DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Captain America: The First Avenger



Captain America: The First Avenger (12a)

Dir. Joe Johnston

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“General Patton has said that wars are fought with weapons but are won by men. Our goal is to create the greatest army in history. But every army begins with one man. He will be the first in a new breed of super-soldier. We are going to win this war because we have the best men. And they, personally, will escort Adolf Hitler to the gates of Hell.“

We’re in 1942, America has entered World War II, and weedy but determined Steve Rogers (Chris ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’ Evans) is frustrated at being rejected again and again when he tries to sign up for military service.

Then one day he is picked by slightly nutty Dr. Erksine (Stanley Tucci) to be the first ‘super soldier’ – enhanced to the max of his human potential. From that moment on he becomes Captain America – the all singing, all dancing propaganda face of the U.S. war effort. Then when his friend is abducted by nefarious Nazi secret HYDRA baddies – he steps into the front line to try and save the day.

Of course every super hero needs a nemesis and Captain America’s is Johann Schmidt aka the Red Skull (played with camp relish by Hugo ‘The Matrix’ Weaving). And as Schmidt just happens to be the boss of HYDRA it’s game on for some boys own style, slick super smack-down.

"Red Skull... quite an accurate name..."

Captain America: The First Avenger – important not to forget that subtitle as next year see the Capt join Hulk, Thor and Iron Man in potentially the greatest ever superhero team movie of all time ‘The Avengers’. Be sure to wait until after the closing credits if you want to see a sneak peak of that!

In the meantime we get plenty of good fun action which plays like a more family friendly super-powered take on Inglorious Bastards. Yes the Capt gets the girl (Hayley ‘The Duchess’ Atwell), kills the baddies and saves the entire planet – before getting handily getting frozen so he can wake up and fight evil in the present too.

I was bit worried that Director Joe ‘The Wolfman’ Johnson might not do this justice but the first Avenger delivers the crowd pleasing goods and avoids being Captain A-‘meh’-rica… Not quite as good as Iron Man but better than Hulk and more action packed than Thor, there would be merit in seeing Captain America 2 as well as The Avengers. Good times for superhero fans.

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - The First Avenger kicks just enough ass)...

Awesomeness ööö – some great battle action scenes

Laughs öö – couple of laughs

Horror öö – some death and violence

Babes ööö – Atwell smoulders

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - heroic actions required (even if you're  wimp)

"Hayley has a lot of front"



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Cars 2



Cars 2 (U)

Dir. John Lasseter, Brad Lewis

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“This is agent Leeland Turbo. I have a flash transmission for agent Finn McMissile, my cover's been compromised. Everything's gone pear-shaped. You won't believe what I've found out here. This is bigger than anything we've ever seen…”

Bbrrrrmmmm, yes the cars are back on the big screen and this time the stakes have been raised. It’s not just speed that counts now, but in the face of a dangerous international plot – the heroes will need gadgets and weapons if they are to survive.

Disney / PIXAR studios have a fantastic track record when it comes to creating brilliant animated films. So the pressure to create a worthy follow up to their excellent Cars (which is the film that has made them the most cash to date thanks to the millions of toys it has sold) has yielded a sequel but is it any good?

In a word ‘yes’ the creative team have managed to effectively inject some decent action thrills to the racing formula. This time Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and his best mate Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) get drawn into a deadly conspiracy involving a new bio-fuel. Luckily top British secret agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and his sexy sidekick Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) are on hand to help.

There is plenty of slapstick danger thanks to an evil genius who has assembled an army of ‘Lemons’ – clunker cars that are fed up with always breaking down… When Mater inadvertently gets tagged with holding some secret photos he becomes the world’s least likely spy car – equipped with rotary cannons and nitro boosters.

I was a bit worried that the gunplay and secret agent high-jinks wouldn’t work with the Cars characters but the look of sheer joy on my youngest son’s face as he witnessed them won me over. Sir Michael Caine is excellent as the lead British super agent and bags lots of the best lines.

Lightening McQueen’s relationship with Mater forms the emotional heart of the film, which again triumphs friendship over everything else.
The automobile animations are unbelievably shiny and there are lots of nice film references and in jokes to keep the adults amused as the family friendly action rocks along to a satisfying climax.

Cars 2 might not be an original vintage model but it is an exciting new addition to the range and one that you should certainly consider taking for a spin this Summer!

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - shiny Summer speedster fun)...

Awesomeness ööö – when Mater breaks out his guns the audience cheered!

Laughs ööö – enough to raise some chuckles

Horror ö – mild peril anyone?

Babes öö – nice bodywork on some models!?

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - bio fuel can save your soul?

"Holly Shiftwell by name..."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amazing Spiderman vs Dark Knight Rises - trailer fight!!

Amazing Spiderman vs Dark Knight Rises


Matt Adcock can't decide which looks better from the trailers...


Monday, July 18, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (12a)

Dir. David Yates

Reviewed by Matt Adcock


“Hermione, when have any of our plans actually ever worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose!”

Listen up muggles – we Potter fans have waited, we’ve read the books, we’ve watched so many of these films that have generally been ok but all has been leading up to this final chapter…

Yes, the big magical smack down finally happens as Harry (Dan Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) speed through their deathly dullness quest to find and destroy Dark Lord Voldermort's remaining plot filler devices, sorry, ‘Horcruxes’ which hold the fragments of his soul. That done Harry must also grapple with other set of magical plot filler devices known as the mystical ‘Deathly Hallows’ – you know that wand, cape and stone which can somehow help take big baldly baddie Voldemort down.

"The dragon is a moment of joy"

So now we’re ready for the biggest, baddest, most kick ass battle to ever grace the Harry Potter world… And then, before you can say “is that it?” the whole thing is over – over with only fleeting moments of awesomeness. Yes, I’m a Potter fan but I also love a good battle scene in a movie – especially the climax to a great series like say ‘Lord of the Rings’… So I left Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 feeling a bit let down.

Sure the plot had been tied up and we even got to see the surviving characters in their ‘normal’ lives 19 years after the battle but I wanted epic-ness and what we got was decent but in no way epic.

Yes Deathly Hallows part 2 has fantastic special effects and all the cast go about their business well enough but where were the moments of sheer desperate heroics? Why did the writer / director think it was a good idea to mess with the locations of key events from the book and most of all – why were we viewers cheated out of seeing just how major characters fell?

Loyal Potter fans deserved better than this – which every time it threatens to be awesome, wimps out instead to general dissatisfaction.

So Harry goes out with a smile and a wave rather than all wands blazing - I leave you with Lord Voldermort’s words which could sum up Steve Kloves the screenwriter of Deathly Hallows: Part 2:

“Do not despair at his betrayal. You, none of you, were ever in his heart. Not for one single, solitary beat.”


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

öööö

(4 - still a good watch even if it could have been so much more!)...

Awesomeness ööö – nearly awesome at several points

Laughs öö – only sporadic funnies

Horror öö – not disturbing enough!

Babes öööö – Emma Watson is still very sexy, especially in Bellatrix's outfit!

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - probably something in here somewhere...

"It's a DM tradition to post random pics of Emma in each HP review!"

"one more for luck"


Darkmatters review of Deathly Hallows Part One

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Darkmatters Review: SUPER


SUPER (18)

Dir. James Gunn

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Shut Up Crime!!”

There comes a time when society pushes people too far. When someone snaps and decides to stand up to the rampant crime and sheer injustice…

That man is KICK ASS, no wait, that was last year…

That man is The Crimson Bolt (Rainn Wilson) also known as big time loser Frank D’Arbo. Franks a religious guy whose had a rubbish life – he has just two moments that he’s been proud of ‘his golden moments’ one was when he tipped off a policeman as which way a robber ran, and the other was his wedding day to his unfeasibly hot wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler).

One day Sarah leaves Frank for a slick pimp / drug dealer called Jacques (a nicely slimy Kevin Bacon). It triggers a breakdown / psychosis in Frank who sees a vision of the ‘finger of God’ touch his brain and answers what he believes to be calls of a ultra fundamentalist religious TV show starring a saintly superhero The Holy Avenger (Nathan ‘Serenity / Firefly’ Fillion) to take the fight to evil… So “The Crimson Bolt” is born with a mission to take the fight to evil with his battle cry of “SHUT UP CRIME!”

"Ellen page = hot sidekick Boltie"

Director James Gunn cameos as ‘Demonswill’ – Holy Avenger’s nemesis and has a blast in trying to lead teens into sexual promiscuity and general debauchery. But the film is totally stolen by the Crimson Bolt’s sexy sidekick ‘Boltie’ otherwise known as Libby (Ellen ‘Inception’ Page channelling the spirit of a sexed up older ‘Hit Girl’)… She throws all inhibitions aside and delivers a performance that has ‘iconic’ written all over it.

Super is an edgy and supremely ‘wrong’ film – not for anyone who can’t deal with darkest possible humour and grim violence. Several critics seem to have seriously missed the point – moaning about how Super isn’t a Kick Ass 2. I’d just say that Super works as more twisted comic sidepiece to Kick Ass, same genre, very different films.

Challenging, heartfelt and scattershot – Super is a film that doesn’t know any boundaries and is all the better for it. Do the words ‘cult classic’ mean anything to you?

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

öööö

(4 - over the edge and spewing black fumes)...

Awesomeness öööö – seriously awesome in places

Laughs öööö – very funny but worryingly wrong

Horror öööö – disturbing stuff ahoy

Babes öööö – hot sidekick action

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - touched by the hand of God

"everyone needs a sidekick"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Darkmatters Review: The TREE of LIFE


The TREE of LIFE (12a)

Dir. Terrence Malick

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? ...while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38)

GRACE: "Grace doesn't try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries."

NATURE: "Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things."

Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or winner, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, is his first film in six years, The TREE of LIFE is a hymn to life, excavating answers to the most haunting and personal human questions through a kaleidoscope of the intimate and the cosmic, from the raw emotions of a family in a small Texas town to the wildest, infinite edges of space and time, from a boy’s loss of innocence to a man’s transforming encounters with awe, wonder and transcendence.

I took at group of students from the London School of Theology (LST) to see a screening and they recorded their reactions to the film here: http://www.lst.ac.uk/hot-topics/the-tree-of-life 

Exploring the struggle between brute nature and spiritual grace and how they shape not only our lives as individuals and families but all life is a big topic for a film and The TREE of LIFE employs an epic tapestry to probe the incredible deep spirituality that flows through and all around our lives.

The film is certainly a unique experience and won't be everybody's cup of tea but it is incredibly rich - and some of the cosmic imagery I don't think I'll ever forget.

The plot (what little there is if it) follows a young boy and tracks how his life is affected by his mother's "grace" and his father's brute "nature". The searching philosophical issues that swirl throughout the film are wrought with intense emotion and played out through a staggering mixture of biological, chemical and geographical imagery. An unstable timeline that leaps back and forth from the moment of the 'Big Bang' through one family's lives and onwards into the afterlife.

Be prepared for something unlike any other film - the closest is probably 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Enter The Void - but The TREE of LIFE is a brave and deeply personal piece that cuts to the very core of our own creation.

As Mr. O'Brien, Brad Pitt gives a steely, measured and altogether wonderful performance - minutes go by with no dialogue but he shows emotions the resonate with us with just a look or an expression... He's man broken inside, where behind his pious exterior lurks a shamed and irreconcilable yearning for the 'grace' that his wife exudes. Yet he cannot allow himself to move to the closer relationship with God that might let him experience the world through wider lens.

Malick shows us the whole family relationship from the POV the boys as they try to make sense of their father (who wants them to "man up"), their mother who is always there for them and God... As the titular  tree grows - we see it in prehistoric times as dinosaurs frolic past, ,and again Jack's childhood garden - there is a memorable line when his mother tells him that he will be grown before the tree is - and then again in the corporate world where Sean Penn sees it from his slick office...

Challenge yourself - see The TREE of LIFE and reflect on life, the universe and everything!

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

ööööö

(5 - I didn't know how to name You then. But I see it was You. Always You were calling me)...

Awesomeness ööööö – God is the essence of awesome

Laughs öö – a few heartfelt moment of joy

Horror öö – human 'brute' nature isn't nice

Babes öö – she's a lovely mum

Spiritual Enlightenment ööööö - Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.

"The way of Grace... looks good"



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

UNCHARTED 3: BETA IMPRESSIONS


Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception BETA (PS3)

Developed by Naughty Dog

Reviewed by Matt Adcock


Once in awhile a game comes along that redefines expectations – something so new, so spine tinglingly delightful, executed to perfection and megaton in levels of invention, gameplay and sheer awesomeness…

The Uncharted games on PS3 have so far both been key examples of the above – so the pressure is on developers Naughty Dog to come up trumps with their third game in the series.

Now having been playing the Uncharted 3 BETA for 2 weeks solidly (it knocked every other game off our PS3) I’m delighted to report that Uncharted 3's multiplayer is a serious beast of shootin, climbing, treasure collecting and beating the crap out of your enemies… And it rocks!!

"character customisation allows for some good variation"

In a Call of Duty style there are plenty of perks and badman weapons to unlock – plus outfits for your character and taunts etc. It’s a god system and it really adds to the gamplay experience as you’ll find yourself risking life and limb dashing into fierce crossfires in suicidal dashes to grab a key piece of treasure.

The BETA brings three levels – an airstrip, chateau and Yemen – all are rich environments packed with really inventive features, e.g. the airstrip level begins with a mad chase of a fleet of lorries all after a cargo plane which is racing down a runway trying to take off. You start either on the plane or one of the trucks and have to leap between the moving vehicles shooting and scrapping as you go. The moving vehicles is a feature rarely scene in multiplayer maps (one notable exception is the Killzone 3 train set level) and it shows just how ambitious Naughty Dog are in bringing something new to this run and gun genre.

The Uncharted games have always had a brilliantly cinematic single player experience – definitely the nearest thing yet to actually starring in your own action flick but it looks like this time the multiplayer experience will be every bit as amazing. Shooting game fans are in for a massive treat when Uncharted 3 hits this November – this really is potentially the game of 2011 and that’s not a claim to make lightly as we have Battlefield 3, MW3 and Gears of War 3 all clamoring for shooting supremacy.

"take a trip to Yemen - love the scenery - try not to get shot..."

Graphically Uncharted 3 is head and shoulders above the excellent standard of even Uncharted 2 – the rich colourful settings and absolutely brilliant character models who move convincingly whether climbing, rolling or fighting… it is breath-taking stuff.

Of the two levels the chateau is a broken down mansion flanked by two serious turrets and has a zipline down which you can fly whilst unleashing hot lead death from above. The airfield (after the plane has taken off) is dominated by a large warehouse with metal walkways and multiple lines of sight, plus cargo containers – any of which could hold a hiding enemy… Both environments are tense, paranoia inducing and seriously good fun!

The weapons of Uncharted 3 are nicely balanced with the AK47 being the standard rifle, plus old favs from Uncharted 2 such as the Dragon Sniper and Sass shotgun – plus RPG (which can be accessed via in game medal collection) and grenades, handguns (got to love the machine pistol) etc. There is a good variety and most games seem to have a decent amount of give and take as the teams are balanced by player ranks.

The kickback bonuses such as RPG are nicely diverse too to suit various play styles with a smoke bomb e.g. that allows you to escape from battles, or a boost of never ending ammo for a certain time… These can really help swing the tide of a fight and gives you real incentive to keep collecting medals which you get for pulling off various kills, stunts and feats.

So as the BETA hits open PSN access this week – get ready to Team Deathmatch your heart out, rip it up in 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 co-op death match or just lose yourself in hours of gunslinging action multiplayer action…
"you don't get to do this in Call of Duty multiplayer"

Nothing comes close to delivering the pure adrenalin thrills of Uncharted 3 – if you’ve yet to download the BETA, stop whatever you’re doing and go get it now. This is the future of multiplayer, if you don’t currently own a PS3 this is the game you’re going to need to buy one to play!!

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

ööööö

(5 - PS3 + Uncharted 3 = most awesome gameplay available)...

Impressive Dark Knight Rises Poster

"tasty"
Darkmatters can't wait for this one...

Monday, July 11, 2011

inFAMOUS 2: Review


inFamous 2 (PS3)

Developed by Sucker Punch

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Hands up if you’ve ever fancied being a super powered being with the freedom to go where you want and unleash your unnatural powers on any unsuspecting citizen you happen upon… Yeah, me too!

inFamous was a kick ass PS3 exclusive that literally shocked people with its winning blend of electric powered heroics and real choice / implications of how things panned our depending on your moral choices of good or evil. Developer Sucker Punch realized they were onto a winner as the first game sold well and got a lot of love from gamers, So inevitably they’re back with inFamous 2 and they have changed things up just enough to make super hero fans tingle all over again.

Once again you get to play as the inFamous Cole MacGrath – who fresh from battling a freaky evil world destroyer known as ‘The Beast’ is given a serious beating and left to try and level up his powers in order to be ready for another crack at this powerful enemy. So it’s off to a new town (New Marais) which bears an uncanny similarity to New Orleans – in the kind of way that Empire City was a lot like NYC in inFamous.

Veterans of the first game are immediately rewarded with a Mass Effect chance to import their existing character – complete with good or evil preference. Don’t worry of you didn’t get chance to play the first inFamous though as the sequel stands alone very well too. The controls are intuitive and work well in the detailed sprawling open world (choc full of optional side missions – both from the game developers and even better – from players who have used the LittleBigPlanet style creation tools to make challenges for you to try that are impressive and creative in ways that only user generate content ever is!?

As you work your way through the main missions along with the side distractions the karma metre will kick in. This monitors your actions, tracking how good or evil you are being e.g. disabling and sucking the life force from people = bad, saving civilians from mugging or healing them who’ve been hurt = good.

Fill your karma metre with good and before long you’ll be able to access new ‘heroic ice’ powers and enjoy the adoration of the NPC people. But go psycho on the populace or openly attack cops and you’ll soon be feared and hated – but wielding some alternative ‘nasty fire’ powers.

The open city game area is a joy to move through as you can grind on electric cables, use your electro powers for small bursts of flight etc – all the while leaping and scrambling up buildings in an Assassin’s Creed style.

Everything about inFamous 2 is slick and well designed – it takes all the things that made the inFamous so great and makes them even better… The storyline feels well thought through and not just a cheap add on to make more cash, the graphics are lovely and the gameplay very satisfying.

I can’t inFamous 2 as it delivers on every count you could ask for (except maybe online multiplayer?). If you love open world games, super powers or just a great gaming experience, inFamous 2 is a tour-de-force of excellence that you owe it to yourself to invest in!

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

ööööö

(5 - super nova super hero fun)...

"you could be"

Darkmatters Review: Holy Rollers


Holy Rollers (15)

Dir. Kevin Asch

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Who’d have thought that one of the biggest threats to the US in the war on drugs was actually the Hasidic Jews? Nope, not me, but thanks to seeing Holy Rollers I now know that it was the lovely ringletted Jewish young people who managed to import over a million ecstasy pills into America in a couple of years in the 90’s.

Holy Rollers might be a work of fiction but the facts of the story are that because nobody suspected the Jewish travelers – they managed to hoodwink the custom authorities and clean up financially.

Sam (Jesse ‘The Social Network’ Eisenberg) is feeling repressed by his devout father (Mark Ivanir) who is fully orthodox to the max. Enter stage right Yosef (Justin Bartha) who tempts Sam into his world of transporting “medicine” from Amsterdam for easy money. Of course it isn’t actually medicine – it’s shipments of ecstasy but Sam is hooked on the cash flow attached to this business model.

Holy Rollers takes this interesting plot and lets first time Director Kevin Asch spin it out over what feels like an eternity. Really the film drags so badly that I thought I was going to die from brain inactivity halfway through… None of the acting is bad and the production values are good, so it is fairly inexplicably as to why the film sucks so much overall.

Maybe it is because nobody seems to know exactly what tone to adopt – is it a deep study of the Jewish way of life and how it was subverted by the money grabbing drug dealers? Or maybe a crime thriller – just minus anything resembling a ‘thrill’…

A brief moment of interest arises when Yosef's hot girlfriend Rachel (Ari ‘Date Night’ Graynor) tempts Sam to maybe run off with her but again the plotline goes nowhere and all that is left is to wait for the inevitable downfall and bust of Sam et al…

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

ö1/2

(1.5 - don't do drugs)...

Awesomeness ö – nothing very awesome here

Laughs öö – couple of giggles

Horror öö – really needed more tension

Babes ööö – Ari Graynor thumbs up!

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – Hishtalem my brothers

If looking for a good movie this week – don’t do drugs (or Holy Rollers).

"Ari Graynor - almost makes Holy Rollers watchable"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ape Escape PS3


Ape Escape – MOVE (PS3)

Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Man has for some time feared our nearest animal ‘cousins’ the ape… If Planet of the Apes is any indication, then one day we’ll be at the mercy of the hairy simians – so what can we do?

Well if you’re a PlayStation fan then you’ll know that the PS brand machines have been allowing humans to capture and suppress apes since the original ‘Ape Escape’ hit back in 1999.

The PS1 wasn’t blessed with MOVE controllers so the game took advantage of the dual analogue stick packing DualShock controller and developed a good sized fan base as humans took the fight to the apes and captured them.

Ape Escape PS3 is a whole new game – bringing the MOVE controllers into full effect allowing you to swipe them with nets in a 1:1 motion control, suck them up with a vacuum (MOVE having triggers allows it to do things that Kinect can only look on enviously at), shoot them with a slingshot (yep triggers again LOL) – works a treat and is an immediate blast of fun!

There are plenty of levels each split into phases where capturing the apes is supplemented by collecting bonus bananas and power ups. Just don’t let the thieving apes near your bananas (health) as they’ll nick off with them.

There are more advanced gadgets – before long you’ll be transmuting apes into bananas and zapping them too. Just be sure to get a battery as you’ll need power to use gadgets.

Repeat monkeying about is encouraged by having online leaderboards where your scores can be compared to other PSN players and a monkeypedia which is like a Pokedex ahem, so you’ll need to catch em all…

Finally there are some mini games but the first one is enough to put you off these as it requires you to use a DualShock sideways and one handed (come on Sony you know there’s a NAV MOVE controller right!?)… If they don’t patch this element then Sony should are seriously shooting themselves in the foot!

So Ape Escape is a fun blast which packs graphically slick monkey bashing fun – as long as you stick with the main quest levels. If the NAV controller gets patched in to be used for the mini games then add a star to the overall score too.

Ape Escape has been well brought into the HD generation – you could say that spanking the monkey feels even better in HD!?

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

ööö

(3 - go get those monkeys)...

Second opinion - this guy loved it: Amazon Review

Monday, July 04, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Transformers Dark of the Moon


Transformers: Dark of the Moon (12a)

Dir. Michael Bay

Reviewed by Matt ‘Optimus’ Adcock

“Years from now, they are gonna ask us: where were you when they took over the planet?”

The Transformers films are a hard to explain phenomena. Director Michael Bay has created three all conquering box office juggernauts that pack cutting edge special effects and dialogue so bad that it could be classified as a crime against nature. Whilst film critics generally hate them, millions of people flock to see them and buy them on DVD, download and blu-ray too for good measure.

"stupid robots... oh wait"

My youngest son is ten years old, has been counting the days until Dark of the Moon opened. He has an extensive collection of Transformer figures and has been playing the Transformers: Dark of the Moon game on his PlayStation 3 religiously since it came out. In order to maintain some sort of subjectivity I took not only my son but also a hard-line Transformers sceptic in the shape of Mr Tom Wade (teacher, film lover and man who really hated both the first two Transformers films).

The plot is that during the final days of the war that devastated the Transformers’ home world of Cybertron, a spacecraft known as The Ark attempted to escape. It was shot down and crashed onto our moon where its pilot Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) has sat stranded ever since. In 1961, the crash of the Ark on the moon is detected by NASA and President John F Kennedy fast tracks the Apollo 11 with the express mission of finding out more

Now the evil Decepticons led by Megatron (Hugo Weaving) are planning to use the cargo from The Ark to take over our world. All that stands between us and total annihilation are a handful of brave Autobots led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), oh and an annoying young guy Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) plus his new hottie girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).

That’s about all you need to know – everything else is eye-popping special effects as the robots battle alongside brave marines. Buildings are trashed in spectacular style, people die to the powerchords of Linkin Park and Paramore while robots convincingly tear each other apart and everyone except Tom Wade goes home happy.

"The ruins of Chicago - Michael Bay style"

For sheer stupid sci-fi thrills, investing 2 hours 37 minutes of your life to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon just might be the best thing you do this year… You owe it to your inner ten year old.

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

öööö

(4 - Earth's last stand rocks)...

Awesomeness öööö – Serious awesome metalic battle mayhem

Laughs ööö – stupid dumb fun (some unintentional)

Horror öö – more civilian deaths than previous Transformers and a couple more robots buy it too

Babes öööö – Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has great bodywork (see below)

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö – humans have capacity for spirituality that robots can only dream of...

Darkmatters review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Darkmatters review of Transformers

"Rosie Huntington-Whiteley - robo babe" 

White Knight Chronicles II (PS3)


White Knight Chronicles II (PS3)

Developed by Level 5

Distributed by Sony

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Some say that you don’t have to be a massive geek to enjoy complex role playing games but that isn’t a widely held view outside of the millions who have sold their souls to World of Warcraft and the like. Level 5 however are the kick ass developers behind the PS2 age classic Dark Cloud and the first White Knight Chronicles which was a fun Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) and they are at the cutting edge of helping to widen the appeal of these games.

Back with a beefed up sequel in White Knight Chronicles II which continues the whole battling RPG adventure and manages to improve on the graphics, control system and general excellence of the original. This might just be the JRPG that helps make role playing on your big HD TV both more accessible and whisper it ‘acceptable’ to a wider circle of non hard core geek gamers.

If you’ve played any JRPG – you’ll be right at home here, the basics are all in place, hero who forms a band of like minded pals to fight for the forces of good, levelling up and collecting powers and equipment along the way to saving the world. Oh and I should just mention the killer ‘wow’ factor that both the White Knight games bring the party – basically when you have sufficient power your characters can transform into giant knights – massively powerful and seriously brutal warriors who can beat the living crap out of multiple enemies.

White Knight Chronicles II has some brilliant features including character customisation that allows you change up your main character – who you will use both in the single player and as your online player. And, whereas the first game just let you create your ‘human’ character, this time your get to make your ‘White Knight’ too. Creating your own bad boy devastating pain bringer is enough to put a big smile on even the most cynical gamer’s face.

The even better news is that your customised Knight can be used in online play too… Nice.

Battling (which forms the meat of all modes) has been nicely improved too with a host of new ways to take the fight to your enemies. There is certainly plenty of content too – clocking over 50 hours of play – which can be tackled solo or in a team up online scenario.

Veterans of the original game are rewarded by being able to transfer characters, equipment and gold from the original title which is really nice bonus. And Sony in their wisdom have even added the first game to the blu-ray disk so you are in fact getting both White Knight Chronicles games for the price of one. Of course if you choose to play through them both back to back you might not have a real life to return to as these are potentially life consuming adventures!?

If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, the Dark Cloud games, the original White Knight Chronicles - or hey, even if you're not a RPG fan, White Knight Chronicles II is a game you should definitely consider getting.

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

öööö



(4 - Adventuring is rarely this good)...

"White Knight wants a word with you..."

Check the White Knight Chronicles II wiki here

Read my review of White Knight Chronicles ORIGINS on PSP here

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Darkmatters Review: BRIDESMAIDS


Bridesmaids (15)

Dir. Paul Feig

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

If The Hangover and Wedding Crashers had a female offspring it would probably look a lot like Bridesmaids… Sexy, wrong and very funny – this shows that when it comes to foul-mouthed, laugh out loud toilet humour – the girls can bring it every bit as well as the boys.

Bridesmaids tells the tale of Annie (Kristen Wiig), a mid life woman who is picked by her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be her maid of honor. Annie however has been unlucky in love and business – her life is steadily falling apart which makes it hard for her to be happy for her newly engaged pal who seems to have everything that she does not.

Things get worse when Annie meets the rest of the bridesmaids, there’s - rich and hot new wannabe BFF for Lillian, Helen (Rose Byrne), large and OTT Megan (Melissa McCarthy), blonde cougar Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and repressed wife Becca (Ellie Kemper).

This oddball crew of females embark on a wild ride of preparation for Lillian’s big day. Along the way we get some seriously raucous female-centric crass humour – sex, vomit and bitchiness are on the menu and it works a treat. Bridesmaids wipes the floor with The Hangover 2 and comes away as this year’s best comedy so far.

Director Paul ‘The U.S. Office’ Feig works producer Judd Aptow’s patented high-octane comedy vibe to perfection. So if you enjoyed Superbad et al then have no fear in stepping out with these Bridesmaids – and it works as a date movie too.

The showing I saw this at had an audience that must have been about 90% female – a ratio I haven’t seen since Twilight!? And whilst the few blokes there were certainly laughing heartily, they weren’t the ones singing along with Wilson Philip’s cameo singing of Hold On – which was reminiscent of audience participation from Mamma Mia…

Annie is a great lead character – flawed and yet a heroine it is easy to want to see succeed, she wears some mean Victoria's Secret skimpy underwear too. Even the lesser roles add comedy value – e.g. nice to see Matt ‘Little Britain’ Lucas popping up as Annie’s odd roommate.

In the end it’s the competitive battle between Annie and Helen as to who is Lillian’s best friend that escalates into a insane battle of one-upmanship that will leave you laughing all the way home.

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

öööö

(4 - flirty, filthy, funny - these girls will amuse you big time)...

Awesomeness öööö – more awesome than the Hangover boys!

Laughs öööö – very funny funnies

Horror ööö – gross out 'bad tummy' scene you'll never forget

Babes ööö – check these Bridesmaids out!

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – follow your heart?


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