DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Tomorrowland - A World Beyond


Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (12a)

Dir. Brad Bird

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (tweet me at @Cleric20)

“Do you ever wonder what would happen if all the great thinkers came together to actually change the world for the better? And the results were, well, miracles?”

Prepare to rekindle your cinematic sense of awe, engage your inner innocent wide-eyed wonder and unshackle your mind from the limits you operate within every day…

"Future style"

Take a trip to Tomorrowland: A World Beyond – Disney’s big budget retro-feel sci-fi-em-up - and you’ll be transported to somewhere very special.

Your host for this fantastical adventure is plucky teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) who becomes caught up in a dangerous mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space – a place called "Tomorrowland."

"pick your hero"

Casey’s not alone in this quest – as grumpy Frank Walker (George Clooney), who was once a child genius inventor, becomes her initially reluctant partner in crime on their quest to save the future. And they're joined by cute robotic companion Athena (Raffey Cassidy) - who might just hold the key to all our futures.

Oh there’s so much going on here – killer robots, geek friendly shops packed with Star Wars memorabilia, a doomsday device counting down to the end of us and a surprising not-entirely-kiddie-friendly body count.

"one touch and you're there..."

If you’re prepared to let the freewheeling story and stunning CGI stimulate your pleasure receptors Tomorrowland will whisk you away and leave plenty behind for you to think about afterwards. You could say this is like ‘Interstellar’ but a bit easier to get your head around!?

The threat of human society collapsing into a cynical dystopia unfortunately really does not feel that far fetched. As baddie of the piece is Nix (Hugh Laurie), an understated rather than ‘boo-hiss’ overlord of Tomorrowland is stifling the creativity out of the place – which is amusing in itself when you consider the film was originally based on a generic Disney theme park area!?

"Future architecture!"

Clooney is on good form, refreshing in not bringing his usual dazzling charismatic persona but rather a less sympathetic and yet still likeable lead. He gets some great lines – like ‘when I was a kid, the future was different’…His rapport with Robertson is winning too – and she is the real star of the film, this is definitely her breakthrough role and I’m tipping her for big things ahead.

Director Brad ‘The Incredibles’ Bird invites you to Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, it’s a place every man, woman and child should visit as soon as possible, just be sure to bring your imagination!!

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

öööö 

(4 - The future isn't what it used to be
)

Awesomeness öööö – exciting, thought provoking stuff

Laughs ööö – fun in places

Horror öö – not too grim but some violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - don't stop dreaming

Recommended Hashtags: #Beyond

"which is human?"

Friday, May 15, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Mad Max Fury Road


Mad Max: Fury Road (15)

Dir. George Miller

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“My name is Max. My world is reduced to a single instinct: Survive. As the world fell it was hard to know who was more crazy. Me... Or everyone else.”

The future belongs to the mad – so get ready for a wonderfully insane thrill ride.

"there goes his no claims bonus"

‘Mad’ Max is back baby and he’s better than ever, George Miller's anti-hero hasn’t graced the screen sine 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome and whilst he’s swapped actors from Mel Gibson to Tom Hardy – this is a most welcome return!

Sometimes it can he hard to kick start a franchise after 30 years but Fury Road feels fresh and energised, this is without doubt a nitros charged immediate cult classic.

"meaningful looks"

Hardy is superb as the broken Road Warrior who is haunted by the loss of his family – his aim is to simply survive but that’s easier said than done in a violent future where gangs rule the scorched wastelands and water is precious commodity.

The apocalyptic stark desert landscape looks incredible, you can almost taste the dust and feel the intense heat but it’s the vehicles that are the real stars here. From the iconic ‘battle rig’ tanker which fans of the series will see as an evolution of the one from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior through to Max’s Ford Falcon XB Coupe, V8 351 which is also updated.

"insanity"

Max might be mad but he’s a man of action and few words, adept at surviving in the violent chaos. His path crosses with the strong willed Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is trying to save a bunch of rather lovely ‘breeders’ – the future term for fertile women apparently – who include British actress Rosie ‘Transformers’ Huntington-Whiteley rejoicing in the name The Splendid Angharad.

"Theron is bad ass"

With something to fight for Max and his unwilling sidekick Nux (Nicholas Hoult) go up against the crazed warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh ‘Toecutter from the original Mad Max’ keays-Byrne)

As soon as the action kicks off in Fury Road it absolutely does not let up – this is 120mins of outrageously over-the-top ‘car’nage, it’s incredible, exciting and breath-taking. Those who have played the hit PlayStation game of mass car destruction ‘Twisted Metal,’ will have some idea of what to expect.

"baddie"

If the future really does belong to the mad – Mad Max Fury Road is a great introduction to it. Highly recommended viewing.

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

öööö1/2 

(4.5 - exhausting, cool, apocalyptic epic!
)

Awesomeness ööööö – glorious destruction has never been so cool

Laughs ööö – grim slapstick comedy in places

Horror öööö – very violent, authentic 'n crunchin

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - madness is no escape

Recommended Hashtags: #FutureMadness

"wreckage"

"future chastity!?"


Friday, May 08, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Big Game


Big Game (12a)

Dir. Jalmari Helander

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review over at the: Northampton Chronicle & Echo

‘Die Hard’ in a Forest… Just with the Bruce Willis role morphed into a young teenage kid. If you like the sound of that – then Big Game is the film for you.

When Air Force One is shot down by terrorists over a rural mountainous area of Finland, the President of the United States (Samuel L Jackson) is stranded in the wilderness, and finds himself hunted down by a team of ruthless mercenaries.

"someone order a bad guy?"

Fortunately for the President, 13-year old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is passing on his own hunting mission – trying to prove his maturity to his kinsfolk by bagging a worthy trophy. But after meeting Jackson he decides to try and save the life of the most powerful man on the planet instead and a nail-biting game of hide n seek n kill ensues.

The scenario of tooled up terrorists fighting the unlikely duo of heroes is a lot of fun and Big Game delivers plenty of quality action scenes. Director Jalmari ‘Rare Exports’ Helander is obviously a fan of cheesy big budget action flicks, jamming in references and nods to previous classics.

"I come in peace"

Jackson is good as the President, playing him as less of an action guy than in some of the recent President under attack films such as White House Down. This allows young Tommila to shine and steal the movie in what should be a career kick-starting role. The evil boss Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus), is suitably nasty and without wanting to spoil anything – it may just be that there is a double agent somewhere too.

The juxtaposition of high tech weaponry sporting bad guys vs bow and arrow carrying hunter makes for great cat and mouse peril situations. There are echoes of Predator, Commando and Rambo scattered in this movie which will please ‘80s action film fans. There is also a wry sense of humour at work that really helps lift what could have been an entirely disposable enterprise to be film worth checking out.

"little John McClane"

The only down time is in-between the set-pieces, where it feels a bit of lag – the bods in the Pentagon control room who include Jim Broadbent humming and haaring over the action from afar via satellite footage just isn’t as fun to watch.


Big Game is the perfect introduction to the action movie for younger teens as it keeps the violence moderate and the swears minimal – but packs enough punch to make it watchable for all ages.

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

ööö1/2 

(3.5 - fun and engaging action-em-up
)

Awesomeness ööö – great set pieces and judicious use of budget

Laughs ööö – funny in places

Horror öö – not too violent but there is a body count

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - hunter turn protector

Recommended Hashtags: #OneSmallChanceOfSurvival

"look out below"



Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Far From The Madding Crowd



Far from the Madding Crowd (12a)

Dir. Thomas Vinterberg

Reviewed by Matt 'Oak' Adcock (@Cleric20)

"It is my intention to astonish you all."

As a boy I was fascinated by the book 'Far From The Madding Crowd' - you see it sat on my mother's bookcase - at the end facing out - so pretty much every day I saw the title and the depiction of a lovely woman kissing a dashing soldier in an idyllic woodland. I fell in love with the title and often wondered what it was that the 'crowd' did to be so 'madding'... Then I saw the 1960's screen version of the book on TV and it was fine but weirdly dull (for a teenage boy at least).


Now my favourite contemporary actress Carey 'Drive' Mulligan takes on the central role of headstrong, beautiful and independent Bathsheba Everdene and I have a new favourite romance film!

Director Thomas Vinterberg's Far from the Madding Crowd is lush, stylish and powerfully emotive - it is also turbo charged by Mulligan's central performance. Screenwriter David Nicholls' new take on Hardy's tale of a single woman in Victorian England inheriting a farm from her uncle and dealing with the attentions of three very different suitors is a compelling adaptation.

"Oh Bathsheba!"

Let's look at the suitors - first on the scene is ruggedly handsome and all round decent sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) who no sooner has found her dropped scarf than he proposes to her.

Next up wealthy landowner and master of the neighbouring farm William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) tries it on with promises of giving her 'everything she could desire' just without the actual 'desire' bit...

But can either of them compete with the dashing Sergeant Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge) who wields a long sword and dazzling scarlet uniform, but might be a bit of a cad, what with his betrothed Fanny on the side (Juno Temple) and all?

"Dancing - essential element of any courtship"

So girl power Bathsheba has her heart swung in various directions, but being in the firing line of three potential husbands is a tough place to be, especially in a time when stifled women weren't given the respect or credence merited.

It's not just the good looking cast that make this a handsome film either - the cinematic countryside shots are nothing short of magnificent. Key scenes from the book are given swoon worthy cinematography that drew gasps of delight from the madding crowd I saw this with.

This is by far my favourite of Hardy's novels - and the only one to really send readers / viewers off with a smile on their faces, an affirmation of life in their hearts and a romantic glow in their neither regions!?

"Oooh - feel the heartache!"

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

öööö1/2 

(4.5 - lovely ravishing romance has rarely been so good!
)

Awesomeness öööö – stylish and engaging

Laughs öö – some limited mirth

Horror öö – was a tough time to be alive, one violent death

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - be true to your heart

Recommended Hashtags: #LoveBathsheba


Monday, May 04, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Nanopunk


Nanopunk

by Nathan McGrath (@NathanMcGrathSF)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

"A second into November the 18th Kyros, the world's most powerful supercomputer, accessed the european networks..."

Meet Alister, your average teenage hacker.

Actually he's not your average teenage hacker. Alister has nano-particles in his blood and they enable him to communicate with technology - so in fact he's the world's best hacker ever and it might just save his life...

Nanopunk is the near future tale of what happens when a regular guy gets super tech abilities in a frozen world that is fast going to hell. Searching for his missing scientist sister (who created the nano-particles that give him his powers) - Alister is on the run from the authorities who will stop at nothing to capture or kill him.

Aided by Suzie, a feisty 'cyber-militant' (and handy love interest) who he meets in a seemingly random encounter - the story rips along at a fair pace towards a conclusion that sets up more in what is soon to be trilogy of tales. McGrath's debut novel is a page turner that makes up for the slightly clunky prose by having an action packed narrative. Saddle up for shoot-outs, chases, hacking and double dealing aplenty, everything is kinetically charged and works well.

"Online hoodies - the phantom menace"

McGrath creates a believable world where the rebel alliance, sorry, People's Infantry are using hacking to take the fight back to the oppressive government, so Alister is the sort of asset that really could help turn the tide. As the shadowy forces of authority threat to take complete hold, enforced by tooled up heavy handed mercenaries Alister is certainly an unlikely hero - and has to step up if he's going to make a difference. It doesn't hurt when he manages to access a 'Soft Machine' suit of body adapting armour!

Nanopunk reads like a cross between Neuromancer, The Matrix and Spooks - and if you're into that type of fiction then you'll find this to be an enjoyable jolt to the senses. As a huge fan of tech noir like William Gibson's iconic groundbreaking output, this is on the same lines and I'll certainly be interested to see where the story goes next (the sequel Lightening Seed is available!)...

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - A hardwired tech future fiction worth checking out)...

GET YOUR COPY OF NANOPUNK: Here

Read more about McGrath's work and the science behind it at: www.softmachine.net

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Spooks - The Greater Good


Spooks: The Greater Good (15)

Dir. Bharat Nalluri

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

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

“I was in MI5 long enough to realise that you can do good. Or you can do well…”

After a hefty 10 series of twisty plotted espionage action Spooks bursts onto the big screen. Director Bharat Nalluri (who directed the first and last TV episodes) brings a valiant and exciting spy-em-up that will please long-term fans and may well win over some new ones too.

When the CIA’s most wanted terrorist - Qasim (Elyes Gabel) – escapes from custody in the UK, the fallout sees MI5 torn apart as veteran baddie catcher Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) takes the blame.

"You know nothing Jon Snow"

But all is not what it seems and Harry has to enlist the young agent whose career in the service he cut short - Will Holloway (Kit ‘Game of Thrones’ Harington), in order to try and find a high level traitor.

Cue lots of running about, sneaking, double-crossing and the occasional gunfight as the team try to avert a massive terror attack on the UK. The film plays like the best ever extended episode, with the obligatory ‘keep you guessing’ character deaths and plenty of slick action / tension.

The cast all look like their having a good time, girl power is brought into the mix by the likes of Jennifer ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Ehle as Geraldine, Tuppence ‘The Imitation Game’ Middleton as June and Lara ‘ Edge of Tomorrow’ Pulver as Erin.

"Nice shots of London aplenty"

As the body count mounts, all bets are off as the British agents battle to try and serve ‘the greater good'. There are fun Easter Eggs to be spotted too such as a very 007 baddie white cat in one suspect’s house that leads Will to quip that they have definitely ‘got their man’.

I was fortunate to get to attend the first UK public screening of Spooks – which was an emotional affair with the writers, director and stars (Firth and Harrington) in attendance.

So Spooks: The Greater Good delivers a good time for viewers and even holds its own up against competition from the likes of Mission Impossible and Bourne etc. It’s also a huge improvement on the spin off effort Spooks: Code 9.

"Harry's Game"

The terror attack plot feels very relevant and Harry gets to kick ass on behalf of middle age blokes who always wanted to be James Bond everywhere!

This Spooks is a fun big screen romp that has wide appeal.

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

ööö1/2 

(3.5 - The greater TV to film adaptation
)

Awesomeness ööö – stylishly shot action

Laughs öö – a few funnies but quite dark

Horror ööö –  torture-lite and character deaths

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - for Queen and Country

Recommended Hashtags: #IAintFraidOfNoSpook


"Miss Middleton"






Friday, April 24, 2015

Darkmatters Review: Avengers Age Of Ultron


Avengers: Age of Ultron (12a)

Dir. Joss Whedon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review over at: The Luton News

“ 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 (shoot me down on twitter: @Cleric20)

"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!"



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