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

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Film Review: Flushed Away

'in the UK it opens 01 Dec...'

Flushed Away (U)
David Bowers & Sam Fell

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Dreamworks have taken Aardman’s Plasticine (Not to be confused with the
Pleistocene epoch which is part of the geologic timescale) / claymation look and worked it over with their supercomputers… The result is Flushed Away - a frenetic animated adventure populated by rats, slugs and frogs who look like they are made of modelling material (you know…calcium salts, petroleum jelly and aliphatic acids) but who sound like Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy etc etc…

Wallace & Gromit may have left the building but Roddy and Rita the rats (Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet) are suitable alternative heroes. Prepare to marvel as they spread disease and plague across the human world, gasp as they rabidly rip the throats out of their enemies and cheer when they are finally rounded up and exterminated for being public health time bombs… Erm, not really…
No no, not these rats, these are lovely cuddly pop culture-referencing rats who spout dialogue from the writers of Shrek or Shark Tale. They use the toilet as a whirlpool portal between the parallel Londons of our human ‘up top’ world and the corr blimey governor sewer where all the common rats abide…

Flushed Away does a lot of things right, it cracks along at a breakneck pace, packs in loads of references for kids and adults alike and is funny enough to make you really lose it more than once. The animation is great – stylized to ape the Aardman of old but hugely detailed, the voice acting is top notch and the plot is erm, OK let’s not talk about the plot as it’s perfunctory at best.Toffee nosed rat Roddy gets left alone while his owners go on holiday, his idyllic but lonely life is wrecked when fat rat Sid (Shane Richie) moves in and ends up flushing Roddy down the loo.
Here he crosses paths with amphibious villain Toad (Ian McKellen) backed up by dodgy henchmen (Nighy and Serkis) and a team of dastardly French frogs… The frogs made me laugh a lot with their incompetence, cowardice and multiple coffee breaks, not sure how that will play in France!?
Roddy is poorly equipped to be a hero, completely unprepared for the rough and tumble of life in the sewer. His tail is saved by plucky love interest rat Rita (Winslet) and only together can they save the sewer from being… you guessed it… Flushed Away…

Highlights include a funky chorus of singing slugs, sharp dialogue like when Toad asks: “You find my pain funny?” and Le Frog replies: “I find everyone's pain funny but my own. I'm French.”
My two boys loved it long time and pronounced it better than Wallace and Gromit – they are 5 and 9 in case you were wondering. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and would put this in my top six animated films of 2006 to date which goes like this (click for my review):

1. Hoodwinked
2. Cars
3. Over The Hedge
4. Flushed Away – don’t click this you’re already reading it…
5. Renaissance
6. Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - fun animated capers
Laughs öööö – lots, yes very funny stuff
Horror ö – mild suspence
Babes öö – winslet sounds a bit cute?

Overall öööö (more cheese Grommit? – no damnit those rats have eaten it!)


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ILM: Dream Big

"both green we be, but forbidden sexual relations with hulks for Jedi are..."

I work for ILM - no, not the George Lucas variety but rather the Institute of Leadership & Management in the UK (we're the largest provider of management education in Europe - in case you were wondering).

And whilst looking for imagery for a presentation I stumbled over the above Yoda / Hulk face off (from the special effects type ILM ) which I just had to share with you.

'Dream Big' is a universally positive message...

Have a good day!!

Darkmatters:H O M E
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Monday, November 27, 2006

El Laberinto del Fauno / Pan’s Labyrinth Reviewed...

El Laberinto del Fauno / Pan’s Labyrinth (15)
Guillermo del Toro

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Me? I've had so many names... Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce. I am the mountain, the forest and the earth. I am... I am a
faun . Your most humble servant… You can also call me Pan, and I dare you to step into my twisted dark world.

If your experience of fauns begins and ends with the slightly mischievous Mr Tumnus from Narnia, prepare to meet something far more fearsome, more majestic and altogether more devious… Guillermo del Toro’s faun lord is a creature of wonder, the mighty ‘Pan’ of legend - Faunus, another version of his name, whose genealogy is so varied that it must lie buried deep in mythic time. More revered than other nature spirits, Pan appears in tales to be older than the Olympians, he is accreditted as giving Artemis her hunting dogs and teaching the secret of prophecy to Apollo. But here he is concerned with young girl – Ofelia played with conviction by Ivana Baquero. Ofelia is a tortured soul, prone to wishing to escape into fantasy through her love of books into a malevolent dark underworld.
It could be that she is a long lost princess, one prophesised to return to her own world of magic, generations after losing her spirit in the human world but in order to regain entry to her rightful place she must pass three tests set by Pan… Three disturbing and arduous tasks that many brave men would flinch from…

Director Del ‘Hellboy’ Toro revisits many of the themes of his earlier work - Espinazo del diablo / The Devil’s Backbone, set several years after that film it again features the fall out of bloody civil war in Spain. In the midst of the upheaval a vicious commander named Captain Vidal (played with pure malice by Sergi López) has married Ofelia’s mother and is desperate for the son she is carrying to be born so as to extend his line. Vidal is a sadistic fascist of the worst kind, the sort to torture and shoot first, ask questions later, he has casualness to inflicting pain and ending life that puts his very humanity at question.

But Pan’s Labyrinth is all about monsters – be it the vile toad of the first task or the insect life faeries – up to the Pale Man who is a creation so demonically gruesome that he make a
Cenobite (angels to some, demons to others) cower before his countenance.

Enough about the plot though – this is a film which you have to let wash over you and not knowing too much about it in advance will really aid your experience. It’s freaky, dark and moving – certainly not for kids or anyone of nervous disposition, but if you enjoy your fantasy from the more macabre end of the scale… enter the labyrinth and sample the bleak delights it holds…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - the war scenes aren't great, the fantasy ones are
Laughs ö – nope, not that sort of film
Horror öööö – freakishly grim in places
Babes öö – too young or too plain...

Overall ööö1/2 (great in parts but not fully successful)

"do the words 'I wouldn't go in there if I were you' mean anything? "

Darkmatters:H O M E
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Film Review: Big Nothing

Big Nothing (15)
Dir. Jean-Baptiste Andrea

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Big Nothing is a funky new crime noir comedy starring the unbelievably comic talented Simon Pegg, up and coming hottie Alice Eve and the ‘Friend’ that I always most wanted to punch… David Schwimmer.

It’s the tale of Charlie (Schwimmer), a frustrated, unemployed teacher driven to an all time low – having to work in an IT support call centre, where he meets dodgy but lovable scammer Gus (Pegg). Gus has a "fool-proof" plan, which involves blackmailing a priest about his online “sins” and Charlie signs up even though he’s married to a cop (McElhone). Hey, what could go wrong? Um, how about everything?
First of all there’s the small matter of Gus’s money hungry ex-girlfriend Josie (Eve) who wants in on the scam, add to that the fact that there’s a famous CIA operative, Special Agent Hymes (Jon Polito) who’s on the trail of a cold blooded serial killer that has been traced to the area and throw in some organised crime linkages and the scene is set for lots of darkly comic fun! Big Nothing is a boiling pot of double and triple crossing where everyone has a hidden agenda and the old adage ‘there’s no honour amongst thieves’ is tested to the limit.

It’s no surprise that absolutely nothing goes according to the “fool-proof” plan – some fools you see can always rise to the occasion to screw things up... Things start badly and rapidly go from ‘extremely bad’ to ‘worse than you can imagine’ as this hyper kinetic live-wire misadventure takes classic noir elements and mixes them up. But sod’s law never looked so good, partly thanks to superb incidental details like a cameo by Mimi Rogers, which must have been brilliant fun (and provides one of the best on screen deaths of all time). The plot goes into overdrive with bodies piling up (and disappearing), Hitchcock like intrigue, Coen brothers’ patented sadistically dark comedy and yet oddly manages to not add up to very much. This is 90 minutes of disposable fun, thrills and chills that you’ll love while it screens but which will evaporate from your mind even as you leave the cinema.

So, if you’re looking for plot twists, clever references to other films and a satisfyingly grim ending, Big Nothing should be your pick this week. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I even found myself for once not even wanting to punch Schwimmer…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - Madcap and laugh out loud
Laughs öööö – Yes lots and nicely dark too!
Horror ööö – Some good stuff like axe in head etc
Babes ööö – Alice Eve is v. hot!

Overall öööö (stylish, cool and lots of fun)

Check out the Big Nothing website - it's the best film related site of the year!!


Darkmatters:H O M E

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Film review: Puritan

"put this film on your 'must see' list!!

Puritan (12a)

Dir. Hadi Hajaig

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Puritan is the first film from the 4th dimension… A place where time is meaningless, everything is happening all at once and if you had mastery over it you could flit from point to point instantaneously. But before getting too far into the scientific ponderings on offer here – lets finger the occult for a moment… Imagine if the devil himself had once been summoned in the parlour of the house in which you live… And while you’re at it – your house was one of the surviving buildings built and designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (he whose legend tells of famous London churches designed to glorify the occult, not God).

Actually Hawksmoor's churches have been regarded by many as centres of malevolent energies connected with the Ratcliffe Highway and Whitechapel murders; Could it be that they were positioned at the angles of a sign of Set, or that they harbour cult centres, roaming places for malignancies which have yet to be laid to rest? As a Christian I find this sort of stuff fascinating...

But I digress, Puritan is writer-director Hadi Hajaig's feature film follow up to The Late Twentieth (where a young Londoner who fails to come to the aid of his girlfriend when she's murdered by an armed robber in a convenience store subsequently goes insane and seeks redemption by pursuing malefactors) and rather than madness and gunplay, this is something more bizarre…

Puritan is wonderful modern film noir, shot through with occult horror trappings and gorgeous camerawork. Nick Moran plays Simon Puritan – a washed up journalist / paranormal investigator and some time medium who lives in Whitechapel in an early-18th-century house designed by Hawksmoor (see above). It is the place supposed to be where Aleister Crowley once raised the spirit of Satan and held a conversation with the dark lord himself.

Simon falls for femme fatale / trophy wife Ann Bridges (the spell bindingly hot Georgina Rylance) who is married to dangerous a self help capitalist played by David Soul. Things get complicated and death follows but it’s better if you watch this without detailed knowledge of the plot and it will keep you guessing nicely throughout.

This is a film that hits you from left field, it’s a hard boiled, neo noir modern classic featuring a superb depiction of this year’s best down on his luck anti-hero in Moran who gives a fantastically nuanced performance.
Who is the terribly disfigered man who seems to know the future? How far do Soul’s links to organised crime go? 

Can time and reality really be superimposed in a 4th dimension? 

Puritan is a must see film…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - Enough
Laughs öö – not a comedy
Horror ööö – some nasty stuff but not too much
Babes ööö – Georgina Rylance is gorgeous

Overall öööö (immensley satisfying and cool)

"highly explosive action scene!?"

Darkmatters:H O M E

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Harry Potter Kiss Pic - by Order of the Phoenix

"The Grange Hill cast had nothing on these guys..."

"Harry - seconds after being told that the world is about to see him kissing a girl..."

"Smooth Harry... Future Bond material in Mr Radcliffe?"

"of course... some would argue that miss Watson is still the top HP babe"

Darkmatters: H O M E
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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny: review-licious

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (15)
Dir. Liam Lynch

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Do you hear that scream of anguish echoing from the everlasting fires of hell itself…? Is it Beelzebub himself crying over his lost tooth that rockers on earth are using as a pick for their guitars? Oddly enough, yes, that’s exactly the case and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny tells this unlikely tale in a full-on profane road trip comedy that is quite unlike anything else ever made. It’s a story of hard rock, of mind bending drugs and of how the unholy tooth / pick (of destiny) became a grail like quest for Tenacious D, self-described "Greatest Band on Earth", whose members are JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Gass).
If you thought Jack Black rocked in School of Rock, or have ever bought a Tenacious D record then Pick of Destiny might be your kind of film. It’s totally crass, completely stupid and only just holds together as the plot lurches from one Tenacious D mock metal song to the next. But thanks to Black’s comic genius and Gass’s mild natured straight guy performance it ends up delivering a reasonably fun slice of power sliding heaven anyway. Helped no end by quality cameos from the likes of Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins and genuine metal heads including Meatloaf, Dave Grohl and Ronnie James Dio (yes he of Black Sabbath fame).
So step this way for a film that is a wilfully dim hour and a half of jokes about guitar chords, demons and living the ‘rock dream’ topped off by a climatic rock battle against the devil himself. If on the other hand, the thought of Jack Black using his manhood to disable a security laser network doesn’t bring a smile to you face, then perhaps it’s best to move along and find something with a more meaningful plotline.
And whilst you don’t have to be a Tenacious D fan to enjoy cinematic references such as when JB is attacked by a quartet of droogs straight out of A Clockwork Orange, there isn’t quite enough on offer here to make this more than a fun oddity for most people.
A final word of caution, watching this movie may cause you to dig out old Van Halen albums or similar and burst into frenzied bouts of air guitar and /or power sliding – much to the bemusement of your family, you have been warned.

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action öö - song based trippy action
Laughs ööö – stoner laughs but some genuine amusement
Horror ööö – fear the lord of metal hell
Babes öö – Brittany Eldridge anyone?

Overall ööö (MF'g Rock Gods Man)

Darkmatters: H O M E

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Willa Holland - saviour of the OC ?

"perhaps the OC season 4 might be worth a look after all?"

Willa Holland - muted saviour of the OC and soon to be seen on the big screen in 'Garden Party' which I'm told is the story of a woman attempting to escape her dismal home life by dabbling in the sex trade, posing for pornographic pictures... Sounds ABSOLUTELY awful, I do hope it's not Willa who gets drawn into such a seedy undertaking...
Can you imagine...
Anyway - I think she has the look of a potential future Bond girl!?

Ongoing comparison of who is the cutest upcoming actress out there continues here:

Katrina Bowden

Looking for a cool overview of recent cinematic fun... Check out the:

Carnival of Cinema Episode Viii

Darkmatters: H O M E

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Casino Royale Review: Best Bond Ever

Casino Royale (12a)
Dir. Martin Campbell

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

For the 21st time, the names still Bond, James Bond…

Yes Britain’s smoothest export is back in cinemas this week, blonder, tougher and steelier eyed than you might expect but he’s lost none of his macho charm, sophisticate charisma or woman killing eye for a foxy minx. In a nutshell, Casino Royale is Bond getting to do what he does best – getting the girl, killing the baddies and saving the entire planet.

Much has been speculated about new Bond Daniel ‘Layer Cake’ Craig and his ability to adequately step into the impeccably tailored tux recently vacated by Pierce Brosnan. Well, let me say one thing straight away… Craig delivers over and above the call of Queen and Country, and what’s more he pulls off the near impossible feat of making Bond an almost credible entity in our post-modern world.

Director Campbell (who also made Goldeneye) easily trumps his earlier Bond effort with this grittier, darker and altogether more satisfying tale of the super spy’s first major mission. After a breakneck early chase that will leave even the hardest adrenalin junkie gasping for breath, the plot serves up a deliciously high stakes scenario pitting Bond against worldwide terrorist banker Le Chiffre (played by Mads Mikkelsen). And speaking of delicious, Bond babes are taken to a whole new level of gorgeousness by treasury agent Vesper Lynd (the jaw droppingly hot Eva Green).

From the knowing in jokes about Martinis - asked if he likes it shaken or stirred Bond replies: “Do I look like I give a damn?” and several close encounters with Aston Martins, through to the origins of Bond’s misogynistic use of women as playthings, it’s all cracking and compulsive stuff. The centrepiece of the film is an updated high stakes Texas hold ‘em poker game at Casino Royale, shot through with dark undercurrents and violent interludes, you’ll never see a more tense game of cards. And for my money, none of the previous super-villain’s with all their lasers and gadgets have been able to inflict as much pain on Bond as he experiences here both physical and emotional. I must warn men that you might want to cross your legs in anticipation of the naked Bond torture scene; it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes!

So, if you’ve ever enjoyed a Bond movie or are just looking for a great night out, it’s true what might have heard… Blondes do it better…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action öööö - Quality and unexpectedly brutal
Laughs ööö – Some really funny moments
Horror ööö – Bond's gonads take a horrible beating!
Babes ööööö – Eva Green is uber babe

Overall öööö (Best Bond Ever!?)

"Eva Green... reaches the places other Bond girls cannot"

Darkmatters: H O M E

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Stacked – Pocket Poker Perfection for PSP

Stacked – Pocket Poker Perfection for PSP

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Put your hands up if you want to be a real man. Now you must know that it won’t be an easy path (especially if your female) and there are many many things that a real man needs to be able to master in this world. Some of them you can only achieve through ‘hands on’ experience e.g. the art of making love to a beautiful woman or of successfully shotgunning a beer without spillage or pukage. Others are metaphysical realms of soul searching, spiritual enlightenment and football appreciation. Many of these still require life experience or years of training, but there are a few that can be picked up and learnt to a fair degree using the wonderful slab of pocket sized joy, which is also known as a Sony PSP, and Texas Hold Em Poker is amazingly enough one of these.
Yes, if you want to emulate James Bond in Casino Royale (and I don’t mean the bit where he gets his bollocks whipped with a knotted rope!?) or you just want to learn the game without losing the contents of your bank account to your smirking mates, then basically - you need Stacked… This is all the Hold Em Phenomenon Poker you need wrapped up in a sexy, accessible package that will train you in the basics, give you some professional tips and let you refine your strategy against virtual opponents of varying skills. Then if you’ve got the taste for it, you can wifi play Poker over the internet, or wirelessly against other PSP owning pals without ever having to pick up a real card. One word of caution though – Stacked is highly addictive, so if you’re investing in this quality Poker offering, be prepared to kiss goodbye to doing much else. Stacked fits the PSP beautifully, the fact you can pause and power down at any time, only to immediately jump back into the action at the flick of switch later is great for grabbing a quick Poker fix day or night.
The graphics are great, you can design your Poker playing alter ego in a similar way to how you make a player for say Tiger Woods PGA… Just probably a bit fatter, balder and chavy if you’re looking for Poker realism or smooth, cool and sophisticated if you’re living in a dream world where playing cards for money is a valid career – whatever, the choice is yours...
Stacked by name and ‘stacked with options’ by nature, MTV games have teamed up with blonde Poker master Daniel Negreanu (2004 ESPN Player of the Year, World Poker Tour Player of the Year) to deliver this Poker fest of life eating proportions. As you progress through the game's career mode, you’ll get the chance to apply Dan's teachings to overcome some of poker's most renowned stars, including Josh Arieh, Jennifer Harman, Erick Lindgren, Carlos Mortenson, Evelyn Ng and David Williams. The Poki Artificial Intelligence system utilized in Stacked adapts its tactics in real-time to exploit the user's playing style, detecting tendencies and deploying appropriate counter-strategies to deliver a challenging and authentic experience. Basically, you won’t find a finer Poker game on any format at the moment.

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Overall öööö (Pokermon - got to catch em all, or lose all your cash etc)

Darkmatters: H O M E
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Katrina Bowden - puts the 'hot' into 30 Rock

'Full marks to the costume designer'

Isn't it great when a nameless source tips you off about how cute Katrina Bowden is in the new U.S. comedy '30 Rock'..?

I had never heard of her so I checked it out and sure enough I now have to concur!

Watch this scene on YouTube:


But is she as cute as
Leighton Meester?

More news of Miss Bowden on Darkmatters http://darkmatt.blogspot.com/2007/11/katrina-bowden-so-very-hot.html

Darkmatters: H O M E

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Film Review: Sixty Six

Sixty Six (12a)
Dir. Paul Weiland

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

It’s the question that every boy asks. It’s a mystery as deep as the world itself. It’s also the core of Sixty Six – a heart-warming coming-of-age tale that delves into that key moment in a boy’s life – when he ‘becomes a man’.
Billed as "a true...ish story", Sixty Six takes us back to the hazy summer of '66, to an England on the verge of a World Cup fever which for once yielded more than a contagion of car flags, a couple of novelty songs and endless ongoing recriminations as to ‘what went wrong’. This was a glorious year, the year when we took on the best in the world and came out on top but for 12 year-old Bernie Reuben (Gregg Sulkin) it was more than that – it was the summer he became a man.

Yes, if you’re born into the Jewish faith then most of your childhood is likely to be spent working towards your ‘Bar Mitzvah’ – the ceremonial celebration of your leaving childhood. I’m told that ‘Bar’ is Aramaic for ‘son’, and ‘Mitzvah’ is Hebrew for ‘commandment’ so the event literally means when you become a "son of the commandment." It’s a great day where you are the complete focus of attention, you get to read from the Torah in the synagogue and then there’s a big party in your honour. It should be a day to remember and for young Bernie it will be, unfortunately though his Bar Mitzvah is scheduled for the same day, at the same time as England play in the final of the World Cup…

Even though his uncle Jimmy (a fun wide boy performance from Brit talent Peter Serafinowicz) tells him: "England's got two chances - no chance and fat chance," Bernie is consumed with trepidation that the unlikely English national team will somehow make it the final and wreck his big day.
In case this all sounds a bit depressing, as per most Working Title films it is interspersed with some engagingly funny scenes – helped in no little part by having talent like comic genius Catherine Tate on hand.

Sixty Six might not be a ‘must see’ but if you want some heady football nostalgia wrapped up in an well produced story, this delivers a final act pay off that will warm the hardest of hearts. And in the afterglow of Spurs beating Chelsea that’s good enough for me!

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action öö - solid momentum
Laughs ööö – Some really funny bits
Horror öö – Unless you fear Jews for any reason...
Babes ööö – Helena Bonham Carter still yummy

Overall ööö (competent and fun)

"she's still got it..."

Darkmatters: H O M E
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