DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Independence Day Resurgence



Independence Day: Resurgence (12a)

Dir. Roland Emmerich

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Today, you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation.”

If you can remember 1996, there’s a good chance you saw and enjoyed Independence Day – with it’s iconic destruction of earth’s best loved landmarks, cheesy B-Movie plot and exciting ‘humans fight back’ narrative. So there’s a weight of expectation on this belated follow up…

"not just totems"

Welcome to earth where we’ve spent the last 20 years utilising the advanced alien tech our nasty intergalactic enemies left behind, just in case they decide to come back. Yes we’ve got nifty anti-grav helicopters, stashes of alien laser rifles and a massive space canon built on the moon. This time we’ll be ready to fight.

Alas it seems that the aliens haven’t been idle either – and when their inevitable resurgent assault comes, it’s bigger than we could possibly repel. Yes, it’s big screen extinction level events a go-go again, and Director Emmerich is a master of eye popping devastation.

"There goes the planet"

This time there’s a mysterious second alien race to contend with, plus a good looking new cohort of hotshot Earth Space Defense (ESD) fighter pilots who include obligatory maverick Jake Morrison (Liam ‘Hunger Games’ Hemsworth), Dylan Dubrow-Hiler (Jessie Usher) – the son of sadly not returning because of death Steven Hiller (Will Smith). There are some female representatives this time too in form of Chinese pilot Rain Lao (Angelababy) and Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) who is Jake’s love interest and skilled pilot too.

Waving the flag for the survivors of the first film are scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) plus former President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and alien specialist Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner).

"Perturbed heroes"

Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t big on character development or anything other than human vs alien visually incredible thrills and it packs some planetary sized plot holes. But the good news is that there are plenty of bigger scale threats to go round. How about a 3,000 mile enemy mothership complete with a new alien queen on the block who chases a school bus full of teens? Yep!

Is it as good as the first one? No, not really, but this is decent fun summer blockbusting fare. The only way to really appreciate this is to switch off your brain, kick back and let the slick dogfighting action and human bravery in the face of impossible odds light up your endorphin receptors.

"The kids are in peril!"

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - They're back and it's stupid summer sci-fi fun time)...

Awesomeness öööö – Exciting space monster action is ON

Laughs öö – Limited but occasional laughs to be had

Horror öö – Nothing too grim but very tense in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – Humanity fights for each other!

"Alien Queen 2.0"



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Trailer for The Girl With All The Gifts!!

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS...



Very excited to announce that the first trailer for The Girl With All The Gifts (a near future heartbreaking tale of action, horror and humanity) is now live!

Darkmatters' own Matt Adcock (@Cleric20) is one of the Hungries...




See if you can spot him!?

The film hits the UK on 09 September...

"Matt in 'Hungry' mode"

Read Matt's interview with the book's author / fellow 'Hungry' extra - M. R. Carey

Interview Link

Friday, June 17, 2016

Darkmatters Review: The Conjuring 2


The Conjuring 2 (15)

Dir. James Wan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Read the newspaper version of this review over at: The Bucks Herald

“How does it feel living in a haunted house?”

Just when you thought it was safe to venture to the cinema, The Conjuring comes back with a full force spook-em-up and puts the heebie-jeebies in you… If you saw the original then you’ll know the drill – this is another ‘based on actual events’ case of the supernatural being tackled by real life husband and wife ghost busters Ed (Patrick ‘Watchmen’ Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera ‘Source Code’ Farmiga).

"The power of Christ compels you"

The Conjuring 2 tells the well reported (and already filmed in different guises) case of the Hodgson family of North London where a Poltergeist infested their home back in 1977. Known as ‘The Enfield Haunting’ – it seemed that a malevolent spirit began especially tormenting 11-year-old Janet Hodgson (Madison ‘Joy” Wolfe) and her mother Peggy (Frances ‘A.I.’ O'Connor).

The ‘facts’ of the case are that an angry ghost of former resident who died on the property in Green Street returned to try and drive the family out of their council house. But whilst the evidence of paranormal activity seems beyond question, some dismiss it as a collective delusion, or the work of a devious and disturbed child. But what if it was all actually the work of a demon manifesting in different forms for some higher dark plan?

"Hi - I'd like 2 tickets for the Marilyn Manson concert please?"

This is certainly not a film for the faint of heart as the fright factor is set to ‘high’. Effective jump scares aplenty keep you on the edge of your seat thanks to the slick directing of James ‘The Fast & Furious 7’ Wan. What might make you raise an eyebrow though is to see that The Conjuring 2 was written by Christian screenwriters Chad and Carey Hills.

The Church here is depicted as the only force strong enough to tackle such evil incarnate and it’s almost enough to make you want to pitch up to your local place of worship just to be on the safe side. The Warrens have nothing to battle the forces of darkness without their trusty crucifixes and bibles.

"Uncle William doesn't play nice"

Opening with a quick trip to another famous haunting – The Amityville Horror, this is a decent addition to what looks like becoming a franchise thanks to the the strong box office opening of this second entry.

The Conjuring 2 packs some great special effects, really strong ideas and is nicely real-feeling acting. The '70s attention to detail is wonderful too - and will resonate with any Brits who lived through that time when it was socially acceptable to drive an Austin Allegro and rock huge mutton chop sideburns!

This a kind of spooky magic that is worth checking on the big screen, just maybe don’t go alone and have your vicar on speed dial just in case!?

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Spooky whether fact or fiction )...

Awesomeness öööö – You'll potentially scream and definitely feel uncomfortable

Laughs öö – A little comedy banter

Horror ööö –  Violent threat and strong horror moments

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – The name of Jesus has power!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Darkmatters Review: The Boss


The Boss (15)

Dir. Ben Falcone

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I am the wealthiest in America. How wealthy am I? I came down on a golden phoenix!”

Here we have a film about a loud, lewd and loathsome American, no, it’s not a new Donald Trump biography, this is an unpleasant ‘comedy’ about Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy). Darnell is a self-made business success story, running several companies and crushing all who oppose her – with no time for others thanks to her painful foster-home childhood where she was rejected by many families.

"all mouth"

‘The Boss’ however falls from grace due to some insider trading, and loses everything. After surviving some white collar jail time, she's forced to rely on the kindness of her one-time loyal assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) who puts her up on the couch. Claire's savvy young daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson), warms to Darnell – which feels a bit forced as she’s so very hateable – but it’s a necessary plot point. Even though she traumatizes the little girl by showing her The Texas Chainsaw Massacre whilst babysitting (the clips of that horror flick are the best bits in this film alas).

From then on the film switches to a terrible entrepreneur-em-up as Darnell starts her own version of Girl Guides in order to sell Claire’s brownies and make mucho money. Cue unfunny and cringe-worthy scene after scene of McCarthy hamming it up and the rest of the cast looking a bit aghast.

"punching little girls in the street"

The Boss had the potential to be feel good laugh-out-loud comedy but it fails in every area. The limited ‘comedy’ moments are either inappropriate for a film where most of the cast are girls under 12, or just not funny – special shame should go to Peter ‘Game of Thrones’ Dinklage who plays Renault (a business rival – not the car). In a climactic scene that literally beggars belief Darnell and Renault engage in an unfunny sword fight, which alas does not end with the Game of Thrones levels of death or violence…

Nothing seems to work very well, the jokes flop or raise groans, the slapstick violence and mugging to the camera is amusing in small doses but it gets tired very quickly. What’s worse is that McCarthy is a talented actress who gives it her all but the character she’s playing, the plot of the film and the dialogue actively work against her leaving The Boss to be one of the most dismal cinematic experiences of the year so far.

"Be afraid..."

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

öö

(2 - you're fired!)...

Awesomeness öö – Nothing very awesome to report here

Laughs öö – Not nearly enough for a 'comedy'

Horror öö – Boredom is your enemy

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö – Nasty people should be given another chance?

"oh dear"



Sunday, June 05, 2016

Darkmatters Review: The Nice Guys




The Nice Guys (15)

Dir. Shane Black

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Look on the bright side. Nobody got hurt…”

Meet The Nice Guys, a couple of private detectives who are not afraid to take the law into their own hands. Licensed P.I. Holland March (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling) is a single father investigating the mysterious death of famous adult film actress ‘Misty Mountains’ (Murielle ‘The Duff’ Telio) in 1977 Los Angeles. He is forced to team up with Jackson Healey (Russell ‘Gladiator’ Crowe) – an old school tough guy who hurts people for money – when it becomes apparent that they are both involved in the same case, and both in danger.

Together they and Holland’s wise beyond her years daughter Holly (teenage rising star Angourie Rice) follow the trail of a Misty look alike named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) who has vanished. Before you can say ‘this is going to end in tears’ there are bodies piling up, because it turns out, the mob also looking for Amelia and an experimental film she shot called How Do You Like My Car, Big Boy?

Cue a winning mix of slapstick violence, laugh out loud comedy and memorable dialogue as the Nice Guys realize that they might be in over their heads. Director Shane ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ Black brings out the best of his AAA lead stars, who have excellent buddy chemistry as they tackle deranged goons, unstoppable hit men and a possible high reaching government conspiracy.

"On the case"

The Nice Guys is a filthy, funny and exciting detective-em-up that makes for hugely entertaining cinema viewing. The crackling dialogue and banter between Crowe and Gosling is just delicious to behold and young Rice is a marvel, holding her own and indeed stealing many scenes, she’s certainly a talent to keep an eye on.

The seventies setting is a retro blast with the coolest cars of the decade, the wild hedonistic Hollywood parties of LA - complete with mermaids and copious drugs. This isn’t a film for prudes or those averse to cuss words as the seedy underbelly of tinsel town is writ large. The crunching violence and heavy duty gunplay makes this more Lethal Weapon than Sherlock when it comes to crime solving double acts.

"Never mind the authentic '70s posters"

By the time the end credits roll it is sad to say farewell to these likeable Nice Guys and I’m already hoping we’ll see them in action again before too long!

"Father and daughter team"

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

öööö

(4 - They're not that nice, but they are FUN )...

Awesomeness öööö – Super strong buddy detective noir comedy fun

Laughs öööö – Excellent comedy banter

Horror ööö –  Gets a bit violent in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – trust your pals



Friday, June 03, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Love & Friendship


Love & Friendship (U)

Dir. Whit Stillman

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Alas! (exclaimed I) how am I to avoid those evils I shall never be exposed to?”

Meet the gorgeous and flirtatious Lady Susan Vernon (Kate 'Underworld' Beckinsale), a Jane Austen heroine unlike any before her... Highly skilled in the ways of men, Lady Susan - who shares her name with the unfinished novella on which this movie is based - is on a mission to find both her and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Clark), eligible husbands, packing fortunes preferably.

"Ladies about town"

But being a widow, Lady Susan is obliged to rely on the kindness of friends and family (however distant), he life has become a whirl of visits and stays with those in her social circle. But she has a roving eye and isn't afraid of using her charms to ingratiate herself with other women's husbands, especially the rather dashing Lord Manwaring (Lochlann 'Vikings' O'Mearáin) - much to the ailment of Lady Lucy Manwaring (Jenn 'Brooklyn' Murray).

"check my Austen bouffant"

So the scene is set for a spicy romance-em-up which packs a biting sense of humour and a cool satire underneath the well observed social manners and incredible costumes. Much praise must go to Whit Stillman who directs with flair and has made a film which is a total romantically charged joy, full of wicked charm!!

Lady Susan is a force of nature and Beckinsale plays her perfectly, there is however another character who even out shines her - stealing every scene they are in... Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sir James Martin (Tom 'soon to be seen in David Brent: Life On The Road' Bennett), a clueless bit rich, nice but dim conversation stopper who is inflicted with a kind of idiot tourette's. My lovely wife and I laughed loud and long at his antics which are just superb comic relief.

"Manners"

Other characters include Susan's sister-in-law, Catherine (Emma Greenwell) who is the one person that isn't so easily taken in by the master manipulator, her brother-in-law, Charles (Justin Vernon) and the handsome Reginald de Courcy (Xavier Samuel), whom Lady Susan seduces and has longer term designs on.

Lady Susan's one true friend is the American Alicia Johnson (Chloë Sevigny) - together they scheme as to how sad it is that Alicia's older husband Mr Johnson (Stephen Fry) hasn't died yet!? It is a revelation into the mind of Jane Austen and it makes you wonder if Love & Friendship isn't perhaps the best adaptation of work to date?

"Always time for tea"

I can't recommend Love & Friendship enough. It's a perfect date movie, a master class in romanic shenanigans and jolly good time all rolled into one. As Lady Susan might say: “it would be offensive to us both” if you were to miss it!

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

ööööö

(5 - Opportunistic, shrewd, cunning, unprincipled and brilliant)...

Awesomeness öööö – A good time to be had by all

Laughs öööö – Lots of real funnies, nothing offensive either

Horror ö – Totally safe

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – alls well that ends well

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Warcraft The Beginning


Warcraft: The Beginning (12a)

Dir. Duncan Jones

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review over at: The Observer

“Our hope is destroyed, there is nothing to go back too. Is war, the only answer?”

Welcome to Azeroth, a peaceful realm that has a big problem – the kingdom stands on the brink of war as its fair citizens’ face being invaded by a fearsome race of bloodthirsty orcs. No this isn’t a stealth fantasy Brexit campaign, this is Warcraft: The Beginning, the big screen adaptation of the hugely popular video game.

"Hey token female character - you come here often?"

First things first, Warcraft: The Beginning isn’t based on World of Warcraft, the huge online multiplayer nerd-em-up but rather mostly focusses on Blizzard’s first Warcraft game (Orcs & Humans) which helped shape the video game genre called RTS ‘real time strategy’ - where opposing players command virtual armies in battle against each other or a computer-controlled enemy. I know this because as I was an avid fan of the game on PC back in 1994, much to my wife’s disdain.

Video games have mostly not faired well when given the cinema treatment. Here the very credible Duncan ‘Moon’ Jones steps up to the challenge as director and whilst Warcraft: The Beginning won’t be for everyone – it is certainly a decent effort.

"Beware Orcs in wolves clothing"

The plot is an origin story – the epic tale of the first war between humans and orcs. The orcs, led by fierce and noble Chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan - Durotan (Toby ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Kebbell) must leave their world as it is dying. With Azeroth their refugee destination of choice and not much in the way of negotiation skills other than ‘kill’, this is bad news for the humans, dwarves, elves and other peaceful fantasy types.

But the humans aren’t weak, they have armies and the brave Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis ‘Vikings’ Fimmel), the Lion of Azeroth, the last true descendant of the ancient Arathi bloodline and knight champion to boot.

"I can see Cloud City from here"

Warcraft: The Beginning looks absolutely incredible, you can feel the ten years of geeky love that has been poured into creating the world and the inhabitants, backed up by seriously cool CGI and practical effects work deliver a treat for your eyes. The human soldiers look epic in their battle armour (a wonderful upgrade of the video game original). The orcs are marvellous creations who make The Lord of the Rings efforts look like pantomime bit players, especially Orc Shaman Gul'dan (Daniel 'The Man with the Iron Fists' Wu) who channels the horrifying Fel. The battles are furious and suitably exciting, squeezing quite a bit of fantasy violence into the 12a rating to boot.

But not all is so good.

The dialogue is as expected made up of high fantasy cliché tripe, fine once you acclimatise, but what is less forgivable is the acting. Whilst Ben Foster steals the show as the magic wielding Medivh, whilst everyone else seems to be in generic A.I. circa 1994 mode.

"He walks on the 'Fel' side"

Not a complete dud, fantasy fans should certainly check out this new beast on the block, just don’t be expecting a big screen Game of Thrones.

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

ööö

(3 - Fantasy eye candy of the geeky kind)...

Awesomeness öööö – Actually awesome in places and looks top notch

Laughs öö – Some mirth to be had

Horror öö – A little scary and violent at times

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – honour goes beyond human experience

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Perfect Universe PS4



Perfect Universe

Developed by: Will Sykes Games

PS4

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Every now and then a game come out of nowhere, no hype, no fanfare and perfectly rocks your video gaming world… Perfect Universe is just such a game – a superb blast of quality indie fun that has an incredibly cool, pretty unique monochrome ‘hand drawn’ art style and a wonderful soundtrack.

Perfect World comes packing a bunch of different single player and mini multiplayer games – each of which are fun challenges which will keep you coming back to try and beat your high score / time and move the leaderboards or just beat your mates in sofa coop competition.


First up is Perfect Moon – a new kind of platforming fun which sees you collecting diamonds scattered around increasingly challenging stages. It’s a nice simple premise bouncing and free falling at a pleasing rate but the difficulty ramps up as you have to get to grips with gravity defying antics in order to complete level in as fast a time as possible. The initial stages see you just running and leaping to grab diamonds but before long there are multiple hazards introduced that include fiendish squashing devices, nasty cutter blades and evil spikes. As you successfully beat levels you unlock new challenges, it’s very satisfying and there are plenty of challenges to keep you going.

Then there’s Moon Life which is a real space oddity. You control a frog like alien called Mr. Legs, and you have to move the little fella which sounds easy but the catch being each Dualshock thumb stick controls separate legs so it’s quite a struggle initially to get him to do anything. The objective of the levels this time is to make Mr. Legs traverse the madcap courses and collect leaves, all the while with the clock ticking. It isn’t easy and will frustrate those with no hand/eye coordination, but there is joy to be found once you master the knack of making Mr. Legs do your bidding.


The third single player game is Starlight, which despite the name doesn’t see you shooting stuff in a twin stick fashion but rather flying a simple rocket with just a minimal control scheme i.e. thrust and turn…  This time its fireworks that need to be collected – be warned that holding down thrust is not the way forward, and some gentle technique is required. Starlight is a lovely addition and has the feel of pixel junk games given a hand drawn makeover.

Finally there’s Sports Day which is a brilliant investment for anyone who like that old school competition where you can take on up to three opponents (or just battle A.I. if you’ve got no mates). Moon Golf does exactly what the title suggests – you’ll be playing golf, on the moon. It’s a total joy even if you’re not into virtual golf. Simply pick your club – driver, iron or putter and adjust your aim to take into account the reduced gravity. Courses are presented in batches of three holes per course – and the dynamics include trying to sink your ball into a hole that is directly above you!? Moon Golf could be a stand alone title – if bulked up a little, I’ve sunk many hours into this one and it’s a great after pub multiplayer showdown.

"Three way space footie"

Also worth the price of the game on its own is Rocket Ball – think Rocket League in 2D from top down and played with rocket ships rather than cars. With games timed at just 99 seconds it’s a frantic battle to score and defend which works especially well in 2 vs 2 mode. Although there is a wicked 3 player alternative arena which has 3 goals and when you’re scored against both your opponents get a point.

Ever wanted to play volleyball on the moon? Moon Volley is for you, standard ‘Top Gun’ volleyball rules apply, serve and then your opponent has up to 3 hits to get the ball back over the net. It’s a frantic and fun distraction – using the planetary gravitational pull adds to the dynamic and pulling off a 5-0 victory is grin inducing.

Also good is Space Race, a standard rocket vs rocket race around a track where one bad corner can wreck your chances. I’d have loved a weapon pod option for this as it would then be a 2D Mario Kart in space but at least you can ‘nudge’ each other to good effect.

Balloon Pop sees Mr. Legs in action again in a crazy contest to (as the name suggests) pop balloons by touching them. It would be simple except controlling Mr. Legs is tricky so when competing with mates it can get into a huge free for all battle to try and be the first to 10 ‘pops’.


Finally, is Gravity Dodge, where you play a version of dodge ball in space. The zero / low gravity adds a nice dimension to the game.

The variety of games on offer are a brilliant value for money, some are obviously stronger than others but this is perfect wake up call for anyone who wants a different challenge or a fun local multiplayer session.

Conclusion

Perfect Universe is a great collection of games, which packs so much in that it should be a mandatory purchase for anyone – if only to have downloaded ready for when you have friends or family round and need to entertain them. Congrats to Will Sykes on a really accomplished package – and if you like the soundtrack as much as I do, you can even download the tracks from http://willsykesgames.com/. Enjoy.


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

öööö


(4 - My God it's full of stars)...



Monday, May 23, 2016

Darkmatters Review: X-Men Apocalypse


X-Men: Apocalypse (12a)

Dir. Bryan Singer

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Does it ever wake you in the middle of the night? The feeling that one day, they'll come for you? And your children?”

Since the dawn of civilization, we have had those walk among us who have incredible ‘beyond human’ powers. These mutants stem from an ancient godlike entity who could transfer his consciousness from body to body, assimilating the powers of those he takes over. His name is Apocalypse (Oscar ‘The Force Awakens’ Isaac), the first and most powerful mutant of Marvel's X-Men universe.

"Oscar Isaac has a word with his agent"

Virtually immortal and invincible, Apocalypse is awakened after thousands of years and immediately embarks on wiping out humanity. Only Raven / Mystique (Jennifer ‘Hunger Games’ Lawrence), Professor X (James ‘Filth’ McAvoy) and a team of young, inexperienced X-Men stand in his way.

Sounds good right? X-Men: Apocalypse is a return to the franchise of original director Bryan ‘The Usual Suspects’ Singer, it boasts a fantastic cast and serious budget, it is also the worst X-Men film to date. The plot is a horrible mess, which feels lightweight, muddled and overlong – it makes Batman v Superman look like the greatest superhero flick ever made in comparison.

"New X-team"

It’s hard to watch such a revered franchise making such a huge misstep as a big fan of the X-Men films. The biggest (of many) problems is bad guy Apocalypse himself, he’s a poorly realised villain who looks like he’s wandered onto set from a cheap Power Rangers show. Isaac is a superb actor but he’s totally hamstrung here by a terrible script and incomprehensible motivations. He’s over powered too but his powers come and go – one minute he can wipe out a room of enemies with a single look but when facing the X-Men he obliges each with an unmemorable one-on-one battle.

"Let's dance"

Then there are Apocalypse’s four disciples, made up of Magneto (the excellent Michael ‘Steve Jobs’ Fassbender who looks bored throughout), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben ‘EastEnders’ Hardy). Their purpose is hard to fathom other than being there for forced and wasted fights against the X-Men, it gets to the point where you start to feel bad for them as they obviously don’t want to be there.

 The only bright spot was seeing Quicksilver (Evan ‘Kick-Ass’ Peters) reprising his speedy antics but even this isn’t as fresh or as jaw dropping as in Days of Future Past. I don’t where the X-Men go from here but it would be tragic if Apocalypse was their last hurrah…

"Can I go home yet?"

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

öö

(2 - Days of mediocrity present)...

Awesomeness öö – Limited bursts of actual 'super' action

Laughs öö – Amusing in places but not enough

Horror öö – Bit grim for a 12a in places

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö – false gods ahoy

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Green Room


Green Room (18)

Dir. Jeremy Saulnier

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)


“We're not keeping you here, you're just staying.”


Prepare for a heavy duty dose of menace and bloodshed as Jeremy ‘Blue Ruin’ Saulnier unleashes potentially the best horror / thriller of the year. This is a full blooded, 18 rated, primal scream of the highest order.

"guns and bands"

Meet ‘The Ain’t Rights’ – a standard U.S. 4 piece punk band who are struggling to make ends meet, due in part to their reluctance to embrace social media. Pat (Anton ‘Star Trek’ Yelchin) is lead guitar, plus there are bassist Sam (Alia Shawkat), drummer Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) on vocals – none of them are particularly happy when they take a gig at an isolated backwoods club run by neo-nazi skinheads. Turns out they’re right to be worried…

"Boo!"

Things go very bad, very quickly after their set on stage sees them witnessing a murder and suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives as the devious club owner Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) orders his men to ensure none of the band escape alive.

The cinematography is excellent throughout, with a tangible dread built up effectively through the kind of voodoo sense of threat which echoes Assault on Precinct 13 mixed with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

"get away any way you can"

Speaking of massacres, Green Room really doesn’t hold back with the body count or violent carnage. By making the bad guys unredeemable fascists it means that viewers are able to get behind the desperate actions the heroes have to go to in order to try and survive. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart though as the savagery on offer includes attack dogs, machetes, guns, knives and even fire extinguishers!?

The cast are convincing and goods value – pick of the bunch is probably plucky hostage Amber (Imogen ‘Need for Speed’ Poots), who inspires a climactic situation that will stay with you for some time after the credits roll. The Nazis are suitably nasty too, even the slightly reluctant Gabe (Macon Blair – who is a long term collaborator with Saulnier) has to fall in line with the execution plans.

"Fight to the finish"

Director Saulnier is definitely one to watch – after Blue Ruin and Green Room, will be interesting to see if his next film has a colour in the title, and on the showing here it is likely to be blood red.

Those looking for a jolt of hair raising violent excitement, Green Room is a brutal, brilliant and thrilling descent into hell.

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

öööö

(4 - Grim but good)...

Awesomeness öööö – The tension builds to harrowing levels

Laughs öö – Some dark humour

Horror ööööö – Very strong violence and gruesome death

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – survival at what cost?




Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Darkmatters Review: Bad Neighbours 2


Bad Neighbours 2 (15)

Dir. Nicholas Stoller

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

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

“Let’s do what parents do best, stop young people from having fun!”

Here we have perhaps the least needed sequel of the year. Bad Neighbours was a gross out blast of funny students vs grown ups neighbourly warfare, so Hollywood decided to reprise the exact same formula, literally the same jokes just replacing the hard partying boys with – wait for it – hard partying girls…

"the shirts are off..."

So this time we have homeowners and struggling parents Mac (Seth ‘The Night Before’ Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose ‘Spy’ Bryne) finding themselves up against a radical new college sorority of girls who have decided to move in to the old ‘Frat House’ next door. The timing couldn’t be worse as the couple are trying to sell their property to jumpy new buyers…

Also on hand is Teddy Sanders (Zac Effron) – the leader of the Frat House in the original film who this time gets caught up in both sides of the raucous escalating pranks and consequences.

Cue sex jokes, drug jokes, cussing and inappropriate behaviour, most of which feels a bit like a ‘not quite as good’ rerun of the original. Yes, you’ll laugh in a few places but Bad Neighbours 2 is wearyingly lazy and neither as shockingly gross or as genuinely funny as the original which is a shame for fans.

"girl power"

Kudos to the writer / director Stoller for trying to at least injecting some female empowerment and anti misogynistic messaging (perhaps trying to add some balance to the first film’s narrative). The sorority girls led by Shelby (Chloe Grace ‘Kick Ass’ Moretz) with her pals Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) call out the 'rapey’ culture frat parties and try to create a space for girls to be able to party how they want – without having to dress sexy for the boys.

Alas this good intentioned messaging isn’t followed through with enough conviction so it ends up feeling like a bit of a gimmick. The comedy is also diluted by the sombre sub plots about Teddy, who has struggled to adjust to adult life after college and the strain on his friendship with Delta Psi bro Pete (Dave Franco) who wants to move on with his life after coming out of the closet.

"evil lurks amongst them"

Overall Bad Neighbours 2 is an adequate low-brow comedy option, a limper follow up which really doesn’t warrant any further Neighbourly sequels.

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

öö

(2 - averagely average gross out comedy effort)

Awesomeness öö – less laughs than req'd

Laughs ööö – see above

Horror öö – some not for the squeamish scenes

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - party after life?

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