DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Darkmatters Review: Act Of Valor


Act of Valor (15)

Dir. Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome to CALL OF DUTY the movie (unofficial)… In order to make this review easier to understand for COD players who have tuned in - there are helpful notes in caps throughout.

Somewhere (let’s say the Philippines), a suicide bomber kills the American ambassador and his son, along with other children – he used a vehicle-born-improvised-explosive-device hidden in an ice cream van… 
THIS IS A BAD ACT BY A BAD PERSON.

The attack was masterminded by a Muslim Chechen terrorist by the name of Abu Shabal – 
HE IS A BAD MAN.

Unfortunately he is not the only bad man around – just watch as two CIA Agents, - the disposable Walter Ross (Nestor Serrano) and the lovely so definitely not disposable Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sánchez) are attacked by thugs sent by a dodgy geezer named ‘Christo’ who is friends with Abu. Christo orders Morales to be tortured but kept alive until she gives up all her intel on him.
TORTURING CUTE CIA AGENTS IS BAD.

Meanwhile in California, the members of Bandito Platoon, SEAL Team Seven are at home. Lieutenant Rorke and Chief Dave, go out for drinks, where Rorke confides to the Chief that his wife is pregnant. Dave congratulates him and the sailors go to the beach with their families to celebrate. Later that night, the platoon gathers at the Coronado docks to have a last get-together before they deploy the next day. The following day, the SEALs board their plane and deploy, after which Rorke's wife breaks down crying.
SHE IS CRYING BECAUSE HER HUSBAND IS SO BRAVE – AS ARE ALL U.S. SEALS!

"HALO jump dude!"

Level One:

The Navy SEALs insert into the jungle via a HALO jump to rescue Morales. They bring the pain to the bad terrorist types who are holding the CIA babe – the body count rises quickly as the SEALS snipe, blast and blow up every last mother freakin one of the bad guys, racking up lots of XP due the number of headshots and kill streaks they deliver. The firefights look absolutely amazing as these are REAL NAVY SEALS USING REAL TRACER AMMO!

CHEER FOR THE BRAVE NAVY SEALS WHO HAVE SAVED THE CUTE CIA HOSTAGE!


FEEL BAD FOR THE ONE SEAL WHO GOT SHOT IN THE HEAD BUT WHO IS SO HARD THAT HE MAKES IT THROUGH ANYWAY!!

Christo and Shabal meet in Ukraine and explain their dastardly plot to attack the USA with suicide bombers wearing state of the art plastic explosive / ceramic ball bearing bomb vests.

THIS JIHAD BY THE BAD MEN MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS – SEND IN THE NAVY SEALS!
"US Navy subs, always happy to help"

Level Two:

Christos is captured on his luxury yacht – he didn’t stand a chance against the brave NAVY SEALS who execute every last mother freakin one of his bodyguards and then make him tell them his plans…


CHALK UP ANOTHER WIN FOR THE BRAVE SEALS BUT NOW THE BAD GUYS’ PLAN IS KNOWN – WHO WILL SAVE THE USA?

"NAVY SEAL Poster Boys"

Level Three:

The SEALS have tracked the suicide bombers and join up with some expendable Mexican officers to storm a baddie camp at night. It looks amazing as the brave US troops execute every last mother freakin one of the terrorist types using helicopters, heavy calibre weaponry and sheer godamn American bravery and they find one of the bomb jackets.


CHEER FOR ANOTHER OVERWHELMING VICTORY FOR THE SEALS – THIS IS SHOCK AND AWE IN ACTION AND BOY IT LOOKS GOOD.

"Bad man..."

Final Level – including boss fight:

This is it – the desperate fight to stop the suicide bombers getting into the USA via a handy tunnel in Mexico. The SEALs deploy and are told that this will be a bigger fight than they thought as the tunnel is in an area guarded by heavily armed drug cartels.

THE NAVY SEALS LAUGH IN THE FACE OF BEING HOPELESSLY OUTNUMBERED BY HEAVILY ARMED DRUG CARTELS.

The assault on the tunnel network is the climax of the film – this is where we get to witness more than one Act of Valor – gasp as the Mexican officers get taken out but gasp harder when the SEALS are nearly killed by a suicide bomber who is told to guard a door. When she (the bomber) looks unsure Abu tells her it will be OK because she will get a husband in heaven. She blows herself up and nearly kills the SEALS. The peril ramps up when one of the SEALS has to make the ultimate sacrifice by throwing himself on a grenade (we won’t say who as to not spoil it)… Spurred on by the loss of his pal, true hero SEAL ‘Dave’ corners Shabal but is hit by multiple rounds from the baddie’s AK-47. With his last breath, Dave draws his sidearm… who will win?


IS THIS THE END FOR THE RIGHTEOUS USA?

If you’re a fan of obsessively shooting things for fun, e.g. you play CALL OF DUTY 24/7 or are the type to religiously download and complete the daily terrorist killing mission on UNIT 13 (which is a kind of CALL OF DUTY – portable) then Act of Valor might be the best film you’ve ever seen…

Those who think about things like the moral dilemmas of having a multi religious society or indeed the wider geopolitical balance between the Islamic states and the West will not enjoy Act of Valor. This is simplistic pain by numbers (for the bad guys) – the NAVY SEALS are good honest family men each and every one. These guys make love to their lovely wives, play with their cute kids and then execute with extreme prejudice any human being designated as a target.

Co-directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh make the action scenes throb and buzz with dazzling high definition muzzle flashes, unnervingly well tooled up NAVY SEAL military hardware shot through a ‘fetishtical’ (word made up by my wife) lens. If ever a propaganda film carried the message to the enemies of the US – ‘don’t mess with us because we’ll come and eliminate every last one of you’ Act of Valor is that film.

It also ends with a moving dedication – not just to those who have given their lives in the line of NAVY SEAL duty but slightly more worryingly ‘to all those yet to sign up’ too…

I guess there are those already looking forward to the sequel which will possibly be entitled “Die terrorist scum, die!”

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

öö (if a massive gun fan then add an extra ööö)

2 (or 5) – This is no game (it's the real COD!)

Awesomeness öööö – heavy duty fire fights a go go!

Laughs öö – unintentional bad acting

Horror ööö –  some nasty torture by the baddies

Babes öö – wholesome wives aloud

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – sign up (sign over your soul)

Darkmatters Review: The Hunger Games


The Hunger Games (12a)

Dir. Gary Ross

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“May the odds be ever in your favour…”

Step this way for The Hunger Games – an impressive sci-fi kill-em-up - where kids in the near future are forced to slaughter each other in a sadistic official death match / tournament.

Sure it might sound like a new Coalition Government youth control policy but The Hunger Games is the film adaptation of the much-loved bestselling novel by Suzanne Collins.

"Katniss Everdeen - prepares to kick some ass"

For those who haven’t read the books (both of you out there) The Hunger Games, takes place in nation of ‘Panem’ – formally known as the USA. It seems that some years before the events of the film, the thirteen poverty-stricken districts of Panem rebelled against the wealthy, controlling Capitol.

The rebellion didn’t go well, and as a punishment, the districts are forced to play The Hunger Games. Each year one boy and one girl (aged 12–18) from each district must battle to the death in a televised arena until only one is left alive.

We join the games in their 74th year as sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer ‘Winter’s Bone’ Lawrence) puts herself forward to be the female District 12 fighter in place of her younger sister Primrose – known as "Prim" (Willow Shields), whose name comes up in the draw.

"Baddies practice their mean 'we're going to kill you' scowls"

Also flying the flag for District 12 is Peeta Mellark (Josh ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ Hutcherson), he’s got a soft spot for Katniss and once threw her some bread when she was starving…

So the scene is set for a Battle Royale-esq kids on kids smack down – the kiddies are trained in survival skills and weapon usage, then spruced up by stylists such as Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) who is assigned to Katniss.

Also on hand is the District 12 Capitol escort Effie Trinket (the lovely Elizabeth Banks) – her job is to help her charges make a good impression with potential sponsors (who may then send in support packages to the kids in the arena).

The Hunger Games certainly looks great – director Ross captures the futuristic look and feel effectively with some decent special effects. The plot plays out as you might expect with some Lord of the Flies-lite tribal alliances made by the battling kids and much just off camera violence.

"I am Susan, Queen of Narnia... Oh wait"

Overall The Hunger Games delivers it’s nicely twisted tale with enough emotion, style and action to please fans of the book and newcomers alike. Lawrence is excellent in the lead role too.

In trying to keep the young reader friendly 12a certificate, the level of horror and violence is necessarily muted which prevents it being nasty enough to really shock. But as the start of a projected trilogy The Hunger Games is leagues ahead of the toothless Twilight etc.

The odds are in the favour of The Hunger Games (it has set new opening weekend box office records in the U.S.).


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

öööö

4 – Quality near future semi-violent voyeurism

Awesomeness ööö – when it works it works really well

Laughs öö – not a bag of chuckles

Horror öö – kids die but not graphically

Babes öööö – Lawrence is going kinda hot

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – Fight for your life


"Lawrence slips into something less blood splattered"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Free PS VITA Game: The Treasures of Montezuma Blitz



The Treasures of Montezuma Blitz

Matt Adcock

"ah nuts... looks like my wife will be stealing the VITA for this!"

Block rocking beats hit the VITA with an insanely addictive match 3 or more gems n see em explode touchscreen puzzle game... 

This is the sort of game that my lovely Mrs loves - she's resisted the lures of FIFA, Uncharted and WipeOut 2048 but this game which is free for all PS VITA users might be the one that sees her 'borrowing' the gorgeous VITA for hours on end!?

Check out the gameplay below:



Official site here: http://tomblitz.alawar.com/ 

"Emma Watson dances with joy after playing The Treasures of Montezuma Blitz - maybe!?"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Darkmatters Review: 21 Jump Street


21 Jump Street (15)

Dir. Phil Lord, Chris Miller

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Get ready for a full throttle action comedy remake/reboot of the ‘80s TV Series 21 Jump Street that brought a certain Johnny Depp to public attention.

The 2012 21 Jump Street revisits the fun gimmick of having real cops going undercover as high school students. So meet brainy loser Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and dim-but-hunky Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), former school classmates who meet again at police academy.

Double directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (of ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’ fame) ramp up the swearing, crude jokes and general authentic teen banter – which will offend some but is undeniably very very funny when it works as well as it does here.

The two leads are great, embracing their chance to go back to high school – but the delicious twist to this update is that everything has changed. When Jenko was a school he was ‘cool’ and the reason was that he made fun of those who tried, drove a gas-guzzling car and beat up weedy kids. Now he’s everything that isn’t cool - the kids are into eco-friendly projects and Glee, they value their education and frown on Jenko’s Jock mentality. It’s a good spin that reflects how society has moved on and is just one of the nice touches that mark this film out as one to watch rather than a cheap cash in.

"you'll believe cops can fly"

21 Jump Street manages to be laugh out loud funny thanks to a quality cast, pick of the bunch has to be rapper Ice Cube as Captain Dickson, the police chief in charge of the undercover school operation. He gets many of the best lines including commanding the young looking cops to “teenage up” when they turn up failing to look the part.

The plot sees Schmidt and Jenko assigned to try and stop a new synthetic drug that is being pushed in their high school from spreading to other campuses by finding the supplier. They go undercover as brothers, living at Schmidt's parents' house, and against all odds, it is Schmidt who manages to fit in with the popular kids and who finds loves with Molly (Brie Larson). Jenko however has to adapt to becoming pals with the misfits in his Chemistry class whilst fending off the romantic advances of his teacher Ms. Griggs (Ellie Kemper).

"Tom Wade cameos (the one on the right)"

It all builds up to an exciting climax at the school prom where the film kicks into action mode and is topped off by an awesome cameo.

This is one remake that delivers over and above the original – here’s to the mooted college based sequel!

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

öööö 

4 – Very amusing and nicely judged high school cop fun

 Awesomeness öööö – car chase scenen is a classic

Laughs öööö – you'll laugh for sure!

Horror öö – "I've been stabbed!... Awesome!"

Babes öö – Not highly babelicious

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – undercover role vs true feelings (again)

"Brie - not the cheese"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: John Carter


John Carter (12a)

Dir. Andrew Stanton

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“When I saw you, I believed it was a sign... that something new can come into this world.”

What do you get if you cross Star Wars, Flash Gordon and Avatar? Well John Carter would be one answer and it’s easy to see the influences of these sci-fi epics in this new big budget otherworld opus. The thing is John Carter’s story was written in the early 1900’s by Edgar Rice Burroughs and the influences of his books can be seen in many Sci-fi films.

So John Carter (played by Taylor ‘soon to be seen in Battleship’ Kitsch) finally hits the big screen – a bit late to his own party but eager to please. Carter is a cavalryman transported to Mars where he becomes a pivotal element in a civil war.

"shoot the flying thing..."

The plot is join the dots goodies vs baddies, princess in peril, lovable ‘doglike’ creature that becomes Carter’s sidekick. Alien race that adopt Carter, who he will call on to fight for the right side… It’s pick and mix sci-fi bingo all the way (even if this is a look at the original source) but at least director Andrew ‘Finding Nemo’ Stanton manages to inject the macho nonsense with some heart.

Disney have stumped up the cash for this and the special effects are suitably impressive – this a decent slice of daring do, heroic spectacle – pumped up with some tasty action sequences.

Taylor Kitsch is pretty convincing in the lead role, looking for all the world like a Conan-lite hero, handy with a sword and blessed with the ability to pull off Hulk scale jumps due to the gravity imbalance. Lynn Collins is Carter’s love interest – the Martian Princess ‘Dejah Thoris’ – she looks the part too in some skimpy Princess Leia alike outfits.

"Princess Leia called - she wants her bikini back"

The rest of the cast are good too with licence to over act, so we get Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas and Samantha Morton as Sola (four armed green skinned aliens) along with Mark Strong as the main villain of piece with the great name of Matai Shang.

John Carter isn’t the classic that it would have been if it had been made before Star Wars and the rest but it offers solid entertainment for anyone who likes their action space bound and who isn’t put off by odd alien names…

In space nobody can hear you scream ‘Haven’t I seen this somewhere before?’

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

ööö1/2

3.5 – Sci-fi epicness (just a little late)

Awesomeness ööö – some of the battles are cool

Laughs ööö – corny acting and stupid dog thing raise smiles

Horror öö – nothing too grim

Babes ööö – Lynn Collins looks good at 35 (see below vs original artwork)

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – Mars is not heaven




PS VITA's UNIT 13 beats 3DS's METAL GEAR in UK


VITA Shooter outguns 3DS

Matt Adcock

In the UK this week, the new shooter Unit 13 on PSVITA beat the 3DS new release of Metal Gear Solid 3D - only Unit 13 made the top 40 sales chart (at #15). This is despite the VITA only having been on sale for 3 weeks and having a much lower installed base.

Source: http://ukie.org.uk/content/ukie-week-10-2012-uk-video-games-charts

"classic game but couldn't outgun new challenger UNIT 13"


Unit 13 Review

Reviewed by Matt Adcock


The PS Vita has its first shooter and it is a full blooded heavy duty tour of duty – from Zipper Interactive – these guys know a thing or two about shooting games as they made the SOCOM games on various PlayStation platforms and MAG on the PS3.

Unit 13 brings hot leaden death to the VITA’s beautiful OLED screen with 45 tactical missions in which you take down global terror networks and prove your place amongst the military elite.

With the precision of the Vita's dual analogue sticks, unique 5” touch-screen, Wifi connectivity for fast action and 2-player co-op, and 3G compatibility for instant social updates and highly addictive daily challenges, Unit 13 is a beast of an on-the-go action shooter.

"dusty terrorists need some hot lead - go to it soldier!"

Things kick off with a nice training course / tutorial which introduces you to the game – points are awarded for kills, more for headshots, stealth and multiple kills… The main missions are divided into several specific types – Backlash, Deadline, Camouflage, Elite etc. Each has different parameters for success, some require surgical hits on targets, others are larger scale fire0fights or rescue missions, Elite ones do not let you regenerate health apart from in specific areas and so must be approached with a less gung-ho attitude.

Getting a good score (3 stars or more) on a mission opens up the dynamic version of the missions which is shuffled with randomly generated tasks and enemies. There are six specialist soldier classes to choose from, picking the best one for the mission will depend somewhat on how you like to play e.g. sniping from afar or getting up close and personal with your prey… Each class can be upgraded so if you want to specialise in one you can build them up to be a deadly perk enhanced killing machine.

One great touch is the downloadable daily missions – a new one available each 24 hours – but you only one shot at it and the worldwide leader-board beckons!

Unit 13 looks the business on the VITA, there are some nice lighting and smoke effects, characters are detailed and muzzle flashes satisfyingly light up the area. The locations range from dusty Middle Eastern towns and vistas to underground stations, nightclubs and palaces.

"shoot first, admire the banners later"

Controls and gameplay is where Unit 13 really shines, the double joysticks on the VITA are wonderful for this sort of game, it really feels a lot like Call of Duty style run and gunning – in fact it serves as a mouth watering example of just how good COD VITA is going to be!

The missions are nicely designed and if you fail you’ll know that it was down to something you did rather than an unfair glitch or stupid level design. That just increases the ‘one more go’ factor so much so that you can spend hours happily trying to perfect a mission.

Sure the big guns of Resistance, Killlzone and COD are all on their way to VITA but Unit 13 sets a great standard for other shooters to match up to. Move out soldier – the world needs you!!

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

öööö1/2

4.5 – Game changing VITA shooter, hits the target!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Journey PS3 Review



Journey (PS3 Exclusive)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Everything you know about videogames changes when you take this ‘JOURNEY’…

Step into the shoes of an un-named hooded figure and brave the windswept planes, this is an invitation to a living, breathing interactive artwork in which you control the events – and let the PS3 connect with your very soul.

From the heart of the an intense desert, where the sandy expanse hides a mystery of epic proportions and hot sun beats down on the tomblike buildings above which dance sparkling lights and fluttering red strips of cloth ride the wind as you venture through the ruins of an ancient civilization. What lies beyond the ominous mountains? More mountains? A watery underworld? A mechanical utopia? How about all of the above!?

"Journey-ing with a pal over PSN = gaming heaven!"

The world of Journey, the third game from hotshot indie developers thatgamecompany creators of the tranquil trippy "flOw" and the joy inducing "Flower". Journey builds on both those groundbreaking games and can best be described as an interactive parable…

An online adventure like no other, hard to put into words, this is a virtual experience akin to that of a person’s life passage and their interactions with other’s.

Awaking alone and surrounded by miles of burning, sprawling desert, you soon discover the looming mountaintop which is your goal. Faced with rolling sand dunes, age-old ruins, caves and howling winds, your passage will not be an easy one. The goal is to get to the mountaintop, but the experience is discovering who you are, what this place is, and what is your purpose. Travel and explore this ancient, mysterious world alone, or with a stranger you meet along the way. Soar above ruins and glide across sands as you discover the secrets of a forgotten civilization.

You carry no weapons – but can summon strange creatures and have the power of flight in limited bursts to rise above obstacles. You’re special equipment is just a Dr Who like scarf, imbued mystical runes – charging this up prolongs your flight time.

"weird and so very wonderful"

Journey isn’t a long game – you can make it through to the end in under 5 hours but it does have something that pretty much no other game has (at least to this level) – an undeniable spiritual dimension. Is Journey a portal to God? It is certainly the closest videogame has come to ‘prayer’ and that might be just what gamers need.

Journey is a rare ‘must experience’ game – if you don’t own a PS3 then you owe it to yourself to buy one just to experience this unique slice of awesomeness. Maybe I’ll see you online and we can help each other journey over the PlayStation Network, gaming like this can stand toe to toe with anything on any other media both in terms of satisfaction and credit.

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

ööööö

5 – Game changer in a spiritual way!?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

KARA - the future revealed on PS3


KARA - PS3

Matt Adcock

"meet Kara... the actress and the PS3 version"

If you played the groundbreaking Heavy Rain (Darkmatters Review) - then you'll have some idea as to how cool game devs Quantic Dream are... Now they have revealed Kara, which could form the basis for some kind of future sequel - and it blurs the edges of gaming and reality in a wonderful sci-fi vision.

Quantic Dream said: “the following footage is a prototype running in real time on PlayStation 3″...

But it's better that you actually see it for yourself (thanks to Eurogamer for the vid):




Monday, March 05, 2012

Darkmatters Review: Project X


Project X (18)

Dir. Nima Nourizadeh

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Been to any good parties recently?

Either way here’s one to which you’re invited and it is the biggest, wildest High School party you’re ever likely to witness.

There are two main ways to view Project X and depending on which camp you find yourself in you will probably view this film either as an epic comedy good time overload or a terrifying horror story of that just could happen!? If you’re young, carefree and /or don’t have teenage kids, you may well fall into the first viewpoint, if you’re a parent and / or have any sense of morality Project X might just make you cry.
"Their parents would be so proud!?"

Director Nima Nourizadeh's film tells the well-worn tale of a group of teen lads trying desperately to fit in and become popular at High School… It’s young Thomas's (Thomas Mann) 17th Birthday and his parents will be leaving him alone at home for the weekend.

What’s a teenage lad to do but invite over his pals for a bit of a party? But Thomas’s BFFs – the wannabe smooth Costa (Oliver Cooper) and hopeless chubby loser J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) have plans to crank up his B’day party into a ‘game changer’ that will elevate them from their nobody status and put them on the social map.

Of course none of them could foresee the night of debauched anarchy that would follow… As the tag line for the movie says ‘One night will make them legends’ – so get ready for high jinks on a grand scale. The small party soon rockets out of control as more than a thousand people turn up to party hard, turning the suburban residence into a massive rave. Throw into the mix a garden gnome filled with ecstasy tablets, an angry midget who likes to punch guys in the balls, an effective ‘all girls must be naked’ sign by the pool and an angry flame-thrower packing drug dealer and stand well back from the drug and alcohol fuelled insanity.

"Party-on Hollywood  style"

As his parents’ home is systematically wrecked Thomas can only look on from his drunken state of disbelief – we however have a ringside view thanks to the fact that Tom’s pals have decided to film the whole evening. And when the whole event escalates into a riot / confrontation with armed police he realises that nothing will ever be the same again…

Parents – after seeing this, you may never leave your teenage kids home alone!?

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

ööö1/2

3.5 – The party you never got invited to (until now)

Awesomeness öööö – might never be topped

Laughs ööö – laugh out loud

Horror öö – home insurance premiums will never be the same

Babes öööö  – lots!

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö – at what cost to the soul?

"Maxim met The girls of Project X including Kirby Bliss Blanton"

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