DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Darkmatters living in a ModNation

"The Mario Kart Killer is almost here..."


ModNation Racers

Preview by Matt Adcock

Sony have many tasty tricks up their sleeve this year and one of their big hitters is the kart racer companion piece to Little Big Planet. ModNation Racers is Sony’s potential Mario Kart killer – sublime racing action coupled with virtually infinite customisation of your driver, car and most of all - your track.

It’s an audacious play and the big question is can United Front Games deliver a world class new racing phenomenon or are we destined for a shoddy ‘me too’ effort. Frank the Monkey sent me deep into the ModNation Racers PS3 exclusive beta with the mission to report back on what we can expect.


Read the full review here: FRANK THE MONKEY

"Disney copyright be damned!?"

"I'll tear you lap-time apart..."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Darkmatters Review: Brothers

Brothers (15)

Dir. Jim Sheridan

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

War destroys humanity, it changes people and creates victims on both sides - many seen but lots of others hidden. Brothers might be a remake of the 2004 Danish film ‘Brødre’ but it is still very timely given the multiple fronts being fought in the ‘war on terror’.

Marine captain Sam (Toby ‘Spiderman’ Maguire) has a beautiful wife, Grace (Natalie Portman) and two smashing young daughters (excellent performances from Bailee Madison, Taylor Geare). But Sam is a dedicated soldier who loves nothing better than to be with his men in Afghanistan that he says ‘feels like home’.

You just know that things are going to go bad in Sam’s fourth tour of duty and before you can say “wouldn’t it be awful if he got shot down and presumed dead” his family is being informed that he's dead after his helicopter is shot down over enemy ground. Sam however isn’t dead, he and a fellow soldier are being held prisoner by the Taliban who force them over the edge with their evil torture techniques.

In the midst of this trauma Sam’s criminal brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) freshly out of the slammer comes to be a the shoulder that Grace cries on having to deal with the loss of her husband. The fall out of Sam’s ‘death’ leaves deep scars on the family but brings some redemption for Tommy in the eyes of his ex military father Hank (Sam Shepard),

This is highly charged emotional material which is developed slowly allowing the characters to be fleshed out before throwing in the incendiary grenade twist of Sam being rescued and returning home. Things disintegrate into a spiral of post-traumatic stress disorder induced jealousy and tension which threatens to destroy the family. Sam just isn’t the same person he was when he left.

All the actors go about this with the sort of gusto that you only tend to find in the run up to awards season. The performances from child actors are amazing - exuding a powerful mix of joy mixed with anxiety as they struggle to accept their dad back in his fragile, twitchy and haunted post war state.

Brothers is a compelling watch, but don’t go expecting it all nicely tied up by the end – director Sheridan has enough respect for the harsh subject matter not to proffer a twee solution to such a harsh reality.

UNSEEN DELETED SCENE:

Sam gets bitten by a radioactive spider, develops superpowers and goes straight back to Afghanistan - and defeats the Taliban single handedly... whilst Grace and Tommy get together whilst he's away...


Darkmatters rating: ööööööö (7 psycho soldiers out of 10)

Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 6 / Style 7 / Babes 8 / Comedy 6 / Horror 8 / Spiritual Enlightenment 4

"Natalie Portman goes for the 'soft soap' approach in Brothers"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Darkmatters Review: The Book of Eli




The Book of Eli (15)

Dir. The Hughes Brothers

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

It’s the near future yet again and we’ve managed to wreck the world thanks to massive war which pretty much wiped out civilisation and left us in a Mad Max style wild wasteland. The law has collapsed, bandits rule the roads ruthlessly preying on travellers – and cannibalism is widespread in a world where food and water are now scarce.

Through this apocalyptic future comes a traveller by the name of Eli (a noble turn from Denzel Washington). Eli is a man on a mission to reach the West Coast of America, a trek that he has been on for 30 years, he carries with him a treasured possession – the very last copy of the bible. As a fellow bible carrier (on my iPhone at least) and fully signed up believer, The Book of Eli’s reverence for the Good Book is an interesting plot device.

It’s extremely rare to find a big budget Hollywood action film that takes religion quite as seriously as this and yet directors the Hughes Brothers have created a violent epic centred around a devout man of faith. Eli’s odyssey sees him having to fight, kill and kick copious amounts of ass, especially when he comes up against the evil Carnegie (a snarling Gary Oldman) who is the self appointed leader of a small west wild style town. Carnegie is a seeker of books – not just any books either – as demonstrated when one of his bandit biker gangs brings him a collection including ‘The Da Vinci Code’ which he immediately has burnt. He knows that the bible alone has the words which can sway people’s hearts and he wants to use it to bring order and control to his populace.

Caught up in the ensuing power struggle are Carnegie's daughter Solara (a spirited Mila Kunis) and her mother Claudia (Jennifer Beals) who both suffer at her deranged father's ways.
The gritty plot unfolds at a pleasing pace, building up to and beyond the climatic showdown between Eli and Carnegie. Action fans are well catered for with frequent burst of sensational ultra-violence, yet the film as a whole has a moral core message that will challenge all who see it.

The cinematography and look of the film are absolutely superb, the apocalypse has simply never looked so good, all shot in a super desaturated bleached palette that really sets this apart from inferior ‘near future’ efforts. Pick of the scenes for me was a five on one fight in shot in the silhouette of a highway underpass.

The Book of Eli is the first ‘must see’ action film of 2010, The Hughes Brothers have, as the Good Book might say, ‘fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith’ and have answered the prayers of action film fans.

For gamers, this is the nearest thing yet to a movie adaptation of Fallout 3 or Borderlands...Highly recommended viewing.

UNSEEN DELETED SCENE:

In a twist that didn't make the final cut... The Book of Eli turns out not to be the bible but the novel 'Darkmatters' - and it saves the world!?


Darkmatters rating: ööööööööö (9 righteous road warriors out of 10)

Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 9 / Style 9 / Babes 7 / Comedy 6 / Horror 6 / Spiritual Enlightenment 10


"The righteous shall kick the ass of the unrighteous"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Darkmatters Review: Daybreakers


Daybreakers (15)

Dir. Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig – also known as ‘The Spierig Brothers’

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome to a bleak near future… In under ten years – 2019 to be exact - a plague will have transformed pretty much every human into a vampire. Good news for Twilight fans perhaps but not for anyone with an once of pride in humanity.

Not everyone is thrilled about their new blood sucking lifestyle, especially blood specialist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), who is working on a blood alternative for vampires to drink. This is an urgent task as nearly all the humans left alive have been rounded up and enslaved in massive ‘Matrix’ like farms where their blood is harvested and sold on.

The nasty vampire CEO of this blood channelling operation is Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) who has a heavily armed private army commissioned to hunt down and capture any rogue humans still at large. One of most loyal soldiers is Edward’s brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) who takes relish in tracking down humans and turning them in.

As the human blood supply dwindles, a terrible side effect of blood withdrawal begins to kick in on those vamps not rich enough to afford their shot of human life juice which is rationed in ‘coffee’. Blood deprivation you see causes vampires to regress into bat-winged mutant creatures that attack indiscriminately and pose a threat to whole civilised vampire society.

Step into the fray the last human resistance under the leadership of Lionel 'Elvis' Cormac (Willem Dafoe) – their ‘cure’ for vampires is to blow them away with crossbow stake guns.

Daybreakers really wants to be a hip cross between The Matrix and Underworld but alas the action on offer is fairly timid and predictable fare. Sure the vampires explode with startling gore soaked flashes but there is nothing groundbreaking here. The only thing that really impressed were the cool vampire friendly cars fitted with darkened windows and cameras that allow the creatures of the night to drive around in the sunlight.

Unfortunately directors The Sprierig Brothers fumble what could have been a great new action franchise and botch the climax so badly that when the door if very obviously left open for a sequel – it is the scariest moment of the film.

Daybreakers might look the part and delivers some ok vampire sci-fi action in places but the total is less than the sum of its parts. It’s never a good sign when one of the trailers before a film is much much more exciting than the main feature – the trailer in question was for ‘The Book of Eli’…



UNSEEN DELETED SCENE:

Denzel Washington bursts in and takes out both the vampires and the bumbling heroes - smiling his smug smile in the knowledge that his Book of Eli is much better than this mess.



Darkmatters rating: ööööö (5 exploding vampire mutants out of 10)

Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 6 / Style 6 / Babes 6 / Comedy 6 / Horror 7 / Spiritual Enlightenment 2


"The cars are the stars!"

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Darkmatters Review: Spread


Spread (18)

Dir. David Mackenzie

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Spread sees Ashton Kutcher strut his stuff as a ‘himbo’ hustler named Nikki working the well pampered and preserved middle aged women of L.A. Nikki gives these ladies company and sexual gratification in return for a place to live and the use of credit cards… Everything seems to be funky (if utterly morally devoid) for him once he shacks up with his latest conquest / scam victim Samantha (Anne Heche who absolutely sizzles here).

But a chance encounter with hot waitress Heather (Maregarita Levieva) throws Nikki into a state of uncertainty as he might just have actually fallen in love!? From then on the film gallops towards what would normally be a sickly sweet ending with our lovelorn hero racing across the country to New York with a wedding ring in order to try and make a life changing commitment to Heather.  British director David ‘Hallam Foe’ Mackenzie has other ideas however and to his credit Spread ends up being a refreshing alternative take on the usual Hollywood depiction of course of true love. Could it be that the ultimate ‘player’ is about to get played himself?

Los Angeles is depicted as a place chuck full of vacuous pretty faces whose self-interests are rampant and non-negotiable. It is hard to imagine that Kutcher is having to stretch too far for this role which requires little more then getting naked often and generally acting like a selfish ass. He’s bit too convincing as he works his way through a variety of attractive women, with absolute no regard for their feelings (you can’t help wondering what Demi Moore will think when watching this).

Spread is a powerful film that makes a valid point about the repercussions of living without a moral compass, and how an existence of squalid, loveless sex can turn round and bite you on the bum when looking for real love. The 18 rating is justified by the overload of nudity here – especially from Anne Heche who appears to be vividly working her way through the Karma Sutra on screen.

This certainly isn’t a feel good movie, or a wise choice for anyone dating an older woman. Spread is worth seeing though if you’re not easily offended and looking for an antidote to the many weak romantic comedies out there that peddle their ‘happy ever after’ messages.


"Anne Heche - in 'sizzle bikini' mode"
UNSEEN DELETED SCENE:


Nikki can't take the rampant hedonistic orgy lifestyle any more and decides to go back to his 'sugar mummy' - an amusing cameo from Demi Moore!




Darkmatters rating: ööööööö (7 throbbing himbos out of 10)


Darkmatters quick reference guide: 
Action 6 / Style 7 / Babes 8 / Comedy 6 /Horror 5 / Spiritual Enlightenment 3 








Friday, January 01, 2010

Darkmatters Top Films 2010

Darkmatters top film tips for 2010

2009 was a solid year for cinema releases (check Matt Adcock’s top ten of 2009) but 2010 already looks to be packing some very very cool films.

Here are my picks as to what looks like being worth seeing – obviously this isn’t an all encompassing list but these films are bleeping pretty loud already on my radar:

January picks


You want to see Denzel Washington kick serious ass in a film whose makers described its action thus… ‘Man on Fire’ is a mere taster compared to the righteous vengeance he (Washington) rains down on the scum in this film’? Yeah, me too!!

Based on the best selling book by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is the story of a 14-year-old girl who is murdered by her neighbour. Now in Heaven she gets to follow the aftermath, sure it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but Peter ‘Lord of the Rings’ Jackson is directing and hopes are high!

George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham - a corporate downsizing expert (i.e. he fires people for a living) whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles. From the director of Juno, this looks ace!

February picks

Martin Scorsese directs this sanity shattering horror / thriller about a U.S. marshal investigating the disappearance of a patient from Boston's Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. Cue dangerous nutters on the loose in the middle of a storm… clichéd for sure but if anyone can make this work I reckon Scorsese can.

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief 

This one was nominated by my sons who think that the gods of Mount Olympus vs high school student Percy Jackson (who might just be the son of a god) plot might be cool. Who has stolen Zeus' lightning bolt? Can director Chris Columbus contain his sentimental urges for long enough to make a good film?

Darkmatters favourite Bruce Willis teams up with Tracy Morgan under the direction of Kevin ‘Clerks’ Smith – I think everyone should want to see A Couple of Dicks in 2010 – even if it will be released in the cop out name of ‘Cop Out’…

March picks

Sam Worthington steps up as Perseus – tangling God of War style with Ralph Fiennes’ Hades, Liam Neeson’s Zeus and Gemma Arterton’s eye catching Io.
I can still remember seeing the original 1981 version as a 10 yr old and proclaiming it to be awesome… so no pressure then on the new version!

Alice in Wonderland 
Tim Burton brings the oddness to this new retelling where 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen's reign of terror. 

Matt Damon goes covertly rogue after faulty intelligence about Weapons on Mass Destruction in an unstable region brings about bad things… Director Greengrass is good at getting Damon to do action (Bourne Supremacy etc) so this could be a decent military thrill ride.

April picks
This look lots of fun - directed by hit and miss Shawn Levy - I'm hoping that this delivers some good funnies, it certainly has the potential with Tina Fey / Steve Carell combo!
  
After being betrayed and left for dead, members of a CIA black ops team root out those who targeted them for assassination… The Losers is based on one of my favourite graphic novels and if they keep the ‘A-Team only darker’ feel to this it could be a winner!?

Alexandre Aja – the once very promising horror director of Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance) takes the reigns for this fishy slaughter-athon that looks to be gross out fun for anyone wanting to see nubile bathers mown to pieces by razor toothed fishes…


May picks

Jake Gyllenhaal brings the platform jumping, hack n slash fighting Prince to life on the big screen from his origins on the PlayStation. Expect flashy action but little plot.

“Everything I do, I do it for you…” no more as Russle Crowe steps into the green tights (kidding) to add to the Robin Hood lore thanks to Ridley Scott. This just could be Gladiator 2!

Top music video director Samuel Bayer gets stuck into this ‘reimagining’ of classic ‘80s horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams. Should be worth staying awake for!



June picks

Erm… Footloose? 

- - - - -


Okay so I’m running low on films with confirmed release dates – but there are some absolute corkers still TBC / in the later part of ’10:

If you want action…

The Expendables -
With the truly mouth watering prospect of action hardcore star: Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke and Arnold Schwarzenegger all signed on… this is going to be high on body count!

 The A-Team -
“I love it when a plan comes together!” Liam Neeson steps up to be Hannibal and director Joe ‘Smoking Aces’ Carnahan should ensure that this remake is a high octane affair. I used to love the A-Team when I was at school, please God don’t screw this up!

If you want funny…

Paul -
The genius that is the partnership of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost with added Seth Rogen = comic event of ’10 for sure!!
Two comic book geeks travel across the US with a real life alien from the director of Superbad – yes please!


If you want fantasy…

Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.

Wizarding mischief as Harry gets ready to face off with Voldermort in part 2 (which let’s face it, is the only Harry Potter film you’ll ever need really).

Oh and that Twilight franchise sees ‘Eclipse’ if that’s your sort of thing!?

More for all ages?

Shrek Ever After, Toy Story 3 and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are my kids’ picks that they are looking forward to.


Finally – Darkmatters’ top 3 most anticipated films of the year – two of which star the same girl!?

Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan with a few friends and who lives alone with his father. His life is not very difficult and his personal trials not that overwhelming. However, one day he makes the simple decision to become a super-hero even though he has no powers or training. Dave isn't the only vigilante in town, though. The father-daughter team of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) are already on the prowl. Whereas Dave is an amateur, Big Daddy and Hit Girl are like a paramilitary version of Batman and Robin. Hit Girl is the assassin that Natalie Portman could have become in ‘Leon ‘but with a more X-rated mouth!



Hopefully this American remake of my ‘film of 2009’ Let The Right One In can capture the same haunting and provocative atmosphere. The plot sees alienated 12-year-old Owen (Smit-McPhee) befriend a mysterious young newcomer Abbey (Chloe Moretz) in his small New Mexico town and discovers an unconventional path to adulthood. The film is based on the bestselling vampire novel, Lat den Ratte Komma In, by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist.


Bringing the heavy metal action this summer will be Iron Man 2 – following up the stylish first film. This time we’ll have Robert Downey Jr. taking on Mickey Roukes’ WhipLash. Nick Fury (Samula L Jackson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) add to the comic book fun!

PHEW - that's it for now!!

"Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl... she's going to be a big star this year!"



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