Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Shoot ‘Em Up (18)
Dir. Michael Davis
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Blam, blam, blam, blam, boogie, blam, blam…
There goes Matt walking into Cineworld, he seems to sense that something isn’t right, he turns and rolls to his left drawing two handguns and opening fire on the mass of onrushing Tom Wade-esq hoodlums who are firing returning fire wildly but going down screaming as Matt’s high impact rounds smash through their knees, thighs and groins… In seconds the foyer of the cinema is awash with dead and dying bad guys, Matt is up and running towards screen 11 (his favourite) where Shoot 'Em Up is playing. As he approaches the doors a busty babe (vaguely G. VMD alike) dressed in an all leather outfit bursts out of them holding a baby. Matt pushes her out of the way and blows another legion of pursuing bad guys away…
/ whoa - sorry about that, day dreaming again…
OK, basically Shoot 'Em Up is a non-stop excessive bloodbath presented in loud-and-proud Looney Tune ‘shoot-o-vision’!
It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea – one reviewer whined “describing in the strongest possible terms how misogynistically offensive I found this 86 minutes of embarrassing hell” (link: http://gingerkidjoe.blogspot.com/2007/09/shoot-em-up-or-shoot-me-down-please.html) but me? I’m a just sucker for gun play in movies and I enjoyed Shoot ‘Em Up more than probably most others…
Yes it’s all morally reprehensible and on no instance should anything in the film be replicated in real life, but for a maximally violent escapist waste of time, there’s little around that can touch it!!
“I'm a British nanny and I'm dangerous” smirks Mr. Smith (an on form Clive Owen who is obviously finding the whole thing an absolute blast) he’s teamed up with hooker called DQ (Donna Quintano) played by the eye wateringly gorgeous but seriously actingly challenged Monica ‘The Matrix 2&3 Bellucci. The film revolved around them trying to protect a baby from uber nasty hitman Mr. Hertz (Paul ‘Sideways’ Giamatti) who get’s to spew lines like “You wascally wabbit” when he spots Mr Smith munching a carrot and dropping Bugs Bunny dialogue.
Stand out scenes include a skydiving battle royale and the highest bodycount sex scene ever; "Talk about shooting your load," says Smith after the deed leaves a host of baddie henchmen full of lead.
There is a gleeful noirness to the wannabe John Woo action and set pieces that you’ll never forget such as when Smith hits a van full of baddies head on, goes through the windscreen, landing in their van and shoots them all at close quarters “So much for seatbelts” he says coolly.
Out of 5 you have to go with a bullet to the frontal lobe 4 (Disengage your brain for maximum enjoyment!!)...
Action ööööö – memorable!
Laughs ööö – what’s up doc?
Horror ööö – body parts akimbo
Babes öööö – Bellucci is gorgeous
Overall öööö (shoot first, ask questions about the morality and taste later)
"you lookin at me?"
Darkmatters: H O M E
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Death Proof (18)
Dir. Quentin Tarantino
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
“Ladies we're gonna have some fun…” the name’s Mike, Stuntman Mike and I’m death proof (at least when in my mean modified Dodge Charger). The bad news is that my definition of ‘fun’ is crashing you off the road – safe in the knowledge that whereas I’ll likely walk away with minor injuries – you’ll be splattered liberally across the highway…
I’m really just your average guy – the type of grizzled loner that you might bump into in any given bar. I do like foxy women though, they gotta have some curves, gotta be sassy and ready to party. I met this one group last night who I overhead saying that they were looking for a “Kinda cute, kinda hot, kinda sexy, hysterically funny, but not funny-looking guy who they could get with” – well they certainly found me, and last I heard they were still being scrapped off the tarmac.
No, I admit, it’s not very sociable for me to go around ram raiding nubile beauties and turning them into steaming road kill but I just can’t seem to help myself. Of course I blame the script writers – and you may well too if you venture to see Death Proof because whilst I’m lined up to be an iconic antihero with a literally ‘killer’ line in cars, I’m also criminally underused (think Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode I).
This is the first of Tarantino’s five movies I’ve left feeling a bit under whelmed rather than having had my senses scorched with a zeitgeist burning overdose of cool. But it’s hard to put my finger on exactly why that is. Maybe it’s due to a criminal dearth of action? The UK version of Death Proof might not come as part of the originally envisioned ‘Grindhouse’ double bill as it did in the States but it is boosted with an additional 25mins of fairly inane dialogue. What it could have done with however is an extra 25 mins of tasty action because I’ve yet to meet an action / horror movie fan who’d rather watch two dimensional characters witter on unconvincingly rather than getting stuck in to some serious danger. Oh and the cinema owner where I saw this asked that I point out to potential viewers that the scratches, jumps in film and general fuzziness are all intentional – to help capture that original grindhouse B movie feel, seems some people didn’t quite understand though and have been complaining!?
But to sum up, Death Proof basically goes ‘Vroom, vroom, screech… splat, blah, blah, blah, blah zzzzzz.’
Out of 5 you have to go with a weaker than hoped 2.5 (too much blah, not enough splat)...
Action ööö – good but not enough
Laughs öö – couple of wry giggles
Horror ööö – splatter elements were good
Babes öööö – do the words 'smokin hot' mean anything to you?
Overall öö1/2 (could have been so much more)
Darkmatters: H O M E
Posted by Matt Adcock at 10:52 p.m.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Dir. Greg Mottola
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Wassup people, step right up for the teen comedy of the year – it’s rude, it’s juvenile and it doesn’t flinch from diving inside horny young men’s minds and spraying what it finds all over the screen… But then that’s what you get with a script written when the makers were still teenagers themselves. Superbad is a full frontal expose of the hopes (mostly involving foxy females), fears (mostly of not fitting in or not getting any action) and need for camaraderie (the essential hanging out with pals) that boys of a certain age have.
Hats off to director Greg Mottola because although this won’t appeal to everyone, Superbad is special in that despite its sex obsession a la Porky’s or American Pie – it also manages to be sweet natured at heart. Some of the credit must go to producer Judd Apatow who’s other films include The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, as these are very much kindred genre-mates.
Superbad is the nerdalicious tale of three pals as they face their high school graduation with a sense of trepidation at their lack of prowess with the fairer sex. Virgins to a man, they hatch a plan – in the best tradition of teen movies – to get laid before they face the world of college.
First there’s slightly tubby Seth (a cracking turn from Jonah Hill) and his best friend Evan (a nicely understated Michael Cera) who form the backbone of the story. But the third part of this infantile trinity is uber dork Fogell (a movie-stealing Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who creates possibly the best on screen nerd hero ever.
Stir into the mix two hilarious slacker cops (Seth Rogen and Bill Hader) who come into the plot via Fogell’s mission to try and buy booze for a graduation party using his running gag fake I.D. named just "McLovin". Everything is set for a night of high mischief as the boys find themselves out of their depth, desperately trying to woo the objects of their desire – a concept which may or may not resonate with you depending on how you spent your teenage years…
Is Superbad for you? Just ask yourself if you want to witness on duty police officers putting on Star Wars voices, friends partying, falling out, making up and maybe finding out a little what matters in life…
Out of 5 you have to go with a lots of fun 4 (how bad you want it?)...
Action ööö – snogging n fumbling
Laughs ööööö – you'll laugh loud and long!
Horror ööö – tampons aren't optional!
Babes öööö – young but hot!
Overall öööö (It’s loud, lewd super-good fun!)
"McLovin almost getting to live up to his name"
If you liked this you might like: http://darkmatt.blogspot.com/2007/08/knocked-up-review.html
Darkmatters: H O M E
Posted by Matt Adcock at 6:32 p.m.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Dir. Joe Wright
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Remember when you were young, when you thought that you knew it all… but actually hadn’t a clue? Sometimes a lack of life experience can lead one to make wild jumps to very wrong conclusions… with serious consequences.
This is the core dynamic of Atonement, a tale of heavyweight heartbreak and life long repercussions stemming from the misled mind of 13 year-old Briony (Saoirse Ronan). It is her actions as a child that tear apart the blossoming relationship between her older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy) and lead to a lifetime of regret as she tries to atone for what she has done.
Atonement is based on the book by Ian McEwan which director Joe ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Wright has brought vividly to the screen. The cinematography is just stunning, with scene after scene vying to burn itself into your memory – be it the lavish English country house or the haunting battle ravished beaches of France.
From the moment it all begins, there is a fantastic balance between the seemingly idyllic upper class sanctuary of Cecilla’s family home and a growing sense of unease, which is built up both by the threat of the coming war and the obvious sexual tension swirling amongst the assembled characters.
Everything explodes on one fateful night; an initially comic-seeming wrong note being delivered scene, by young Briony (who reads it and later acts on the fanciful ideas it has generated in her mind), leads to a miscarriage of justice that cannot be undone.
The cast are universally superb and Knightley gives her best performance to date as the stunning Cecilla, whose breathtaking emergence from a fountain at one point is quite possibly the scene of the year for males the world over… McAvoy is excellent too - both as handsome love stuck housekeeper’s son, then as the battle beaten everyman soldier trying against the odds to return to his love through the hell of the Dunkirk retreat. The lingering tracking shot across the beaches at Dunkirk to the strains of ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ is as vivid a portrait of hell as you’ll ever need and must have taken an astonishing amount of coordination. The words of the much loved hymn resonate through the films plot:
‘Breathe through the heats of our desire, thy coolness and thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire’… By the end of the film you’ll have the sense that some wrongs simply cannot be adequately atoned for in this life.
Atonement is a devastating, heartbreaking, absolute modern classic – highly recommended viewing.
Out of 5 you have to go with a classic 5 (vey cool, very well made - and Keira!!)...
Action ööö – enough and well paced
Laughs öö – one very funny scene!
Horror ööö – some grim war stuff
Babes ööööö – Knightley is unbelievably sexy (see below)
Overall ööööö (one of this year's highlights!)
"here are six great reasons to see this film!!"
Darkmatters: H O M E
Posted by Matt Adcock at 8:49 p.m.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Star Wars VII - No real hope featuring 'Darth inSidious'...
The God Delusion
By Richard Dawkins
Review / response by Matt Adcock
“Science flings open the narrow window which we are accustomed to viewing the spectrum of possibilities…”
Unfortunately, it seems that the existence of God is one possibility that is just a step too far to make it onto this wonderful ‘spectrum of possibilities’. I must declare an interest here – whilst I’m a born again Christian, I enjoy listening to and thinking about other people’s views, thinking and beliefs (some of my best friends are devout atheists – doesn’t mean I don’t respect and love em…). But according to Dawkins, apparently I’m deluded and my personal faith is nothing but wishful thinking – obviously that’s just his opinion but in The God Delusion you can read his arguments as to why he thinks it's like that…
Dawkins wants to make it absolutely clear that there can be no rational, conceivable way for any non intellectually challenged, brain washed or conditioned individual to justify actually believing in God. It is his stated intention that he hopes ‘religious readers who open it (The God Delusion) will be atheists when they put it down’- which is at least a candid admission of his evangelizing mission on behalf of atheism.
In case he ever reads this I have to quickly say “sorry my angry friend but while I found your book an interesting rant against the worst excesses of religion (which I would happily join in with) - there is nothing here to make me want to consider giving up my faith”.
And ‘rant’ is an apt word; I’d love to have a good conversation with Dawkins over a lunch or something one day but maybe with the proviso that it be only after he’s been to see a good anger management therapist… You can almost see Dawkins’ red faced vitriolic statements steaming off pretty much any chosen page of The God Delusion, come on man, let’s chill a little, it might add some readability to the clunky angry prose.
At several points I was moved to make small annotations in my copy of The God Delusion – much along the lines of Dawkins himself who scribbled ‘teapot’ on ‘page after page’ of Alister McGRawth’s book entitled Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes and the Origin of Life, in reference to the ‘celestial teapot whose existence cannot be disproved’… My small annotations weren’t teapots, mine were tiny phalluses which indicate wherever I though Dawkins was ‘being a bit of a knob’…
E.g. many times Dawkins puts hypothetical words into the mouths of hypothetical theists etc – but surely that only proves what a great imagination he has, you can’t expect to use that device to sway a supposedly scientific argument – can you?
An imaginary atheistic thinker might say:
“An otherworldly pall lies over the horizon; surely it is our human struggle to press ever on towards this desolate place where we will find that our significance in the cosmos has turned our minds to bramble jelly… From there we can only resign ourselves to being beings of inordinate minutiae… sweet, delicious and lovely on toast or crumpets but minutiae all the same…”
But then again, he might not, and even if he did – it’s only because I made him and his words up!?
That’s heavyweight argument that for sure…
One thing I also found a bit weak was where Dawkins backs out of any 'is there a God?' argument using his ‘Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it’ line. To me that just indicates a complete inability to comprehend the supposed nature of God, who by default, if He did exist would be outside of His ‘created’ universal laws… i.e. He might have created everything that we can detect with our God given intellects (refined by natural selection if you like that theory – why not?) but that doesn’t limit Him to having to only operate in or obey the scientific laws which He created.
You simply cannot have such a being confined by the same scientific rules that we the ‘created’ are – it would be like a hypothetical (to use Dawkins’ way of presenting ideas) sentient artificial intelligence in a PlayStation 3 game pondering how the ‘creators’ of the game could possibly not be made up of the same ‘game code’ that they are made from and limited by the rules of (thus whilst the creator is able to exist outside of the entire ‘game universe’, the denizens of the game universe cannot understand how the creator is able to ‘break the rules by which they are designed to operate within’).
Then there’s what my wife pointed out as Dawkins’ ‘shuffling of feet and hedging of bets’ with his chapter entitled – 'why there almost certainly is no God', come on man, if you’re so sure that you’ve called your latest book ‘The God Delusion’ you might as well follow through on your convictions and say ‘why there is certainly no God’ – or are you keeping just the tiniest get out clause for yourself should He one day turn up and confront you about all this nay saying business?
I’m just playing of course but more than that – hopefully I’m ‘consciousness raising’ about the fact that this is one seriously annoyed atheist… Consciousness raising is something Dawkins goes on and on about in most disgusted terms when talking about children being called by their religious backgrounds… Still, that's his thing I guess.
Overall The God Delusion is of interest only really to those looking for a one sided ‘anti God’ reference tome but the ‘selectedness’ of the material presented – especially the edited bits of the bible that Dawkins refers to is grating after a while… Kind of like only being able to hear one side of a conversation.
Out of 5 you have to go with an overall Darkmatters rating of öö1/2 (was hoping for more balance - and less anger!!)
Darkmatters: H O M E
Posted by Matt Adcock at 9:33 p.m.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Dir. Mikael Håfström
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Hotels are naturally creepy places... Just think, how many people have slept in that bed before you? How many of them were sick? How many... died?
Here we are again then; in another haunted hotel dreamt up by Stephen King and it’s in room 1408 that jaded ghost disproving writer Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is in for a truly hellish night… You however have choice as to whether or not you join him in this slick but slightly disappointing wannabe mind-bending horror effort.
For those seeking a full on, freak out terror fest, you might well find 1408 is more of a Travel Lodge experience to The Shining’s five star Ritz – adequate but nothing you’re going to remember very fondly. After an impressive build up thanks in no small part to Samuel L. Jackson as Gerald Olin who has the dubious pleasure of being manager of The Dolphin Hotel, the action homes in on the room of the title. And the freakiness kicks off in promising style (at least judging by the traumatised look on my mate Matt Landsman’s face - his review is below for your reading pleasure) with one of the most unnerving jump scenes to hit the screen this year clue: look out - she’s behind you…
But it’s mostly down hill from then on as the frights get exponentially fewer and less effective as the film focuses on Enslin’s emotional torment depicted through some scattershot and over the top special effect set pieces. Cue various run ins with the spectres of previous victims of room 1408 (56 people died there seeing as you asked) and then an ill advised sentimental reunion with his dead daughter that heightens the schmaltz to an uncomfortable level. It seems that the short story this is based on didn’t stretch to the hour and a half running time without some obvious padding and treading water.
Mikael ‘Derailed’ Håfström is however a competent director and had a decent budget to play with, which only makes it all the more of a shame that the end product leaves you feeling a bit ‘meh’ rather than ‘ooh I’m freaked out’…
You don’t need to be a maths genius to notice that the digits in 1408 add up to 13.This could either be construed as a spooky sign of where to find some horrible fun to witness or perhaps more aptly in this case just ‘unlucky for some’…
Out of 5 you have to go with an averagely shocking 2.5 (redrum redrum redrum)...
Action ööö – freaky bedroom action ahoy!
Laughs öö – couple of wry laughs
Horror öööö – one great shock doesn't make a great film
Babes ö – the dead aren't sexy
Overall öö1/2 (scary -ish but not enough)
Dir. Mikael Hafstrom
Reviewed by Matt Landsman
Adapted from a Stephen King short story and directed Swedish Mikael Hafstrom (probably best known for Oscar-nominated "Evil" (2003) and "Derailed"
(2005)) this film was said to be the return to a more traditional suspense filled horror after the recent descent into the so-called "torture porn" such as "Hostel: Part II" and like minded films that are cutting a bloody path through the horror genre.
Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a writer specialising in books about haunted places and paranormal phenomenon who has a sceptical view of the afterlife following the untimely death of his daughter Katie. The death leads to him abruptly abandoning his wife (Mary McCormack) and moving from New York to Los Angeles where he tries to put his life back together and finish writing "Ten Haunted Hotel Rooms". It isn't until he receives a postcard addressed from the Dolphin Hotel in Manhattan with the simple message "Don't Enter 1408" that Mike decides to return to New York and see what Room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel has to offer.
After ringing the hotel, Mike is informed by Dolphin manager Mr. Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) that the room is "not available". Not next week. Not next month. Not ever. Mike is convinced this room is the basis of the final chapter of his book and only the threat of a lawsuit manages to persuade the hotel to agree to his stay. On arrival, Mr Olin informs Mike that 56 deaths have occurred in the hotel's 95 year history - all in room 1408, and all those that check in are soon to check out via rope, razor blade, window, or the occasional heart attack and stroke, always within an hour. The official conclusion according to the hotel manager is "It's an evil f---ing room."
What follows is a film that fails to deliver in quite a few areas. The premise of the film is intriguing and the acting is strong and convincing with Cusack carrying the film in what is virtually a one man show. The psychological horror that writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski were aiming for was uninspiring and obvious, from the unplugged radio that constantly played "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpenters, to Enslin's emotions towards his daughter which are played on too frequently throughout the film and only further waters down the effect of fear that the writers struggled to produce by softening up the situation instead of invoking the terror and distress that this film needed more of. But then again, what more could you have expected from the duo that wrote "Agent Cody (Malcolm in the
American writers often fail when it comes to the Japanese-esque psychological horror (see: US and Japanese versions of The Ring Two) and the temptation that Alexander and Karaszewski fell into was teasing the prospect of American hack-and-slash in a probable attempt to please US viewers, but never delivering the goods in order to keep this suspense-based. Unfortunately, having a foot in both camps weakened the effect of either method of building tension and furthering the plot as the film seemed to lose it's focus. At times it is difficult to know if Enslin is supposed to be battling against some unseen evil or his own emotional instability caused by the death of his daughter and breakdown of his marriage.
1408 is worth watching if you like a good horror film but don't expect to be blown away by this one. For an altogether better mix of Stephen King and hotel-based horror you're better off sticking with The Shining, which this film doesn't even get close to.
Darkmatters: H O M E
Posted by Matt Adcock at 11:18 p.m.