DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

Listen to the PODCAST I co-host: Hosts in the Shell

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Film Review: Legend of Zorro vs Wallace & Gromit

The Legend of Zorro (PG) vs. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (U)
Dir. Martin Campbell / Dir. Nick Park

Reviewed by Matt, Gail, Luke and James Adcock

Who is that masked man of mystery, righter of wrongs, champion of the downtrodden and lover of erm, cheese? It’s the legend of oh, wait just a moment - what’s that dog doing to that rabbit with that madcap invention and who was that swordsman leaping his horse onto a moving train, something isn’t right here I think I’m getting my films muddled.
Yes there are currently several family focussed feature films showing at a cinema near you and one of them is a work of utter claymation genius, the other is a ‘by the numbers’ sequel that looks a bit past its sell by date.
Luke help me out here. “Well dad, the Wallace & Gromit film is really funny, but it is also an exciting adventure!”
“And don’t forget the Were-Rabbit,” (chips in younger brother James), “he was a big vegetable munching menace.”
“It did go down a treat with the children, but I found it really funny too,” my lovely wife Gail tells me (family film reviewing eh?). Anyway, Nick Park, the force behind the animated team of Wallace & Gromit, has delivered something very special and if you have a single funny bone in your body – and haven’t already ventured out in search of the fabled Were-Rabbit, I’d highly recommend that you do - as soon as you can.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - Darkmatt Rating: öööö (probably the most you'll ever have with plasticine)

But what about The Legend of Zorro? Well, it’s never a good sign when a film goes through lots of title changes. This one was originally going to be called "The Mask Of Zorro 2" and then "Zorro Unmasked". When the script was changed, the title went to "Zorro 2" then to "The Return Of Zorro" but it ended up as "Legend Of Zorro". I think I would have gone with the “Legend of ZZZZZoro” because despite the return of the swashbuckling Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) and his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), ‘Legend’ is just a bit dull. If they are planning on making the Zorro films into a trilogy, I can see the next part being called “The Pension of Zorro” because Banderas is unfortunately just not the powerhouse of sword swinging danger he was eight years ago. A couple of half decent action scenes doesn’t make this a ‘must see’, especially as there are some big hitting films coming soon. Look out next week for my advance review of the adventures of certain young Mr Potter for starters.

Legend of Zorro - Darkmatt Rating: öö (fun in places but weak overall)

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

"Gromit's special brew goes down well on the vegetables"

Film Review: Alexander - The Director's Cut

Alexander: Director’s Cut (15)
Dir. Oliver Stone

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Fortune favours the bold – or so they say. What they should add however is that fortunes can be wasted on films that still suck harder than a crazed crack addicted hooker… Obviously I’d heard how bad Alexander was supposed to be but some perverse voice in my head told me to watch it anyway (I do like most of Oliver Stone’s stuff).

Oh dear… Alexander leapt straight to the top of my “suckage beyond the call of duty” chart in one camp bound… Farrell looks lost throughout and doesn’t convince as he tries to make out that he’s into guys. The only things worth watching were the battles and even they were confused affairs lacking any real excitement. The dialogue was stilted with such classic lines as: “Shut your foul mouth, you ten-titted bitch from Hades!”

And the lighting was all wrong – it really felt like a TV movie, and not a good one at that… I was depressed and bored by the end of the director's cut (which is nine minutes shorter than the 175-minute theatrical version) even though it supposedly flows better…

So as the sun sinks slowly on a major botch job of a movie – all I will take away from this is that apparently all Macedonians spoke with an unconvincing Irish accent… Note to self – don’t listen to that perverse voice in your head on film recommendations ever again…

Darkmatt Rating: ö (Alexander might have been gay - but he didn't make me merry)

Monday, October 24, 2005

First Reaction: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Can't let you read my review of this or the suits at WB will have me 'silenced' but I've seen the 4th Harry Potter film and can't resist telling you a few tit bits...

It's by far the darkest one yet, stepping into horror territory at points.

Sustained menace, certainaly worthy of it's 12 certificate!! Lord Voldemort is deliciously nasty.

It's epic in scale and gorgeous in its use of special effects (dragon chase is superb, mer-people are nicely freaky and the graveyard face off is exactly the right mix of tension, revulsion and excitement!)

And speaking of gorgeous... Hermione turns out to be a real hottie in her Yule Ball gown, and Fleur will certainly generate a host of male admirers...

All in all I was very impressed - and Goblet is my favourite of the books!?

Check back soon for the review but Harry fans get excited because Goblet of Fire delivers big time thrills!!


The goblet of fire constitutes a binding magical contract
- you are duty bound to go and see it on the biggest screen possible!!

Click to watch the trailer again and get yourself in the mood...


Click here for my goblet of fire review

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Film Review: Sky High

"she's been out in the US since July... Brits can catch her now!!"

Sky High (PG)
Dir. Mike Mitchell

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

It can be tough being the son of someone amazing, you know, a lot to live up and all that, but tougher still if that person happens to be the greatest superhero on the planet… But such is the lot of Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), who finds himself just a normal kid, despite having the world saving ‘Commander’ (Kurt Russell) as his dad and equally super ‘Jetstream’ (Kelly Preston) for mum. All he can do is watch on TV as his parents save the city by tackling 60ft killer robots and he notes “all I see is my dad wearing tights in public!”
We get to see young Will starting Sky High – which as the name suggests is the flying school in the clouds for super heroes – kind of like the Xmen academy but for younger kids. This being a Disney flick it is choc full of fun and easy on anything too unpleasant but it works an absolute treat!

You will ‘marvel’ (no comic book pun intended) at the high jinks teenagers can get up to with the aid of flight, super speed or the ability to throw fireballs from their hands. You’ll feel for wannabe hero Will as he struggles to come to terms with being put in the ‘sidekick’ stream as opposed to ‘hero’ classes. As a parent too, I found myself smiling as The Commander is told by Jetstream; “We can't change who he is... not without dropping him in a vat of toxic waste.” He pauses and then replies: “Where would we even find a vat of...” before being cut off.
Yes acceptance issues are the moral theme on offer here but it’s all wrapped up in one exciting package, which my two boys lapped up with glee.

For older viewers you’ll probably recognise the ’best friend girl who is really in love with the hero who can’t see it’ plot as being lifted straight out of many a John Hughes film from the ‘80s but this new super spin on it is still a winner. Other nice touches include a cameo by the original Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter) and fanboy favourite Bruce Campbell as ‘Sonic Boom’ or ‘Gym Instructor Man’ as the Commander calls him.
So if you’re a superhero fan or just looking for a family friendly cinema treat, you could do much worse than taking a trip to Sky High.

Darkmatt Rating: ööö (Superhero teens - family entertainment)

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

"Even 'sidekicks' can get cute girlfriends in the movies"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sin City 2: More Alba / Nancy!!

"she shoots from the hip... again"

Frank Miller has apparently confirmed that he is working on some entirely new Sin City storylines for Sin City 2!!

Which has to be very good news... And even better is that they apparently bring back Nancy (Jessica Alba) on a revenge mission to avenge Hartigan's death by eliminating the remaining members of the Roark family... Sounds like a winner to me...

I loved Sin City - read my review here: Sinner

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

The Brothers Grimm: Monica Bellucci

MONICA BELLUCCI - the sexiest star of “The Brothers Grimm”

Imagine if you got into trouble with the law. Wouldn’t you want a lawyer who was savvy, tough, shrewd and drop dead gorgeous? While it seems rather remote that the pursuit of justice would offer such a combustible combination, it almost happened in Italy. But instead of finishing her law degree at the University of Perugia, Monica Bellucci’s fate was sealed when a modeling career sidelined her legal ambitions.

Hollywood came calling and Bellucci worked in such hit films as THE MATRIX RELOADED, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST before taking a well deserved maternity break for her daughter Deva.

Now she’s back in The Brothers Grimm… Here's what she had to say:

As a child, what do you remember about Fairy Tales?

BELLUCCI: We all grew up with fairy tales. My favorite one was “Sleeping Beauty”, maybe because of the Prince. All little girls are waiting for a Prince. This is what I liked about the movie. In the film there are so many references to all the Grimm Fairy Tales. It’s like all these Fairy Tales came together to make a new tale, which is a combination of fantasy and fear. Because of that, we can recognize the Terry Gilliam trademark. If you think about BARON MUNCHAUSEN and BRAZIL, you can see the same amazing world.

It does seem ironic that these stories are filled with fear and death and yet children are exposed to it at such an early age.

BELLUCCI: But they love that. Children love to get scared. They need fantasy and dreams, just like us. When you tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood, they love the wolf and getting scared. We all love that because it is about our curiosity. Beyond each fairy tale is a meaning and that is why it is interesting. This is not a film filled with just special effects. It is cultivated and very intelligent and for me, it is a metaphor. Look at my character. She is an evil Queen who casts a spell on herself for immortality. But she forgets to ask for eternal youth and beauty as well. There is a metaphor in that for anyone who believes in their image; anyone who believes that their image is who they are. If the image of that myth is destroyed, then that person gets destroyed along with it. That is why this film is so perfect. We are all victims of vanity, especially actors.

Here you are a beautiful woman who has to distort that image to play a 500 year old woman.

BELLUCCI: This was interesting. It was a challenging part because of the dual role of the young Queen and the old Queen and I had to play both forces. I had so much to do and it was fun. The make-up process was hours but in the end, when you see the final work, I was so surprised to see what I looked like. It was very strong.

How much does a director like Terry Gilliam challenge you as an actor?

BELLUCCI: Terry has such an imagination. He is like a baby full of fantasy and he knows what he wants. At the same time, he realizes what he wants from actors when he is directing them. He is challenged by the unexpected and so you have to be ready as an actress. He wants so much from you..

What are your own thoughts about eternal beauty?

BELLUCCI: It is impossible. I do think it is more a problem for American actresses. It is more Hollywood obsession than European obsession. In Europe, we have so many actresses like Charlotte Rampling and Catherine Denueve and Sophia Loren still play sexy characters that are their own age. Here, it is so strange. After a while, even young and beautiful actresses don’t work anymore.

Let’s look at the morals of Fairy Tales. Is it healthy to teach young girls that one day their Prince will come along?

BELLUCCI: Yes. We need to dream. If we don’t dream, we cannot live. It is not just for children. It is for us as well. We need to believe in something. We need that.

Terry is not a filmmaker who likes to turn to computer effects. He likes to work in camera. Because your character has to age to two different time frames, two different sets had to be constructed. How difficult was that for you at times to play against both of those set productions?

BELLUCCI: I had to do both. I had to play the old Queen, the young Queen, both voices, the Queen in the mirror who ages and it was all great. I loved to work with him. It was not predictable and the film reflects that. It is very cultivated and it is Terry Gilliam’s signature.

While this film is a fantasy, what is your own relationship to the supernatural? Do you believe in any of it?

BELLUCCI: I think we all need magic. As we never know what will happen next, you could get a phone call and have to go to Japan or someplace else. So I believe in magic of the moment.

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Film Review: Domino

"you lookin at me?"

Domino (15)

Dir. Tony Scott

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

My name is Domino, I am a bounty hunter, I loved those little Wallace & Gromit guys too but I want to tell you about my film because it’s based on actual events… sort of.

I’ve been intrigued by the notion of this movie from the first time I caught the trailer. Take Keira ‘stunning Jane Austen heroine’ Knightley, arm her with large guns, a cute tomboy haircut and a dangerous bunch of friends. Have the screenplay written by the cool but twisted Richard ‘Donnie Darko’ Kelly and let Tony ‘Man on Fire’ Scott direct the action in his uniquely over the top ‘style over substance’ nosebleed inducing way. Finally toss Christopher Walken, Mickey Rouke, Lucy Lui and a cameo from Jerry Springer into the mix, light the fuse and stand well back…

Domino is a head-trip of a film, as brutal as it is funny. It buzzes with a manic energy, an overdose of vitality that will either leave you dazed and wondering what all the fuss was about – or, like me, a mile wide grin on your face as what you’ve just witnessed sinks in.

Tony Scott just doesn’t know how to play it safe and it shows as his frenetic jump cut editing and over exposed colour saturation makes Domino less of a movie and more of a piece of moving pop art. You certainly won’t see more cultural references or gun toting FBI agents in a film this year, but other points of interest include a hilarious Jerry Springer episode, Keira lapdancing her way out of Mexican stand off and some of the cast of Beverly Hills 90210 turning up as ‘celebrity hostages’.

You even get to see the real Domino Harvey at the end of the film – apparently she was a friend of Scott's, and was named ‘Bounty Hunter of the Year’ in 2003 but died this summer from an overdose. I will warrant that there are very few people who’ll get epitaphs like this…

So if you have a taste for insane visuals, crunching action, crime thrillers or just want to see Keira Knightley in a polar opposite role to her recent Pride & Prejudice success, step up for a night in the company of Domino – you may need to see it twice to work out exactly what’s what but it’s worth it!

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (Keira shows she can do guns and topless madness)

Earlier post featuring some sexy shots of Miss Knightley

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Film Review: Serenity

Serenity (15)
Dir. Joss Whedon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Your attention please, this is the Captain.

We seem to have a slight problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some turbulence and then...


Strap yourself in for some serious adventure, because that is the sort of announcement you’ll get if you travel aboard the starship Serenity. The good news is that “explode” is an accurate choice of words, if you mean explode with the year’s best sci fi action, wicked special effects and the movie script of the year…
You know you’re on to a good thing when you see a film that makes you laugh out loud, hold your breath and almost fall off the edge of your seat with excitement all in quick succession. I’m delighted to report that Serenity delivers all this and more. Conceived from the embers of a short-lived (but highly amusing) sci fi TV series ‘Firefly’, Serenity is the first big screen outing for Joss ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Whedon. And he seems immediately at home – Serenity is an assured crowd pleasing, rip roaring adventure which sees the highly likeable crew of the titular spaceship getting caught up in a galaxy wide manhunt. It doesn’t matter either if you’re a fan of Firefly or a newcomer, prepare to be blown away, Serenity just blasts along like a turbo charged roller coaster, hitting every pleasure receptor on the way.
The characters are a classic bunch – Capt. Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) an old school scoundrel with an honest heart, there’s Zoë the warrior, ‘Wash’ the pilot, and personal favourite Adam Baldwin as ‘The Man They Call Jayne’, to name but a few. The script really is crammed with the witty banter that Whedon is famous for, and each character is given their chance to shine. E.g. Wash tells Reynolds that their landing is going to be “interesting.” The Capt. says “Define ‘interesting’", to which Wash replies without missing a beat: “We're all gonna die?”
And another plus point is the way that the CGI effects are used sparingly, often to impressive effect as opposed to certain other sci fi epics that have gone over to the dark side of CGI overdose.
So the smart thing to do would be to go see Serenity at your earliest convenience, rare gems like this don’t come along very often. Then go buy the Firefly DVD box set and catch up on what happened in the run up to this excellent finale…

Darkmatt Rating: ööööö (you can't take the sky from me!!)

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

"she's hot but also very very tasty in a fight!!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Film Review: Land of the Dead

"too much chlorine in the water... not good the skin!"

Land of the Dead (15)
Dir. George A. Romero

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Well rip my spinal chord out and eat it in front of me if this isn’t Land of the Dead - The 4th part of George A. Romero's zombie quadrillogy… alas despite probably having the largest budget of the series, this is the shuffling weakest by a mile.

Now I’ll freely confess to not be a zombie lover – when it comes to horror zombies are way down my list of favourite monsters but Mr Romero, he freakin loves zombies. In fact in Land of the Dead the zombies are practically the heroes!! At least I found myself rooting for them over the stupid and unlikeable humans…

So what do you get this time round – well the living dead are pretty much in control (no I don’t mean a Tory election triumph), the whole planet is a mass of walking corpses apart from one luxury cityblock ruled by bad man Dennis Hopper.

As might be expected, there’s a great deal of zombie vs human battling, lots of gore and the occasional watchable scene but this really is a disposable film experience with little character development and not even any good scares…

I actually preferred the remake of Dawn of the Dead – go figure.

Darkmatt Rating: öö (Land of the Dud)

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

"You know a film is duff when even the lovely Asia 'like my tattoo?' Argento can't make it worth watching..."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Grand Theft Auto PSP... Will Be MULTIPLAYER!!

"nice car... I'll take it!"

Yeah I know this news broke a few days ago all over game sites but man, it is seriously good news... Grand Theft Auto PSP will be multiplayer... Imagine the scene, down the pub, the very stakes of "who buys the next round" relies on who 'dies' first in a game of city wide deathmatch (cars, weapons... pretty much everything from the single player mode will feature!)

For all those times you've ever wanted to steal a car, chase your mates, drive them off the road and then shoot them in the head (virtually of course).

If this isn't the best reason to put a PSP on your Christmas list, you're probably already dead...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Film Review: Four Brothers

Four Brothers (15)
Dir. John Singleton

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

It’s like this: Evelyn Mercer was a veritable saint who worked for Detroit Social Services and helped take hundreds of kids out of foster homes and find them permanent placements. In 30 years, she came across only four delinquents so far gone she couldn't find anyone to take them in. So she took them in herself, taught them right from wrong and sent them out into the world…

Unfortunately for her, she gets gunned to death in the opening scene, so her four little boys decide, like any well balanced, loving sons would - to hunt down and execute every last person responsible.
Can I just say here how much I love a good action movie – especially one that contains scenes of heroic characters battling evil scumbags, preferably with as much large calibre weaponry as they can carry, but I did not love Four Brothers.

In fact this ‘not so fantastic’ four – the Mercer brothers (Mark Wahlberg, André 3000, Tyrese Gibson and Garrett Hedlund) deserve a punishment beating along with director John ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’ Singleton, for wasting two hours viewers’ lives with this mammoth sized turkey.

Four Brothers is bad on so many levels that it’s almost funny but by far the most heinous crime committed here is that dear sweet thug adopting Evelyn Mercer keeps popping up as a ghost. In most films where the characters hold conversations with their departed mothers, we’re talking serious schizoid psychos to a man – but not here. In Four Brothers, dear dead mum jumps out when you least expect it – like at the brothers’ Thanksgiving dinner and says meaningful things like “don’t you be eating with your mouth full.” It really gave me the willies.

Anyway, there is one decent scene about halfway through (from which most of the misleadingly exciting trailer is taken) where evil scumbags in hockey masks lay siege to the brothers’ house with large calibre weaponry. But unless you’re lucky enough to wander in just as this starts and leave again as soon as it’s over – you’re in for a joyless movie experience which you can easily avoid by going to see ‘A History of Violence’ or ‘Serenity’ (next week’s review) instead.

Four Brothers is lazy, uninspired and generally ‘ho hum’ – always taking the easy option and treating the viewer with contempt. You deserve better, don’t waste your time!

Darkmatt Rating: ö (weak, and unforgivably tedious)

Reviews of other films and stuff you might want to read indexed here

"sensing what a pile of crap the film was turning out to be...
Wahlberg tried to make a break for it under the watchful eye of his 'brothers' "