DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

PlayStation VITA Hands on Preview


PlayStation Vita

Hands on preview by Matt Adcock

Ever wondered how cool it would be if you could continue that game you were playing on your home console – on the go? Take it to work with you or in the car (as a passenger obviously), finish that game of FIFA on the toilet or snuggled up in bed?

Or how about playing against a mate or family member who is hogging the TV / console combo from wherever you are?

What about a hand held console that packed twin joysticks to allow for that sweet ‘proper’ Call of Duty control system?

Maybe some touchscreen goodness through in along with a touch control backplate and gyroscopic tilt function – with front and back cameras and a huge HD screen?

Well Sony have heard you and are going to change everything you know about gaming when their PSVITA hits the UK in February.

I spent an afternoon with the new Sony handheld putting various games and functions through their paces – here’s what I thought:

The first time you pick up a PlayStation Vita, you realise that you are holding a slab of refined gaming goodness – everything from the well placed controls, the nice balanced weight and the impressively large screen reeks of refinement. The VITA is what the PSP wants to be when it grows up and it feels much more akin to a beautiful piece of future tech than a boxing dual screen game machine *cough 3DS*…

Unusually for a launch line up Sony seemed to have gone all out to bring some ‘must have’ games to pick up on 22 February 2012 – gonna need to get saving as there really are lots that are worth your hard earned cash…

I kicked off my time with a VITA by playing LittleBigPlanet Vita, which impressed straight away by delivering graphics and controls virtually on a par with the PS3 and way way in advance of the PSP version. LBPV also embraces the multitude of control inputs available – need a bridge to cross a large gap? Pressing the back panel to slide out a path is the answer, tilt the VITA to make a rope swing the right way, use the touchscreen to play an on screen piano keyboard… within minutes you’re finding new and highly imaginative ways of playing… all of which will be available to those who want to create and share their own levels.. Sony are working to make LBPV cross play with the PS3 version too (which is a day one option on Wipeout 2048 and MotorStorm RC – more on those in a minute).

Next up is FIFA and I take Spurs on a rampaging destruction of the old enemy Ars*nal – the graphics again are really impressive, the controls sharp – having that second joystick really sets the VITA apart from any other hand held games machine (or phone or pad for that matter). The FIFA package comes with pretty much everything you’ll find on the Xbox 360 or PS3 version – it looks as good and plays as well. I can see some blokes losing a lot of their lives to this game, especially as it comes with online multiplayer including voice chat options.

"the future has arrived - New Uncharted is a launch game!"


Then it’s time for Uncharted: Golden Abyss – and if I had been impressed before, my jaw was well and truly dropped at the richest, most involving gameplay and absolutely stunning graphics that Naughty Dog have managed to pack into this portable adventure.

Uncharted hero Nathan Drake really is the new Indiana Jones – and being able to make him fight, shoot, leap, sneak and climb using the various control options highlights the versatility that the VITA brings to the party.

There’s always time for some augmented reality beat-em-up in the form of ‘Reality Fighters’ which takes the idea of imposing the user created fighters onto a real world backdrop such could be your lounge, the pub, your desk… It’s fun enough (especially in two player mode) – in a sort of Street Fighter crossed with Mortal Kombat style two characters enter, one character leaves…

"I mentioned the awesome Wipeout 2048 right?"

Escape Plan was up next – a gorgeous, minimal, Tim Burton-esq effort where you move your main character by sweeping your finger over the touch screen, trying to guide them to escape but often dying horribly along the way.

Racing now with MotorStorm RC, in which you drive a radio-controlled car – it’s an update of the time tested micro machine gameplay – which lets you race across the various MotorStorm tracks from the PS3 and PSP iterations. Whilst not as graphically impressive (this wasn’t final build) the game comes with both PS3 and VITA versions so those who have both machines can immediate fire up a game to challenge others in their household and demonstrate the cross play functionality. MotorStorm RC is all about shaving lap times in order to be known world wide as the fastest!?

Finally I play WipEout 2048, which is my ‘game of the afternoon’ and an absolute ‘must-buy’. Wipeour 2048 is by far the best of the series to date and that includes the PS2 and PS3 versions. The game has been refined, polished and improved – the hyper fast racing is still brutal and satisfying but the tracks packed in 2048 are fiendishly fun to race. I was lost in wonder staring at the lifelike skies above, the moving video adverts lining the tracks, the vertical climbs, the death defying drops… Wipeout 2048 runs smoothly with 8 players (they can be any mix of PS3 and VITA in the cross play mode that works a treat).



With big hitting franchises such as Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty and Ridge Racer all confirmed – and the excellent level of PS3 / VITA interactivity looking like it will do pretty much everything Nintendo are planning with their Wii U – the future for Sony gaming couldn’t be much brighter! VITA will make anyone who thinks there Xbox Live enabled phone is cool hang their head in gaming shame…

When not gaming the VITA is looking to get stuck into the social networking scene too – it will flag up when friends beat one of your high scores or display what they are playing so you can challenge them. Trophies come as standard as does the 3DS alike ability to give gifts to people wirelessly.

£229.99 might seem a bit of an investment – but there really isn’t anything that compares to the gaming experience that the VITA delivers… I was delighted to have witnessed the future of gaming… Day one purchase for me!!

"wipeout - best version yet!"

"If the PSVITA was a girl..."

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One



Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3)

Developed by Insomniac Games

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One – is a new breed of sci-fi cartoon shooter which brings the joy of co-operative play to a whole new level, Created from the ground up to support up to 4 players at any point (either local or online) this is a revelation for those who like a bit of team working with their pals.

The Ratchet & Clank games are a by-word for quality platform / shooter experiences – blessed with excellent humour and stylish visuals, packing seriously deranged weaponry and tons of carnage to be wrought.

For fans of the series, All 4 One picks up after the events of A Crack in Time – in a strange alternative future where lombaxs run around and talk, a clueless comedy ‘hero’ named Captain Qwark has somehow become President of the universe and Clank (a cool calm mini robot) is on hand to generally save the day. All seems well in the galaxy but the evil Dr. Nefarious is up to his dastardly mischievous ways – starting by luring President Qwark to a trap under the premise of him being honoured as the biggest intergalactic tool…

"pick a hero!"

All 4 One's gameplay has been tweaked to accommodate potential all age players - making this an ideal choice for parents looking to play something with their kids that isn’t as violent as Call of Duty but still packs some great shooting fun! And hats off to Insomniac Games because they’ve delivered a co-op experience that rocks, in fact multiplayer is the best way to enjoy this winning blend of fast paced action and quality humour.

The controls are easy to pick up (the camera angle is locked which means that each player feels centre of the action) – the range of weaponry on offer is both extensive and very amusing. The level whiz along in a well designed fashioned, and everything just ‘works’ really well.

Basically Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a class act that deserves the consideration of any gamer looking for a quality co-op experience this Christmas!

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

ööö1/2

3.5 – Bring a pal or 3 and kick some evil ass!

Darkmatters Review: Take Shelter


Take Shelter (15)

Dir. Jeff Nichols

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

How much do you care about your family?

What if you were wracked with apocalyptic nightmares that threatened their safety and might just herald the end of the world?

Welcome to the Take Shelter from writer-director Jeff Nichols. This is a freaky drama that blends a descent into madness with the everyday struggles of Curtis (Michael ‘soon to be fighting Superman as General Zod’ Shannon).

Curtis is married to the lovely Samantha (Jessica ‘Tree of Life’ Chastain), they have a deaf six-year-old daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) and life seems very ‘normal’. In a timely relevant plot line, the family are having a hard time making ends meet and Curtis feels burdened in his dead end Ohio building job.
"letting off wind in an underground shelter requires precautions"

Things get worse when Curtis starts having vivid nightmares in which he's in danger – always heralded by an unnatural storm and backed up with some cool special effects. What’s a man to do? Well our hero takes to constructing a tornado shelter in his back yard, much to the consternation of his wife and the bemusements of his work colleagues.

The film builds up a creeping sense of dread and disorientation, it feels a lot like Donnie Darko and is a strong psychological thriller where the threat is always ambiguous due to the ‘is he going nuts, or is he actually picking up supernatural warning signals’ unanswered questions…

Take Shelter plays with your emotions and will keep you guessing right up to the unsettling ending. It all looks amazing too – stunning shots of the American flatlands mix with the weird and disturbing nightmares to form a unique fusion of fantasy and reality. There are some shots in this movie that will potentially burn themselves into your subconscious and leave you mulling the meaning over for some time to come.

"this doesn't look good..."

Shannon is great in the difficult lead role and he is ably backed up by the excellent performance of Chastain who is fast becoming the ‘go to girl’ for playing hot mothers. Young Stewart is also good in her supporting role and together they form one of the most convincing on screen families for some time.

Director Nicholls tackles a fascinating ‘what if’ subject matter and gives you a vital viewing experience that is likely to demand repeat watching to fathom the complexities of the plot.

Choice quote: 


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

öööö1/2

4.5 – Mental breakdowns have never been so interestingly depicted.

Awesomeness öööö – the nightmares are highlights
Laughs ö – not a funny tale
Horror ööö – sense of dread builds disturbingly
Babes ööö – Chastain is a MILF
Spiritual Enlightenment öööö – make of the ending what you will...

"a wife worth caring about!"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New MOVE Games



Tis the Season to MOVE - New PS3 Move Games Rated by Matt Adcock: 

If you like your video games a bit more active than just literally twiddling your thumbs then PlayStation Move motion controller is a great place to start. Combined with the PlayStation Eye Camera you become the star of the show, the hero at the centre of the battle or the sportsman with the skills to make the opposition stop and stare…

This Christmas there are some new MOVE experiences to go alongside the superb Killzone 3 and Resistance 3 Move enabled shooters. – but which are worthy of your cash?




Start the Party!: Save the World (PS3)

This is the follow up to one of the launch line up of Move games – Start The Party! – which brought a fun collection of augmented reality mini games to the erm, party…

Save The World adds a new set of 20 games loosely linked by a baddie (Dr Terrible) who you have to try and defeat. The main addition here is that you can multiplay with other players trying to put you off using a standard DualShock controller – a great way to spice up the game play!

The Playstation Move works beautifully – the games are easy to control and works especially well in games that require you to draw things on screen (something they really doesn’t work well with Kinnect etc). Start the Party: Save the World packs some great cartoon graphics too but here’s the problem… It’s just too short and there isn’t a great deal of incentive to replay the mini-games.

So if looking for a fun blast e.g. to play with a bunch of kids or excitable young people or tipsy adults, but this really isn’t a game you’ll find yourself playing single player long into the night.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öö1/2

2.5 – fun for short bursts but not for a long haul



EyePet &Friends (PS3)

Say hello again to my little (virtual) friend… And this time he’s brought some pals so you can nurture and play with a whole bunch of cute critters.

EyePet & Friends builds on the cute first game – the MOVE controls are great and more intuitive the range of things you can do with your cheeky little Eyepets is greater… And two people can play at the same time!?

It’s a satisfying feeling drawing a picture in front of the PlayStation Eye camera and then seeing the PS3 create the actual 3D model of your drawing on screen e.g. a car which you can then control.

So if you’re in need of a new pet (one which doesn’t shed hair or scratch your real world furniture) then this is a fun option – especially with kids who can torment / love their new little charges and in turn be kept amused for many hours.

EyePet & Friends does exactly what you’d expect it to – brings a virtual creature into your house and gives you the tools to have mucho fun with it!
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö1/2

3.5 – get some virtual furballs in you life



Carnival Island (PS3)

Wanna set up a fully functional carnival in your house – but don’t fancy hosting a bunch of pikey non tax paying miscreant to run the rides for you and take all you cash? Well You’re in luck as God Of War developer Sony Santa Monica drops the bloodshed and brings the fun in this stylish mini-game-em-up – think Hoops, Ring-Toss and Coin Flip etc all of which use the PlayStation MOVE controller's excellent accuracy to test your skills.

Plus there are Bowls, Pitch, Shooting Gallery, Frog Bog (kind of whack-a-mole) – each game is nicely worked and looks great. The MOVE is a very nice control mechanism which gives much more satisfaction in terms of tracking movement than the Wii.

There are even additional tools like a fun Magic Mirror which will distort your look and allow you to snap some funny photos which can then form the loading screens...

It all plays really well – I wasn’t expecting much from this title but it is actually one of the most fun MOVE experiences you can have and just great for a party atmosphere where you can take turns to beat each other’s scores.

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

öööö1/2

4.5 – something fun this way comes!


Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest (PS3)

If you’re a MOVE veteran, the chances are that you will have played the excellent Sports Champions – one of the best elements of which was a sword and shield battle sim. Now the makers of Sports Champions are back and gone is the tight fitting spandex, in is armour and more weapons – which you’ll need to battle a horde of undead enemies!?

Deadmund’s Quest is a cartoon fantasy title about young Prince Edmund who becomes skeleton when he crosses evil sorcerer Morgrimm. So as a skeletal warrior you embark on some Medieval Moves – an action game that sees you acting out the combat moves required to vanquish many baddies and save the day.

It’s the excellent 1:1 motion movements of swinging your sword (you can attack high or low, stab or slash) that makes this such a fun game to play. You’ll need to bring your defense skills too though as blocking enemy attacks will keep you alive.

"the bigger they come..."

The game also gives you ranged weapons in the form of a trusty bow (which controls just like Sports Champions brilliant archery game) and throwing stars. As Deadmund you move along automatically, stopping to do battle with waves of enemies in order to free their spirits. Enemies ramp up from basic skeletons through to armoured knights, magic users and other beasties.

Health is replenished by enacting drinking of a bottle of milk, which is a fun touch. The single player campaign is a short blast but there is real mileage in playing this in multiplayer with a tasty battle mode (also playable online) where you can fight other humans, and an Invasion mode where you fight as long as possible until you fall.

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

öööö1/2

4.5 – hack n slash for real in a cartoon fantasy world and feel every blow

"She wants you to MOVE"

Conclusion:

Medieval Moves is the pick of the new MOVE games out there due to the sheer excitement factor but Carnival Island is also very worthy of your time… Get both for Christmas and work off some of the festive food!?



Monday, November 21, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Twilight Breaking Dawn part 1


Twilight Breaking Dawn pt 1 (12a)

Dir. Bill Condon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“No measure of time with you will be long enough. But we'll start with forever.“ Edward Cullen.

– Breaking Dawn pt 1 certainly feels like it takes forever to get anywhere plot wise…

The end you see is finally in sight for Emo girl Bella (Kirsten Stewart) and her beloved sparkly vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson)… Oh and let’s not forget hunky werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) – who is the hairy side of this supernaturally dramatic love triangle.

If you’ve been following these film adaptations of Stephenie Meyer's ploddingly pedestrian novels you’re probably in one of two camps. Either you think they are rubbish (and are a bloke) or you love them and squeal out loud at the thought of the male stars (in which case you’re probably a thirteen year old girl, although my cousin Anne also does this and she’s older than me *ahem, over forty, ahem*).

So after seeing Harry Potter make mucho money by splitting the last book into two films the Twilight franchise follows suit – which again leaves the viewers with a ‘filler’ film that has no conclusion. Of course that doesn’t matter to the tween females of the world who are content to scream at the shirtless smouldering young men on offer here – but it really hurts the pacing of the story as every little thing is drawn out by new to the franchise director Bill Condon.

"wolf boy delivery services were proving popular with the girls"

Having mildly suffered through the first 3 twilight films in order to bring you reviews, I thought it only fair to get a comment from one of the self confessed Twi-Hard fans – thirteen year old Rebekah Middleditch and she said: “this film was incredible it was the best one out of them all and my favourite is Jacob, I also can't wait till part 2 comes out.”

In a nutshell Breaking Yawn, sorry, Dawn tells of how Bella gets married, has sex with Edward (who being over a hundred years old probably thought he was past being able to knock anyone up). But before you can say ‘condom?’ Bella is with half human / half vampire child, which brings an unforeseen and shocking development for Jacob…

The film tries to build to a shock climax by veering into bloody birth horror lite as the spawn of Edward might just be the death of Bella!? It’s all a bit creaky but looks good in a stilted kind of way – and if you’re a fan do stay to see the after credit extra scene designed to build up anticipation for part 2!?

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

öö1/2

2.5 – Slow and pointless unless you’re in love in R Pat or Taylor Lautner

Awesomeness ö – nothing very awesome here
Laughs öö – some of the acting is laughable
Horror ööö – chewing through belly to get baby out anyone?
Babes ööö – Stewart looks good in places
Spiritual Enlightenment öö – if you do fall for a vampire at least practice safe sex!?

"vampires - slippery when wet..."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Immortals




Immortals (15)

Dir. Tarsem Singh

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Prepare to get knee deep in hand-to-hand carnage as Immortals, a hyper-stylised 300 wannabe, brings all kinds of good looking battling to the big screen – in 3D too if you swing that way!? Opening with an unlikely line from the great philosopher Socrates: “All men's souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.” Immortals packs a lot more punch than the insipid Clash of the Titans remake.

Set in the aftermath of the Greek gods winning their mythic struggle against the evil Titans and imprisoning the feared combatants in Mount Tartaros.

We find dastardly King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke hamming it up and having lots of fun) bringing his massive army of bloodthirsty soldiers against the peaceful land of Greece – who just might need a young peasant named Theseus (Henry ‘new Superman’ Cavill) to save them… Hyperion has designs on finding a legendary ‘Epirus’ Bow, a weapon of unimaginable power forged in the heavens by Ares.

Whoever wields the bow can unleash hell on mankind and the noble gods can only look on as the tide of death brought by Hyperion sweeps over the land (the gods can not affect man's conflict unless someone lose the Titans...



So can the good-hearted Theseus save his people and take down Hyperion?

Director Tarsem Singh has fantastic eye for visual flair – as demonstrated in his gorgeous looking last film ‘The Fall’. With Immortals he is given a more epic canvass on which to wreak stylish destruction - rumour is that the violence has been toned down but the film still manages to make viewers squirm with some memorably nasty moments. Heads are casually loped off, people are encased in specially designed metal bulls and roasted in order to make them scream and Hyperion has a taste for having his enemy’s balls smashed to pulp with war hammers.

Immortals is a testosterone drenched macho-em-up in which females are only represented by the likes of a Virgin Oracle (Freida Pinto) or the sexy goddess Athena (Isabel ‘Transformers 2’ Lucas).

There’s a good amount of bromance happening here too though as heroic Theseus bonds with his surrogate Greek army brothers when not working on changing the Virgin Oracle’s job title.

The ending also sets up a potential sequel with a large-scale battle taking place in heaven, so get ready for Immortals 2 if this one finds a big enough audience.

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

ööö1/2

3.5 – The gods need a better hero than this but will have to make do

Awesomeness öööö – there are a couple of awesome moments!
Laughs öö – camp acting?
Horror öööö – nasty in places
Babes ööö – Isabel Lucas is hot god
Spiritual Enlightenment öö – don't trust fickle deities

"Isabel Lucas as Athena"

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Darkmatters Review: COD Modern Warfare 3


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (18) PS3

Produced / Developed by Activision / Infinity Ward

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Call of Duty… those are words to conjure, words of power (marketing superpower)…

Modern Warfare… A literally game changing case study in how to shake up a stale genre and blow the bloody doors off the competition.

Can anything stand in the way of the megaton sales juggernaut that easy eclipses even the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Gran Turismo or World of Warcraft? Do insane numbers of copies shifted (COD4: MW c15million, MW2 c22million) equate to a great game? And can MW3 possibly live up to the sky high expectations of the estimated 6.5million people who pre-ordered the game and the similar number of additional buyers in the first week which could see over 12million sold?

So many questions but a few minutes after loading up Modern Warfare 3 and the answer is perfectly clear… There is no question... MW3 is awesome.

Having played through sections of the campaign and gotten my ass handed to me repeatedly in the slick and delicious multiplayer – there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Modern Warfare 3 is the new AAA standard for shooters. Sure it doesn’t have a very open world to explore, no it hasn’t got lots of destructible scenery but what MW3 does have is balls out big bang explosive combat.

Campaign wise this is the end game of the loose MW trilogy - we’re talking a story told through the eyes of several characters, with nice cameos from some existing COD characters. Getting to control Task Force 141 Captain John "Soap" MacTavish (voiced by Kevin McKidd), again is like having an old friend back. SAS Captain John Price (Billy Murray) and Russian informant Nikolai, who are on the run after killing the rogue U.S. Army Lt. General Shepherd. Also back is Russian Ultranationalist Vladimir Makarov (Roman Varshavsky). The story of global conflict is strong, better than the recent Battlefield 3 campaign and absolutely choc full of OMG moments and set pieces which build up to a climax so grin enticingly nuts that you leave it physically exhausted but utterly satisfied…

"feel the carnage..."

Infinity Ward know exactly how to please their game buying punters - Modern Warfare 3 is super refined in just about every area. The controls and damage to the player indicator via blood splatter on the screen are carried over from MW2 - all the basics are present and correct such as health regeneration over time and the choice of difficulty level.

The campaign is nicely diverse, one minute you’re on board a Russian submarine then after a frantic chase and some exposition you find yourself on a dusty African plane. There are wonderfully interwoven levels in London, France and Germany – and of course the US which is being invaded by the pesky Russians.

COD is only ever partly about the single player experience though and you’ll be delighted to know that the multiplayer elements of MW3 have been superbly overhauled. The Spec Ops mode returns – with Survival and Missions. Survival (think Horde mode) sees you taking on waves of enemies in co-op heaven. Mission mode is a series of challenges linked to the campaign – expect to be playing and replaying these to improve on your score.

The main multiplayer element is where Modern Warfare 3 really blows the competition out of the water…Pointstreaks replace Killstreaks so for those who suffer from terrible kill / death ratios all is not lost… You can earn the rewards by completing objectives which makes the game a lot more accessible to those guys who work hard to achieve the mission without notching up to many kills. As well as a new weapon customization system (they level up and get better the more you use them), you can also pick your own preference of strike packages – the rewards of noticing up points in game.

"best game of the year - how copy?"


Graphically MW3 is on a par with the best out there – in a very select league with only Uncharted 3, Killzone 3 and maybe Battlefield 3 - all the 3’s…

Other nice features include Facebook interaction with your online friends and super slick menus. You know it’s actually really hard to find fault with Modern Warfare 3, such is the thought and observation to detail on display.

If you buy one shooting game this Christmas, you’ll only be hurting yourself if it isn’t MW3.

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

ööööö

5 - SUPERB - buy it on PS3 alongside Uncharted 3 and you'll have bagged the 2 best shooting experiences available on any console...

Check out the official site

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Tower Heist

Tower Heist (12a)

Dir. Brett Ratner

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“The average apartment in the Tower costs 5.6 million dollars. We have the best views, the most advanced security systems, but you know what these people are really buying?”

Enrique Dev’Reaux: “White neighbours?”

Who’s up for a mildly amusing action comedy from the Lord of Average Brett ‘X-men: The Last Stand’ Ratner? Tower Heist is that movie and it is basically equal parts ‘suck’, ‘ho-hum’ and ‘joy’…

I have to declare something here – a bit of a soft spot for Ratner as a Director because even though he has committed many crimes against cinema (exhibits Rush Hours 2 and 3 are enough to make him reviled in many film goers eyes). You see Ratner directed ‘The Family Man’ back in 2000 and that was the first review I ever wrote for my now 10-year plus film reviewing for the Johnson Press Newspapers.

This is a simple enough payback / feel good effort that see the entire staff of the luxury apartment tower of the title getting screwed over by their boss Arthur (Alan Alda), who has been doing a bit of a Madoff in his business dealings. So Josh (Ben Stiller) loses his job and plans to get even with help from Slide (Eddie Murphy), Charlie (Casey Affleck) and Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick)…

"not reservoir dogs"

Tea Leoni looks good playing an FBI agent (but like she did in Bad Boys) and helps oil the wheels of the plot as the on / off / forbidden love interest of hapless wannabe crook Josh.

The AAA cast almost carry the movie off, but Ratner has an uncanny ability to smother the hell out of even the most talented assembled talent. The almost poignant socioeconomic message about workers getting dumped on by their trusted superiors could have had serious cultural resonance. But here it is just a single dimensioned plot device that has very little real world significance.

My ten year old son enjoyed Tower Heist a lot more than I did, perhaps Ratner should move into children’s films (or perhaps he has inadvertently already done this without actually telling anyone!?)…

The action is averagely entertaining and there are some funnies to be had but Tower Heist is instantly forgettable and won’t be anyone’s film of the year.

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

öö1/2

2.5 – a few moments of fun and generally watchable stuff

Awesomeness ööö – averagely fun
Laughs ööö – some nice comedy
Horror öö – no offence except language
Babes ööö – Tea still looks great
Spiritual Enlightenment öö – justice at any cost?

"Tea - yes please"



Darkmatters Review: IN TIME

In Time (12a)

Dir. Andrew Niccol

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Wake up… Time to die!?

Actually good news…

Humans have developed the technology to bio engineer ourselves so that we stop aging at 25. From that moment a timer kicks in and every second counts - any extra time for your life has to be ‘earned’. 

So time is now the ultimate currency, pay your rent in months, your food in hours or minutes - working for your minutes and hours is the only way to stay alive – unless you happen to live in a rich zone where people have centuries of time on their clocks and only ever die if they are in a freak accident. 



Meet Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) he’s a good looking blue collar guy from a poor zone who one day crosses paths with Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) – a wealthy chap who has lived so long that he now seeks death. Will wakes up to find that Henry has given him over a hundred years – and timed himself out – this Will a target for criminals and the ‘Time Keeping’ authorities led by Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy),

After a high stakes poker game against big shot Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) Will meets Weis’s feisty daughter Sylvia (a sizzling turn from Amanda Seyfried). From then on it all goes a bit high tech Bonnie and Clyde with robberies and chases galore. In Time delivers a fun slice of sci-fi – the concept of having virtually a whole cast who look 25 years old is certainly easy on the eye and there is plenty of action to keep the plot cooking along nicely.



Director Niccol has form for sci-fi with both Gattaca and S1m0ne on his CV – and his next near future project called ‘The Host’ looks likely to be the pick of the bunch. Niccol obviously has a lot of fun here with really nice moments such as when Weis introduces his mother-in-law, wife, and daughter and Will really can’t tell which is which.

Timberland is good value as the everyman hero and he’s backed up well by the bug-eyed but equipped with a killer pair of legs Seyfried. The film rocks a believable not-too-distant future vibe and certainly adds food for thought about the issue of potential overpopulation etc. It also isn’t too nasty so those with young teens might find In Time a pleasing family bonding viewing experience.

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

ööö1/2

3.5 – you're just IN TIME for a decent sci-fi flick!

Awesomeness ööö – there are some nice action moments
Laughs öö – not a comedy
Horror öö – not too grim
Babes öööö – Seyfried is a hottie
Spiritual Enlightenment öö – spend your time wisely

"why miss Seyfried - what big, erm, eyes you have!"

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Uncharted 3 Drake's Deception




Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3 Exclusive)

Produced / Developed by Naughty Dog / SCEE

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.”

Sullivan: "Uh-huh. That's all real pretty but, what the hell's it mean in English?"

Nathan Drake: "It means, be careful what you wish for. It might just get you…"

Being careful isn’t something that comes naturally to Drake… As his previous two excellent adventures have shown – he’s a lovable chancer, a soldier of fortune, a wise cracking hero who lives for the thrill of treasure hunting.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception sees developer Naughty Dog on utterly stunning form. These guys know how to rock the PS3 and they sure do make a mean PlayStation-exclusive game.

Kicking off with an ace barroom brawl set in an authentic London boozer (think Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 2) – it demonstrates a brilliant knack for putting you straight into the heat of the action, whilst wrong footing those who expected a dusty desert setting from the off.

Nolan North who voices Drake is on top form spitting the quality dialogue with movie star style. Everything about Uncharted 3 actually feels like a massive blockbuster film – as Drake searches for the fabled ‘Atlantis of the Sands’ aided once again by the journal of Sir Francis Drake.

All that’s missing is Spielberg and Lucas directing the proceedings as the action goes massive as you try and escape from a sinking cruise liner – kind of Titanic with automatic weaponry thrown in for fun. Or when you take on hundreds of baddies in a frantic gunfight whilst the plane you’re on explodes for good measure, it’s adrenalin pumping, unforgettable action that has no equal on any game to date.


The graphics in Uncharted 3 are just unbelievable, at points it is hard to tell where the cut scenes end and the game play kicks in. I can’t put into words the grin inducing effect that battling through temples, deserts and ruins – sneaking around in stealthy metal gear style utilising a lovely selection of weaponry. The guns have a meaty feel to them which is very satisfying and I defy you not to smirk as you prime an enemy’s grenade whilst it’s still attached to his belt – kick him away and wait for the kabloom!!

The multiplayer options have been beefed up from Uncharted 2 and the added focus of perks / treasure collecting in the heat of battle is very cool. Deathmatch, capture the flag, co-op with a tasty split-screen option where you can log in on two different PSN accounts to play and bag their own XP.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is the very definition of AAA gameplay – it’s one that will make you want to play and replay missions just because their so much damn fun. Be warned though that the multiplayer is fiendishly addictive and the hours fly by in a blur of wonderfully violent combat situations.

Players who enjoy Call of Duty / Battlefield / Halo / Killzone / Gears / Resistance etc should seriously give Uncharted a go – if you buy into the spirit of sheer adventure on offer here - it whips the ass of all those other shooters without breaking a sweat – and that is truly epic achievement…


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



ööööö 


5 - A King amongst action games  - PS3 has no equal in this genre)... 

 Check out the official site

"Uncharted - on VITA!"

And it won’t be long before Sony’s flagship hero Drake is back on the PS VITA – do the word’s ‘can’t wait’ mean anything to you?


"Katrina Bowden - the obvious choice for Uncharted's Elena in the big screen version!"

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Preview: Machine Gun Preacher



Machine Gun Preacher 

Previewed by Matt Adcock

After renouncing his outlaw ways, Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) embarks on a spiritual path, becoming a warrior for the desperate and helpless children in a war-torn country in Africa.

As an ex-biker-gang member Sam makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region’s vulnerable populace, especially the children. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aid workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it’s most needed—in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they even reach their teens. Lots of issues worth exploring here... Check the trailer below and see what you think!?


Elderscrolls Skyrim Trailer...

Watch in awe as the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls series comes to life in this live action commercial for Skyrim.

Matt Adcock is looking forward to killing dragons on his PS3...


Chloe Moretz - reported to be a big fan of Skyrim... 
Her new film 'HICK' looks like it could be winner - preview shots:

Darkmatters Review: Paranormal Activity 3



Paranormal Activity 3 (15) 

Dir. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Reviewed by Matt Adcock - read a version of this review over at the rather lovely CULTURE SLAP

It Runs In The Family…

First came Paranormal Activity back in 2009 (although made in 2007) – which told the unhappy tale of a young, middle class couple who move into a suburbia only to be disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to. It was big hit making nearly $200,000,000 from its $15,000 budget.

So it was not much of a surprise when Paranormal Activity 2 came along in 2010 and made things go ‘bump’ in the night all over again. This time more inexplicable and strange incidents occur due to the house possibly being possessed by a demonic entity, like duh... haven’t we already been to this party? Still it does what it sets out to do in a decent enough fashion.

Now you’re invited back to 1988, to find out how the spooky paranormal activity all started… Meet the two young sisters Katie and Kristi as children (who we’ve met as grown ups in Paranormal Activity 1 & 2). Here in part 3 we find that the girls befriended a sinister invisible entity who resides in a cupboard their home – and that their granny might just be a bit more sinister than the average!?

Yes prequels can be a minefield for film franchises – especially when they have dedicated fan bases (Phantom Menace anyone!?) so it is quite a brave move to go back and detail spooky origin of the big bucks making Paranormal Activity series. Fortunately the job has been given to Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, whose made the excellent ‘Catfish’, these are directors who know how to manipulate their audience and have proven themselves adept at using hand held camera footage to tell a good story.

We join young Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) as their interaction with a malignant force called um 'Toby' starts freaking out their mum Julie (Lauren Bittner) and stepdad Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith). He does what any loving step-father would and immediately sets up multiple cameras in his daughters bedrooms / and through their house - which I'm sure many mothers might not be very keen on their other half doing. But we let it go here because it's kind of essential to the plot etc.

"stranger danger?"

As before the ‘activity’ builds up slowly and the directors throw in some good cheap jump moments just to keep the audience on side – but where the first two films are all about the build up and then 5 minutes of loopiness at the climax, PA3 works up a bit more ‘bump’ for your buck and goes utterly nuts for a disturbing ending that is certainly the most satisfying of the series so far!

There are some really nice touches throughout though which tie the films together such as towards the beginning of the film, Julie takes a picture of young Kristi standing in the driveway. That same photo being taken appears in both Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity 2 as an indication that the demon has started haunting them. The video camera / night vision gimmick might be a bit old hat now but PA3 at least mixes it up a bit with a back-and-forth camera affixed to a motorised fan mechanism which lets you see things / half glimpse stuff and then pan back to do a full reveal... 

If you felt a bit peeved at the endings of Kill List or The Last Exorcism then you might have a beef with PA3 too – but I personally liked the way that the demonic activity was attributed back to its human meddling roots and the screening I saw this at were screaming when the very nasty finale hit home!

"Hmmm another plot joiner across the 3 movies"

As a Christian I'm always interested to see how filmmakers depict the spiritual powers (both good and evil) and Paranormal Activity 3 drops in some interesting demonic elements. It should serve as a bit of a warning not to dabble in the occult too...

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

öööö

4 – don’t mess with the occult (but if you do at least make sure you have a video camera to hand!)

Awesomeness öööö – you’ll jump in places, scream in others
Laughs ö – not very funny
Horror öööö – a demon is for life, not just for a single movie
Babes ööö – the home sex tape effort is different
Spiritual Enlightenment öö – the powers of darkness are NOT your friends

"Katie Featherstone..."

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