DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Darkmatters Review: The Adventures of Tin Tin


The Adventures of Tin Tin - The Secret of the Unicorn (PG) 

Dir. Steven Spielberg

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Hold on to your hats, here’s the big CGI visual ‘leap’ which brings some seriously awesome graphics to the big screen and the result is absolutely jaw dropping.

In the capable hands of Spielberg – his follow up to Indiana Jones 4 – sees high adventure in amazing animated style. The Adventures of Tintin literally jumps from the pages of Hergé’s comic book series. The Secret of the Unicorn is a fun packed, family friendly romp, which has taken a long time to be realised in the manner that only the latest computer power can bring about.

It is a loving homage that I’m sure the original Belgian cartoonist would have been pleased with (alas he died before see this). Spielberg’s Tin Tin project benefits from having a cracking team of writers that include Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish. Tin Tin fans who have read ‘The Crab with the Golden Claws’, ‘The Secret of the Unicorn’ and ‘Red Rackham’s Treasure’, will recognise the highlight packed plot. The mixture of old school adventure and cutting edge visuals makes for a very enjoyable film – it even managed to amuse my teenage son which isn’t easy for anything other than Youtube or Facebook these days.

"shoot me first! save the boyish hero"

So young Tin Tin stumbles onto a secret which could lead to a lost treasure – there are nefarious forces also after the riches, so danger and death defying daring-do are the order of the day. Along for the ride is Tin Tin’s sidekick dog Snowy - who has a handy knack of saving the day, plus whiskey loving Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) and the twin Interpol agents Thomson and Thompson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost).

Bad guy of the piece is the Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) who brings good dastardly counterbalance to the innocent faced Tin Tin and co. The action cracks along at a good pace and there are some lovely references to the original comics. So there really isn’t any good reason not to go and enjoy this rip-roaring adventure – even if it probably won’t be remembered as the classic that the makers were hoping it would be.

It does look like Tin Tin will be back soon though with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson already slated tackle the sequel.

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

ööö1/2 

3.5 - tally ho, what japes! 

Awesomeness öööö – some adventure chases on a par with Uncharted 3!?
Laughs ööö – some good laughs to be had
Horror ö – very mild darkness
Babes ö – this isn't that sort of eye-candy
Spiritual Enlightenment öö - comic adventures FTW

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Darkmatters Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin


We Need to Talk About Kevin (15)

Dir. Lynne Ramsay

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“I used to think I knew why I did it. Now I'm not so sure.”

Is anyone born evil or are those who commit evil driven to it by their upbringing and surroundings? We Need to Talk About Kevin is a powerful, heart-breaking film adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s devastating novel detailing the impossibly grim fallout for the mother of a teenage mass murderer. 

Kevin is portrayed as the ultimate soulless disenfranchised youth, clever and calculating – and bad to the bone. So how did modern, self sufficient and career minded Eva (Tilda Swinton – on absolutely stunning form) ever give birth to a son so utterly the embodiment of angry male arrogance who stands against all that she holds dear? Eva feels impossibly trapped in her marriage to easy going Franklin (John C Reilly) – she is a free spirit, portrayed as seeing parenthood as an unhappy chore that limits her existence.

Does the infant Kevin pick up on his mother finding him a burden and something to be endured? He certainly exhibits a hard to fathom malevolence, a cutting resentful mute hatred of his parents, his younger sister Celia (Ashley Gerasimovich) and anyone who crosses his path. The deep emotional angst and utterly dysfunctional reaction that triggers Kevin’s horrific homicidal actions drip from every frame. A clever use of the colour red, coupled with agonizing flashbacks combine to unsettle viewers and make watching We Need to Talk About Kevin a gut wrenching experience. Seeing Eva struggling to cope with the animosity and angry retributions of those whose worlds were torn apart by her son’s actions is like the worst nightmare of any parent. This might be a fictional account but the emotions generated are painfully real.

"happy families - this is not"

Kevin is brought to the screen by Ezra Miller – as the older Kevin and Jasper Newell as the younger, both deliver highly unsettling performances which are sure to stay with you for some time after the film. The struggle between nature and nurture (or ‘grace’) is one that continues to engage writers and filmmakers – We Need to Talk About Kevin is a dark apocalyptic vision of casual evil amongst us. Lynne Ramsay’s film works as a female viewpoint companion to Gus van Sant's much more macho-esq ‘Elephant’.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is an excellent but incredibly harsh viewing experience which brings issues worth exploring and debating for those who can stand the strong subject matter.

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

öööö 

4 - fear the Kev...

Awesomeness öööö – drips menace from the start

Laughs öö – mass murder isn't a laughing matter

Horror ööö – horrible but not extreme

Babes öö – Swinton looks destroyed

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - nature or nurture?

"Erin Maya Darke's potential next project"

Darkmatters Review: Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Blu-ray (18) 

Dir. John McNaughton

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“There is a disease in the heart of man. Its symptom is hate. Its symptom is anger. Its symptom is rage…” Equilibrium 

Hi, the name’s Henry and I’m your worst nightmare. See I like to kill people for kicks, you know - just for fun, or maybe just because they cross my path… women mostly and I don’t very much care for anything in this world. Hey but if you think I’m bad (and I am) you should meet my pal Otis (Tom Towles), I met that sick puppy in prison but you know something, perhaps his sister Becky (Tray Arnold) – she ain’t so bad…

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a low budget ($110,000) tale of the life and crimes / random horrific actions of Henry (Michael Rooker). This is a film that cuts through the layers of Hollywood gloss and high production values that help a viewer maintain a ‘safe’ distance from the action of most horror flicks. Presented in grubby16mm – even on Blu-ray it feels nasty and cheaply put together – which is part of the power packed by Director John McNaughton’s up close and personal account of a prolific serial killer.

Rooker is amazing in the lead role making Henry exude a weird negative charisma and total and utter disregard for the human life. A drifter who purposefully moves around and changes his methods of killing to avoid detection – he seemingly operates with impunity. The actions of Henry in the film are loosely based on real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas but also bubble up from the black tar pit of McNaughton’s mind (he co-wrote it).

"mirror mirror on the wall - whos' the sickest of them all?"

You know you’re in for some of the most unpleasant but oddly compelling viewing ever committed to film when the opening scene is that of a naked woman, lying dead in a field. We are then introduced to Henry, who is going about his business. Interspersed with this are shots of other murder victims. None of the actual murders are shown, but accompanying the shots of the bodies are the sounds of screaming and struggle. Henry is also shown following a woman home and watching her as she enters her house.

It’s this matter of fact, impassive observational style that lends the film such a hard-hitting, disturbing edge. One scene where Henry and Otis kill a Fence for a larger TV than he was willing to sell them for their budget is a frightening ‘what if’ in light of the riots and looting this year. Are we in danger of sliding into a state where life is worth less than a bigger TV?

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is an extreme film that will absolutely not be to many people’s tastes due to the sheer grimness of the subject matter. But for those who like their horror cold, hard and emotionally raw – the Blu-ray version delivers some serious chills and a warning that you just never know who that guy staring at you from across the car park really is thinking…

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

öööö 

4 - this is one ‘Horrid Henry’ that really isn’t for kids.

Awesomeness öööö – if brutal random killings are your thing…
Laughs öö – very dark laughs in places
Horror ööööö – gruesome and unrelenting nastiness
Babes öö – girl next door looks (while she lives)
Spiritual Enlightenment öö – where does our respect for life come from?

Darkmatters Review: DanceStar Party


DanceStar Party (PS3 Exclusive)

Developed by London Studios

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

There are lots of dancing games on the market – every gaming platform has something designed to make you prance about in front of them.

But only once in a while one comes along that gets just about everything ‘right’ – the good news is that DanceStar Party for the PS3 is the new undisputed king of dance games…

I have to admit that my hopes were not high when the review copy landed at Darkmatters HQ. Rather than just play it solo we decided to stress test DanceStar Party with various age groups – from a load of kids (aged 8 -10) on a Sunday morning, with teens (who got creative when challenged to make up their own routines) and with old timers (30/40 yr olds).

So how did it fare?

DanceStar Party was LOVED by all ages.

The feedback was universally positive ranging from “Best dance game I’ve ever played” through to “I’ve never had so much fun playing a console game”… basically the kind of quotes you wouldn’t normally find outside of a Sony Fanboy convention led by Kevin Butler.

So it looks like with Christmas Season about to hit, DanceStar, a PS3 (plus Move controllers) are going to be the essential kit to get any party started.

What’s so good about DanceStar? OK well for once the choice of tracks that come on the disc is way better than most ‘party’ games e.g. I Like The Way by Bodyrockers, Pass Out by Tinie Tempah, Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce and Ellie Goulding's Starry Eyed.

"Look - real video, real dancers!"

Each track has an energetic dance routine that's easily learned by mirroring the moves of the dancers on-screen – and has a handy ‘energy’ level rating as to how much of a sweat you’re likely to work up. Speaking of on screen displays – DanceStar packs the original videos for all the tracks and a ‘real’ dancer rather than some rubbish animated dancer. It is impressive stuff as the required moves scroll on from the right and snapshots / video of your own effort pop up. It looks and feels slick and the dancers are really attractive specimens which helps too!? So while you're giving the performance of your life and watching the original artists' videos, hitting the Triangle button on your motion controller switches to the camera feed and see what you look like in action.

There is also a great workout section, which could well mean that you don’t need to invest in any bespoke fitness games… No excuses now lard ass - dance yourself fit! Once you've finished your dancing, it’s fun to upload your videos and pictures to your gallery and share them with your friends - they'll be able to rate them, and give you feedback. If you’re into social media you can share your vids with other users via Facebook and Twitter – uploading is a fun part of the DanceStar Party experience.

"hotpants not included"

Downloading your pals efforts is fun too, as they can post not just them dancing but routines that they have created for you to test yourself against. If you think you’ve got moves then now the bragging rights are there to be taken online! New content is available to download from the Playstation Store – so it will take you a lifetime to master every track in DanceStar Party…

Sony’s London Studio has excelled with DanceStar Party – this is the dance game that could well convert those who don’t like dance games, get your gameface on and hit the floor!!

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

ööööö

(5 - The PS3 is now king of the dance genre!)...

 Check out the official site


Sunday, October 23, 2011

UNCHARTED 3 presents ‘The Hero's Journey’



UNCHARTED 3 presents ‘The Hero's Journey’ A documentary short directed by Ed Zwick inspired by Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, exploring the Action Adventure genre

 To celebrate the launch of the action adventure blockbuster UNCHARTED 3: Drakes Deception, PlayStation®3 has commissioned celebrated filmmaker Ed Zwick to explore one of entertainment’s biggest genres: Action Adventure and pose the question ‘What does it mean to be a hero?’

UNCHARTED 3: Drakes Deception released on November 2nd is the latest in the UNCHARTED multi-million selling adventure. The franchise is known for blurring the entertainment boundaries, and delivering on a cinematic scale. The new instalment follows hero Nathan Drake’s search for the fabled ‘Atlantis of the Sands.’ Announcing the new content, Sony PlayStation Marketing Director, Alan Duncan, commented ‘The Hero's Journey’, continues PlayStation 3’s documentary exploration of the convergence of entertainment genres, which we started with last years short themed around emotion in entertainment.

PlayStation is about rich entertainment experiences and we are excited that a filmmaker of Ed Zwick’s calibre has joined us to explore such an important genre as Action Adventure. UNCHARTED 3 is the perfect title with which to explore the subject of heroism’. Commenting on the creation of ‘The Hero's Journey’, Ed Zwick states ‘I’d been unaware of the extraordinary advancement of games such as UNCHARTED 3.

The notion that one can have a more complex hero while still providing the obligatory action, opens a whole new range of possibilities.’ Uncharted Creative Director Amy Hennig comments ‘The Uncharted Franchise is an exploration of what heroism means in the Action Adventure genre and it was interesting for us to explore these themes that we share across entertainment genres - as entertainers we are all posed with similar questions as to how to bring heroism to the fore in such a blockbuster category.’ The documentary short was filmed in LA and features responses from a range of film and gaming respondents who were posed the following questions to explore ‘What does the idea of the Hero in Action Adventure evoke?’:

Questions posed:

 · What defines a true hero?
 · Do you think heroes are born and not made? If so, what makes them?
· As an actor is it easier to play a hero/heroine than a villain?
OR- As a director, is it important to make your hero sympathetic?
· Heroism consists of 'hanging on one minute longer'. Do you agree?
· Action movies used to mean adventure in the face of physical danger. Has that changed in today's CGI reliant Hollywood?
· What's changed in Hollywood's portrayal of what it means to be a hero?
· How do you feel about the evolution of the female action hero?
· Is the multi-layered, flawed anti-hero a more modern hero?
· Are the darker, more fallible heroes of today more realistic and psychologically rounded?
· How do you draw on strength, when the odds are against you?
· Does fantasy inform your reality
· Who are some of your personal heroes?

Respondents:
 · Ed Zwick – Director/Producer & Writer (Glory, Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai, Traffic & Blood Diamond)
· Diane Kruger – Actress (Troy, Inglorious Basterds, National Treasure & Unknown)
· Amy Hennig – Video Game Director & Writer (Uncharted 3, Jak & Daxter & Legacy of Kain) · Djimon Hounsou – Actor (Gladiator, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Eragon & Blood Diamond)
· Sam Rockwell – Actor (Cowboys & Aliens, Iron Man 2, Moon & Matchstick Men)
· Nolan North – Video Game Actor& Voice (Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception, Batman: Arkham City, Transformers: Dark of the Moon & SOCOM 4: YUS Navy Seals)
· Michelle Rodriguez – Actress (Avatar, The Fast and the Furious, Resident Evil & Lost)

 The documentary is available to download free from http://www.youtube.com/playstation3 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Darkmatters Review: The Three Musketeers


The Three Musketeers (12a) 

Dir. Paul WS Anderson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Born to be heroes, trained to be warriors, destined to fight evil…

Yes the swash-buckling Musketeers are back after more than 20 film versions of Alexandre Dumas’ novel – and as my wife pointed out - a ‘great’ cartoon version in Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds.

Les Trois Mousquetaires, is a well-worn tale but it’s never been imagined in quite the way that Director Paul WS ‘Resident Evil’ Anderson does here. Gone is any sort of historical accuracy and in its place come dazzling 3D battles, sci-fi steampunk airborne warships, heaving bodice-straining bosoms and a new 12 year old looking D’Artagnan (Logan ‘Percy Jackson’ Lerman).

Anderson doesn’t do subtle in his movies but he does inject decent amounts of kick ass fighting against evil in the forms of nasty Rochefort (Mads Mikkelson), evil Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and dastardly Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). It seems that the Cadinal seeks to engineer a war between England and France to discredit France’s young King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox), so all of France looks to the Musketeers to save the day.

"this wasn't in the book"

The female component are chiefly made up of the beautiful Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), the cute French Queen (Juno Temple) and her hot handmaiden Constance (Gabriella ‘Dr Who’ Wilde). 

Nothing feels very original but anyone who likes their swordplay action fast, furious and without having to think about how silly it is too much should be very happy here. Anderson throws in various bits from Assassin’s Creed videogames, Indiana Jones movies, references to some of his other films and pretty much anything else he can think of – including a blatant ‘please let me make a sequel’ ending.

It does however look very stylish, especially the action sequences, which benefit from some high end special effects. There is some comic relief from the OTT slapstick pratfalls of incompetent servant Planchet (James Corden) who at least is memorable.

Alas the Three Musketeers themselves are fairly interchangeable – Matthew Macfadyen is Athos, Luke Evans is Aramis and Ray Stevenson is Porthos. Everything builds up to a plot involving the Musketeers having to steal back a priceless necklace and maintain the Queen’s honour. D’Artagnan has to give the King some relationship advice along the way and manages to woo Constance while the other Musketeers look on a bit awkwardly with nothing to do but fight lots of guards.

The Three Musketeers is a loud, stupid blast, that is lots of fun while it lasts but also instantly forgettable.

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

ööö 

3 - handsome if lowbrow adaptation...

Awesomeness öööö – does rock in places

Laughs ööö – Corden makes funny

Horror öö – slightly grim in places

Babes öööö – lots of regal eye candy

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - viva la français

"Handmaiden Gabriella Wilde"

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Johnny English Reborn




Johnny English Reborn (PG)

Dir. Oliver Parker

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

When the world is in danger, and a ruthless group of unstoppable assassins threaten to take out the leader of China – MI7 answer the call by sending in their most ‘special’ agent…

Yes Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is back – and he’s not lost any of his killer touch (although to be fair he didn’t have that much to start with). In the absence of a new Bond film this year, here is definitely the next best thing.

After a disastrously cocked-up mission in Mozambique, English has sought refuge in a remote Tibetan monastery where he is taught to find himself via being kicked in the balls. It seems the true peace and acceptance of your mistakes can only be found by dragging rocks with your testicles!?

"smooth and subtle..."

But he’s soon drafted back into MI7 and sets about being crap over and above the call of duty. If you liked the first Johnny English film then you’ll be immediately at home with ‘Reborn’ as it follows the tried and tested formula of pratfalls, cringe-worthy social crimes and general utter ridiculousness. The slapstick stupidity on display takes in lots of people getting hurt by mistake as English bumbles his way through the fairly predictable plot.

There are a couple of really funny moments which will be what stay with you should you choose to accept the mission to see this good-natured sequel. Look out for the ‘mind control’ dancing scene in particular which had the entire audience screaming with laughter. Also laughing in the face of danger are quality supporting turns from Gillian Anderson as new boss of MI7 (now operating from Toshiba sponsored HQ) and Dominic West who plays pantomime baddie / double agent Simon Ambrose. 

Obligatory but unlikely love interest for the Brit super spy comes in the shapely form of Kate Sumner (ex Bond girl Rosamund Pike) who sizzles and straight faces admirably as Atkinson spazzes in fine style. Pick of the spy gadgets has to be the gorgeous voice activated Rolls Royce which is pretty much a character in its own right.

"love at first sight"


Johnny English Reborn is immature, lowbrow and still very amusing. I took my 10-year-old son and his mate to see this and they laughed loud and long throughout. So if looking for an all age crowd pleaser, the man for the job just might be agent English – as they say ‘a little intelligence goes a long way!’

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

ööö

(3 - secret agent stupidity is rife again)...

Awesomeness ööö – funny yeah

Laughs öööö – you. will. laugh!?

Horror ö – mild peril

Babes ööö – Pike... you so would

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - idiots can save the world

"Pike vs dress"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

LONG LIVE PLAY

This is just the most awesome gaming advert in the history of the world!!

Matt Adcock gets excited...




You know - this makes me want to dress up like this (to play my PS3!):


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Red State


Red State (18) 

Dir. Kevin Smith

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

‘It’s going to get Biblical!’

What happens when you take the foul-mouthed comedy indie film director of Clerks and let him lose on his own wildly excessive religion gone nuts material? Red State is the result – a quasi horror blast that tells the unhappy tale of three horny U.S. teens who are tempted to meet an older woman they have met online for sex.

Before you can say ‘meh – I’ve seen too many of these stupid raunchy road trips’, viewers are thrown head first into the very heart of darkness as the teens are drugged and prepared to be executed by a hyper-fundamental Christian religious sect.

What happens to Travis (Michael Angarano), Jarod (Kyle Gallner) and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun) is the stuff of torture-em-up films like Hostel – and then just when you think you have the film pegged the tables are turned again when the authorities led by Joe Keenan (John Goodman) arrive and a full scale gun siege kicks off.

Red State turns out to be a really though provoking ‘what if’ that riffs on the dangerously crazed far right end of the Christian religious spectrum. This sinister fundamentalist group called the Five Points Trinity Church are led by charismatic but deluded pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). The groups vitriolic hatred of homosexuals and anyone sexually promiscuous – plus Evangelic Christians for being too soft!? Cooper preaches a malicious fire and brimstone damnation philosophy so extreme that even the neo-Nazi organisations have distanced themselves from them. 

"we come in peace"

Without wanting to give too much away, Smith manages to do a decent job with the inflammatory material and gives it a heavy duty twist once the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents try to storm the Church compound.

As a Christian myself I was fascinated by the moral stand off interplayed in the film and the depiction of the warped way in which Cooper and clan twist the Bible to suit their own hateable prejudices. I’d be gutted however if anyone watching dismissed Christianly purely on the strength of Red State.

For those who enjoy being challenged and have a high tolerance for violence and cussing the closing credits promise that “Almost this entire cast will return in HIT SOMEBODY coming over the boards in 2012.” Red State is a gut wrenching morality minefield - worth checking as there is absolutely nothing like it there.

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

ööö1/2

(3.5 - the fear of God can lead to madness)...

Awesomeness öööö – packs some seriously cool moments

Laughs ööö – dark laughter to be had throughout

Horror öööö – gruesome in places

Babes ööö – Kaylee DeFer is cute

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Just because a man carries a bible - doesn't make him a good guy alas

"Kaylee DeFer - innocent bystander?"

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