DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blood Diamond - review


Blood Diamond (15)
Dir. Edward Zwick

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"Sometimes I wonder if God will ever forgive us for what we've done to each other... Then I look around and I realise... God left this place a long time ago.” Welcome to a truly Godforsaken place where life is cheap, trust is an illusion and everything depends on how much cash can be made from the natural resources on offer. No, for once I’m not talking about Luton, but rather Sierra Leone and the resources in question here are diamonds and one in particular. Imagine a pink diamond the size of a chicken’s egg, a gem that makes the Pink Panther look like something you cold pick up at Elizabeth Duke in Argos… This is a diamond so valuable that it will change the destiny of all who hear about it and now it has been found by Solomon Vandy (an incredible Oscar nominated performance by Djimon Hounsou), a poor fisherman who has been forced into slavery. Hot on the trail of this ‘blood diamond’ is soldier of fortune Danny Archer (another excellent Oscar nominated performance, this time from Leonardo DiCaprio) who hears about he fabled stone and befriends Vandy in order to track it down, whatever the cost.
It’s a compelling set up and Edward ‘Last Samurai’ Zwick delivers a powerful, arresting and satisfyingly action packed drama that blows the lid off the unspeakable human cost associated with parts of the African ‘conflict diamond’ trade.
I was a bit sceptical, having never really been a DiCaprio fan, even thinking he was the weakest link in last year’s excellent ‘The Departed’. But he totally nails the part of Archer – playing him almost like a modern day Han Solo (albeit with a dodgier accent). Then there’s the always lovely Jennifer Connelly who’s been consistently gorgeous on screen since Labyrinth back in 1986!! She might be pushing 40 but her wicked smile is enough to make you consider smuggling any amount of diamonds to get into her good books…
DiCaprio and Hounsou really eat up the screen and deserve to walk away with something from the Oscars. As a father I was heartbroken by the tangible fear, bewilderment and anger that ensues when Vandy‘s young son Dia (played beyond his years by Kagiso Kuypers) is brainwashed and turned into a cold-blooded killing machine by the RUF guerrillas. It is plot elements like this that lift Blood Diamond out of the ‘just another issue based action flick’ pack and make it a ‘must see’ experience.

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):


Action öööö – delivers more and far better than expected!
Laughs öö – some minor amusing moments
Horror ööö – nasty in places but necessarily so
Babes ööö – Jennifer Connelly... yes please!!

Overall öööö (a classy cinematic experience - don't miss it)


Jennifer - a fine figure of a woman!!

Darkmatters:
H O M E
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Drop Box - review



Drop Box (unrated)
Dir. Anesty and Spiros Carasoulos

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Heard the one about the young pop princess superstar who made a private ‘sex tape’ with a couple of close friends then mistakenly took it back to her local video store? You have now… Bet you’d like to see it huh?
Step up to Drop Box – the latest in the long and only semi distinguished line of slacker situation comedies (other examples of which you can read reviews of here are of the low budget kind - bums , or the mainstream release kind - employee of the month).
The sex tape in question here is the sort of highly inflammable material that could inflict shock and awe on unwitting audiences (especially as it was returned to the video store in the box of the Mariah Carey ultimate cheese smackdown also known as Glitter). If you thought Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee, Paris Hilton or even Brit model Keeley’s little home creations created a media stir – Mindy’s will blow you away. And so it is that Randal clerk style disciple Tom (played by David ‘first timer with some promising charisma’ Cormican) becomes the luckiest guy on the planet… It is into his video drop box that the hallowed pop nymphet sensation’s tape is erm, dropped. He does what any red blooded slacker video store clerk would in the situation and refuses to give the tape back to the highly embarrassed Mindy (Rachel ‘pretty yummy’ Sehl) – unless she can fulfill his increasingly cheeky demands – and I’m not talking about making her pay her late fees…
Drop Box could more or less be considered a ‘sister’ film to Kevin Smith’s immortal Clerking saga (the slightly less attractive, less funny and less easy sister – but sister none the less) and while it tries hard in the attitude department, ultimately it falls somewhat short of that classic breakthrough independent. Written and directed by family duo Anesty and Spiros Carasoulos and produced with obviously limited resources – I did find myself amused by this slice of Americana everyday life and times. There is genuinely funny banter to be heard – from Cormican, Shel is easy on the eye and whilst the plot takes a long time to go nowhere it does have regular stereotypical video store customers that get abused. – Actually I had a bit of a flashback during the film to when I was at school and my mate Mike had a video clerk job, we’d hang out watching the latest films – eating the stock, over-charging customers with imaginary late fees, telling them films were out (even if it was the one we were watching on the in store TV) just to see their disappointed looks on their faces, chatting up the cute babes etc etc… Ah happy days…

So why does Drop Box only get 2 stars out of 5? Basically because the filmmakers never show us even a peek at the footage on the tape! I don’t care if there are POV shots looks out from Mindy’s breasts – this is one film that would seriously have benefited from some blatant sexist T&A but that’s obviously not their thing. As long as it’s not your thing either then this is nice little calling card and we can hope to see more / better material from the Carasoulos in the future…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):
Action öö –
engaing stream of customer related banter
Laughs ööö – yep – got some funny stuff in it
Horror ö – nope, unless you try to visualise the ‘dwarf sex porn’ they talk about
Babes ööö – Shel could be a major league hottie to watch

Overall öö1/2 ( get that video store ambience in your own home!)

Darkmatters:
H O M E
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Right at your Door - review



Right at Your Door (15)
Dir. Chris Gorak


Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Right at Your Door is a white knuckle, panic inducing terror ride of the highest order, now available on DVD so you can freak yourself out whenever you want… It’s a claustrophobic study of the truly terrifying spectre that haunts all of us in this post 9/11 world… A ‘what the hell would you do’ situation analysis of an ever present threat – unflinchingly unmasked and dissected brutally on film.
Yes, we’ve all asked ourselves the question but no-one knows for sure just how will you react when Jehovah’s Witnesses come ‘Right at Your Door’? Did I say Jehovah’s Witnesses – sorry I meant dirty chemical bombs and their life sapping poisonous fall out… My bad.

This is strong stuff, and I hope I’m right in saying that nobody likes to think too much about terrorist attacks on urban population centres – but writer-director Chris Gorak (who has some impressive cinematic form as art director for Fight Club etc) brings this stark reality buzzing straight from the screen with a tightly wound suspenseful vibe.
Right at Your Door a couple of love birds named Brad (Rory ‘A Scanner Darkly’ Cochrane) and Lexi (Mary ‘West Wing’ McCormack), they co-habit and seem to be doing OK. That lasts for at least a couple of minutes before Lexi is lost in the blast zone when several bombs go off in the Los Angeles rush hour. The film works best in the following panic when all we know – from fragmented radio report and sketchy wide angle shots is that there’s some bad sh*t happening and nobody knows how or why, they don’t even really get round to speculating who might have launched the attack.

What would you do if the partner you loved was caught out in the contamination and you’d managed to safely seal off your house… And they turned up asking for help?? It’s that potentially relationship wrecking scenario that wrings the emotion from the screen.

That’s pretty much all you need to know – if someone offers to tell you in detail the plot, punch them and run away as it’s better if you experience the horror unfolding alongside the main characters… For a few moments I felt even disorientated and anxious while viewing this, which was possibly more to do with the dodgy lunch I’d eaten but it certainly added to the overall effect!


Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö – cleverly filmed so that less is somehow more
Laughs öö – this isn’t a comedy
Horror ööö – gets a bit grim but nothing too nasty
Babes ö – covered in toxic ash isn’t a good look

Overall ööö (a freak out bad trip that you should really consider taking)

Darkmatters: H O M E
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Frostbite - review



Frostbite (15) 


Dir. Anders Banke

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

If you went down to the woods in the Ukraine in 1944, you might have run into a bunch of German soldiers who are - to quote The Cure ‘lost in a forest’… They hole up in a deserted hunting lodge but all is not what it seems, because there is something in there with them and it’s hungry for their blood...

And that’s just before the titles roll. OK then jump to present day and a plot not a million miles away from
30 Days of Night (i.e. the exact premise of vampires loving a place where it’s ‘polar’ night for a whole month)… But rather than pursue the hard as nails action horror of Steve Niles’ graphic novel, Frostbite goes for wackiness as only a Swedish first time director could.

Step this way for a horror comedy reminiscent of that classic ‘80s
Fright Night with a dash of Lost Boys and some Shaun of the Dead stuff too. When I said ‘wacky’ I meant it though – don’t get me started about the talking dogs or the use of a garden gnome to take out one of the undead. And whilst the film bounces merrily between the horrible and the fun it is choc full of clichés galore from a stereotypical hospital setting where a vampire doctor is trying to breed a hybrid, through to a teen party where the host suddenly develops a pair of fangs and a seriously antisocial attitude towards his guests.


"Nice imagery"



The acting is variable but I’ve seen worse, Petra Nielsen delivers a good turn as a mum trying to fathom her teenage daughter (Grete Havnesköld seeing as you asked). Much of the ‘becoming a neck chomping hell-spawn’ dilemma is dealt with through Jonas Karlstrom who takes one of the vampire hybrid pills and gets to munch poodles and pet rabbit, puke up his girlfriend’s mother’s dinner and generally model a decent amount of gore around his chops.


Frostbite does a lot of things right and whilst unlikely to be remembered as a classic of the genre – it’s certainly worth a look if you’re a fan of films with fangs.

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö – big teeth are the order of the day
Laughs ööö – some real fun here, dark wacky humour
Horror ööö – some gruesome blood letting to be had
Babes öö – Havnesköld is reasonably cute

Overall ööö 

(if you like vampires, you should really check this out)

Darkmatters:
H O M E


Let's take a second to remember the original sexy vampire... Sarah Michelle Gellar!
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"

Haven - review



Haven (15)
Dir. Frankie E. Flowers


Reviewed by Matt Adcock

After watching Haven (made back in 2004 and out in the US and yet only soon to be released straight to DVD in the UK) I can only wonder if director Frankie E. Flowers wasn’t dropped on his head as a child? The ensuing jolt sensation recurring throughout his time spent making Haven… He’s got a cool cast, fantastic location, interesting multi story plot and some obvious film making skills – and even though Haven doesn’t quite deliver as much as you think it’s going to, this is tropical trip worth taking!
It’s basically a teenier ‘Pulp Fiction lite’ set on the Cayman Islands on one particularly memorable Friday the 13th. The always reliable Bill Paxton is a guy who is fleeing the Feds with a bundle of ill gotten cash and his hottie daughter in tow (Agnes ‘how much do I look like Elisha Cuthbert’ Bruckner).
There are two other main plot strands, the main one featuring the shy young rascal Orlando Bloom as a bloke called ‘Shy’ – he’s in love with the gorgeous Andrea (played by Zoe Saldana), but her brother who is know as ‘Hammer’ is vehemently opposed to the coupling… And when Shy gets his wicked way with his sister, Hammer loses it and disfigures him with acid (as you do). The other story element is about Fritz (Victor Rasuk) – a native loverman on the understandable mission to get some loving from the newly arrived blond bombshell Bruckner, which is complicated by his involvement with local gangsters…
If you’re looking for a hit of sex, drugs and money embezzling and fancy lapping up some of the sweaty, volatile atmosphere that is Cayman Isles authentic through and through, dive right in, Haven delivers a diverting couple of hours.

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö – just about enough, was hoping for more…
Laughs öö – if you’re the type to find it amusing to see Bloom get acid burns?
Horror öö – slight nastiness in places
Babes ööö – Bruckner is very very watchable

Overall ööö (easy now bro… sum crim ting ‘appening)


"sun, sea, sand and me..."


Darkmatters:
H O M E
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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Matt Adcock meets Rocky (well Sylvester Stallone)



Matt Adcock meets Rocky (well Sylvester Stallone)


So there I am, in a London hotel awaiting a legend, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation about this encounter… This is no mere mortal, this is Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion himself and even more than that, this is John J. Rambo, this is Lieutenant Marion 'Cobra' Cobretti, this is Judge Dredd… erm, this is the bloke who remade ‘Get Carter’ – hey, you can’t win em all I guess!?

But with his most famous creation ‘Rocky’ now back on the big screen for one last time I ask him how it feels?

Sly: “It's been a fantastic revival of my life," he says “It's humbling to see how Rocky has affected so many people over the years. People have always related to Rocky because it’s a pretty universal dream to rise up and take your best shot at life, no matter what obstacles are in the way. You might not totally be successful but at least you had the chance.”

So why did you want to bring Rocky back for one last bout?

Sly: “I wanted to bring the character to a final and noble conclusion. Plus I overheard one of my daughters telling her friend who had asked ‘what does you dad do?’ that I was a golfer!”

That’s funny – tell me more about filming Rocky Balboa?

Sly: “In this one Rocky is literally back where he was at the beginning, all alone, except he has lost his naiveté. He's very worldly. There's a certain calm about him. He carries himself with a weight on his shoulders but with that also comes a kind of enlightenment.
“That last run up the steps was a very emotional time for me. It’s like a 30-year journey – everything I’ve ever had in my life, everything that I’ll accomplish that is really worthy, is done. And I’m looking at the city; the sun is going down, and I think ‘At least you did it. You got here. You ended it. In the snow, on the steps in Philadelphia. Perfect, thank you Lord.’”

And is this really the end for Rocky now – were you planning to kill him off?

Sly: “There will not be any more Rocky films. He has left his legacy and that is over after this film. Yeah sure I was thinking he might get to die in the ring but then I figured that audiences would go home depressed so we didn’t do that.”

Are you happy with the end result?

Sly; “Yeah, I think the film’s as good as Rocky. I am very proud of it. And I think the people who have been so supportive and loyal will be happy with the final chapter in Rocky Balboa's life.”

What about Rambo – is he getting a final explosive showdown?

Sly: “I have signed up to do a final Rambo (will be called ‘Rambo 4:Pearl of the Cobra’) – but you know, I have little
aspirations about acting after that. I wouldn’t mind a nice Mafioso part though if you know what I mean?”
That’s a nice thought – the Italian Stallion as the new Godfather… And with that he’s off and all I can say it that if you’ve ever enjoyed a Rocky film – make sure you see the final chapter because Rocky Balboa is a great send off to a screen icon!


Read my Rocky Balboa Review

Darkmatters: H O M E

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The Fountain - review


The Fountain (12a)

Dir. Darren Aronofsky

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

What if you knew you could live forever? How might you live differently? Would it change how would you love? This is an age old theme – from the biblical Garden of Eden’s ‘Tree of Life’ through to Highlander’s immortal ‘prize’ – it’s one that resonates to the depths of the human heart because one day we’ll all find out what’s next for us after this life…
Director Darren ‘Requiem For A Dream’ Aronofsky has obviously been giving all this some serious thought and the result is The Fountain starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. This is a trippy vision of ethereal themes, wrapped in sci fi trappings and mixed with cod philosophy musings on interconnectedness. It certainly won’t be for everyone because The Fountain is a film unlike any you will ever have seen. It’s a kind of ‘living cinematic poetry’ – a fascinating, heartbreaking and altogether weirdly beautiful testament to love, life, and the impermanence of death. If you thought 2001: A Space Odyssey’s plot was weird – try this:
In the U.S. in the year 2006, there’s a scientist named Thomas (played with straight faced angst by Hugh Jackman) who is valiantly struggling to find a cure for his dying wife Izzi (the always watchable Rachel Weisz). At the same time / in 16th century Spain there’s a conquistador named Tomas (also Jackman) who is on a mission to save his Queen (you guessed it – Weisz). At the same time / far in the future, there is an astronaut named Tom (yep, Jackman again) who is floating through space in a 26th Century bubble on his way to Xibalba - a distant nebula worshipped by the Mayans as being simultaneously both the underworld and their place of rebirth… Are you still with me?
As you can probably guess from that description, the whole thing treads a very fine line between drowning in self pretentious garbage and actually trying to expound its metaphysical ponderings in a way that can be made sense of. It’s a bizarre mixture of the 3 interlocking time periods that merge in the final act in a head spinning finale that will either make you want your money back or send you home with new enlightenment in your heart. I’m still trying to work out quite which way I feel about it – it really is that kind of film…


Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):
Action öö - the conquistador gets some action
Laughs öö – not unless you laugh at Buddist philosphy?
Horror öö – emotional horror?
Babes ööö – Weisz is still yummy (see below)

Overall ööö1/2 (Like having you head taken off and screwed back on upside down)

"I liked your Wolverine hairdo better..."



"tempted?"


Darkmatters:
H O M E
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dr. Wai in the Scriptures with No Words - review


"Dr Wai - there's a dragon behind you!"

Dr. Wai in the Scriptures with No Words
Dir. Siu-Tung Ching

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

If you've been thinking 'damn I'd like some more Kung Fu on my PSP' recently, and I know you have, then help is to hand...

Why not head over the funky Irish Review site 'Frank the Monkey' and read my review of the Jet Li 'epic':
Dr. Wai in the Scriptures with No Words also known as 'Mo him wong'.

Here's the link:
Matt's review of Dr Wai in the Scriptures with No Words

Here are the voices in Matt's head having a conversation out loud:

"But Matt most of your readers can't be arsed to click over to another site - just tell them if it's any good..."

"what's that mother? Kill all the readers? But I like the readers."

"No, just put a rating for the film...you've killed enough innocent readers this month."

"yes mother, right away, see below."

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - ninjas, sumos, mechanical fire breathing bulls... you name it!
Laughs ööö – more than you you'd guess thanks to some ingenious dubbing
Horror öö – effects are OK at best but beasties won't scare you
Babes öö – some cuties but nothing naughty

Overall ööö1/2 (It's not Indiana Jones 4 however much it wants to be - doesn't mean it isn't fun to watch)

Darkmatters:
H O M E

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rocky Balboa - review



Rocky Balboa (12a)
Dir. Sylvester Stallone

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Just when you thought it was over, that the mighty ‘Italian Stallion’ had limped off the world stage with the inglorious beating that was ‘Rocky V: What the Hell was I Thinking’ more than fifteen years ago.
But some legends live on and there have been rumours of a return. Surely at 60 there can be no fight left in the once legendary world champion? But what if there was? Could it be possible that given one last shot at glory he could rise to the challenge? Wouldn’t it be something to behold if just for one last time he could prove that those born with a warrior’s heart will always step up and face their destiny? And what a way to go!! Wouldn’t you rather go out on a high – doing what you love, even if it cost you your life? No-one wants to face the long slow fading away in obscurity alone, bitter and full of ‘what ifs’?
Stallone, as the writer, director and star of this ‘one last gasp’ tale of everyone’s favourite pugilist chooses the path of ‘final shot at glory’ – which is just as well really. Rocky says at one point: “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life!”
The Rocky film franchise really ran itself into the ground with part V and I was skeptical that this one could turn it around. But POW – here’s a solid uppercut to the nostalgia centre of brain through the use of emotional flash backs. BOOM – that’s got to hurt - a right hook to the cynical thought that this was just a desperate cash in and CRUNCH – a knockout blow is seeing the old timer training for his showdown with fate in a homage to the first film complete with original music… The film critic in me is out for the count...
I’m delighted to report that for anyone who’s ever enjoyed a Rocky film, this one is a reverent finale that does what you want it to do in about as honourable a fashion as possible.
Rocky might tell his son that “The only kind of respect that matters is self-respect” – but with this fine farewell Rocky Balboa has re-earned my respect too.


Prepare to cheer for one last time…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - lots of build up and a good payoff finale

Laughs öö – add more stars if you find his accent funny

Horror ö – nothing very grim (unless you get freaked by veins)

Babes ö – never been a Rocky strong point

Overall ööö1/2 (the eye of the tiger, the heart of a lion, the plot of a monkey)




"it ain't over till it's over... but now it is over - until Dawn of the Zombie Balboa"

Darkmatters: H O M E

11:14 - review



11:14 (15)
Dir. Greg Marcks

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

11:14 is a bad time of night… 46 minutes to midnight, things can get a bit out of hand, people may do things that they will regret in the morning, innocence, reputations and even lives will be lost. It’s going to get nasty, but it’s great fun to watch!!
We’re getting reports of a crime outbreak occurring around a small radius on the outskirts of town. There’s been a hit and run fatality, an unidentified corpse has been found in a drink drivers’ trunk, somebody has been throwing various objects (burning books, hamburgers, other food products and intimate body parts) out of a moving vehicle and it seems that some guy’s been spotted holding up a convenience store. But perhaps more importantly, who’s that promiscuous honey in the short skirt? How come she’s seeing 3 different guys and at least two of them believe she’s pregnant? What won’t they do to try to get her cash in order to take care of it? What happened to those punks in that camper van? How the hell did one of their penises end up severed - lying on the tarmac? Damn, that’s got to hurt…
11:14 is an interlocking singularity of live changing events, each linked somehow and all based on the time of the title. It’s a delicious puzzle, played out from various points of view – it’s a film that you’ll want to watch twice, just to revel in how cleverly the film makers mess with your head (think Donnie Darko meets Memento)!? It’s stylish stuff and benefits from a stellar cast including the seriously cute Rachel Leigh Cook – who really goes for it as the teen vamp, looking all like butter wouldn’t melt on her hypnotically curvy breasts until she goes and literally screws a guy to death!? Patrick Swayze has fun as her disapproving dad, Hilary Swank is on hand as a store clerk who gets held up and shot and upcoming talent like Ben Foster and Colin Hanks all put in good work.
For me it felt a lot like ‘Go’ – young lives intersecting, most of them getting wrecked in the process… basically it seems that life can be unhinged by the smallest thing - at any age…


Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - compelling and clever but grim

Laughs ööö – some juicy dark humour

Horror ööö – brutal in parts

Babes öööö – Rachel Leigh Cook is very hot!!

Overall öööö (11:14 - a bad time of night but a great fun film)


"Rachel Leigh Cook... central to a lot of mischief!"

Links

Drax Review

Darkmatters:
H O M E

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Smokin' Aces - review



Smokin’ Aces (18)

Dir. Joe Carnahan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Joe Carnahan is my kind of guy, he’s a director at the top of his game who delivers thrills of serious magnitude; whatever the subject matter. I loved his cool first big time feature ‘Narc’ - a tensely paranoid cop thriller and his smooth promo short ‘The Hire: Ticker’ which starred Clive Owen and was made for BMW. So it’s fair to say that it was with much anticipation and excitement that I settled down in the glamorous Screen 1 of Cineworld Luton to witness his latest output Smokin’ Aces… I emerged dazed and exhilarated – it felt like I’d been hit by a freight train of stylishly shot carnage packed with gleefully smart dialogue and off the wall comedy moments, delivered by a plethora of unforgettably madcap characters. My pal Kevin who I saw it with was grinning too, we couldn’t really find words to explain what we’d just witnessed… But we knew it had been good!
Smokin Aces is a film that serves a litmus test as to your capacity to enjoy action movies that are given licence to go wildly over the top. I can see many people just not ‘getting it’ – or being offended. I smirked when I read BBC reviewer Stella Papamichael’s description that it was a “garish carnival of drooling lunacy”, she didn’t mean it as a compliment but I think it could be taken either way!?
The plot is simple - the world’s most notorious bounty hunters and assassins are about to wage war in a race to take out Buddy "Aces" Israel, a mob informer with a million dollar price tag on his head. You don’t need to know much more than that as the joy is in watching the assembled hit people going about their business, whilst the FBI try to protect the dodgy gangster squealer. There is a top notch cast including good guys Ryan Reynolds and Ray ‘middle name is hard man’ Liotta as the two central FBI agents backing up Andy Garcia as a careworn senior operative. And then there’s the bad guys who come in all shapes and sizes from the foxy singer Alicia Keys who certainly makes an impression through to TV show regular Jason Bateman who puts in a quality turn as a seedy lawyer. The most praise however has to go to Ben Affleck (never thought I’d ever write those words) giving the best screen performance of his life - from beyond the grave no less after having been casually mown down en route to the finale.
Basically, Smokin’ Aces is a nitrous boost of 'blood, guts, bullets and octane' – good name for a movie that…


Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action öööö - this is the action film you need to start the year with!!

Laughs ööö – you'll laugh

Horror öööö – yeah it's blood soaked

Babes ööö – Alica, yes please

Overall öööö (A must see for action fans - highly recommended)


"if you didn't buy her album, she be looking to put you down..."



"Quality stuff from Reynolds redeems him from Blade 3"


Links

Visit Joe Carnahan's blog here!!

Darkmatters: H O M E

Friday, January 12, 2007

Which superhero are you?


I was hoping for The Shadow (above drawn by the awesome Bill Sienkiewicz)
or maybe Batman but the machine tells me...

Your results:

You are The Flash

95%
The Flash



80%

Superman



70%
Spider-Man



70%
Catwoman



65%
Hulk



65%
Green Lantern



60%
Batman



55%
Supergirl



Fast, athletic and flirtatious...


Check out my lunchbox!?
- am a little concerned about being 55% Supergirl...

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...


Darkmatters: H O M E

Straightheads - review



Straightheads (18)
Dir. Dan Reed

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome dearly beloved, as it sayeth in Deuteronomy ‘…thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot...’ so must newbie director Dan Reed have read and takeneth to his heart and pondered these things.
Then Reed didst write and direct Straightheads a movie much filled with sickening physical violence, some almost engaging erotiscism, some more violence – this of a sexual nature, some ill considered comedy moments (these may yet prove to be unintentional) and a well worn ‘revenge’ plot… He did maketh this movie with the talented and rather lovely Gillian Anderson of X-Files acclaim and partner her with cool young Brit wide boy supernova Danny ‘you calling me a C888?’ Dyer. And low it make lots of movie goers quite excited at the thought of this 18 rated dark and disturbing tale of ‘normal’ people (she’s well off, he likes a bit of dope) getting in touch with their primal beast natures in order to visit vengeance of great fury upon evil redneck scumbags. Some did contemplate a ‘Straw Dogs’ for the new millennium, others looked to Straightheads being a slicker and generally not as scrappily crafted update along the lines of ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ – no one could have predicted quite what the end result would be, until now…
For low, Verve Pictures have seen the glory and are releasing Straightheads in the UK in April and thus in anticipation of that day, this is my testament having witnessed the entire 79mins as to whether the film succeeds or instead manages to sully the already pretty badly sullied name of revenge horror films…

I left the screening not quite knowing what to make of Straightheads. It is certainly a confident debut by Reed, he manages to bring a very right here, right now ambiance to the movie and if you’re a fan of Dyer or Anderson then you’ll undoubtedly enjoy at least parts of the proceedings. The initial set up – boy installs security system in rich bird’s apartment, she thinks he’s cute and asks him to accompany her to a glamorous work ‘do’ where they get saucy with each other and share some genuine feeling repartee sucks you in nicely. But you must already know this is not a standard romance and before you can ask “who’s the rapist nutter in the Land Rover?” the two lovebirds are being assaulted and beaten to a pulp and left for dead.
A chronic lack of Police competency coupled with a plot boosting coincidental crossing of paths leave the way open for a revenge of the Straightheads set up which they duly deliver… In eye watering style too – I’m guessing that it’s not every day that you see a man taking an anal enema featuring the long barrel of a sniper’s rifle complete with sight!?
The main problem with Straightheads though is that it struggles to maintain its tone, veering from grim, disturbing and bleak (which is how it should play out to do a nasty tale like this well) to badly comic (this might be either because Dan Reed is much sicker puppy than anyone suspects or that Danny Dyer just can’t help but be a bit of a laugh – which worked really well in Severance, but spoils the atmosphere here).

Overall, if you’re looking for a new Brit violence related horror, you should see this ASAP because it delivers enough grimness to satisfy. Another reason you might want to check it is because Anderson gets naked – and in style - Scully fans out there please stop drooling!!
Also if you’re following Dyer’s acting career and have enjoyed films like Football Factory, The Business and Severance – Straightheads will deliver enough of his geezer-ish charm to entertain.

For those simply looking for a coherent and thought provoking study about violence and revenge, this might not quite hit the mark because the characters are only marginally sketched out and the ‘bad guy was forced into his diabolical actions’ twist isn’t very convincing.

Reed might yet be a talent to watch but I’m pretty sure that Nick Love’s Danny Dyer starring film OUTLAW which hits UK in March will be better than this.

Here endeth the lesson...

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - delivers just about enough
Laughs ööö – more than expected, but that's not a good thing!?
Horror öööö – some scenes will make you wince!
Babes öööö – Anderson, you still so would...

Overall ööö (Not the great new hope of British horror but a decent effort)

Links:

Straighthead blog

Official Website

Another blog review (less positive)

My review of Severance (over at TheFilmAsylum)

Darkmatters: H O M E

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jessica Alba beach appreciation


"is that a gun in your swimming trunks or are you just pleased to see me?"

'Jessica Alba - what a lovely, talented young actress'... I bet that's exactly what the guy on the sunbed is thinking!?

Anyway - just seen over on the excellent
FILMSTALKER site that there is a downloadable clip of my favourite horror comedy film of '06 Severance available... and it's a classic scene!

No Jessica Alba isn't actually in Severance but don't let that stop you...

Find it for yourself here:
Severance clip

My review of Severance here

Earlier post about lovely Miss Alba

Darkmatters: H O M E

Employee of the Month - review


Employee of the Month (12a)
Dir. Greg Coolidge

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

My name is Zack, I work for Super Club – a low cost, bulk buying Costco alike emporium where buying less than 10 of anything is for wimps… It is my sworn ambition to win the heart of super hot new checkout girl Amy but she only has eyes for those elite workers, those ‘best of the best’ who rise above mere mortals to become ‘employee of the month’. This is my story, it is a tale of pain, of suffering but most of all is it a tale of slacking – because that’s what I do best.
Employee of the Month is the perfect film for anyone who has ever had to suffer a duff job. It lifts the lid on the unsavoury rivalry that competitive bonus induced reward structures can generate and most of all it puts a big smile on your face whether you want it to or not.
Made in the noble tradition of lowbrow slacker comedies (the pinnacle of which is still Clerks), Employee of the Month was much funnier than I expected. There were points when it almost even served as regression therapy – helping me deal with the psychological disorder that I’ve always attributed back to my time as a warehouse stock picker for Argos. “Arrgghhh, no please, I don’t want to go on the refund till again!!” – Hhhmm sorry about that.
Anyway, the movie sees box-boy hero Zack (Dane ’Saturday Night Live’ Cook) battling against the uber cashier Vince (Dax Shepard) for the love of sexpot Amy (Jessica Simpson). One of them will walk away ‘Employee of the Month’, get the girl and enjoy the spoils of battle, the other will be humiliated – and that’s the whole plot.
It’s deliberately offensive, with jokes about short sightedness, age, height, colour of skin and sexuality, it’s also very sexist with Simpson required to do nothing but turn up smile and jiggle her talents in various low cut tops. Despite all is it somehow manages to stay good natured enough to enjoy and is without doubt the funniest film of the year (so far) – this being only the second week of 2007.
January is often a graveyard month for films, so it is nice to have something almost worth watching land on our screens so quickly. Having said that, I’ve also a good feeling about what looks like being a stylish action packed overdose of carnage in Joe Carnahan's Smokin’ Aces- next week’s review...

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action öö - enough (never thought I'd be tense during an against the clock checkout battle)
Laughs ööö – more than expected
Horror öö – risk of duff job 'flashbacks'
Babes ööö – Simpson is a blonde hottie

Overall ööö (no classic but half decent fun)


"Simpson trying to remember her lines for Employee of the Month?"

Links:

The Guardian Review (also 3 star rating)

Moviefreak.com Review (2 out of 4 stars)

My review of Simpson's last film - The Dukes of Hazzard

My review of a slacker film you might not have seen 'Bums'

Darkmatters:
H O M E

Friday, January 05, 2007

The lost films of 2006

These were films that I saw but didn't get round to reviewing in 2006 - there are some real crackers and none that ranked below a 3 star 'should check this out' rating so here are my quick thoughts on each...


A powerful London crime lord you really need to keep in with tells you that he’s looking for a young girl, she must be cute - about eleven or twelve, he wants her for a night and will pay you £500… what will you do? Welcome the nightmare world of London to Brighton a film that starts bleak: It's 3:07am, two girls burst into a run down London toilet. Joanne who is very young is crying her eyes out and her clothing is ripped. World weary hooker Kelly's face is bruised and starting to swell. Somewhere else a half dressed man lies in his bathroom bleeding to death… and this is as nice as it’s going to get...

Overall öööö (a powerhouse British double barrel shotgun blast of crime thrills to the face!)



The victim has been cut in half, all the organs removed, blood drained from the body, and the mouth sliced ear to ear. Film noir never looked so good and I was sucked right in.

Worth seeing if only for the women... Scarlett Johansson is hot, Mia Kirshner is hotter still and Hilary Swank get lines like: "I think you'd rather f**k me than kill me. But you don't have the guts to do either..."

Overall ööö1/2 (lots of people didn't like it but I thought Brian De Palma delivered a winner)


"My easy-going nature is gettin' sorely f**kin' tested."

Nathan 'Firefly' Fillion is a genius actor and he gets to do some good stuff in this over the top sci-fi monster mash of a B Movie. Alas as a film it just didn't quite hold together but still I'd say you should check it if a fan of nerdcore sci-fi!

Overall ööö (a near miss, nice effects - shame about the story)


"My name is Dalton Russell. Pay strict attention to what I say because I choose my words carefully and I never repeat myself. I've told you my name: that's the Who. The Where could most readily be described as a prison cell. But there's a vast difference between being stuck in a tiny cell and being in prison. The What is easy: recently I planned and set in motion events to execute the perfect bank robbery. That's also the When. As for the Why: beyond the obvious financial motivation, it's exceedingly simple... because I can. Which leaves us only with the How; and therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub."

This one divided people - some loved it, others hated it, I kind of liked it a lot...

Overall ööö1/2 (You come near here I start throwing bodies out the front door)


"Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it because you're not really looking. You don't really want to know the secret... You want to be fooled..."

This was a slow burning masterpiece which I bought into in a big way. I've enjoyed all of Nolan's films so far and had just finished reading the similarly themed Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It might not be an action flick but it built up a spine tingling sense of menace that stayed with the viewer... nice one!!

Overall öööö1/2 ( I was watching closely, and you should too!)


"what happens when that lazy, 20-something malaise lasts into your 30s?"

Still slacking beyond the call of duty and blessed with some of the funniest dialogue ever e.g.:

Randal: All right look, there's only one return, okay, and it ain't "of the King," it's "of the Jedi."

Hobbit Lover: Oh, Star Wars geek.

Randal: Oh, I'm the geek? Look at you two whipping out your preciouses.

Elias: You'll have to excuse him, he's not "down" with the trilogy.

Randal: Oh, what the f**k happened to this world. There's only one trilogy you morons.

Hobbit Lover: You know what, maybe we should start calling your friend Padme, 'cause he loves Manakin Skywalker so much, right? [in robot voice]: Danger danger, my name is Anakin. My sh*tty acting is ruining saga.

Elias: [chucking] Yeah, you're crazy Jar-Jar.

Overall ööö1/2 (not up to the standard of Clerks but still very funny and as a Star Wars and LOTR fans I was torn!?)


"Its like the sixties. But with less hope."

Reviewing films isn't all 'work work work'... sometimes you get to witness the extremes of what man and his camera have to offer in the 'line of duty'. So where can you go if you're looking to see tons of real sex, gay, straight and every which way? Well, if that's what you've a hankering for then the Shortbus will take you there. It's a trip not for the faint of heart, those adverse to seeing other people's private parts close up being sucked and pleasured should run, not walk from this film... You could and many people would call it porn I guess but I think there was some sort of plot going on - and there were a few laughs e.g. this line: "These people spend all night sucking cock and eating ass, and then hit the buffet claiming they're vegan."

Overall ööö (Discretion strongly advised)

Check out my films of 2006 here

Or my Review of 2006 here

Darkmatters:
H O M E

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