DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, January 31, 2011

DC Universe Online PS3 Review

PS3 gamers can go 'full super'

DC Universe Online PS3 (also on PC)

Developed by SOE

Reviewed by Matt Adcock


DC Universe™ Online is an action MMO (massively multiplayer online game ) that thrusts players into a high-stakes scenario where they fight alongside – or against - some of the most iconic super heroes and villains of all time. And for gamers wanting to slip on some tights and cape – the good news is that this is the first MMO to hit the PS3 and that it has been totally created to work with a Dualshock joypad rather than a keyboard / mouse combo.

"Power Girl - standing for truth, decency and skimpy outfits!" 

So is it any good? Can it stand up to established ‘superhero MMOs’ such as City of Heroes which hit PCs in 2004 and Champions Online which is a couple of years old now?

Well - behind the scenes you can tell that Sony and DC Comics have obviously been putting in a huge amount of effort into making this the most authentic super hero gaming experience possible. The challenge was always going to be making a game true to the DC Comics canon, yet one which enables thousands of new heroes and villains to simultaneously appear overnight and stuck in to an over-arching plot!?. This challenge has been met by legendary comic book artist Jim Lee who serves as the game’s executive creative director, backed up by renowned DC writer Geoff Johns who has crafted the story. Additional support is being added by comics genius Marv Wolfman who is responsible for in game quests and events. The DC Universe Online team are the real comic book deal and boy does it show.

"Wonder Woman takes no prisoners"

The plot – brings a truly epic storyline where Lex Luthor appears from the future and calls civilians around the world to action to fight against Superman’s foe Brainiac, whose robot drones are attacking and threatening to overrun the Earth. Luthor’s plan to help fight the menace is to convert civilians into superhumans – this is where you come in - giving players the chance to step up as a customised hero or a villain.

So the scene is set for newly superpowered forces to meet the most iconic DC Universe characters – and whether good or evil - try to save the planet. Inventing your own hero / villain will mean close involvement of the established DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains and means you are in regular contact with characters from across the comic book spectrum.

DC Universe™ Online stands head and plasma powered shoulderpads over the other super hero games out there as is alone allows players to create their own unique superpowered character – a valiant hero or devious villain worthy of the DC pantheon. While you may not be slipping on the cape or cowl of Superman or Batman (although you can play as these characters in legend arenas), players are able to create characters credible enough to fight alongside them. It really makes you feel like you are part of the DC Universe. You can fight the good fight – or use the chaos that has engulfed the world to your advantage if you’ve chosen to be a villain – and evolve and grow your character into one of the legends in the DC Universe.


"The 'super' review kit"

But what if you’re a MMO virgin and think that World of Warcraft players are the dweebiest of the dweebs? DC Universe Online might just change your mind (not about WOW players but about MMOs). From the second you’re done picking your powers, outfit and weapons you can potentially be soaring across the skies of Metropolis or ambushing scumbags on the mean streets of Gotham City. And there’s so much to look forward to as the game grows, an alert in Smallville has just been announced which will see you visit Superman’s homestead and face off against Doomsday!?

For a pick up and play game (which is essential to win the hearts of console gamers who might never have considered an MMO – that comes with e monthly subscription fee to keep playing) DC Universe Online literally kicks the ass of both City of Heroes / Villains and Champions Online. Character creation is a breeze – but nicely extensive in the range of options so that even after these first two weeks of playing this I’ve yet to spot a single two identical heroes. The choice of powers and weapons is decent – and gets better once you get in game as each has a vast branching network of upgrade options that can see two heroes with the same core powers wielding wilding different attacks and style so play in action… You also get to choose a classic super hero / villain mentors (Batman, Superman or Wonderwoman for goodies, Lex Luthor, The Joker and the goddess Circe if you're a wrong-un). This is a clever ploy as you get to build up a rapport with your chosen mentor – as they in turn begin to entrust you with harder and more meaningful missions.

"Go with a smile..."

DC Universe Online is an absolute super powered blast! Coming out in a packed gaming schedule which has seen Mass Effect 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, Dead Space 2 and Two Worlds 2 (lots of quality ‘2’s) you might think it would struggle to find players but since I put the DCUO disk in my PS3 I haven’t wanted to play anything else!

The gameplay is designed so that you can level up without having to ‘grind’ i.e. go around killing thousands of low level creatures to bag the xp points which you do in most MMO games. Progression here is all about missions, most are combat heavy but that is where DC Universe shines brightest – every battle is fun face off, never tedious – especially as you can have differing load outs so that you’ll forever be trying new powers, techniques and even weapons. The controls are excellent, simple but allowing for a good range of strategies - Square and Triangle buttons on the PS3 gamepad control your main melee and ranged attacks – the L2 and R2 triggers hot key them to use superpowers… simple but very very effective. There are some great extended elements too - I won a special combat trinket hammer from the evil Harlequin from the linked DCUO Facebook quiz , a simple entering of the code on the PS3 and I’m now packing a weapon that few players who haven’t found the Facebook quiz have!

"team sixpack"

DC Universe is the first game that I will happily paying a monthly fee for and Sony Online Entertainment has hit a major home run – addictive combat and levelling up, masses of cool and unique loot to find or win, new alerts that pop up which can be tackled with friends or on your own, vaults where you can find goodies, open-world PvP (player vs player) events which see you testing yourself… This is the real deal and it is megaton!

Players can also choose between playing on a PvP server – where there could be an enemy human controlled hero or villain around any corner just waiting to get into a scrap with you… or a PvE server which will prevent any human interference and leave you happily just motoring through the game without going toe-to-toe with others.

From the gorgeous opening cinematic mini movie – you unlock more superb short films after each major mission – you’ll be sucked in to the greater plot but also captured by the sheer range of quests, exploration and sheer comic book backstory joy. The graphics are what make DC Universe Online a must buy for PS3 gamers - and it is the difference between playing on a big screen HD TV and a standard computer monitor is the 'wow' factor that should keep fans coming back to the console version.

You may have heard that there are bugs and freezing issues, and sure I’ve had a few but since the last patch the game has been lively, virtually lag free and much more stable. And this continued improvement is part of the quality that Sony are bringing to the super powered party… DC Universe Online will evolve, grow, change and keep adding massive new gameplay elements and story arcs – it might just be the last game you’ll ever need to buy!

"There's some scary stuff on the streets of Gotham"

DC Universe Online is a comic book loving gamers dream come true. Xbox 360 owners need to petition Microsoft for something similar as they are seriously missing out! I haven’t been so addicted to a game for years – the ‘just one more mission’ factor is killer. I plan to re-review this game in 6 months to update on what has changed, where the writers have taken the story and what cool new places I’ve visited. Now I’ve got to go as I have had a distress call from the moon which requires PLAYthing’s attention – oh and Batman is after me because I beat the crap out of Robin last night (who hasn’t wanted to do that!?)

Then again – I’m also planning my first ‘hero’ character so if you need a co-op boost online – find me my PSN name is Cleric20.

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


ööööö

(5 - Comic book action has never been so much fun, highly recommended)...

Read more about DC Universe Online here

"Dressing up as the characters is entirely optional"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Tangled


Tangled (PG)

Dirs. Nathan Greno, Byron Howard

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Tangled is a fun new Disney big screen fairy tale-em-up which blends cutting edge 3D CGI animation with an old school adaptation of the Rapunzel. So we have a young princess with her magical 70ft of golden hair, trapped in a secret tower by an evil old hag, locked away from the world – including her royal parents.

This is the first ‘traditional hand-drawn style’ Disney release that is strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the best that Pixar and DreamWorks Animations can produce. Tangled is a born crowd pleaser and it improves on the last Disney effort - The Princess and the Frog by a wide margin. My ten year old son surprised me actively wanting to see Tangled (he’s more of an A-Team kind of film fan these days) which is a testament to the power of a good marketing campaign. But despite my being slightly dubious, we came away having enjoyed a rip roaring sing along fairy tale, energised with a slick script and quality production values.

The only downside being that it all feels very familiar but that is because this is a strict addition to the classic Disney cannon. You know the tale of a young girl (voiced by Mandy Moore), having to come of age and decide if she will follow her heart when handsome and good natured thief Flynn (Zachary Levi) barges into her sheltered life. The basic Rapunzel’s story is enlivened here with a couple of nasty thieves who are after Flynn, a fun sidekick chameleon and a scene stealing horse named Maximus who is the character that stays in your mind most after the credits roll.

"Gotta love that horse!"
The computer animation continues to improve and it effortlessly blends the photorealist big-eyed characters with the primary coloured world. Stand out cinematic scenes include a jaw dropping dreamlike cascade of floating lanterns which ranks as one of the most unforgettable animated sequences I’ve witnessed. The 3D actually works well too – some of the younger members of the audience were reaching out and trying to grab the lanterns as the floated by which would surely please the animation artists.

What was most refreshing though was the lack of clever pop-culture references, bawdy humour or overt product placement. Tangled is a film that parents can take their younger kids to safe in the knowledge that it will deliver a fun, family friendly experience which is kind of what Disney has always been about surely?

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


öööö

(4 - quality Disney fairy tale fun)...

Awesomeness ööö – the horseplay is especially genius

Laughs ööö – some nice laugh laughs

Horror ö – mild threat more than anything too horrible

Babes ööö – Rapunzel is a looker

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – true love wins

- - -
Second opinion - try Empire

"Mandy Moore - 'fit' to be a Disney Princess"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Two Worlds 2



Two Worlds 2 (PS3)


Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Role players rejoice, shake your ten sided dice and don your best elf costumes of power +1 because the venerable Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age – the console Role Playing Games of note from the last few years – have a new competitor…

Lo here cometh ‘Two Worlds 2 – The Temptation’ from makers Reality Pump – and it be a direct sequel to the original ‘Two Worlds’. Indeed the action taketh place shortly after the events portrayed in the first game but don’t let that put you off if you’ve never plated Two Worlds before as the ‘2’ stands as its own game and does not require knowledge from before.

"bold warriors and scantily clad women - with horned helmets"

Two Worlds 2 is subtitled “The Temptation” and that temptation seems to be ‘making it available to as many gamers as possible’ because it marks the series’ debut on the PS3. Yes in a move much like Mass Effect series jumping over to the Sony machine with the second instalment – whereas originally only being found on the Xbox 360 and PC.

The mythical action takes place in a place called Eastern Antaloor, in regions surrounding the city of Oswaroh and across the Drak’ar Desert – just down the road from Luton. Ah forsooth, as you can probably tell from the WTF place names we’re knee deep in nerd-em-up fantasy here.

"weird things abound in Two Worlds 2"

The good news be that Two Worlds 2 is a much improved beastie than the first game which was riddled with bugs and generally written off by gamers as a valiant failure. This time the makers have raised their game and brought more intricate missions, much improved voice-overs, a new graphical engine and sexy battle animations. The gameplay itself has been total retooled so that it actually works really well, crashes less and delivers some pleasingly crunching fantasy combat.

So might we have a new RPG heavyweight contender on our hands?

In a words ‘yes’ - Two Worlds 2 is a decent free roaming game where you can explore a beautiful world which is yours to freely adventure in. The map is big – and enjoyably varied with deep jungles, marshes, forests, deserts and cities aplenty. It is also populated with a good range of different characters, critters and NPC plot drivers both friend and foe – who will give you quests or a beating depending how they feel about you. The sheer size of the world map means that you’ll be using the teleports a lot and having a horse is necessary to prevent lots and lots of walking!

"Dar Pha - putting the 'ass' in 'Assassin'"

It has often been said that the voice acting in RPGs sucks and Two Worlds doesn’t buck this trend – it is better than before though and at least there is a more varied cast so you don’t get the ‘Oblivion’ syndrome where half the characters speak with the same voice…

Fortunately gameplay is quick to pick up and works well with the trusty DualShock controller. You’ll soon be fighting, collecting experience and levelling up to your geek heart’s content. Two Worlds 2 brings a good range of weaponry – including a nifty magical Oculus which is a floating eyeball you can send out before you to check for enemies (and if you have an upgraded one, can even fire a magic missile or place a trap to confound them – which is lots of fun).

Much emphasis is placed on looting your fallen foes, robbing treasure chests and breaking into houses to help yourself to the contents of the cupboards – the lock picking mini game is well worked too with just the right balance of skill / luck. You’ll get nowhere fast if you’re too pious to pick a pocket or two… as loot = cash and cash = better weapons and equipment which you’ll need for some of the more fearsome beasties and baddies you’ll encounter.

As is the norm for RPGs you’ll spend a lot of time grabbing different armour, weapons, potions, magic trinkets etc – the spoils of war add a satisfying incentive to find and take down ever harder enemies. Plus there are plenty of merchants to trade with so you’ll need to amass plenty of cash.
The spell crafting system is called ‘DEMONS’ which stands for Dynamic Enchantment, Magic, Occultism and Necromancy System – and it works a treat for all you Gandalf wannabes despite the clichéd name.
All in all Two Worlds 2 is a great RPG – you probably won’t go near this if you only play Call of Duty, even though it does deliver a fair combat blast. Sure it feels a bit shallow compared to some of the other games of the genre (it lacks what even space RPG Mass Effect packs in with a huge wealth of background ‘universe establishing’ documentation) but Two Worlds is without doubt a perfect stop gap for RPG fans until the epic big guns of Dragon Age 2 and Elder Scrolls Skyrim arrive later this year.

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


öööö

(4 - nerd lore magical adventuring and combat FTW)...

Read more about Two Worlds 2 here

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sony PSP2 Official Release - Want One


"The Sony PSP 2 also called the NGP"

"Mmmmm want one!"

 
Sony PSP2 Officially Announced - it's lovely

Darkmatters reaction by Matt Adcock

Sony today officially showed the world the PSP 2 - currently called ‘NGP’ or Next Generation Portable.
Looking like a sexy beefed up PSP - the NGP comes packing specs that makes even the 3DS look a bit 'meh'.
The new PSP (which arrives in shops before Christmas) comes with:

  • 2 cameras (front and back)
  • a 5 inch OLED touchscreen (with 4x the resolution of the current PSP)
  • two dualshock like thumbsticks
  • built in 'Sixaxis' motion control like the PS Move
  • flash memory cards instead of UMD disks
  • multiple connects including 3G, WiFi and GPS
  • friends and trophy support
  • a rear touchpad 
  • and even an electronic compass in case you get lost... 
"Yep - it's very very sexy"

 See the PSP2 / NGP from all angles below: 

 


What games will the PSP2 play... Oooh baby, how about UNCHARTED, METAL GEAR SOLID 4, CALL OF DUTY, LITTLEBIGPLANET for starters - all running at PS3 level of detail?

Plus you will be able to download all existing PSP games, a new specific selection of 'apps' and use features such as 'NEAR' which alerts you to other PSP2 owners in the vacinity so you can contact / social media / play with them.

And the inter-playing with PS3... Sony have a vision to allow you take a game you're playing on your PS3, out with you on the PSP2 and then reload it back onto your PS3 when you get home.

Now you need never stop playing... except perhaps to sleep.

Click here for a link to some footage of Uncharted being played on the NGP

"The PSP2 / NGP - bringing sexy 'touchpad' back"

"Amanda Seyfried - also looks good in black"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Black Swan


Black Swan (15)

Dir. Darren Aronofsky

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“I had the craziest dream last night about a girl who has turned into a swan, but her prince falls for the wrong girl and she kills herself…”

Black Swan is an enthralling dark psychological drama based around the story of Swan Lake where talented ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) becomes so completely consumed with her role of the Swan Queen that she loses her mind and her grip on reality.

Highly tipped for Oscar glory Black Swan sees director Darren ‘The Wrestler’ Aronofsky dive head first into a maelstrom of maternal obsessiveness, freaky body horror and eye wateringly impressive ballet scenes. Portman is exquisite in the challenging lead role – her year of real life ballet training being put to good use alongside her considerable acting skills.

The plot may be a phantasmagorical case study of someone breaking down but it is utterly watchable thanks to having a director with such artistic verve, empowered by an incredible cast. Vincent Cassel takes the male lead as the director of the ballet company putting on a new ‘edgy’ version of Swan Lake. Barbara Hershey is Nina’s seriously overbearing mother while sexy new dancer Lily is a scene stealing Mila Kunis.

"oooh - the Black Swan..."

Quality support is also on hand thanks to Winona Ryder - completely chewing up the scenery as the company’s former prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre – who is replaced in the lead by Nina.

Black Swan isn’t an easy film to watch there are strong violent and sexual scenes which shocked some of the audience I caught this with. And while not fully a horror film, there are some good ‘jump’ moments too which had many people screaming out loud (mentioning no names *cough Matt Landsman *cough).

So viewers certainly shouldn’t go expecting a ‘nice’ ballet film, but anyone who has seen The Wrestler – to which Black Swan is a kind of alternate companion piece – will know to expect a visceral, brutal experience.

Nina’s inner turmoil is caused by her having to depict both the innocent ‘White Swan’ and the sensual Black Swan – who is much more akin to the overtly sexual Lily. The rivalry / uneasy friendship between the two is instrumental in awakening Nina’s dark side – but can she stay sane under the pressure?

With Black Swan, Aronofsky has created a compellingly powerful film without having to resort 3D or over-burdening watchers with hours of unnecessary padding. He is building up a fantastic body of work and anyone who enjoys Black Swan should certainly seek out his earlier masterpieces Requiem for a Dream and ‘Pi’.

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

ööööö

(5 mind bending ballet shocks)...

Awesomeness ööööö – seriously impressive

Laughs ö – not a laugh riot

Horror ööö – you might jump, you will wince

Babes öööö – Portman is hot, Kunis is smokin

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – don't go 'full swan'

- - -


Second opinion - try Pop Culture Monster

"Kunis - swanning about"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 - year of the Tyrannosaur


2011 - year of the 'Tyrannosaur'?

Darkmatters has a lot of love for Brit actor Paddy 'Dead Man's Shoes' Considine and so it is with baited breath that we awaire his first feature behind the camera - Tyrannosaur - which hits the UK this year.


Tyrannosaur has already been described as "a tour de force propelled by the sheer intensity of its performances and storytelling" which sounds spot on. 
 
Here's the blurb from Sundance where the film is screening:


Joseph (Peter Mullan), a tormented, self-destructive man plagued by violence, finds hope of redemption in Hannah (Olivia Colman), a Christian charity-shop worker he meets one day while fleeing an altercation. Initially derisive of her faith and presumed idyllic existence, Joseph nonetheless returns to the shop and soon realizes that Hannah's life is anything but placid. As a relationship develops, they come to understand the deep pain in each other's lives.


An unconventional love story, Tyrannosaur transcends its bleak circumstances through Joseph and Hannah's vigorous impulse toward redemption. Shouldering the weight of burdened lives with great humanity and a deep understanding of our capacity to heal, Mullan and Colman deliver two of the most outstanding performances of the year. Considine's portrait of these two lost souls, bloody but unbowed, is a devastating and profoundly beautiful experience.

Tyrannosaur is based on some of the characters found in Considine's short film Dog Altogether... it should be fascinating to see the director exploring the violence and rage driven, self destructive nose dive of the human soul - and see what redemptive elements can be found.

"I'm a glass half full kind of guy..."

Paddy can next be seen in front of the camera in Submarine in just over month. And if you haven't seen Dead Man's Shoes... you really need to!

Other films to look out for in 2011 listed here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Outcast

outcast
Outcast (18)

Dir. Colm McCarthy

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Outcast is the debut feature from director Colm McCarthy (who cut his teeth on things like Spooks, The Tudors, and Murphy’s Law). It tells a tale of contemporary supernatural horror film steeped in ancient Celtic occult, mythology and mysticism. Get ready for weirdy beardy dark forces mixing with the everyday horror of your average rundown Edinburgh estate.

It’s an distinctly odd mixture but Brit horror films have a reputation for boundary shifting and new genre defining – see Heartless last year as a good example. With Outcast we get the bonus of a great erm ‘cast’ which includes James ‘Cold Feet’ Nesbitt, Karen ‘the assistant babe from Dr Who’ Gillan, James Cosmo, Kate Dickie and Christine Tremarco, Niall Bruton and Hanna Stanbridge.

Inner city sink estate horrors can be effective as the working-class vibe is a nice gritty alternative to the spoilt rich kids stereotype that so many horror films deliver. Central to the plot is Fergal (Bruton) and his mum Mary, for reasons initially unclear they are being hunted by a mystic hunter called Cathal (Nesbitt) who wields occult powers and means to kill the boy. Shapely love interest distraction for Fergal arrives in the form of a Scottish-Romany girl Petronella (Hanna ‘going to be a big star’ Stanbridge). Petronella hangs out with smokin’ hot pre Dr Who pal Ally (Karen Gillan) and frequently cross paths with the local NEDS.

"beauty and the beast 2?"

But something very large and nasty is also hunting the populace – could one of the (out)cast be a slimy hairless werewolf sort of creature??

So the scene is set for supernatural chasing, arcane battling and magical protection / misdirection… There are some memorable scenes that stay with you such as when Mary curses an uptight housing official – wiping her mind so that she is doomed to wander the earth until the end of her days. Overall there is much to enjoy.

The climax doesn’t quite deliver as much as I had been hoping for – but the weird and wonderful journey to get there is one worth taking for all horror fans! It’s easy to see why Outcast was one of the standout features for horror fans at London’s Film4 FrightFest in 2010.


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

ööö

(3 - magical bloodshed and slaughter a go go!)...


karen gillan sexy underware
"Who needs the Dr when you look this good?"

The Green Hornet


The Green Hornet Strikes

Following the death of his father, Britt Reid, heir to his father's large company, teams up with his late dad's assistant Kato to become a masked crime fighting team.

Check out the fun trailer below - followed by the Darkmatters full review:




The Green Hornet (12a)

Dir. Michel Gondry

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

What is the same mistake every superhero makes? They let the bad guys know that they’re a hero… That means that all the criminals have to do is threaten some innocent people and they have the hero by the short and curlies. This problem is addressed by millionaire slacker playboy Britt Reid’s (Seth Rogen) with his venture into becoming the crime fighting sensation ‘The Green Hornet.’ Letting the bad guys think that he’s one of them whilst taking them down is a nice twist on the traditional superhero formula. Of course the major downside of being seen as a criminal vigilante is that both the cops and the robbers are after you at all times.

The Green Hornet is a film from oddball director Michel ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ Gondry – it is certainly his most “mainstream” to date. Think Batman played for laughs in the vein of a buddy comedy or ‘The not so Dark Knight’ and you’ll be in the right area. Rogen is on good comic form in the lead role and or the action elements he is more than ably backed up by Jay Chou who stars as Kato, the Hornet’s all kicking, all punching, sidekick / car mechanic and awesome coffee maker.
Also on hand is Cameron Diaz who brings the love interest sizzle and quality master villain Chudnofsky in the form of Oscar winning Christoph Waltz who steals the movie with his ‘am I scary enough’ banter.

At heart The Green Hornet wants to be a cool flick like Kick-Ass but lacks the balls out action – so instead it delivers some nice fights, stunts and chases and lots of amusing banter. To be honest though, it isn’t enough to make this more than a fun diversion at best. It all looks very slick, especially the gadgets ‘star’ of which is The Black Beauty – the seriously cool militarised car which packs enough guns, missiles, cutters and flame throwers to make even James Bond green with envy!

"The car is the star!"
Everything about The Green Hornet is machine tooled to try and please a wide spectrum of viewers and by doing this it manages to not really hit any targets satisfactorily. The 3D is unnecessary and adds nothing to the viewing experience here (as is becoming a worrying trend recently – it just feels like a ruse for extra cash to rake in by cinemas tut tut)…

The Green Hornet is disposable superhero fun, nice while it lasts by utterly forgettable.

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

ööö

(3 Green Hornet is comic super blast)...

Awesomeness ööö – wants to be cooler than it is

Laughs öööö – Hornet hits the spot on the funnies

Horror ö – nothing very scary here

Babes ööö – Diaz still looks good!

Spiritual Enlightenment ö – money is the root of all evil (but post production 3D is a close second!)

- - -


Second opinion - try Dark of the Matinee

cameron diaz hot and sexy
"who said mid thirties isn't sexy?"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Darkmatters Review: The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech (12a)

Dir. Tom Hooper

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

You are cordially invited by royal decree to attend this rather wonderful telling of a key period in the life of King George VI, the father of our current Queen Elizabeth II. The King’s Speech is a fantastic period romp driven by Colin Firth’s central performance which puts his well-practiced starchy Mr Darcy persona to excellent use.

King George or 'Bertie' as his unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue (a brilliant turn from Geoffrey Rush) calls him, is afflicted with a debilitating stammer. Now for a mere commoner this would not perhaps be such a major issue. But for a monarch – especially one who is called upon to rule the nation as the Second World War erupts and needs the ability to rouse the populace and maintain morale - it can be a national problem.

Tom Hooper’s film opens in 1925 as George (then Duke of York) has to address a packed Wembley Stadium, he makes a complete balls up of it thanks to his stuttering delivery. Various speech therapists are called in – all to no avail although it is amusing to see a future King stuffing marbles into his mouth as one ‘expert’ recommends.

Fortunately George’s loyal wife Elisabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) is on hand and it is she who finds oddball Logue – the one man who might just be able to save the King’s speech…

"Everybody keep calm and carry on!"

The cast are uniformly great and reads like a who’s who of British talent, Michael Gambon stars as George V, Timothy Spall pops up as Churchill and Guy Pearce plays older brother Edward VIII. Even the minor roles like George’s children boast familiar faces including the brilliant ‘Karen from Outnumbered’.

What makes the film so watchable though is the sparring between George and Lionel whose scenes are often hilarious such as when Logue in a bid to get the King to loosen up asks George: “Do you know the "f" word?” George VI replies: “Ffff... fornication?” This Aussie / Brit culture clash just adds to the sense of fun that underlies the film and help elevate it above more ‘dry’ seemingly similar movie fair like The Queen.

Firth really should bag some shiny movie awards for his role here – and if there is any justice then The King’s Speech should be in line to clean up with Oscars and Golden Globes a plenty.

The King r, r, r, r r requires your attendance – don’t keep him waiting!!

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

öööö

(4 see it by royal command!!)...

Awesomeness öööö – God save the movie business
Laughs öööö – "and tits" seeing the king swear is hilarious

Horror ö – be afeared only if you stutter

Babes öö – Helena is still a fox (see below)

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – find your voice!

- - -


Second opinion - try The Guardian

"Long to reign over us"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Storage Stories: Darkmatters book review

Storage Stories
by Jim Bob

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Now Carter USM started out in business as some granny farmers, they were infamous for fifteen minutes and he appeared on Top of the Pops. Then they somehow got themselves on board The Starship Enterprise Allowance Scheme, with a Prince of Wales award for pushing catchy songs and endorphins…”

But fame is a fickle friend and despite being (in my opinion) the best and most altogether wonderful indie pop punk rock band ever – alas they are no more. So what happens to pop stars when they are no longer ‘stars’ - Jim Bob blows the bloody doors off the après pop existence in this heart breaking, gorgeous and rather excellent novel that feels deeply autobiographical even though it is plainly a compendium of top notch fictional and maybe not so fictional anecdotes.

Jim Bob’s first novel sees the hero – an ex pop star - having to work for a living in a self-storage company called ‘2001 A Storage Space Odyssey’ LOL. It’s life Jim, but not as we know it as each storage renting customer has their own amusing. tragic or oddball tale behind their space requirements.

There’s a great cast of misfits and memorable characters including love interest Janie who looks like Juliette Binoche, best mate Carl who has a taste for DIY surgery and Gary the Bubblewrap boy… Prepare to laugh out loud at hypotheses such as where boy bands are taken when they outstay their usefulness or a million savvy pop culture references that add sheer joy to readers who have enough brain cells to pick up on these sort of things. My pick of the bunch is a murder confession from a homicidal computer named HAL (yep – like in the film).

Storage Stories has a great wistful beating heart – spiced with darkly comic bursts of cutting observation. It’s a gas, man!? Highly recommended.


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


öööö

(4 - Storage Stories, space for ideas and joy)...

Official Storage Stories site

More Darkmatters posts about CARTER USM

Me wearing my Carter USM shirt in The Guardian

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Somewhere

Somewhere (15)


Dir. Sofia Coppola

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

This week marks 10 years of weekly film reviews for the group of newspapers that I write for…

That’s 520 films seen, mused over and written up, many of which you’ll find on this blog (alas Darkmatters only dates back to 2004).

So it is a rare luxury when I get the time to review a film not for the papers but rather just because it was such a joy to watch – and Somewhere is a film that deserves reviewing.

Sofia Coppola is a fascinating director from The Virgin Suicides through Lost In Translation and Marie Antoinette she has a unique style and repeatedly visits certain themes. People often love or hate her films, there are very few ‘meh’ responses as Coppola treads a cinematic path all her own – at once fantastical, whimsy, soul-wired and life-affirming.

Somewhere is the tale of Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), who is film star, womaniser, hard living ‘guy’ first and sometime father to his smart, lovely daughter Cleo (Elle ‘going to be a bigger star than her sister Dakota’ Fanning). The film eschews having a traditional story and rather works through three ‘acts’, each of which sees Dorff in a different light.

Somewhere is a very visual film, it may have little dialogue but it still has a brilliant ‘feel’ which viewers will either connect with and love or reject and hate. The father / daughter bonding is the engine that drives the plot – basically we get to tag along as Cleo visits her dad and gets to experience his movie star lifestyle.

"Elle Fanning - the perfect daughter?"

Before his daughter’s arrival, women are just objects to Marco – expressed in a great double bill of scenes where hot blonde twins pole dance for him in his Chateau Marmont hotel room – and despite their eager efforts he can barely keep himself awake. When Cleo impacts his life he has to do dad duties such as watching her ice-skate and the remarkable juxtaposition of his seeing her as a girl developing into a woman makes him re-assess his whole world view.

Somewhere is a wonderful film – it made my top 10 films of 2010 and I highly recommend seeking it out!

New Darkmatters Film Scoring for 2011 (well I say ‘new’ but since 2008 we have tried to hold the line of giving scores out of ‘10’ – before that it was the good old ‘out of 5’ but due to popular demand – i.e. the emails from PR people etc - we will return to the industry standard out ‘5’:

So out of 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 love it, wish you had a daughter, think about your life, see it again)...


Awesomeness öööö – Cool Ferrari, fine women, rockstar lifestyle

Laughs öö – Amusing in places

Horror ö – add more stars if you hate sexism

Babes öööö – Actors get the cute ones!

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – maybe there’s more to life?

---
 
Second opinion - try the excellent BINA007

"Elle Fanning - she's going to be a star!"

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Homefront Preview


Homefront Preview

Matt Adcock

The year is 2027. The world has suffered a decade-long energy crisis, and economies have crumbled. Reduced to a mere shadow of the super power it once was, the United States became the target of a North Korean takeover. In a land stripped of freedom, the brave will fight for their home...

Have a look for yourself below:


Monday, January 03, 2011

Darkmatters Top Films for 2011

Darkmatters Films to look out for in 2011

Picked by Matt Adcock

The year ahead looks like being one of the best for long time… Here are just a few of the cinematic treats on the way:


Sucker Punch - Zack ‘300’ Snyder is going for ‘Alice in Wonderland with machine guns’... Get ready for heavy duty fantasy with more babes, bullets, robots, samurai and bloodshed than is strictly necessary. This is my tip to be the coolest movie of 2011.


Source CodeMoon was one of the best directorial debuts of recent cinema, now Duncan Jones follows up with an action science-fiction featuring a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he's part of a mission to stop a crazed bomber.


Jane Eyre – Mia ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Wasikowska stars in this latest big screen swoon-em-up as Mr Rochester (Michael ‘Fishtank’ Fassbender) sweeps the ladies off their feet. This is one to take a date to.
- If you haven't read the book CHECK THIS REVIEW over at Jessica's Book Blog!?


Thor – unlikely director Kenneth Branagh goes all god of thunder as we get to see the Norse Avenger swing his mighty hammer in anger. This and


Captain America: The First Avenger will set the scene alongside Iron Man and Hulk for the superhero spectacular ‘Avengers’ which sees them all working together!?


X-Men: First Class – more super hero fun with Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn looking to make the mutant heroes cool again.


Paul - Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star as two British comic-book geeks traveling across the U.S. who encounter an alien outside Area 51. Prepare to geek out for this road movie with a nice sci-fi twist. Darkmatters review here.


Super 8 – Imagine J.J. Abrams getting together with Steven Spielberg backed up by fast rising star Elle Fanning… This could be the best film surprise of the year.


Cars 2 - Pixar get their motors running for the sequel to the shiny speedsters of the first film. Lightning McQueen goes abroad and becomes a spy? Probably a high point for kids this year - it just might work…


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons. Tomas ‘Let The Right One In’ Alfredson directs so expect classy, haunting spy thrills!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Finally, here we have the climatic showdown between Harry and his pals versus Voldermort and his death eaters. We’ve been waiting for this battle since film one… Bring it!!


Black Swan - A beautiful ballet dancer (Natalie Portman) wins the lead in "Swan Lake" and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan, but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like the evil twin sister of the White Swan, the Black Swan. Read the Darkmatters review here.


Cowboys & Aliens– High concept from Iron Man director Jon Favreau a western/sci-fi hybrid that sees six shooters up against alien weaponry. Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig lead the cast in what looks like being lots of fun!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Third time lucky for the Michael Bay and his eye popping effects machines? It might just be upstaged by


Real Steel – robots fighting instead of human boxers… Hugh Jackman brings the heavy metal combat.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – An English language remake by the brilliant David Fincher of the massively popular Millennium Trilogy? Yes please!!


The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn – Spielberg directs, Edgar ‘Scott Pilgrim’ Wright writes, Jamie Bell takes the lead role with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bringing their Hot Fuzz brilliance. Should be awesome.

For more inspiration check this cool list of films for 2011 too:
http://www.sundaychurchservice.org/2011/01/films-to-look-out-for-in-2011.html  

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