there are many include a jaw dropping fight between a possessed Hulk and Iron Man in his ‘Hulkbuster’ armour, a fun ‘who can pick up Thor’s hammer’ banter scene and the climactic fight that ups the ante even from the first film with all the heroes getting plenty of enemies to fight.

"new weapons"

There is just so much on offer here – alongside the crunching action are some more emotional elements such as a touching romance between Hulk and Black Widow and Hawkeye’s family dynamic.

"quick"

Iron Man still steals the show with his wise cracks and Hulk is incredible to behold in full battle fury. The newcomers to the party are all welcome additions especially the powerful ‘Vision’ (Paul Bettany) who is superb.

"new vision"


Avengers: Age of Ultron is a master class in cinematic enjoyment – essential viewing!!

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

ööööö

(5 - Age of awesome)...

Awesomeness ööööö – jaws will drop, endorphins will rush

Laughs ööö – some great laugh out loud funnies

Horror öö – not too grim  but violent in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – humans are worth saving


Hashtag: #WelcomeToTheNewAge

"Hulk -buster"

"bring it"


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Darkmatters Review: The Salvation


The Salvation (15)

Dir. Kristian Levring

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"Death rides with me"

The Danish give us many good things - superb bacon, quality noir crime TV and now and superbly twisted revenge western which re-enrgises the genre.

"cowboys are stylish again"

The sweeping lawless wild frontier sees ex-soldier and family man Jon (Mads 'Hannibal' Mikkelsen) who is trying to peacefully settle his Danish ass in the American Midwest. He's a happy man because his lovely wife and cute son are coming to join him at his homestead.

- But before you can say "look out for the despicable rapist child murdering scum", Jon's family has been violated and killed - and all he has left in the world is his burning desire for revenge, his gunfighting skills and his sense of justice. Unfortunately, the evil scumbag who took Jon's family away - has a bigger badder brother in the shape of corrupt ex-colonel Delarue (Jeffrey 'Watchmen' Dean Morgan) who eats up his over the top role.

"in-laws eh?"

Cue Mikkelsen embracing his Valhalla Rising persona in cowboy form - and bloodshed follow along with tense interplay and some sex appeal in the shapely but mute form of Delarue's sister in-law, Madelaine (Eva'300: Rise of An Empire' Green). Also on hand is zut alors mon ami only Eric Cantona himself as Corsican - Delarue's muscle.

Grisly redemption is the order of the day then thanks to writer/director Kristian Levring who delivers a gorgeous over-saturated pallet, and brutal compelling Western drama.

"not here to be friends"

I was struck by the cinematography which really is awesome and takes you on a wild west visual odyssey that anyone who enjoys films such as Unforgiven, High Plains Drifter, Open Range, The Proposition, 3:10 to Yuma, True grit, Django Unchained etc...

"grim times"


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

öööö 

(4 - Western Noir hits home
)

Awesomeness öööö – stylish gunfights are cool

Laughs ö – limited funnies

Horror ööö –  some violent death to be expected

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - vengeance is mine sayeth The Lord

Recommended Hashtags: #NeoNoirCowboy

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Child 44


Child 44 (15)

Dir. Daniel Espinosa

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20 if you want to connect)

Read the Newspaper version of this review over at The Hemel Gazette

The Cold War gets grim in this big screen thriller adaptation of Tom Rob Smith's award winning novel that details the hunt for a serial child killer known as the ‘Butcher of Rostov’. This is a mix of real life events boosted by some cunningly fabricated ‘what ifs’ to do with Nazi revenge plans.

Unwitting hero of the piece is Leo Demidov (Tom ‘New Mad Max’ Hardy), a MGB Secret Police Agent who has been noted for promotion due to his propaganda friendly planting of the Russian flag on the Reichstag building after ousting Nazis in 1945. When the son of one of Demidov’s friends is murdered and he is tasked with delivering the official ‘there is no murder in the communist paradise’ cover up, it stirs up a burning sense of injustice.

"unlikely heroes"

The State’s reluctance to admit even the possibility of there being a killer on the prowl is the reason the child slayer operates with impunity, leaving a body count of (you guessed it) 44 young victims. So with no official support Demidov has to coerce his wife, Raisa (Noomi ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Rapace) to help – but she is under suspicion of being a spy by the authorities. Indeed he is asked to investigate her, which could lead to her execution…

The complicated plotline has another baddie in the evil shape of rival MGB Agent Vasili (Joel ‘New Robocop’ Kinnaman) who holds a malicious grudge against Demidov after he prevents him slaughtering some innocents. Throughout the film he returns to make Demidov’s life as tough as possible – and in post war Russia, that is very bad news.

"shoulder pads a go go "

Director Espinosa effectively depicts Soviet life as a Big Brother surveillance nightmare – with tangible fear and paranoia rampant. It’s a compelling backdrop to the murder mystery but the intense level of detail does make it a dense watch. At points you can almost feel the film straining to encompass the richness of the novel.

The cast however are excellent – with Charles Dance, Gary Oldman and Vincent Cassel all delivering strong support. You will need to overlook the slightly dodgy Russian accents though!?

"the first casualty of war is your hair maintenance"

High on drama and packing some really brutal fight scenes, Child 44 has a lot going for it but I couldn’t help thinking that maybe the whole could have been more satisfying than it is. For fans though there are two more books in the trilogy so we may well see a sequel or two.

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

ööö 

(3 - solid, murky and disturbing
)

Awesomeness ööö – lots of dialogue but some action exciting set pieces

Laughs ö – not much fun at all

Horror ööö –  gets a bit grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - do the right thing - even if it costs you everything!

Recommended Hashtags: #KillerNoKiller

"stylish"

"don't mess with this woman!"



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Batman vs Superman vs Avengers!?

"I'm Batman"

Batman v Superman - the trailer tease has landed...

Matt Adcock (@Cleric20is very very excited - check out the trailers below!!

The word is that you'll be able to see the Batman v Superman trailer on a big screen before The Avengers: Age of Ultron (next week for UK, 01 May for US). Darkmatters Avengers 2 review will be live 23rd April.

In the mean time have a look at these - costume-em-up sneak peaks:

1. the tease


2. the teaser trailer in full

Here are some my favourite fan art attempts at the Batman v Superman poster...







If you're in need of some Avengers clips to get your super juices flowing - I recommend checking the Marvel youtube page - I'll leave you with one for good measure:












Monday, April 13, 2015

Darkmatters Review: John Wick


John Wick (15)

Dir. David Leitch & Chad Stahelski

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (- agree / discuss via @Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review over at the Buckinghamshire Review

“People keep asking if I'm back and I haven't really had an answer, but yeah, I'm thinking I'm back.”

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a retired assassin, he best in the business (once killed three people in a bar with just a pencil they say)… Wick said goodbye to the violent past when his wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), came into his life – but when she tragically dies his world is shaken. Then to make matters worse, punk bad guy' Iosef Tarasov (Alfie ‘Game of Thrones’ Allen) kills Wick’s cute dog and steals his beloved muscle car – not a good move.

That’s pretty much all the background you need as from that point on John Wick becomes a rip-roaringly brutal, utterly stylish revenge-em-up which sees Reeves kicking huge amounts of ass, in a way that he hasn’t since The Matrix.

"We are gathered here together to..."

The action scenes in John Wick are exceptionally well choreographed – enemies are dispatched with guns, knives, fists, cars and grenades all mixed into a ballet of grin-inducing carnage, as the late Brandon Lee said in The Crow “It’s not a good day to be a bad guy!”

Speaking of baddies, Mob Boss Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), father of Iosef and former employer of Wick tries his best to stop the unstoppable assassin by putting a price on the his head and unleashing an army of henchmen, backed up by feared hit woman Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki).

"nice car..."

It’s a real adrenalin rush watching John Wick coming out of retirement to wipe out everyone associated with the crims who crossed him. Directors Leitch and Stahelski show that they can frame frenetic action beautifully and they back up the action with a pumping hard rock soundtrack that includes the provocative track ‘Killing Strangers’ by Marilyn Manson.

If you enjoyed films such as Mark Millar’s Wanted or Kingsman, John Wick should be very much on your radar. In fact the secret currency of gold sovereigns and ‘clean up’ services accessed by the guild of assassins makes this almost feel like a companion piece to the aforementioned Wanted.

"That's a big gun Ms. Perkins"

Key supporting roles from Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane add to the feel of quality of the production. Then the highly stylized visuals coupled with the dazzling pyrotechnics of the gunfights will leave you breathless.

Book a date to see John Wick – he doesn’t disappoint.

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

öööö 

(4 - WICKed entertainment for action thrill lovers
)

Awesomeness ööööö – delivers big time on the violent action

Laughs öö – darkly humorous in places

Horror ööö –  likely to elicit cries of "ooh that's got to hurt"

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - revenge is only shallow satisfaction

Recommended Hashtags: #JWICKed

"Going to need guns, lots of guns..."

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Fast & Furious 7


Fast & Furious 7 (12a)

Dir. James Wan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“One last ride…”

If you’re of a nervous disposition, don’t like loud noises or have a low tolerance for action so stupid and altogether awesome that it floods your entire body with adrenalin, Fast 7 isn’t for you. If however you’re looking for an insane, turbo charged thrill ride that blows pretty every other vehicle related action movie – step right this way!

"some racing guaranteed"

This latest chapter of the box office smashing, automobile carnage causing series brings back the legendary street racer / crim Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), his close friend and ex-cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) plus their crew or ‘family’ as they refer to them who include: Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges etc.

There is a slim plot of sorts - just when the merry racers think they can return to ‘normal’ lives up pops uber evil and very angry Jason Statham – the brother of Luke Evans’ baddie from Fast & Furious 6 no less – with a score to settle. Add to that another threat in the nasty form of uber terrorist Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) who has kidnapped a gorgeous hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) that the heroes must rescue. And if that wasn’t enough –Jakanda has the one and only action hero legend Tony Jaa as his muscle. That would be enough threat for most but Fast 7 Director Wan pulls a Tarantino by enlisting none other than Kurt Russell as a shady government operative.

"car-nage"

So the cast is stellar, the plot is a two hour plus excuse for over-the-top car mayhem, gunfights, fist fights, stunts, robberies, rescues and bro banter. It’s nuts in the best possible way – and will engage your action endorphin receptors to the point that they will burn out! Cars fly from building to building, heavy weapons are broken out regularly and there's a crunching girl on girl smack down too!

"you'll believe cars can fly!"

I have to mention the tragic death of Paul Walker during filming too – this adds a melancholy to the action and I felt actually quite moved by the tribute this film has to the much loved star.

Fast 7 is an action sledgehammer – silly and fun, exciting and engrossing in equal measure. Fans of the series to date will be blown away by the sheer audacity of the set pieces. And if anyone starts their Fast & Furious journey at part 7 – they will very likely be impressed.

"bringing bigger guns"

This is a film that will put a massive smile on your action loving face – recommended!!


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

ööö 

(3 -
Solid speed thrills that only occasionally feel generic)

Awesomeness ööö – awesome set pieces

Laughs öö – funny bits

Horror öö – a little bit of violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - strength over

Recommended Hashtags: #SevenUp

"farewell"

Darkmatters Review: Bloodborne


Bloodborne (PS4)

Developed by From Software

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"Best.

Death.

Ever…"

The legends are true – tales of an incredibly tough but supremely rewarding gaming experience backed up by jaw-dropping visuals and smart social connected elements – available only on Sony’s mighty PlayStation 4 have been foretold but now they are a reality!?

From Software (the genius team behind the excellent Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls games) have created something very very special in Bloodborne – a combat heavy fantasy experience that literally allows you to ‘hunt your nightmares’…

"welcome hunter!"

In Bloodborne you take the role of a monster ‘Hunter’ thrown into the gothic city of Yharnam, a dark, creature infested place whose secrets are legion and where the currency is blood itself… Do you dare walk the cobbled streets, the dingy houses, the gloomy cathedrals and ominous forests of this place that has been both forsaken and cursed?

You won’t be alone… It seems that the entire populace have become cursed minions who are after your blood – ranging from the angry pitchfork wielding zombie-alike peasants through to huge hulking beasts that crash through the city or dwell in the dank sewers. Around every corner will be a new horror, and the bad news is that even the humblest of these minions can kill you quickly if you are careless, weak or unlucky (or any combo of those)!? The cursed menagerie of enemies are freakish and breathtaking – a superb freak show even dripping danger and menace – plus several that will unnerve and strike outright fear into your gaming heart.

"these folk want a word with you..."

So the challenge is a great one – but fortunately you are equipped with a tasty assortment of weaponry – a choice of crunching / slicing melee weapons for one hand – each with more than one attack mode (e.g. the Threaded Cane – my personal favourite starting weapon - which can become a whip for longer range attacks on multiple enemies).

In your other hand you hold a firearm – starting with either a pistol or shotgun, a handy thing to have in any fight as timed correctly a blast can stun an enemy with a well paced Quicksilver bullet to the face. As well as guns you can swap out for a flaming torch, shield or flame throwing can!?

The combat is fast and furious, but also nuanced and requiring thought, button mashers will be seeing a lot of the loading screen for sure!!

If you’re a Dark Souls fan – you’ll be right at home from the start – Bloodborne has the ‘Souls’ DNA under it’s slick next gen visuals, but this is a faster slaughter-em-up where aggressive style is favoured over caution every time.

"temptation... looks great on your shelf!"

Bloodborne is a tough game – and any gamer looking to waltz through unscathed on an ‘easy’ difficulty will soon be humbled – this is game that rewards skill, you will need to hone your abilities, upgrade your weapons and grind through the surprisingly hard initial stages.

There is some cool multiplayer elements which help, one where you can ring a bell and summon another human hunter to your version of the world – bosses are much more tackle-able with a pal at your side! The converse of this sees you enabled to ‘invade’ another human’s game and attack them as a dangerous game-ruining phantom.

Another nice trait is that you can write notes for other players (and read those left by others) – warning of upcoming dangers and sharing tips that might just help you through… You can also ‘rate’ the notes you find either ‘fine’ or ‘foul’ – and if another player likes one of your notes, you’ll get an immediate health boost which can be very very welcome during a tough fight!

"no time to stop and admire the clouds"

Bloodborne is a truly addictive and maddening game, each failure and death will either make you want to give up and trade it in or try again and win through against the odds. I am serious hooked – and have even found a way to spend the reloading screen time… It’s the “Bloodborne Workout” – each time you die you simply get down and perform a minimum of 10 push-ups or sit-ups (alternate for best effect). This being such a gruelling game, you’ll be buffed up in no time!?

This is a review that could go on and on as there are many complexities and secrets to found, weapons to upgrade, runes to imbibe and various equipment to be enhanced. Bloodborne is a game that will keep you playing for 50+ hours at a minimum and then there are the host of user created ‘Chalice Dungeons’ – that warrant a whole additional review…


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


ööööö


(5 - Greatness is here!! Gird yourself for hunting!)...


"Every boss fight is epic!"


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Cinderella


Cinderella (U)

Dir. Kenneth Branagh

Reviewed by Gail Adcock (@nonblondie37)

Read the Luton News newspaper version of this review: Luton News

'Sssh! Let's keep this to ourselves, but this review has quite literally been hijacked! No swashbuckling, shoot-em-up or super hero antics this week. Instead sisters are doin' it for themselves and bringing the girl power by viewing, well, the er, totally brand new retelling of 'Cinderella' actually...

Lily James stars as Ella (who's later cruelly nicknamed Cinder-Ella by her step sister as she cleans the fire) in a classic adaptation of the fairy tale that nods to its Disney animated predecessor. As her Fairy Godmother, Helena Bonham Carter, lavishes magical dust to enable an outing to the ball she flourishes her wand with a "Bippiti-boppity-boo", Cinders dazzling ballgown, the bluebirds and friendly mice are all borrowed from the 1950s classic.

"A bride finding ball..."

Branagh's fairytale world is lavish, set in lush green lands, which the camera swoops over bringing the epic story to life, costumes are opulent and attention to detail exquisite. Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchette) is a force to be reckoned with, not only for her cruel, bullying actions but also her sharp, coutured 1940s inspired silhouette. Her style and presence steal every scene she's in but her wickedness isn't a patch on Margaret Lockwood's stepmother in 'The Slipper and the Rose', arguably the best version of 'Cinderella' to ever grace the screen.

The cast succeed in walking a fine line between inhabiting their well known characters whilst not caricaturing their roles, there are solid performances from Derek Jacobi, Sophie McShera, Richard Madden and Stellan Skarsgard (despite the abundance of radiant white actor teeth that glisten to distraction from beginning to end!)

"fancy footwear!?"

The story told here seeks to 'fill out' characters, providing added details to create more 3-dimensional human beings with motives and emotions. The emphasis on presenting Ella's early life and loss of her parents brings a sadness that the fairy tale merely alludes to but forms the basis of her desire to faithfully follow their example in living a lowly life. There are subtle undercurrents of the complexity of relationships and family life here, ambitious for a retelling of such a well known tale.

For all its splendour and opulence, though, the film ultimately lacks real substance. Lily James' Cinderella lives by the ethos passed on by her mother in her final moments to 'have courage and be kind', which she does selflessly throughout. Yet for the young girls I watched with she needed more feistiness and wit to earn any right to be a contemporary role model for them. Perhaps that's the biggest challenge the story faces - to bring this character and much loved tale to the screen relevantly for a 21st century audience?'

"horsing around"

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

ööö 

(3 - 
Bippiti-boppity-not-bad )

Awesomeness ööö – almost awesome in places

Laughs öö – some fun

Horror ö – nothing grim

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Whose your fairly Godmother?

Recommended Hashtags: #MidnightIsJustTheBeginning

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Off the Reservation: Stories I Almost Took to the Grave and Probably Should Have


Off the Reservation: Stories I Almost Took to the Grave and Probably Should Have

By Michael Rossi

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“This story is meant to entertain, not teach.”

There are many many books I want to read, I love reading, always have and my ‘to read’ list trails off into the middle distance like Star Wars opening text crawl. So it is very rare that a book gets to jump the queue, especially memoirs as I’m much more of a fiction kind of guy.

But thanks to the connectedness of twitter I came across Michael Rossi’s superbly titled ‘Off the Reservation: Stories I Almost Took to the Grave and Probably Should Have’.

I didn’t know anything about this Rossi guy but after just a couple of taster pages I knew two things:

1. I was going to read this book straight away
2. This memoir was darker yet more funny than many fictional novels I’ve read

In many ways it is better to go into Off the Reservation not knowing too much about the plot. Be prepared though for a wild ride which encompasses abuse, addiction, depravity and manic behaviour. This is the tale of a life lived far beyond the safety nets that hold most of us. You’ll laugh, wince and possibly doubt the narrative due to there being so many sheer ‘whoa, no way!’ moments – but Rossi’s is a life that you’ll feel enriched by for having read.

Brutally frank in his confessional manner, the narration of such a reckless existence shines a light on the challenges of being a bipolar alcoholic with serious personality issues. This book tries not to glorify the drinking, drug taking and debauchery but doesn’t shy away from detailing the reasoning as to why these vices have the pull that they do. There are a wealth of escapades here that would render any cinematic treatment of this tale (and I dearly hope that it is being planned) in to adult only viewing experience.

There are truly unforgettable events recorded in these pages, there’s not a man alive who won’t feel physically ill after reading the ‘girlfriend in the pocket’ incident and anyone of a romantic disposition will be sobbing at the heartbreak peppered throughout.

The most engaging element of ‘Off the Reservation’ is how hugely charismatic Rossi is – despite his many flaws and problems, I couldn’t help but find myself wanting to potentially share a beer and some time with such a character.

The flip side of his heavy partying lifestyle is writ large with the desperation, self-loathing and terrifying failed suicide attempts that expose an unapologetic insight into mental health problems albeit through a disturbingly darkly comic account.

As a believer I was interested in Rossi's relationship with God and religion too - I love his line: "I will always be a fan of Jesus Christ; he was the first, best anti-establishment radical in history."

Off the Reservation is a ‘must read’ – a book that will make you want to live a better life. I’m planning to buy copies for friends near and far and I recommend you do the same (after treating yourself of course).

Rossi is like an American Martin Amis - can't wait to see what he does next!

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

ööööö

(5 - An epic, highly comic, true life, mental health thrill ride)...

GET YOUR COPY OF 'Off the Reservation' HERE




"In my mind's eye Michael Rossi looks like Alec Baldwin in the '90s classic Miami Blues"






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