DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Darkmatters review - Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation (12)

Dir. McG (Charlie’s Angels etc).

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (in Luton with Mr Landsman on a wet Friday night)

ONE WORD SUMMATION: Machine-tooled!!

Read Darkmatters review of the Terminator Salvation Game

“I knew it. I knew it was coming. But this is not the future my mother warned me about. And in this future, I don't know if we can win this war. This is John Connor.”

Yes the human resistance of the near future finds itself in dire straits once again at the hands of those pesky computer controlled robots we know as ‘terminators’… The battle has changed, we’re now in 2018 – post the ‘judgement day’ nuclear strike and hero John Connor (now Christian ‘The Dark Knight’ Bale) is trying to live up to his ‘saviour of mankind’ prediction. Enemy computer system Skynet has given up trying to wipe out the last of the humans by sending terminators back in time, so it decides to win the war against us by going after the hero of the first film Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) while he’s still a grumpy teen. There is of course an obligatory Terminator who thinks he’s human in the form of Marcus (Sam Worthington), he might just hold the key to mankind’s safety or extermination… Yawn…

The technology on offer in Terminator Salvation isn’t as advanced as in T2, so don’t go expecting any morphing liquid metal hi-jinks. The machines here are actually more Transformer like prototypes – here’s a house sized giant robot!? Ohh look out for the motorcycle shaped speeder terminators etc etc… This makes for a few ‘wow’ CGI battles but takes something away from the general motive of the series so far, which was always been about a battle of wits between advance human form terminators and Connor at one age or another.

Terminator Salvation does deliver lots of vacant wham bam action, but even this is low on actual death due to the family friendly age rating - which also means that the terminators now don’t include expletives in their list of possible responses. What is most sorely lacking though is any real sense of actual threat, you just know that there’s no way in which the machines will win this round because we’ve already met some of these characters in later life in earlier films… if you follow me?

Having said that this fourth Terminator film is more fun and generally more watchable than the lacklustre part three. I’ve no doubt that the terminators will “be back” for a further tale of man vs machine smack down but it’s probably too much to hope that they can reignite the excitement levels of the first two which are bona-fide classics.

"Moon Bloodgood... good looking for a resistance fighter"

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööö (6 - robots in disguise!?)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 8
Style 6
Babes 5
Comedy 5
Horror 7
Spiritual Enlightenment 3

Not convinced? check out this mini review of the film over at Tom Wade's Emporium of Man Love:

“Big explosions – bleak backdrop – meh storyline – Christian Bale doing the Batman voice and being a bit bland – seeing Arnold in CGI – lots of chases – directed by a man called McG – I can’t forgive him that."

Terminator Salvation Game Review PS3

Terminator Salvation
Played on PS3

Developer: Grin / Evolved Games
Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Read the Darkmatters review of Terminator Salvation (film) 

“Come with me if you want to live (press x)... Now shoot that robot (press R1)… Now come with me if you want to live (press x)… Now shoot that robot (press R1)…” repeat…

The Terminator has seen four major films, a TV series and lots of mediocre videogame adaptations… and now lumbering into view comes Terminator Salvation – the film based loosely around the latest of the films.

Now I’m a fan of the movies (even had some time for part 3) and I really liked the TV show… but I’ve also played most of the videogames so I knew not to get too excited in advance of this new one.

So with my expectations set to ‘it’s gonna suck ass’ I ventured into this post Judgment Day action game looking for terminator exterminating thrills…

Terminator Salvation doesn’t start well, you immediately feel that the game has been rushed out to hit at the same time as the film – and even then it stands out as weak compared to the heavy-duty quality title hitting the PS3 this year such as Killzone 2 or infamous… But after three fairly annoying and slogging levels something weird happened to me, I began to enjoy this for what it was - a repetitive and predictable ‘old school’ shooter.

Sure it’s as on rails as a freight train but there is a odd sense of satisfaction at beating some of the harder levels – and for trophy hunters out there, Terminator Salvation is an absolute gift… every one of the eight levels will give you GOLD TROPHY – and that actually makes it really worth a play through.

Graphically we’re not talking anything special here, staple ravaged city streets and blasted buildings, useful trashed cars and walls for the clunky cover system… The PS3 version supports 720p and some of the special effects look good, but this ain’t gonna win any awrds for pushing the boundaries.

Game play works ok as long as you’re not demanding of slickness or intolerant of unforgivable loading times (despite an install – WTF!?) – best if you have  a pal to co-op with as there are lots of moments when the computer buddy A.I. will leave you shouting at the screen to help you flank an annoying terminator or two…

There are only a limited number of enemy types, and each has a signature take down style, pick of the bunch must be the T600s who are hard as nails, I was kinda hoping for a T800 in there somewhere but so dice. Some of the new baddies from the movie are fun to battle like the transformer alike motorbikes which form one of the several vehicle chase / shoot levels.

My favourite level is where you get to control of another of the transformer knock off types – the giant Termigantinator stomper robot which allows you to put some smackdown on Skynet HQ. That and the lovely ‘ca-ching’ of another gold trophy popping up on the screen!

Darkmatters final rating of: öööööö (6 - if you wanna shoot Terminators on the PS3 this is your best bet) 

Darkmatters Review - The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like the regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist’s suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers. Her hands were trembling, her lips were fleshy, and she leaned in once more, this time losing control and misjudging it. Their teeth collided on the demolished world of Himmel Street.” The Book Thief page 536

Sometimes you read a book that you know nothing about… When my eldest son was given a copy of The Book Thief he suggested I read it as he was already reading something. I liked the image on the cover of death dancing with a girl (the book thief herself as it turns out) so gave it a go.

This is a slow burn and build up of a novel which is worthy of your perseverance as by the end you’ll have been deeply moved, entertained and challenged by the tale of young Liesel, her adopted family, her friends and her experiences of the second world war in Nazi Germany.
The plight of the Jews in Germany at that dark time in history is interwoven with the coming of age tale of the titular book thief. The story is told by Death himself but this is no Terry Pratchett Discworld, here Death is a narrator who is detached enough to record our inhumanity and express his lack of understanding at why we humans act as we do,

The ponderous pace builds up a beautifully balanced and highly engaging narrative, Zusak uses clever devices such as mini previews of each chapter (which can not always be trusted).
Liesel who is the book thieving rascal of the title charts her relationships with her adoptive parents – hardship and survival go hand in hand – never more so than when the family hide Max (a Jew on the run) in their basement at great personal risk to themselves. The tangible sense of danger is expertly woven through the narrative, this really isn’t a happy tale and you can sense some form of tragedy on its way as the war escalates and the Allies start bombing Liesel’s town. Although, having said that there are some moments of pure joy that stand out all the more for the bleak backdrop against which they are experienced.

As with all great books, there are some unforgettable scenes such as when Liesel and her friend Rudy take bread and try to feed a line of Jew being marched through the streets to a concentration camp. Scenes like this blend seemlessly with Liesel's thieving escapades, her father's tours of duty and her mother's struggle to keep everything going... These are characters that you'll remember for some time.

The Book Thief is book which everyone should read – it is an unsettling and thought-provoking novel, buy beg or steal yourself a copy.

Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - a compelling if slow moving modern day classic)

Film news - Fox 2000 has bought the rights to The Book Thief - it's status is 'in production'...

"I think Dakota Fanning would make a good Liesel - she's cheeky enough!"

Darkmatters review - The Hangover

The Hangover (15)

Dir. Todd Philips (Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (in Luton with a packed house all having a good time)

One word summation: Testosteronelicious

Let’s get one thing straight right away – The Hangover is a blokes film, it’s not a romantic comedy, there’s no singing or dancing and it’s not for kids… We’re talking a pure overdose of puerile testosterone being delivered directly into the eyeballs, and it’s great!!
The plot is a Las Vegas-set ballsy dark comedy with the simple premise of three groomsmen who lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their night of drunken misadventures. We join them in the mother of all ‘morning afters’ from where they must retrace their steps and try to work out quite what happened.
It doesn’t take long to realise that things must have got seriously out of hand – let’s look at the evidence… There is a ferocious tiger in their hotel suite bathroom, an abandoned baby in the wardrobe, one of the guys is missing a tooth and another has a hospital admittance tag on his arm…
The motley crew of heroes here are schoolteacher Phil (a charismatic Bradley ‘Wedding Crashers’ Cooper), hen-pecked dentist Stu (Ed ‘The Office – American version’ Helms) who are the groom’s best friends. Also along for the ride is new brother-in-law-to-be Alan (a comic genius turn from Zach ‘What Happens in Vega’ Galifianakis) as the dim-witted bearded oddball.
The missing groom Doug is played by the likable Justin ‘National Treasure’ Bartha and together these four adventure seeking chaps generate some excellent rapport.
The laughs come thick and fast, and range from the satisfyingly dark e.g. abduction and drugging, through the surreal – naked Chinese man attacks, to the superbly well observed ‘male condition’ problems. You’ll feel for poor Stu who is saddled with Melissa - possible the most obnoxious girlfriend in movie history aptly who’s evil attitude to men is summed up in this encounter when he’s trying to persuade her to let him go on the stag weekend:
Stu says: ‘My friends are really a lot more mature than you think,’ just as their car pulls up outside and Phil yells: ‘Paging Doctor Faggot! Paging Doctor Faggot!’ She retorts with venom: ‘You should probably go, Doctor Faggot.’
Okay, so it’s not high brow funnies but this is a comedy that steams along on a tidal wave of feel good macho-ness backed up with some fantastic and unforgettable set pieces.
Over the weekend these buddies forge deeper friendships through their various trials by fire and by the time the credits roll you’ll feel like they are your good pals too.
Other incidental highlights include Mike Tyson singing ‘In the Air Tonight’, Stu finding out that he married a hooker during the course of the night (a gorgeous Heather Graham as it goes) and some seriously amiss man style baby care.

"Heather Graham, would you marry her on the off chance in Vegas?"

Cinematic ribaldry hasn’t been done this well for a while, my advice is for men everywhere to experience The Hangover – no drinking required…

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - man up lads, what happens in Vegas...)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 7
Style 7
Babes 7
Comedy 8
Horror 6
Spiritual Enlightenment 7 (for blokes)

Not convinced? check out this viewpoint over at Bina (be aware you'll be getting a female review) be sure to read the comments!:

“basically a rip-off of the Ashton Kutcher vehicle, "Dude, Where's My Car?". Except this time, the drunken idiots are a thirty-something bachelor party in Vegas..."


In the aftermath of an urban disaster, an everyday guy finds himself with extraordinary powers. What he does with them is up to you. This is inFamous... a superb new title for PLAYSTATION®3

If society collapsed tomorrow and you found yourself with unique powers that could either help people or hurt them, which would you do? That’s the question at the centre of inFamous, the exclusive PLAYSTATION®3 title from Sucker Punch Productions. The open-ended, free-roaming game puts you in the shoes of Cole McGrath, an everyday guy and urban explorer, in the aftermath of a huge disaster that destroys his hometown of Empire City. As Cole, you must first learn to use new found powers and then decide how you will use them.

After the explosion, Empire City falls into chaos and Cole must use his new powers and climbing agility. Along the way he will unravel an evolving mystery, experience fame and/or infamy and battle powerful, iconic villains. inFamous gives you the freedom to play how you want, whether that’s aggressively, tactically or stealthily (or indeed as a true-blue Hero (like Captain America/Superman/) or do you play as the Anti-hero guy (like Frank Miller’s Batman/Daredevil or Wolverine/ Punisher/Ghost Rider) who simply “gets things done” irrespective of the cost - be warned, however, that the city’s people and environment will react to what you do. Events will unfold based on the role you take in them and your actions will create broader reactions in the citizens and landscape around you.

Developed by Sucker Punch Productions, the studio who gave PlayStation the acclaimed Sly Cooper franchise, inFamous brings you a new type of superhero – an uncertain man with the weaknesses of a normal human being. What will you turn Cole into? The choice is yours when your inFamous!?

Darkmatters Review - Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell (15)

Dir. Sam Raimi (Evil Dead and Spiderman films, Darkman - man I love that film).

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (in Luton amongst a screaming Friday night crowd)


Meet Christine Brown, she has a good job as a loan arranger at a bank, a great supportive boyfriend, and a bright future. But in three days, she's going to hell – literally – and you’re invited along!
In this gleefully grim horror-comedy movie from Sam ‘Spiderman’ Raimi even nice people can go to hell. What I can assure you is that if you sign up for this movie, you’re in for one wild ride… Think ‘next generation Evil Dead’ and you’ll be in the right area for some serious scares and gruesome gags – spruced up with some effective special effects that are guaranteed to turn your stomach.

This is the not so happy tale of Christine (Alison ‘Beowulf’ Lohman) who wants to bag a promotion at work and is told that she needs to start proving she can make tough decisions. Step up one difficult customer, a Mrs. Ganush (Lorna ‘might have seen her in CSI on TV’ Raver) a down on her luck elderly gypsy who is in need of a loan extension. Christine denies Mrs. Ganush's mortgage which doesn’t go down well and results in the old woman placing a curse on Christine. This isn’t some petty fair ground curse either; we’re talking a heavy duty goat shaped demon on a mission to drag the cursed person’s soul to hell after tormenting them for three days. Bad times…

From the moment the curse is made, the film becomes a ticking time bomb of nervous tension punctuated by quality jump-out-of-your-seat moments, comic book violence – look out for that anvil!? and vomit inducing sights such as Mrs. Ganush gushing maggots mouth to mouth with Christine in one very disturbing dream sequence. Drag Me To Hell is pure horror film nirvana for anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the recent rash of torture obsessed fright flicks. This is old school shock and awe, cleverly ratchetting up the stakes as the demon (named Lamia) wreaks pain shaped mischief on Christine both physically and psychologically.

In desperation Christine turns to a mystic named Rham Jas (Dileep ‘soon to be in James Cameron’s Avatar’ Rao) who counsels various potential courses of action that might buy off the vengeful demon. This isn’t good news for Christine’s cute little kitten (animal sacrifice is just one of the ghoulish attempts to escape the titular dragging to hell)…

This trip is not for those of a nervous disposition but for anyone looking for a thrill-em-up scare fest that delivers as many laughs as shocks – Drag Me To Hell is potentially the horror comedy of the year. Let’s just hope Raimi can channel some of the invention he shows here into Spiderman 4…

"grave danger is fun to watch"

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööööö (9 - Evil Dead-lite 'more please')

Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 8
Style 7
Babes 7
Comedy 8
Horror 9
Spiritual Enlightenment 5

Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at Empire Magazine:

“An extended scrap in Lohman’s car, it starts with a terrific twist on the ‘there’s someone in the back seat’ chestnut, before exploding into a relentless audio-visual onslaught punched through with Raimi’s pitch-black sense of humour, as Ganush loses her rotting dentures, and turns an intended bite into a slobbery, gruesome parody of a kiss."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

12 Rounds Competition

Darkmatters 12 Rounds Competition...

From the director of “Die Hard 2” and the producer of “Speed” comes 12 ROUNDS, starring ex WWE wrestler John Cena as New Orleans Police Detective Danny Fisher. When Fisher stops a brilliant thief, Miles, from getting away with a multi-million-dollar heist, the thief’s girlfriend is accidentally killed. After escaping from prison, the criminal mastermind enacts his revenge, taunting Danny with a series of near-impossible puzzles and tasks …12 rounds…that Danny must somehow complete to save the life of his fiancée.

The film hits the UK this weekend - here's your chance to grab some excellent 12 Rounds swag thanks to the lovely people at Fox...

All you have to do is tell us: 'who would you most like to go 12 rounds with WWE style and why?'

Email your entry to darkmatters@another.com - The Editor will pick the top 3 answers and they will each get dog tags, t-shirt and cap... UK address entries only - comp closes in a two weeks so grab the goodies while you can.

'Is this the new Die Hard?'

Monday, May 25, 2009

Darkmatters review - Sacred 2 Fallen Angel

Sacred 2

PS3 (also available on PC and X360)

Developer: Ascaron Entertainment

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

There are some itches that can only be scratched with a massive battle sword… Sacred 2 is the a new hack n slash RPG which gives a great Diablo vibe – which basically means that if you like running around fighting all sorts of creatures, righting wrongs and saving the day, you’re in luck!
Here’s the drill: step up, create a character, choose a god to worship (well the game is called ‘Sacred’) and pick a path – light or dark. There are six character classes to choose from including the rather sexy Seraphim (see screenshot / artwork), a not so ‘Lord of the Rings knock off’ High Elf, generic Dryad, interesting part robo Temple Guardian, devious Shadow Warrior or evil incarnate Inquisitor. What you can’t do is customise them much other than hair colour / couple of clothing choices.

Sacred 2 is all about killing stuff, we’re talking thousands of enemies great and small – picking up the loot they drop, buying better equipment and generally levelling up like there’s no tomorrow… You shouldn’t worry too much about the plot – energy is being mischiefed, you have a massive list of quests – and hundreds of side quests too. It all boils along at a good rate, there’s never a dull moment…The gameplay world is huge, and you can spend hours just wandering about getting into fights even if not following the main quests. It’s highly addictive stuff for anyone whose ever enjoyed a some battle focused adventuring.

The various characters do play differently (and there are character specific trophies to be earned) so I found myself hard pressed to decide which to make my main character for a whole play through. Levelling up works well with good new skills to be tried out. Stat management sees you spreading the love between weapon skills, character attributes such as speed or health regeneration etc. Before long you’ll be a potent ass kicker – but then the joy is that there’s always something bigger and nastier waiting for you out there…

"does my bum look big in this angel armour?"

You can of course call upon your chosen god to deliver their smart weapon at various points – these are great ‘nuke’ or ‘super-heal’ style powers that can help in taking out bosses etc. There are useful things to spend your hard looted loot on too – character specific mounts can be purchased and serve to make you into a cavalry adventurer with better offensive capability.

The controls work really well – Sacred 2 makes use of clever triggers mapping various combinations, which stop the usual whinging about ‘why can’t we use ‘mouse and keyboard?’ There is some top multiplayer action to be had too (upgraded from the PC version of the game) and it is seamlessly integrated using the PlayStation Network. Even when playing with yourself ‘ahem’, there is an option to let other players drop in and out at will when you're online. I found that it wasn’t long before I was adventuring with mates both co-operatively and then in a spot of competitive play.

Graphically the PS3 version is a good looking game, yes there are occasional frame issues but Sacred 2 sets a new benchmark for the this style of game, easily trumping current competitors like Untold Legends. The enemies are nicely detailed and each type has a variety of looks – so you’re likely to be zooming in to check out the different appearances. And they are even blessed with some personality… In an absolutely genius move the creators have given their minions lines like ‘I knew it, I was just an extra’, even the dead have fun to offer on their gravestones – I noted the still open grave marked ‘for reviewers’!? Soundtrack wise we’re talking heavy thumping tunes from the likes of Blind Guardian.

At the moment there really isn’t anything to touch Sacred 2 for addictive chop-shoot-or-magic-em-up through many many hours of fantasy adventuring with or without pals… Bring it!!

Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - if you like adventuring you need this game)

"angels in bikinis? well, they are fallen angels..."

Darkmatters review - Night at the Museum 2

Night at the Museum 2 (PG)

Dir. Shawn Levy - previous offences 'The Pink Panther', 'Night at the Museum'

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Is that you breathing? Because I can't hear myself think! There's too much going on here; you're asthmatic, you're a robot. And why the cape? Are we going to the opera? I don't think so...” This is the genius scene where the Dark Lord of Sith – Vader himself is confronted by wise cracking master villain, Egyptian pharaoh Kah Mun Rah (Hank ‘voice of Chief Wiggum in The Simpsons’ Azaria). It seems that Vader isn’t evil enough to join Rah’s band of superbaddies who plan to conquer the world (Ivan the Terrible, Al Capone and Napoleon do make the cut).

It sets the tone for this second instalment of the ‘museum exhibits come to life and amusingly cause chaos’ franchise and the good news is that it’s funnier and more watchable than the first.

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) the hero guard from the New York’s Museum of Natural History in the first film is back to help his legendary exhibit pals who get brought back to life when moved to a bigger museum’s storage facility. No, the plot won’t win any prizes for originality but that doesn’t worry director Levy (amazingly turning out his second watchable film) who simply throws everything in his larger budget at the screen. What results is a good natured action packed comedy follow up that will blow kids away and tickle adult views in the right places.

New characters drafted in this time include Amelia Earhart (the lovely Amy Adams) who teams up to help Daley, plus an wonderfully camp General Custer (Bill Hader) who steals all his scenes. Returning for their pay cheques are Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), mini cowboy Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Roman legionnaire Octavius (Steve Coogan) and the rather redundant Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais).

"Amy Adams... tightest trousers in the West"

I laughed loudest at the excellent hilarious cameo Jonah ‘Superbad’ Hill who sets new standards in jobsworthness but the funnies keep coming at regular intervals so you’re unlikely to leave without having been amused.

Night at the Museum 2’s main attraction for kids will the large scale devastation – brought to life with some seriously impressive special effects. A massive octopus and the obligatory returning dinosaur skeleton are good value but there are also some surprisingly well judged moments like a dip into Robert Doisneau’s famous French photograph “Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville, Paris” which strives to add a touch of culture to the madcap proceedings.

In the end it all boils down to seeing if the oddball bunch of goodies can overcome the evil Pharaoh and save the world? Only by taking another trip to the museum will you find out…

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööö (7 - history exhibits a strong comedy character)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 7
Style 7
Babes 6
Comedy 8
Horror 6
Spiritual Enlightenment 6

Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at Little White Lies:
“'History history, learning learning,' sighs museum director McPhee (Ricky Gervais) with a withering contempt that reflects rather precisely this film’s attitude towards both genuine education, and the sort of flashy multimedia spectacle (NATM2 included) that has become education’s substitute. For this is a scattergun trawl through human (albeit mostly American) history and culture, with the emphasis more on entertainment than instruction. Still, if at has few actual insights to offer into the complexities of the past, at least it serves for the young viewer as a primer in postmodernism.”

Monday, May 18, 2009

Darkmatters Review - Tokyo!

Tokyo! (15)

Dir(s). Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Joon-ho Bong

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Ahhh - so… Velcome to Japan… A place of the fantastic, where three oddball fairy tale twisted fantasies merge to create an entertaining film broken across three parts…Michael Gondry delivers an adaption of a comic book by Gabrielle Bell called Cecil & Jordan in NewYork or ‘Interior Design’ as it is called here. After the misstep of Be Kind Rewind, Gondry is back into his head messing stride with a tale about a couple in Tokyo looking to buy their own place. Whilst the guy goes about getting funding for his nutty film project meeting the great and the good, his girlfriend takes on the apartment hunting but feels left out. And in body-horror style she begins to transform into a chair.
This opening sets a nice pace which then ramps up with the second tale called Merde. Director Leos Carax delivers the stand out of the three Tokyo! Tales – where a strange, red haired man goes on a mental rampage through the city. Licking, flicking cigarettes at babies and generally causing havoc. This crazy guy lives in the sewers and it isn’t long before his playful mischief has a bodycount as on one of this forays through downtown Tokyo he brings a load of hand grenades – cue random death a go go...Finally is the weakest of the three tales called Shaking Tokyo – directed by Joon-ho ‘The Host’ Bong. This is a romance of a sort where a guy who likes to stay indoors develops a crush on a pizza delivery girl. The path of love however does not run smoothly because she likes his hermit like way of life so much that she shots herself away too. Will the man venture outside to find the girl he fancies?
"Tom Wade looked perturbed on his way to work"

Tokyo! is thought provoking and engaging throughout, certainly worth checking out if you’ve a taste for something a little more weird than you’re average viewing. Three highly creative directors deliver excellent value as you get to experience surrealism, horror and love all in quick succession.


Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - noodles for the brain)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 7
Style 7
Babes 6
Comedy 8
Horror 6
Spiritual Enlightenment 6
Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at Spout Blog whose Lauren Wissot says:
“the camera moving at typical Gondry speed, from fast motion overhead shots to slow pans, like a fractured subconscious. In the process the self-involved Akira (who pitches concepts to his girlfriend in lieu of engaging in conversation) watches his film career take off after he screens his Metropolis-like feature at a porn house, while the unsure Hiroko (played by Ayako Fujitani who happens to be the daughter of Steven Seagal) struggles to find her own identity..”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Darkmatter Review - Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons (12a)

Dir. Ron Howard

Cast member most worth watching: Ayelet Zurer

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (in Stevenage on wet windy Friday night)

Reader I urge you to take heed of the ancient legend hidden in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code prequel Angels & Demons (now reworked to be a cash-in sequel film)… It states simply ‘So dull the Ron of Ham’, I asked a learned professor friend what this could mean and the results were devastating. In simple terms it apparently refers to cinematic return of Ron ‘Far and Away’ Howard with a film so bloated, turgid and mind achingly average that it has awoken the attentions of a secret underground cult known as the Cinluminati. Their members are fiendish visual thrill seekers who stand up for exciting cinema and are willing to unleash unspeakable reprisals on perpetrators of lame big screen ‘blockbusters’.

Step up Angels & Demons, another ‘excitement-lite’ plodathon which sees Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks – whose charisma is missing in action as per The Da Vinci Code) stumbling around Vatican City trying to foil a bombing. Sure it all looks good enough with an impressive fully CGI large scale Vatican set, nicely shot famous Roman landmarks and even a inside tour of the infamous Large Hadron Collider machine. But somehow what could have been an engaging thriller, manages to fumble its interesting ‘plot to kill the Pope and his most likely replacements’, leaving viewers yawning.

Ewan McGregor adds to the distinct whiff of cheese in the proceedings by hamming it up as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna – a devout priest who has helicopter piloting and stunt parachuting skills – hhmm, d’you think they might come in somewhere?
Hanks’ Langdon is accompanied through this misadventure by anti-matter scientist Vittoria (Ayelet ‘Vantage Point’ Zurer), who takes the thankless sidekick role of asking questions that require masses of mumbo jumbo exposition at every turn.

Alas there’s only so much watching of clue solving that a mere mortal can stand and Angels & Demons exceeds the recommended safe levels by some margin. If contemplating seeing this you might want to put in a spot of training – maybe try watching a smug looking stranger doing a Sudoku or something?

"The 'batman leaping through the flames' church fundraiser stunt went a bit wrong"

You can’t really blame the film makers for knocking this ‘Brown stuff’ out though because stupidly large numbers of people will probably turn up see if Angels & Demons is any better than The Da Vinci Code. The fact that it is only a marginally more engaging waste of over two hours leaves you wondering if cinema’s least exciting action hero might return for a third outing – heaven help us all.

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating out of 10 is: öö (2 - plodding stuff)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action - nope
Style - some
Babes - average
Comedy - unintentional
Horror - slightly
Spiritual Enlightenment minus figures

Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at The Telegraph whose Tim Robey says:
“Hanks remains chipper to the point of blasé here, but the various suspenseful pickles he gets himself into don't confer much dignity on the character. In one sequence, trapped without oxygen in an airtight archive chamber, he must climb a shelf of clue-packed manuscripts and awkwardly topple it using his body weight.”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Darkmatter - Martyrs Review - 'supergrim'

Martyrs (18)

Dir. Pascal Laugier

Cast member most worth watching: Morjana Alaoui

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (at home with the lights down low)

Some things are simply too awful, too shocking and too disturbing for general consumption… Viewing experiences deemed ‘dangerous’ that are just too extreme for the mainstream, for the ‘decent’ Daily Mail reading Middle England or for those who don’t have the capacity to withstand an assault on the senses that engages on a deeper lever than dim ‘video nasty’ Friday night thrills.
There are few films that warrant such caution – but Martyrs is one - read on only if you are curious to hear a report back from the darkest, wildest side of cinematic experience.

Martyrs is quite possibly the nastiest, most seriously horrifying film you’ll ever witness.

When a little girl is found wandering by the side of the road, her wasted body showing signs of severe neglect, starvation and torture she claims not to remember what happened to her whilst kidnapped and held prisoner for over a year.
But young Lucie is a survivor and during her following years in an orphanage she survives by employing both violent antisocial behavior but is also terrified by haunting and deeply disturbing paranoid delusions. Despite this she forms a friendship with another girl named Anna, who supports her – together they form a suitably unstable alliance.

Some years later, the two girls (now in their 20’s) turn up unannounced at a family home and proceed to graphically slaughter the entire family. Lucie is convinced that this seemingly normal suburban people are the monsters who took her prisoner and only a dose from the business end of a double barrel shotgun will see justice restored.

"things don't start well and only get worse from here..."

So far, so grim but still just a standard revenge horror thriller… These events however are only the prologue – the starter of a three course banquet of mind bending blunt force trauma that starts from grissly cold-blooded murder and accelerates into twisted sadistic nightmare territory beyond the bounds of taste and decency. I won’t go into the plot anymore as its better that it takes you unawares – everything is well shot and if Laugier does get his rumoured shot at remaking Hellraiser – it could turn out to the best horror film ever!?

But despite the abject gruesomeness perpetrated on screen here, this isn’t a simple shock-em-up like Hostel or Cabin Fever, Martyrs outpaces even the recent nou-wave of Euro horrors such as Haute Tension, Satan, Frontiers or Calvaire. At the sickened heart of this tale is a treatise about martyrdom, not a celebration of voyeuristic suffering but a descent through excruciation to a place of zen-like rapture. “Martyr” is apparently derived from the Greek word for ‘witness’… witnessing this absolutely isn’t for many though… If you read this blog much you’ll know that I’m not easily shocked but I found parts of this merciless escalation of torment almost physically painful to watch. Credit is due to the cast – Anna (Morjana Alaoui) is gorgeous even whilst undergoing all sorts of beyond the pail nightmare situations.

This is a tour-de-force that grips like a vice of vicious endorphin enlaced spikes – you won’t know where to look, you’ll be challenged and freaked out but you won’t forget it (ever)…

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - supergrim)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 8
Style 8
Babes 7
Comedy 4
Horror 10
Spiritual Enlightenment -8 or +8 (depends on who you are)

Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at The Horror Club which says:

“Pascal Laugier did something bold and daring, and pulled it off extremely well. Some will truly love this film, some will absolutely downright hate it, and others will not know what the hell just happened to them... whichever way you feel though, it's a movie that deserves to be seen.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Darkmatters Review - Star Trek

Star Trek (12a)

Dir. JJ Abrams

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Whilst watching JJ ‘Lost’ Abrams’ reinvigoration of Star Trek, I felt a great disturbance in the Force… That’s because for me good sci-fi beginning with ‘Star’ should end in ‘Wars’ not ‘Trek’, so I’ve never had much time for the intergalactic Trekking of Kirk et al but I approached this with an open mind after having been impressed by the trailer. Two hours later my expectations had been set to ‘stunned’… This is Trek Jim, but not as we know it – we’re talking crowd pleasing action packed blockbuster of the highest order. It’s highly accessible; you won’t need a degree in Klingon or even require a working knowledge of the TV series (although there are lots of fan pleasing nods to the originals).

Abrams’ new Star Trek details the early years of one day legendary Captain James T Kirk (an engaging Chris Pine who has come a long way from tat like The Princess Diary 2). It turns out that Kirk was a rebel even as a youngster, his maverick credentials underlined by a great scene of him burning along in a stolen classic car to the thumping soundtrack of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage. Also on hand is the pointy eared Vulcan Spock (Zachary ‘Sylar from Heroes’ Quinto) who begins his long term friendship with Kirk by making his life hell.
The young cast are uniformly watchable, Zoe Saldana is a sizzling Uhura, Anton Yelchin’s Chekhov is genuinely funny, and Simon Pegg‘s Scotty is pure genius. Karl Urban's Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy walks a fine line of parody but the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy turns up and forms a great link between all that has gone before with an excellent extended cameo.

You can almost feel the tangible fun that the filmmakers had reinvigorating this franchise which had dropped to an all time low with the last film Star Trek X: Nemesis. Fist-fights, shoot-outs, daring do and even an obligatory green skinned alien temptress make this light speed ahead of the stodgy Star Wars prequels. Abrams has kept all the best stuff from before - warp drives, phasers, teleporting and even the classic Enterprise spaceship design, so fans of the original have little to complain about. This is quality that can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of the superb and much lauded recent Battlestar Galactica TV remake.
So if you only watch one sci-fi space epic this year, you should have no fear in boldly going where no ‘Trekkie’ has gone before… To mix metaphors, ‘The force is strong in this one.’
Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööööö (9 - ENGAGE, Make It So etc...)
Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 8
Style 8
Babes 6
Comedy 7
Spiritual Enlightenment 8
Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at Black Sheep Reviews
- best line:" Suffice it to say, it is intricate and tight and a lot more fun not to know where anything is going at any point in time. It is such a smooth ride that you can just sit back and enjoy the comfortable warp cruising speed."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

VOTE for your top game (Killzone 2 perhaps) in the Golden Joysticks!?

"Amber Heard says 'vote Killzone 2'..."*

Gamers... It's time to vote!

Click this link - and tell the world what you've been playing:

I'm currently addicted to Far Cry 2, Killzone 2 and Resident Evil 5...

*not really, I think she might be more of a Valkyria Chronicles babe...

More Amber Heard loveliness CLICK HERE

Monday, May 04, 2009

Darkmatters Review - Is Anybody There?

Is Anybody There? (12a)

Dir. John Crowley

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

You might not expect a Brit feel good comedy to be shot through with darkness and hard issues such as dealing with dementia but Is Anybody There? does this effectively and delivers a spellbinding cinematic experience that is not to be missed.

Sir Michael Caine is on top form as Clarence - a retired magician (equally effective but a million miles away from his role in The Dark Knight). As my good friend Chris Curtis said when he saw it "Caine is clearly relishing this role, and rightly so".

The film is the tale of Edward, a young boy played by(Bill 'Son of Rambow' Milner), who lives with his Mum (the excellent Anne-Marie Duff) and Dad (Daivd Morrissey having a ball with pikey '80s fashion and a convincingly cringeworthy mid life crisis falling for 18-year-old Tanya - Linzey Cocker) in the care home they run.

Little Eddy is an unhappy chap, billy no-mates at school, unnerved by his parents struggles to make ends meet and morbidly curious with the death (so much so that he hides cassette recorders in the bedrooms of the elderly residents in order to try and catch the sound of their ghosts leaving when the die!).

Edward's life changed when he meets Clarence (Sir Michael Caine) who comes reluctantly to live at the care home, causing a stir with his maverick attitude. What follows is a heartwarming / breaking tale of friendship.

"Here's to the house I bought with the proceeds from Jaws 4"

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - Incredibly watchable and emotionally charged)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 6

Style 8

Babes 6

Comedy 7

Spiritual Enlightenment 7

Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at FilmStalker - best line:

"The more complex and real characterisation of Clarence was well written and wonderfully acted by Michael Caine. This should be a performance that he should be proud of and can really rank highly with his best performances of his career."

"Linzey Cocker (right) - cute home wrecker in Is Anybody There?"

Matt Adcock meets Sir Michael Caine

Darkmatters Interview:

Matt Adcock meets Sir Michael Caine

Is Anybody There?’ – Sir Michael Caine’s new movie, explores issues such as dementia, courage and intergenerational friendship. Caine plays a cantankerous retired magician whose mischievous nature brings a wave of hope through an old people’s home where he meets Edward (Bill Milner from Son of Rambow etc).

Matt: ‘So how did you first get involved with Is Anybody There?’

Sir Michael Caine: I knew that John Crowley was a well-known theatre director in Ireland, although I'd never seen any of his productions. But then I saw two movies of his, and he had an incredible cinematic eye. I thought: "Here's a twin - here's a director that can direct actors and knows where to put a camera." It's wonderful because you rarely get the two. That's one reason, the other is that producer David Heyman, who is an old friend of mine, gave me the script. I've read many scripts that have made me laugh, and this one made me laugh as well, but I'd never read a script before that made me cry. So that's why I did it.

Matt: I read that you had a friend who suffered from dementia and sadly died. This must have been a film that was very close to your heart then?

Sir Michael Caine: I obviously brought a lot of experience of how it was to suffer from dementia because Dougie was one of my closest friends and he died while we were making the film. I hadn't really thought of it because it's not a film about a guy with dementia. It's just a film about an old magician and a little boy. So I didn't think about it honestly until I really came to the moment and then it struck me. For four or five years I was just waiting to walk in and for Dougie to ask me who I was. And one day he did. So that's as accurate a portrayal of dementia as I could do with my talent from extreme close-up experience.

Matt: How did you prepare for the role?

Sir Michael Caine: The first thing I did was to remember back to when I did little parties for my daughters. We always had a conjurer and I noticed that his hair was always parted in the middle. So the first thing I did was to part my hair in the middle. Then I met Scott Penrose, who was our real conjurer, and who taught us some tricks, and his hair was parted in the middle. I thought to myself: "I haven't even started and I've got something right!" He said to me: "Do you know why we do that? Houdini parted his hair in the middle and we are all fans of Houdini." So that's how I prepared - I started by parting my hair in the middle and wound up in tears just thinking about my friend who died of dementia.

Matt: Did you enjoy the cantankerous nature of your character?

Sir Michael Caine: I did. I've never done a really old guy like that. I'd put him at about age 84 and I've known a few old guys like that in my time.

Matt: Clarence, your character, learns some valuable life lessons from young Edward. Did you end up learning any lessons from Bill Milner?

Sir Michael Caine: I learned a most invaluable lesson inasmuch as unlike all other child actors I could absolutely trust him to be there as though I was acting with an adult actor, which was an incredible thing to know.

Matt: How was working with the older cast members?

Sir Michael Caine: There were all these old actors who'd made millions of films and such was my experience in my early acting days, I'd never been in any of them. I never got a part in British films for ages and ages. So I knew them from the screen as a fan and had that attitude. I was most impressed, though, working with Anne-Marie Duff. She's playing this little bit dowdy keeper of an old folks' home, and at the time I didn't know of her theatrical past. And suddenly I read in the Evening Standard that she's been awarded best actress for Joan of Arc at the National and my whole attitude towards her changed... I mean off-set, of course. But she's such a wonderful actress because when you think she can do that and then play this woman in our film, it's quite extraordinary.

Matt: Why do you think the population seems to be getting so disconnected and disrespectful of the older generation?

Sir Michael Caine: In my opinion, everybody is getting older and older. We have a great deal of dementia because [in the past] nobody grew old enough to get it, if you see what I mean. Someone said to me the other day: "Well, you're eventually going to live until 110." And I said: "Well, who's going to keep me? What age do I retire? 100?" How are you going to live all those years and who is going to keep you doing it? I have a couple of grandchildren now so I'm banking on them.

Matt: Edward is a little boy with an obsession. As a young boy what was your obsession?

Sir Michael Caine: Funnily enough, my obsession was cinema. From the age of three we used to have the thrupenny rush on a Saturday morning, because there was no television. It was only kids and I was taken there by two older boys when I was three. The Lone Ranger came on and that's what I wanted to be - from them on I wanted to be a movie actor; not necessarily The Lone Ranger. But it didn't start quite like that. The film came on and everything went black and I suddenly realised that someone had thrown an overcoat from the balcony and it had gone straight over my head [laughs]. I'd never been to the cinema before, so I didn't quite know what was going on. Then there were punch-ups, and then I put my feet on the back of the row in front and pushed, and the row I was in went over backwards because the boys had taken the screws out of the floor! That was my first experience of motion pictures - rather frazzled - and it has remained like that ever since!

Matt: Taking the name of the film, do you think that there ‘is there anybody there’ in the after-life?

Sir Michael Caine: I'd dearly love to think that there is somebody there and I have a lot of back-up because my father was a Catholic, my mother was a Protestant, I was educated by Jews and now I'm married to a Muslim, so I won't lose out on a technicality.

Matt: If it happened one day, how do you think you'd fare in a retirement home like the one depicted in the film?

Sir Michael Caine: I'd probably own it.

Matt: Finally, when you do make the big leap into the blue yonder what do you want written on your stone?

Sir Michael Caine: See you later, no hurry!

Matt: Thanks for your time – it’s a great film.

Read Darkmatters review here

Friday, May 01, 2009

Darkmatters Review - X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (12a)

Dir. Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Rendition)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

My name is Logan but most people call me ‘Wolverine’, I have regenerative healing powers, animal strength / senses and some lethal retractable claws in my hands … This is the story of my pre X-men days and I'm coming for blood, no code of conduct, no law!

Erm, actually I’ve been asked to keep the rating of my film to a family friendly level so when I say ‘I’m coming for blood’, it might be more accurate to say ‘I’m coming to fight and you won’t see any blood’.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the much hyped prequel to the X-Men movie and it strives to tell us everything you might want to know about the charismatic, hairy and sharp clawed Wolverine (nicely reprised role by Hugh Jackman). If you’re an X-Fan, chances are that you’ll lap up the back story into the relationship between Wolverine and his nastier brother Victor ‘Sabretooth’ Creed (Liev Schreiber).

Director Gavin ‘Tsotsi’ Hood follows in the X-Format successfully established first by Bryan Singer with X-Men and X2 and then not quite as well by Brett Ratner with X-Men: The Last Stand. There’s plenty of mutant super-powered action, some of which is completely cool – witnessing Wolverine taking on a military attack helicopter and two hummers is the stand out scene.

"You get the point?"

X-Fanboys are well catered using the ‘Weapon X’ storyline from the comics to introduce numerous mutants, many of whom you’ll already know if you’ve seen the later films. This is both a blessing and a curse because it allows you to play ‘spot who’s going to make it to the end credits’ as new characters who aren’t in the other X-Men films are much less likely to survive.
My pick of the new heroes however is magical card throwing ‘Gambit’ (Taylor Kitsch), he’d be a prime candidate for another X-Men: Origins movie, although word is that baddie Magneto is up next in the queue.

Unfortunately, X-Men Origins: Wolverine struggles to maintain excitement levels throughout, and whilst the action scenes are generally good stuff, the filler exposition between them clogs up the running time and is unlikely to win any new X-converts.

As a fan of comic book movies, I certainly enjoyed Wolverine’s tale but when the sight of Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting together to defeat the ‘Sylar from Heroes’ alike Weapon XI in the finale leaves you a bit cold, you know that this is a bit of a missed opportunity.

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööö (7 - Not as cool as it should have been)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 8
Style 6
Babes 6
Comedy 5
Spiritual Enlightenment 4

Not convinced? check out this review of the film over at ScreenJabber - best line:

"I can already hear the hardcore comic-book fanboys bitching and moaning, complaining about such-and-such character being underused and not given enough screen time. Well, you know what? Boo-f**king-hoo. "