DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, February 28, 2005

Bad Dudes Birthday remix!!

"Matt had the muscles but Mike had the shades"

MIKE, one of my oldest and dearest friends (actually he’s only 34 but hey) sent me this excellent piece of nostalgic artwork – complete with our heads morphed onto the Bad Dudes bodies…

Player One: MATT (likes to shine his bulging biceps when not reviewing films)

Player Two: MIKE (tech wizard and dark genius awaiting his moment of glory)

Ah, 80’s side scrolling beat em ups eating money faster you can say ‘insane difficulty level’. Now available to all thanks to the wonder of Mame rom downloads on a PC near you… And as you can see from the screenshot below, whilst it might not have PSP rivalling graphics, for sheer ‘blast from the past’ fun there are few things better!!

Actually if anyone out there is developing a Mame rom emulator for the PSP... let me know!!

"Hey those guys in the other screenshot are just so much better looking!!"

Film Review: Hide and Seek


"coming ready or not..."

Hide and Seek (15)
Dir. John Polson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

I have new friend named Charlie, we play all sorts of games but his favourite is Hide and Seek. Of course nobody can see Charlie, but that’s okay, because, what’s that Charlie? He says he doesn’t like me talking about him too much in case I give something away…

Yes we’re lost deep in clichéd horror movie land here with Robert De Niro playing traumatised psychologist David Callaway who awakes one evening to find his wife dead in their bathtub. So he does what any caring father would and moves to a huge scary house in the countryside so that he and his daughter Emily (the awesome Dakota Fanning from Man On Fire) can try to rebuild their lives. Only unfortunately it’s not just the house that’s scary. Firstly there’s the neighbours – a creepy bunch who are over friendly in a Rosemary’s Baby way and may or may not be child-abducting menaces. Then there’s the Sheriff who has a severe dislike of newcomers, and the estate agent who looks to have stepped out the pages of serial killers monthly. Add some nicely eerie surrounding woods that just reek of foreboding – note that dodgy looking cave entrance just out of sight of the house. And of course Emily’s imaginary friend Charlie who seems like such a great friend at first but does have a tendency to get angry, homicidally angry actually – sorry Charlie but I have to warn the readers…

Hide and Seek is competently made by John ‘Swimfan’ Polson, he slow burns the tension and build it up nicely to the point where you’ll be freaking out. Every staple horror film device makes an appearance – family pet liable to jump out at unexpected moments? Check, heh, nice pussy, don’t be scared. Large house that creaks, groans and has plenty of dark shadows? Check, complete with hidden doorway to the basement… Disturbed kid has an alarming habit of mutilating her dolls? Check – Fanning may only be 10 years old but she acts De Niro off the screen. And stormy weather, just when the action kicks off and the terrifying truth about Charlie is revealed? Oh yes, it’s all here – so if you’re after some quality chills and thrills, and don’t mind that fact that most of the plot devices have been used many times before, Hide and Seek is the film for you.
Oh and the killer twist? Sorry, Charlie says that I can’t tell you or he’ll be angry.

Darkmatt Rating: ööö (red rum)

Click here to read: Matt Adcock's Film Reviews

"Look at me, 10 years old and spooky as hell!"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Film Review: Hotel Rwanda


"Western Government's - hang your head in shame"

Hotel Rwanda (12a)
DIr. Terry George

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Hotel Rwanda is one of those films that should be universally seen – like Schindler's List or The Pianist, it deals with a true-life story of one man faced with an unimaginable situation when war sweeps through his country. Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who risked everything to house and protect over a thousand Tutsis refugees from certain death during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. While the world looked on but failed to intervene – almost a million people were killed in less than 100 days. Hotel Rwanda is not an easy film to watch, especially here in the West, it is a stark reminder of a situation where news of the men, women and children being massacred in their homes barely registered until after the fact.

Director Terry George’s powerful political melodrama is an emotional distillation what made one man who stand up and make a difference. Rusesabagina was one of many ordinary people that became heroes through their actions of courage, love and compassion, in stark contrast to the UN, the government and even actions of the churches. The ongoing investigation into the war crimes committed in the name of sectarian hatred continues to unearth atrocities amongst Rwandans (60% of the country are Catholic), and it has been found that the Catholic hierarchy in Rwanda had close ties to extremist politicians in the run up to the genocide. One recent example is the trial of parish priest, Father Athanase Seromba, accused of directing a massacre of 2,000 Tutsis from among his own congregation.

The fact that this genocide was allowed to rampage unchecked across the land while the UN were ordered to stand by and then withdrawn altogether is well captured and presented. Nick Nolte has the thankless role of Colonel Oliver, the UN commander who can only bluster on the sidelines as the corpses of the innocent stack up in the roads. There is an effective build up to the all out madness, we get to see life at the hotel where all appears normal, but something is very wrong just under the calm surface. Whilst the rich and powerful white tourists enjoy the facilities, tension is growing amongst the staff and viewers get to hear the malicious propaganda being broadcast over the airwaves. The fuse on the powder keg of hatred has already been lit and before the viewer can get used to the ‘normal’ life presented, we are in the thick of the bloodshed.

Hotel Rwanda is a necessary wake up call to all those who pay little heed to what is going in other countries. Can we simply turn a blind eye to outrages and injustices inflicted on our fellow man, and then pray for the survivors? Surely God wants people to stand up and make a difference – even from afar? As one of the journalists in the films says when asked what people will do when the see the news footage he has filmed: “We'll watch it on TV, say 'that it's terrible,' and go right on eating our dinner.” I for one don’t want to be one of those people.


Darkmatt Rating: ööö (challenging)


"thanks for the lack of military protection... assholes"

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Darkmatters was BLOG OF THE DAY!!

"one small step for Matt..."

artwork 'Darkmatter' by Sabin Corneliu Buraga


BLOG OF THE DAY

Darkmatters made 'blog of day' back on the 24th Feb.

Here's a link to their site - which is a cool place to find blogs of interest...

Blog of the Day

Friday, February 25, 2005

Birthday Film Review: Man On Fire


"you have to get the DVD - if only to see the original 'Kaboom!!' ending, it is very very satisfying"

Man On Fire (18)
Dir. Tony Scott

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“A man, can be an artist in anything. In food, whatever... it depends on how good he is at it. Creasey's art is death... and he's about to paint his masterpiece...” So says Christopher Walken about Denzel Washington’s character ‘Creasy’ in Man On Fire and it pretty much sums up the plot.

Man On Fire is a pulse pounding, nitro injected, ultra violent revenge thriller directed by an ‘on fire’ Tony Scott. It is a story of two halves; in the first you get a wonderful relationship study as the broken and dispirited Creasy is slowly won over and taught how to feel again by the little girl named ’Pita’ who he is paid to protect. Needless to say that things do not go to plan and this sets up the second half, which is where Creasy dishes out some seriously heavy-duty retribution on the scumbags who abduct his new friend.

Pita (played by superstar in the making Dakota Fanning) is a cute pixie who would melt any washed up ex marine’s heart and when she is abducted you are right there with Creasy urging him on as he makes those who hurt her suffer. And it does get very grim at points – it’s not an 18 certificate for nothing – Creasy cuts off the fingers, shoots, stabs and blows up most of the criminal underworld of Mexico in his one man quest for revenge. But he does it with style and although much of it is undeniably gratuitous – it also feels ‘right’ thanks to Denzel’s authority and unswerving commitment to his task.

Both Washington and Fanning really sparkle here – you feel that she is the daughter he never had and that chemistry is an absolute joy to watch. Denzel delivers possibly his best ever performance and could well bag another Oscar to go with his one from Training Day. Fanning also deserves serious praise (she’s already an accomplished actress and she’s only 10) – I can't help but predict big things for her so look out for her in Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds!
Man On Fire is a very classy film, I’d say it’s a ‘must see’ (providing you have a strong stomach) – but even if the thought of violent retribution leaves you cold I recommend going to watch the first half!!

As Creasy says of his enemies: “Forgiveness is between them and God. It's just my job to arrange the meeting.”
Amen brother…

Darkmatt Rating: öööööö (ultimate)


"Thanks for wiping out all those scumbags Mr Creasy"

Matt Adcock Meets Denzel Washington


"hey, I think you're on fire"

Matt Adcock Meets Denzel Washington (2004)

Dazed and impressed having just witnessed a press screening of Man On Fire, I get to meet Denzel Washington at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane.

“Great film, possibly your best performance to date?” I start with (always one to try and play it cool when meeting cinematic superstars like Mr Washington).
“Thanks,” he replies with a generous smile and I immediately feel like this interview is going to be fun and good-natured. I ask Denzel about the fact that he doesn’t like to over expose himself as a ‘celebrity’ - mostly letting his powerful (Oscar winning) performances do the talking…

“I don’t expose myself, it’s true!” He laughs. And although he has two new films opening over here in the next few weeks – firstly the dark revenge thriller ‘Man On Fire’ and then brainwashing conspiracy ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ he is quietly confident that they will do OK – obviously an interview with the Herald & Post never hurts though…

Man On Fire is very violent; I ask him if he has any issues with violent films?

“When you sit and you watch them, you know how much it's manipulation, you don't really see anything. There's the suspension of belief. So, it's never as violent to me, because I know how it was put together.
“There's nothing in my humble opinion in Man on Fire that says: 'Go out and do this, and you'll be cool like Denzel.' Other than that saying: What would you do if it was your child?”

He’s got a point there, I think any parent will relate to his desire to avenge the kidnap and murder of an innocent like that of the little girl Pita in the film.

I ask him if Dakota Fanning who plays Pita was fun to work with as they seem to have excellent on screen chemistry?

“I was really impressed with Dakota,” he replies, “not only her acting skills but she also shows great maturity. She says she’s only 10 but I think she’s at least 40! Her parents have done a great job with her.” He goes on to say that he even found it hard at the start of the film to be frosty with her because she was just so friendly.

What about working with director Tony Scott?

“Man, he’s so passionate about his films, he has so many ideas that it’s a great experience. He was concerned that I wouldn’t be right for the part because it’s quite a ‘dark’ character but I think my role in Training Day convinced him that ‘I can do dark’.”


And Christopher Walken – playing a good guy?

“It was an honour to share the screen with Chris, it’s not script work with him it’s improvisation – I don’t think we said anything from the script in our scenes! But it always helps you to raise your game when working with great actors like that.”

Denzel certainly loves his job and when I ask him what’s next for him he says, “maybe a comedy, I am tempted by the thought.”

That and “spending more time behind the camera.”

For now though I’d urge you go and see him in Man On Fire because Denzel’s performance certainly lives up to the title and is in my view one of the best you’ll see!

Other interviews by Matt:

SAMUEL L JACKSON
DUSTIN HOFFMAN
JIM CARREY
SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR
WILL SMITH

Birthday number 34 - Game over man?

"Happy Birthday Matt"

It happens I'm told, getting old - in fact I count myself blessed to have reached 34 having faced down a life threatening illness, spent (some would say 'wasted') stupid amounts of my life playing games and watching films. What else? Oh, you know, reading books, trying to write a book, writing over 200 film reviews and I haven't even mentioned the most important thing... My family. The looks of unbelievable excitement on my boys faces this morning as they got to play PSP before school were things of wonder (of course I then confiscated the PSP and went and watched an episode of Family Guy on it whilst eating breakfast etc...) and my gorgeous wife who makes my life complete (and is going to whack my high score on Lumines any second).

Thanks God...

Anyway - blogging must go on so here are my Birthday top 5 Darkmatter posts to date (in no particular order) :

Photos and reaction from PWEI gig

Meeting Samuel L. Jackson

Pi - a film everyone should watch

When I met Sarah Michelle Gellar

Darkmatters Fiction: Cleric Shows Up

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Film Review: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence


"If the dolls also had voices, they would have screamed, 'I didn't want to become human.'"

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Dir. Mamoru Oshî

Reviewed by Matt Adcock
When machines learn to feel, who decides what is human...
In the stunning opening sequence of Mamoru Oshi's follow-up to his acclaimed anime Ghost in the Shell, we fly over a glowing, futuristic cityscape before descending into its labyrinthine streets. Here, hero cyborg Special Agent Batou (Akio Ohtsuka) pursues a murderous gynoid (a robotic sex doll - seeing as you asked) into a narrow alleyway. In an explosive confrontation, the doll attacks him, then self-destructs - and it all looks absolutely breath takingly beautiful.
So many scenes in Ghost in the Shell 2 could be framed and hung on the wall as acclaimed works of art - I can honestly say that I've never been quite as entranced by a film's looks... ever. You really should seek this film out, if only to witness the five minute 'parade' scene' (the sequence took a year to create), and is a tapestry of ornately decorated dragons, glowering demons, giant elephants and lion dancers. Beneath this massive cutting edge CGI spectacle scurry the hand-drawn figures of human spectators, dwarfed by the parade's Byzantine grandeur. The scene is utterly otherworldly, a space that is alive and yet nearly devoid of human presence as the hailstorms of confetti blend in the shadowy, inky reflections on the windscreens and windows of cars moving through future Tokyo (now a lawless city of sun-scratching spires, complete with a gothic cathedral that appears built out of old computer parts). And don't get me started on the villain’s lair, it is a Tudor manor constructed entirely of stained glass, where people, birds, and even fire are frozen in time.
Many films have looked at the increasingly blurred distinction between human, and machine. Innocence, takes this further and adds animals into the mix - a helicopter looks and sounds like a wasp, an airplane flaps its mechanical wings like a bird, and a submarine 'swims' through the deep with like a giant dolphin. Obvious references to Blade Runner and a host of sci fi specialities abound but there are also quotes from the bible, Milton, Confucius... There’s as much here to entertain your mind as your eyes. Plus some kick ass shoot-outs and a convoluted mystery.
What else can I say? This is essential viewing for anyone with a brain (be that human or machine)...

Darkmatt Rating: öööööö (ultimate)

Click here to read: Matt Adcock's Film Reviews

"hey mullet man, like my ponytail?"

Monday, February 21, 2005

Matt Adcock Meets Samuel L. Jackson


"I'm the $6billion man!"

Matt Adcock meets Samuel L. Jackson

In strolls Samuel L. Jackson – the epitome of cool and still looking very good for his 56 years. Moments before he arrives at the Dorchester Hotel in London I am told that he has this month (Feb’ 05) become the highest grossing actor in the world, having overtaken Harrison Ford to take the top spot with combined film grosses of over $6billion – a truly staggering achievement.

So how does he feel about that?

“You know, it’s a kind of dubious honour, but hopefully it will mean something. I don't think it's going to make someone pay me more money, but it kind of cements my place in cinema history.”

Master of the understatement then, he’s in the UK to promote his new film Coach Carter, based on the real life tale of the basketball coach who worked to inspire his team to achieve academically as well as on the court (and locked the team out of the gym when they let their grades slip). I ask if he had any of his teachers in mind when playing Ken Carter?

“Young men need teachers that challenge them to perform and I certainly had those. There is a good feeling that comes from having a teacher tell you ‘You did a job there, you did well’ – that is a great feeling of satisfaction. Making my teachers proud made me feel better so that was an important part of it.”

And are you like the real Ken Carter at all?

“Well we’re both snappy dressers! That guy coached basketball in a shirt and suit – so I played it like that although I guess his suits probably didn’t cost as much as mine. We kept his flamboyant taste in ties though.”

How did you feel about the film’s message?

“The message that life is more than just about winning is important – kids need to be inspired to enrich their lives with education so that when the winning is over you still have something. The community in Richmond who opposed Carter were more interested in the immediate gratification of their team winning. But having said that, winning is important. I went to a Liverpool football game, it ended 0-0 and people were like ‘yeah!’ – what’s that about, a game should be won or lost right?”

You have another big film opening in a couple of months – how was playing Jedi Mace Windu?

“It’s wish-fulfilment stuff. It's rousing and I got to keep my light sabre. I asked George if I could keep it and he said ‘of course’. The guys from the props dept even inscribed the letters BMF (Pulp Fiction reference) on it at the end of filming.”

Nice, and whilst on other topics, I’ve heard that you like British TV?

“I love ‘The Office’ and have that series on DVD. Actually I’m going to be doing an episode of ‘Extras’ while I’m over here” (Extras is Ricky Gervais’ new TV show about people who work behind the scenes in show business). Gervais apparently said: "Tell him Ricky Gervais wants him. The weather here is bad, we're really badly paid and I make things up as I go along - if he doesn't jump at that, then he's a fool!"

But Jackson is nobody’s fool and it is surely his willingness to make such a diverse range of films and TV shows that is the reason he’s the world’s no.1!!

Click here to read: Matt Adcock's Film Reviews

DVD Review: Ginger Snaps 2 - Unleashed


"the girls with serious facial hair problems are back"

Ginger Snaps 2 - Unleashed
Dir. Brett Sullivan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock
I've always been a fan of monster films and werewolves are a staple of the genre. Alas their films have spanned the extremes of the brilliant (American Werewolf In London - benchmark for all hairy movies) to the utterly piss poor (Howling VII: New Moon Rising, which was a combination horror-film/country-western-musical!?).
Anyway, Ginger Snaps was an interesting teen girl becomes werewolf effort from 2000 - it became something of a cult classic (and if you see it you're unlikely to ever forget the sight of cute teenager 'Ginger' with the stub of a tail growing out of her back erruughhh...) Now the sequel picks up the story of Ginger's sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and it tries hard to be unsettling but is hamstrung by crappy monster effects - see below...
Apparently there's a prequel out now too which might be interesting and talk of making part 4 set on the moon...

Darkmatt Rating: öö (that girl is a dog... literally)


"Dougal's brother wasn't a sweet natured sugar eater"

Sunday, February 20, 2005

PSP - Better than I dared hope!!


"DarkMatt's Birthday present 2005"

Extravagant, stupid, unnecessary... probably, but hey, it's my Birthday this week and thanks to being married to the sexiest, coolest, most understanding wife ever I now have a PSP (Playstation portable) and it is a thing of rare beauty.

Fresh from the Hong Kong, I immediately unwrapped my new baby and although not supposed to officially have it until Friday 25th - I just had to check it was working by:


Playing Ridge Racers (just awesome Darkmatt Rating: ööööö),

and Lumines (seriously cool and worryingly addictive Darkmatt Rating: öööö).

Watching Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence - from the 1Gb memory card - will review film in detail soon but the PSP has jaw dropping audio and video quality)...

Recording and playing back some MP3's from Feeder, Carter USM and Killers (again - sound quality to make my wife's ipod blush).

Finally copying some favourite jpegs onto it - see photo above...

I'll be writing more about this soon but have to say that my first impressions / 10 hours of usage have been very positive, PSP, Mmmmmmm!!

"adrenaline overdose... at your fingertips"

Film Review: Coach Carter


"yes I am 'the man'"

Coach Carter (12a)
Dir. Thomas Carter (no relation)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our dark that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people don't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same.” This pivotal quote in Coach Carter – from Marianne Williamson (internationally acclaimed author and lecturer) is the essence of the whole movie.

This is a powerful and inspirational account of controversial high school basketball coach Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson). Carter caused some serious differences of opinion when he made national U.S. news for locking his undefeated team out of their gym and cancelling all their games because they were failing academically.
On screen (as in real life), things get incredibly tense – in Richmond for some of the kids, basketball is all they have, with the options pretty much being drugs, crime and prison. So Coach Carter’s ideology of “it’s not just about winning a basketball game... it’s about being a winner in life,” was as ambitious as his hard nosed methods of enforcing it were radical.

Yes, cinema is knee deep in sporting films – and they are certainly a mixed bunch – but when they work, as Coach Carter does, they can inspire an excellent sense of human spirit, achievement and endeavour. The message that “being good at sport is not enough” is an apt one for an age when our fickle society is often happy to bestow hero worship on semi-literate, good looking “athletes” – at least as long as they perform.

Coach Carter delivers a heady mixture of teen angst, noble sentiment and exciting basketball action (and I don’t even like watching basketball). A lot of the praise must go to Jackson who brings his unique blend of authority and charisma to the part of Carter, the real Ken Carter must be delighted with his on screen depiction.

It’s manipulative and worthy, but the message is so positive that this should be enforced viewing for teachers and sports coaches throughout the land. Remember; it begins on the street. It ends here…


Darkmatt Rating: ööö (see me after class mofo)

Read some more of: Matt Adcock's Film Reviews

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Trashbat messiah: Nathan Barley


"it's well weapon"
Chris Morris is a genius, a sick and disturbed one maybe, but watching his latest creation Nathan Barley (26, a webmaster, guerrilla filmmaker, screenwriter, DJ and in his own words, a "self-facilitating media node") on a Friday evening is an absolute blast...
Barley is convinced he is the epitome of urban cool and therefore secretly terrified he might not be, which is why he reads Sugar Ape Magazine - his bible of cool. Dan Ashcroft writes searing columns for Sugar Ape. He's considered astonishingly cool, but only by those he despises. He is surrounded by idiots and practically worshipped by Nathan (whom he considers to be their king). He is 34. Why has he failed to move on? Claire Ashcroft, 27, is Dan's sister. Like Dan she despises "cool". She hasn't met Nathan yet, but like him she is a film-maker. Unlike him she despises novelty, trash, irony and gadgets. She is furious that no one will fund her hard-hitting documentary about a choir of reformed junkies.
If you like your comedy at the cutting edge - there is no substitute, keep it foolish, yeah?

"Totally mexico"

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Birthday Doom


"Matt's nearly 34 and we're doomed!!"

Yes, if your PC's too weak to pump out acceptable Doom 3 framerates - or you're just getting too old to cope with game-series' ever more frenetic and bloodthirsty pace, this might be the answer: the Doom boardgame...

That's right, as one of my (hopefully many... cough *PSP import* cough Birthday presents) here is the chance to fully embrace my inner geek because long after digital pastimes like the original Doom crushed demand for the more traditional cardboard creations that inspired them, it seems old-style entertainment requiring a little imagination on the part of the player might be making a comeback on the back of their erstwhile nemesis.
So I'll soon be knee deep in dice, corridor cards, weapon tokens, wound markers and door boards with which two to four players can act out ultra-violent battles without the... er... violence...
Bring on your 6 sided gunslinging space marines and I'll tear you apart with my hellspawn attackers!!
Wait, no, come back...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

DVD Review: Cold Mountain


"chilling a pile of crap doesn't make it cool"

Cold Mountain
Dir. Anthony Minghella

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"Epic"
"Awesome"
"An excellent adaptation of a superior novel"...
None of these are things I would say about Cold Mountain.
Widely acclaimed as it was - CM left me cold, cold and annoyed that I'd wasted my time watching such unlikeable characters struggle to such little dramatic effect. I'm not a huge fan of Anthony 'Ming the mercy-less" hella. English Patient was OK, Ripley was watchable but CM I found offensive in just how little actual enjoyment there is to be had. Normally the sight of Nicole Kidman's gorgeous naked backside would cut the film it's in some slack from me (Eyes Wide Shut for example) but Cold Mountain - I'd happily shoot in the head.
Yes the scenery was very nice and a couple of the war scenes almost worked but I think if you slightly adjust the best line in the film it pretty much summed up what I thought:
They call this FILM a cloud over the land.
But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!'

Darkmatt Rating: ö (cold bollocks)


"the independence day bar-be-que got a bit out of hand"

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Film Review: The Magic Roundabout


"the sinister cold blue eyes of death... they're behind you!"

The Magic Roundabout (u)
Dir. Dave Borthwic

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

All is quiet, it’s teatime and before you know it Zebedee utters those immortal words: “Time for bed children.”
But ‘Boing’… Suddenly, as if by magic… Kylie Minogue is telling you that they’re “coming to get ya” – a talking sugar addict dog, an opera singing cow, a stoned bunny and a wacky wizard with a spring instead of legs, man I think I’ve been eating too much sugar myself…
It’s true though – just when you thought it was safe to take a trip back 30 years to a place of innocence and fun – here comes the super slick all singing, all dancing, all action CGI Magic Roundabout. Yes, some brave filmmakers have taken on the daunting task of updating the British teatime favourite (originally from France) which was once the 2nd most popular show on the BBC – behind the news!!
How on earth could this work? And who invited the lovely Kylie to not only voice Florence but also knock out a catchy Magic Roundabout single for the soundtrack? A genius team of Dave Borthwic, Jean Duval and Frank Passingham actually – and they’ve pulled off a minor miracle here. Aided by the superb voice cast of Tom Baker (Zeebadee), Jim Broadbent (Brian the snail), Lee Evans (Train), Joanna Lumley (Ermintrude), Ian McKellen (Zebedee), Bill Nighy (Dylan) and Robbie Williams (Dougal).
And there’s even a plot of sorts: the Magic Roundabout lies in ruin after an evil ice sorcerer Zebadee has escaped to freeze the world. Step up some unlikely heroes, Brian, Ermintrude, Dylan and Dougal to challenge the chill by recovering three magic diamonds.
Okay, so the plot might as well have been from a computer game and it is all a bit far removed from the genteel original but it’s just mad to see Dougal and crew trekking over fiery volcanoes, jungle temples and snow-capped mountains. Plus McKellen manages to instil the spirit of Gandalf into Zebedee and even gets a heroic ‘fall from a high pass’ scene after battling his icy nemesis Zeebadee. This leads to Dylan almost quoting Pulp Fiction with “Zeb’s dead babe, Zeb’s dead”; this and some of the original’s trippy substance references will keep adults of a certain age smiling.
What can I say? I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this slight bit of nonsense, maybe it was sheer nostalgia but then my son Luke loved it too which I wasn’t expecting.

Come on – to the roundabout!!


Darkmatt Rating: öööö (magic)


"I'm going to get that Polar Express piece of crap"

Saturday, February 12, 2005

DVD Review: Firefly


From the firefly, a red orange glow,
See the face of fear, Running scared in the valley below… (U2)

Firefly

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"You got a job, we can do it, don't much care what it is."
- Captain Malcolm Reynolds

This is a thing of rare beauty; Buffy creator Joss Whedon’s TV space opera is a fantastic blend of sci-fi with a look and feel straight out of a Western. Yes I know many series set in space are homages to Westerns on some level, but Firefly makes the theme much more explicit. The action takes place 500 years in the future, following the crew of Serenity, a small run-down cargo ship, as they travel the galaxy looking for work, both legal and otherwise.

I’ve recently re-found this wonderful series on DVD and am completely in love with it…

And the good news is that this year sees a big screen outing in ‘Serenity’ for the Firefly crew,
as Capt. Reynolds says in the trailer: Violence is going to ensue!

Nice.


Darkmatt Rating: ööööö (excllent)


"she may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts"

Friday, February 11, 2005

Darkmatters Fiction: TEST SUBJECT #30022


Darkmatters
by Matt Adcock

#30022 was their first born – the obviously favoured son amongst the family. Stronger and far more handsome than his siblings he was his parents delight. When food was scarce it was never he that went without, his kin went out their way to provide him with everything he could want and he in turn was a faithful and dutiful son. His brothers resented him not one bit either – he was their champion, their hero and they basked in the reflected glory of counting him as part of their family.
Then the day of the test came and things changed.
It started like any other day; breakfast commotion as the family bustled each other – things to do, places to go and limited time to eat.
#30022 woke with a strange stinging sensation behind his right ear, it felt almost as if he had been stung. Dismissing the lingering pain, he went to the toilet and was about to make his way down to the feeding room when his youngest brother leapt at him from behind. Biting, scratching and clawing him in a frenzied attack. #30022 managed to knock his brother off thinking it was just an overly exuberant early morning play fight only to find him scrabble upright and immediately leap at his throat.
“What the f.. Arrggghhh?” he yelped - the bite was deep and it immediately drew a fountain of blood from a severed artery.
“You little bastard!” coughed #30022 holding his frantic brother down whilst trying to preen his torn throat.
“Kill him, kill him, kill him!!” squealed his brother whilst biting #30022, trying to wriggle free from his powerful hold. Immediately two more of the brothers appeared in the doorway, “let’s get him!” called #30023, who had been born only moments after his brother and now fancied his chances at taking out his elder sibling. Without hesitating they both leapt at #30022 who fell onto his back under their combined weight. One of the attackers managed to bite his tail clean off, the other was clawing at his wounded neck. The youngest brother took the opportunity to pounce on his face and set to work biting his exposed eyes.
Blinded and panicked #30022 lashed out in desperation, managing to cuff the brother from his throat but exposing his soft furry belly in the process. The brother who had bitten off his tail took his chance and leapt forward his large incisor teeth bared. In seconds he had chewed through to the stomach and didn’t stop until he was virtually inside his older brother. The fight was knocked out of #30022 and the last things he sensed were the scent of his parents arriving. A tiny flicker of hope welled up inside him despite the unbearable pain of his grievous wounds. He died as his mother sank her teeth into the back of his neck, severing his spinal cord and allowing his head to be torn off.

GOV Senior Scientific Officer Goldiing watched the attack with interest from a few inches above the rat’s Perspex habitat. There were many cameras recording the event from different angles but he liked to see things like this close up and personal, rather than rely on the monitor feed.

Once #30022 was dead, the rest of his family ate most of him, and then almost immediately their homicidal rage seem to completely subside. For the next few minutes they preened their brother’s blood and guts from themselves and then got on with their routine exercises – as if nothing untoward had happened.

“Perfect, another perfect trial,” Goldiing mumbled to him self as he reached into the habitat and carefully removed the bloody bones that were all that was left of #30022.
“I’m a genius, I really have created the ultimate weapon.”
He carefully sealed the remains in an evidence bag and went back to his workstation to file his report.

The Victim Marker project was running according to plan. In fact it was delivering over and above the best-case scenarios: every test creature ‘marked’ with the newly developed isotope had been killed within minutes.

Other extracts from Darkmatters the novel by Matt Adcock:

Film Gunfight

Fear of Death

Cleric Shows Up

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Who watches the Watchmen?


"big mac, and fries to go"

It’s hard to imagine but back in 1987, Watchmen basically single handedly introduced the world to the idea of superheroes having human emotions, psychological problems, or anything other than square jaws and simple morals. Alan Moore (words) and Dave Gibbons (art) produced a story about ordinary people who, decide to wear costumes and fight crime. These super vigilantes play out against some unforgettable imagery and the story was amongst the first to question the validity of caped crusaders in a realistic world…
And now it’s finally being made into a film… This has the potential to rule the kingdom of comic book adaptations but if not handled well or given the respect it deserves it could also suck superhuman amounts of ass…
For now you can register for info by clicking the title of this post…
Darkmatters: H O ME

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Book Review: Marshal Law: The Day Of The Dead


"overkill doesn't even begin to describe it"

Marshal Law: The Day Of The Dead
by Pat Mills & Kevin O'Neill

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"They say I don't pray for my enemy. I do. I pray they go to hell."
These are the sentiments of Marshal Law - super hero hunter with a very mean streak...
From the legendary creative team of Pat Mills (Judge Dredd, Slaine, A.B.C. Warriors) and Kevin O'Neill (Nemesis, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen etc) comes the hero to end all heroes. . .literally! Showcasing the very best work from the cream of British comics creators, Day of the Dead is a welcome return of a classic '80s antihero.
It is the none-too-distant future: The Government has publicly endorsed a genetics program, designed to create a new race of superheroes. A war against South America has left many of those "heroes" dead. . .but not enough. Now, men and women with super-powers run rampant. The public's greatest icons hide dark secrets. One man stands between the city and they Abyss. His name is Marshal Law, and he is a hero hunter. Day of the Dead sees Law up against Suicida a psychotic ex colleague – you just know it will end in tears, oh and unpseakable amounts of violence (and it does).

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (cool)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

DVD Review: Petites Coupures


"hardcore comic book violence... not"

Petites Coupures
Dir. Pascal Bonitzer

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

You can't go wrong with a bit of arty French film can you?
This is a comedy-drama only really works because it makes good use of the talents of both an increasingly befuddled Daniel Auteuil and the enigmatic Kristin Scott-Thomas. The freewheeling storyline lurches from one event to the next, aided by little linking features – a lipstick, a gun, a ring – whose only object is to create situations, move them forward and give a form of continuity to the film.
Cinematically very nicely shot - shaded in both light and dark tones but it does get a little tiresome simply due to the fact that not very much happens (and for once the cracking Ludivine Sagnier doesn't strip off - as she has been want to do in films like Swimming Pool but fortunately didn't as the new incarnation of Tinkerbell in Peter Pan!?)
Worth watching if you like relationship studies, this film reminded me of how fickle we human beings can be and that Petites Coupures (tiny cuts - of the title) can sometimes wound far more than intended.

Darkmatt Rating: ööö (nicely made but bit dull)

Read some more of: Matt Adcock's Film Reviews


"that hat looks daft even in this cool blue filtered shot"

Monday, February 07, 2005

Film Review: Chasing God


"you can run but you can't hide..."

Chasing God
Dir. Dylan Burton and Lenny de Vries

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Why do humans believe in a higher power? Is there a God and if so have any of the world’s religions have got the depiction of the all-powerful being right or are we all seeking the same almighty authority in the end? These are the questions that Chasing God, a new documentary by filmmakers Dylan Burton and Lenny de Vries, attempts to investigate. Billed as “The biggest search since ... the Dawn of time” the film certainly had potential to be the ‘must see religious film of the year’, alas it is more of a curious novelty but still of interest.

By interviewing scientists, atheists, anthropologists and religious leaders from diverse faiths, in locations including India, Israel, Palestine, Italy, U.S.A. and Australia the documentary attempts to explore the motivations of humankind to believe in something bigger and more powerful than itself, all to a powerful contemporary ambient musical score by Michael Timothy (Massive Attack). Unfortunately, having Dawn French "The Vicar of Dibley" as narrator immediately sends mixed messages about the seriousness of the film, which addresses a subject matter rarely tackled frankly in mainstream media.

Chasing God is certainly a fascinating concept but where such as study could have delved, probed and endeavoured to find those who have ardently experienced spiritual reality or committed their lives to seeking the truth of what God might be – I felt that Chasing God was content to gently skim over the surface of the issue. This leads unsurprisingly to the conclusion that everyone is really worshipping the same God, just in different forms, apart from those who don’t believe and even then, those questioned here seemed ready to believe should compelling proof be forthcoming.

But because beliefs about God have divided humanity so bitterly throughout history, such a conclusion is highly unsatisfactory – I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting some more insight in to the ‘why’ even as the film highlights the fact that a paradoxical unifying principle that may well lie beyond the divisive interpretations of God. I felt that Chasing God did not qualify its justification for such a view sufficiently with the interviews presented. What is said on camera in small sound bites, linked by some of the most clichéd imagery ever to be committed to celluloid, only served to make me wonder what had been cut from the interviews in order to make them fit the narrative of the film?
It’s true that while science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, ultimately it is either a universal truth or a mass delusion. In the absence of any verifiable proof, what we are then left with are personal experiences – and again the experiences on offer here feel very limited in scope. I was hoping to hear from people desperately searching, those who have lost their faith, those who have personal relationships with God, but what Chasing God serves up is a mixture of tales of those who have ‘felt a joyful feeling’ or ‘witnessed a great light’.
It has the feel of a Religious Education video that could have been entitled not ‘Chasing God’ but rather ‘Whatever you think God is (or isn’t), you’re probably right and we’re not going to argue with you’…
Chasing God will be screening at the ‘Screen on the Hill Cinema’ in Hampstead later this year, followed by a panel discussion comprising various high level religious leaders, a scientist and an atheist. For information about this and other screenings of Chasing God please see www.chasinggod.net
Darkmatt Rating: ö (unholy mess)
A version of this review ran in the Baptist Times

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Film Review: Ocean's Twelve



Ocean’s Twelve (12a)

Dir. Steven Soderbergh

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Twelve is the new eleven – literally and if ever there was a case of ‘let’s have some more of the same but with extras’, this is it... I can exclusively reveal the recipe director Steven Soderbergh probably used to make this follow up to his massive 2001 one smash hit crime caper:

First take some big stars (Clooney, Pitt, Roberts, Damon - actually all the original cast plus Catherine Zeta Jones and Bruce Willis for good measure). Next add some audacious heists (not just one big score at the end but throw in extra ones along the way and make it competition too). Then blend with a romantic subplot, some laugh our loud Hollywood ‘in jokes’ and smother it all over in cool, hip, trendy banter / fashion / scenery. Finally top with a superb French villain and voila… Ocean’s Twelve the perfect follow up to Ocean’s Eleven.
This really is a supremely amiable film – you’ll smile to yourself as to meet up again with the loveable rogues from the Ocean’s Eleven, you’ll let the super cool style and general gorgeousness of the cast wash over you in a completely unchallenging way. And then, unless you’re a very sad and bitter person with absolutely no love of cinema, you’ll be gently amused by the spectacle of so many of Hollywood’s finest having such an obvious laugh working together whist you get to sit back and enjoy the show.

So, it’s three years after Ocean and his gang ripped off casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) in Las Vegas. Life is good – I guess that would have something to do with the $160million that they stole but everything changes when they are tracked down and given the choice of repaying the loot with interest in two weeks, or meet sticky revenge driven demises. Sexy Europol agent Isabel Lehiri (Zeta Jones) adds some headaches for the crew but nothing can prepare them for a showdown with a master thief known only as ‘The Night Fox’ (Vincent Cassell)…

Yes, luckiest bloke on the planet - Vincent ‘Dobermann‘ Cassell (he’s married to Monica Bellucci) – is one of my favourite actors and he almost manages to steal the show from under the noses of the big U.S. stars. But there’s just so much quality crammed into Ocean’s Twelve including a sublime cameo by another of my heroes - Bruce Willis, that you really should ignore the nay-saying critics and place your bets on Ocean’s Twelve ASAP.

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (good fun)


Read some more of: Matt Adcock's Film Reviews

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Next interview... Samuel L. Jackson


Got a invite this morning asking if I wanted to interview Samuel L. Jackson...
Oh, OK - go on then!!

Still love his hitman bible quote from Pulp Fiction - kind of a spin on Ezekiel 25:17

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

Bring it...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Book Review: DIARY Chuck Palahniuk


"set foot on the island and you will die"

DIARY

Chuck Palahniuk

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Ever since I first saw FIGHT CLUB I’ve been a massive Chuck Palahniuk fan… He is my joint favourite author along with Iain Banks and Christopher Brookmyre. He writes brutal, compelling fiction that is backed up with real thinking and genuine wit. I’ve read all of his books and have just finished DIARY, which continues his run of quality novels.

This is the story of Misty Marie Wilmot, a white trash trailer park refugee, her husband Peter is failed rebel who after ‘hiding’ rooms in houses he has filled with threatening vile messages scrawled on the walls, spends most of the book in a coma (hence the title as this is Misty’s Coma Diary). The setting is a place called Waytansea island where the populace are a bunch of sinister oddballs in the vein of the neighbours in Rosemary's Baby. The element of threat and destiny for Misty builds up wonderfully as the freaks on the island wait for her to manifest a reincarnation of prior Waytansea artists who ‘save the island from the mainlanders’. The island, it appears, does not want to become just another overdeveloped resort, and it is reaching across time to stop the flow of progress in a horrific way…In every Palahniuk book there are fascinating background details that permeate the narrative. For example at one point DIARY serves up Information about the Jewish Essenes (apparently a group who abandoned their families, training themselves by enduring sickness and torture – performing the very miracles that Christ later did and some of whom were credited with teaching the young John the Baptist and JC Himself!?)…



Palahniuk in a recent interview says: "In 'Diary,' the motto really is: Where Do You Get Your Inspiration? It coaches us to be aware of our motives and not just be a reaction to the circumstances around us. And then - if we screw up, which we will, again and again - to forgive ourselves and try to be more aware and make better choices the next time around.”
"Your life isn't about doing one perfect 'thing' and then falling down dead," he continues. "It's more like going to church or writing a book. You do it over and over, always trying to be a little bit better. Then you die."
Darkmatt Rating: ööööö (excellent)

"Waytansea Island will kill every last one of God's children"

Film Review: Creep


"your entertainment terminates here"

Creep (18)
Dir. Christopher Smith

Reviewed by Matt Adcock


Christopher “The Day Grandad Went Blind” Smith’s low budget shocker CREEP takes a fairly interesting premise: “What if there is some kind of demented killer creature lurking in the depths of the tube system below London?” and then does very little with it. Staring Franka ‘Bourne Identity / Supremacy’ Potente as Kate – a stuck up party girl who falls asleep waiting for the last tube train and then has to spend the next few hours running away from Craig the Creep.
Craig alas is just not scary enough, he’s obviously some half bred / scientific experimentation survivor but he looks like Gollum’s retarded older human brother. At one point he puts on a surgical gown and for a while could almost pass for one of Hellraiser’s cenobites (but a wussy one at that). Kate performs absolutely all of the ‘stupid woman in peril’ clichés – from going back to see if her friend who is being noisily attacked is alright, through to not killing the monster even when he’s lying defenceless at her feet next to a handy spear.
The tunnels and sets are only occasionally used well and the whole film feels like it was thrown together without much care or pride. Unfortunately a couple of cool moments (Criag does get one iconics backlit pose - which doesn't seem to be available online anywhere otherwise I'd have posted it here) get washed away in a sewer pipe full of below par production values...
As a tube commuter – I’ve got to admit that I’ve had scarier journeys to work on the Northern Line than anything on offer in Creep.

Darkmatt Rating: öö (poor)


"looks interesting but just not creepy enough"

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

DVD Review: Revelation


"The bible - now with added machine guns"

Revelation (PG)
Dir. André van Heerden

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome to the near future where after the rapture, remaining new Christians are known as 'The Haters', a new messiah has set up O.N.E. - One Nation Earth and a the 'day of wonders' computer game is about to cause even more upset than Manhunt... Yes we're pretty far off the scale into serious biblical territory here, but you don't have to have sold your soul to the Anti-Christ to enjoy this sort of 'straight to blessed DVD' B movie although it might help...
Revelation tries hard and to their credit all the actors keep straight faces, even when delivering classic dialogue like when Helen Hannah (Leigh Lewis) asks her brother: "Do you really need those things?"
He - Willie Spino (Tony Nappo) replies: "Hey, sis, listen - any wimp can quit smoking, OK? It takes a real man to deal with lung cancer."
So if you're very curious to see what might happen should the book of Revelation actually be true and you can tolerate low budget / production values then this is an undemanding way to kill a couple of hours. And if you get into it then it's part 2 of a series of 5 films and counting. But overall, considering the awesome imagery and freaky tales in the book itself, I'd recommend reading it rather than watching the film...

Darkmatt Rating: öö (poor)

"clue... blue eyes = good, red eyes = bad"

Miami Vice: New Movie vs Original Series...


"take that you unfashionable freaks! pastel suits rule!"

Ah Miami Vice... fast cars, senseless gunfights, cool scenery but most of all - 80's fashion – the pastel / silvery suits with their jacket sleeves rolled up… who on earth would go around in a white jacket, sleeves rolled up?
Ahem, OK, I confess that it was me – 1989, wanting to be Detective ‘Sonny’ Crocket, cruising around Canterbury and Herne Bay in my fuel guzzling bronze Nissan Bluebird, impressing the ladies with my muscled arms – which were sticking out my rolled up cream jacket. Getting into insane drug related shootouts and having my commanding officer threaten to suspend me for ‘looking too cool whilst blowing perps away’… Those really were the days…

And now I won’t have to just make do with my fantasies and region 2 DVD Pilot episode of the TV series any more – because next year Michael Mann is bringing it to the big screen. Step up Colin Farrell as the new Crocket…
Asked recently if he’ll be doing a Don Johnson impression:
“No, God, I’ll leave that to Don. Michael Mann wrote a great script. It’s not tongue in cheek; it’s not ‘80s. It’ll be a different period, a different sensibility.”

And the suits?
“One would hope not to be stuck in 2005 wearing a silver shiny *beep* suit with the sleeves rolled up and the baggy pants. It wouldn’t be very good undercover, definitely.”

Plus with Jamie ‘Ray and Collateral’ Foxx as Tubbs – my spider sense is tingling!!

dark matt

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