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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Darkmatters does Blood the Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire 2000 – anime (15)

Dir. Hiroyuki Kitakubo

Blood: The Last Vampire 2009 – ‘real skin’ (18)

Dir. Chris Nahon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“You Asshole! Don't ever piss her off again! As far as we know, she's the only remaining original!”

This is a quote from the anime version of Blood: The Last Vampire (which I have owned on DVD since it came out and thought it was time to give it a re-view as I caught the new live action version at the weekend)… The quote works as advice to Chris ‘Kiss of the Dragon’ Nahon too and fortunately he’s heeded the warning as his film is a great reworking / companion piece to the anime.

Basically in both films Blood: The Last Vampire tells the tale of Saya – half-human, half-demon, all schoolgirl. This ancient immortal (who still looks like a typical 15 year old due to unexplained lack of aging) is from a bloodline of demon / vampire hunters. Needless to say that Saya is the last of her kind – duh – the clue is in the title... Saya (Gianna Jun) is more than a Japanese jailbait ass kicker, she wields a magically enhanced sword which can cleave demon vampires right in two… and she wears a sailor girl uniform whilst killing lots of bad-ass-baddies.

Saya works for The Council – no, not Luton Borough Council (been there, done that) but a shadowy organisation that employs her to hunt demons. The new film is a period piece circa 1970 but the original anime seemed more present day – judging from the military hardware on display.
Another difference is that in the feature film there is a main story arc about an ancient demon known as ‘Onigen’ (Koyuki). Bothe film open with the same scene – a subway ‘hit’ where Saya takes out a vampire and gets questioned by her superiors because the perp looks just like a normal guy… But instead of being reprimanded, Saya is sent undercover to an American military airbase in Tokyo to investigate possible demon assisted deaths there.

Here the films diverge in that in the anime Saya saves a chubby teacher and fights monsters just on the base. In the new film Saya save teenage hottie Alice McKee - spoilt daughter of the base's commanding officer – who happens to be martial arts trained too, so in effect a much more agreeable sidekick.
Bill Kong, producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero worked on the 2009 adaptation of Blood: The Last Vampire and the fights are pleasingly stylish and brutal affairs even if all the blood that gets spilt is CGI – with an almost cartoony element to it.
This dodgy use of CGI in the new film is entirely at odds with the original anime which boasted some of the best computer generated artwork ever… (which was noted by James Cameron).

So how did I rate the two Blood: The Last Vampires?

Here you go:

Blood: The Last Vampire 2000 – anime (15)

Earns an arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööööö (7 – great visuals and fun plot but only 45mins long!)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 7
Style 9
Babes 6
Comedy 4
Horror 7
Spiritual Enlightenment 3

Blood: The Last Vampire 2009 (18)

Earns an arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 – expanded on the original, just sit back and enjoy, don’t worry about the dodgy effects!)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 8
Style 8
Babes 8
Comedy 5
Horror 7
Spiritual Enlightenment 4

"Gianna Jun - in 'non vampire' alter ego"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Darkmatters Review - Year One

Year One (12a)

Dir. Harold Ramis

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

ONE WORD SUMMATION: Weak-idol-offerings

Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to witness some comic tales from the bible’s Old Testament… The not so reverend Harold Ramis will conduct the lessons, mostly from Genesis, all of which feature two lesser known bible characters – Zed (Jack ‘Neverending Story III’ Black) and Oh (Michael ‘Juno’ Cera). These two loser primitives take low brow comedy to uncharted new unfunny depths, which is unforgivable given the potential Year One had to be a classic ‘prequel’ to Life of Brian.

As a bible reading Christian, I was amused at the depictions of the Old Testament characters – such as Adam (Ramis himself) and his sons Cain and Able - that original brotherly relationship that didn’t go so well. The sight seeing jaunt through Genesis also means we also get to meet Abraham (Hank Azaria), visit the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and witness the eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Some might be offended by the hit and miss fun being poked at the biblical characters, I was more offended by just how few laughs there were throughout. Year One limps along in a series of skits, resorting to toilet humour often when the script fails to be funny. Jack Black – who I’m sure used to be funny – plays his usual over the top persona which we’ve seen a million times now, whilst some credit must go to Michael Cera whose droll straight man act at least allows him to walk away from this car wreck with some dignity.
Love interests for the two heroes come in the shapely forms of Maya (June Diane Raphael) and Eema (Juno ‘Atonement’ Temple) but they are given little to do except be sold into slavery at every turn. The patchy supporting cast also includes ‘rent a hard man’ Vinnie Jones as Sodom ‘s head of security and a creepy High Priest (Oliver Platt) who takes a bit of an unhealthy shine to Oh.

"This is about as deep as Year One gets..."

There have been less funny ‘comedy’ films but I’m struggling to think of one this year, especially after The Hangover which was just excellent. On the strength of this Ramis should forget about ancient history and bring back Ghostbusters (he wrote the latest PS3 videogame version which is great fun and shows that he’s not completely lost his touch).
Alas, if you want a religious based laugh-a-thon then you’d be better served by The Da Vinci Code which is a comedy riot compared to Year One.

Not convinced? check out this mini review of the film over at FilmJerk.com:

"'Year One' is not quite the death of comedy, but it tries for a cartwheeling tone of irreverence and buffoonery that doesn’t quite fit in with today’s presentations of irony and sarcasm, and lacks the crisp, filling writing of yesteryear. There’s barely more than a few laughs during the entire film, but I suppose there should be some appreciation offered for even attempting an expansive giggle melee such as this. And then a character decides to eat a piece of poop. And then 'Year One' becomes an inexcusable misfire from a group of professionals who really should’ve known better.”

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: ööööö (5 - patchy and weak despite great premise and cast)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 6
Style 6
Babes 6
Comedy 6
Horror 4
Spiritual Enlightenment -5

Darkmatters DVD Review - Ben X

Ben X (15)

Dir. Nic Balthazar

Reviewed by Matt Adcock


“Courage is everything.”

Want to play a game? Ever fancied being the strapping hero in a far off realm? Fighting for justice, saving the day and getting the girl… The opportunities are many if you sign up for games like Archlord but alas not always so easy in the real world – especially if you have Asperger syndrome - an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and people with it therefore show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with stereotypes and other restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests…

Welcome to the world of Ben X, a debut feature developed by Nic Balthazar from his own novel. The titular ‘Ben’ (newcomer Greg Timmermans) is a young guy with problems – not only does he suffer from autism which makes him pretty much unable to function socially, Ben is also on the receiving end of some vicious bullying and feeling helpless to know what to do.

What he does is to become Ben X, a level 80 warrior in the online realm of Archlord which he plays every day – and through which he has developed his only ‘friend’ another player, a female healer babe character, who goes by the name of Scarlite (Laura Verlinden). In a surprising and fairly unbelievable plot twist, Scarlite in the real world isn’t a pervy 40 something year old nonce seeking jailbait on the web – no she’s a teenager who might just hold the path to salvation for tragic Ben. Ben X plays out well even whipping in some Sigur Ros soundtrack at the end.

This film also rips real emotion from the viewer with its clever interspersed interview footage of Ben’s parents, teachers and doctors. Plus superb game footage from Archlord which turns this into a pseudo fantasy film and amps up the watchability considerably for game fans. As someone who was bullied myself at school, I related to the real heartfelt authenticity at work in this film – and can only hope the muted American remake keeps this throughout.

So the plot builds to a palpable sense of dread, you just know that something bad is going to happen. And I’m not gonna spoil it for you as if you’re looking for an engaging and curious slice of teen angst from a different perspective… step up for Ben X.

Not convinced? check out this mini review of the film over at Screenjabber:

"Ben X is an audacious debut from writer/director Balthazar. Said to be based on a true story, it began life as a book, then a play and now it's being remade (again by Balthazar) for Hollywood. More an examination of bullying in school than of autism, it's an emotional rollercoaster ride that leaves the viewer quite drained.”

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööööö (8 - you say it best, when you say nothing at all)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:

Action 6
Style 8
Babes 6
Comedy 4
Horror 6
Spiritual Enlightenment 5

"Is that a +10 powersword in you pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Alice In Wonderland - Tim Burton brings the madness...

'Mia Wasikowska - fresh from Defiance, enters the rabbit hole'

Alice In Wonderland - Tim Burton brings the madness...

New images from next year's Alice reworking are all over the net but they're so good I just had to share them here too...

Really excited about this one.

'Helena Bonham Carter does the Red Queen'

'Wonderland's guardians... Also known as Matt Lucas'

'Johnny Depp... the Manson of Mad Hatters'


Monday, June 22, 2009

Darkmatters Review - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (12a)

Dir. Michael Bay

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (in Luton with my sons aged 8 & 12 - who loved this film big time)

Strap in for the biggest, loudest action overload of the summer… The heavy metal Transformers are back and this time the heroic Autobots have got to stop the evil Decepticons destroying our sun (the ball of gas not the newspaper).

You might be surprised if I told you that ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a subtle, gently nuanced film full of real human emotion and poignancy’ – actually I’d be surprised if I told you that too because nothing could be further from the truth.

Michael ‘Transformers and Bad Boys’ Bay subscribes to the filmmaking ethos of ‘Let’s blow up as much as we can and make the destruction look as good as possible’… He also seems to have a bit of a military fetish going on – never before have so many G.I.’ s been made to look so macho and patriotic, nobody does military hardware silhouetted against sunsets or explosions quite as well as this chap… It almost made me want to sign up for a tour of duty

Also in a Bay film, every single character has to have ‘hot moment’ where the camera pans around them slowly as they look earnestly into the middle distance. In the case of returning love interest Michaela (supernova hot Megan Fox) or new evil love interest rival Alice (unfeasibly attractive Isabel Lucas) – that’s not actually such a bad thing.

The main stars here though are the robots – brought to shiny, intricate life once again by the genius special effects teams of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen really does up the ante as to just what is possible to achieve on screen. The humans led by Sam (Shia ‘new Indiana Jones’ LaBeouf) run around getting in the way of the metal marvels whose clashes are suitably epic. One thing though, the robots aren’t that bright – summed up when new Autobots ‘Skids and Mudflap’ explain that they can’t actually read…

There is a plot of sorts but it really doesn’t need explaining, all you really need to know in order to appreciate this film is that thinking about it will only spoil it. There may never be a bigger, stupider or better looking summer blockbuster on planet earth… Although given the colossal amount of cash this is likely to make, the chances are that this won’t be the last time we see Optimus Prime and pals strutting their CGI stuff on the big screen. Good news for action loving filmgoers as long as you can unplug your brain before witnessing it.

Darkmatters Rating out of 5: öööö (4 - so wrong it's right!)

Darkmatters quick reference guide:
Action 4
Style 4
Comedy 3
Horror 4
Spiritual Enlightenment -2

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

"Technoarmybabble talk scenes ‘Get the F17 to BRING THE RAIN in quadrant 17 of the T12’s white zero fly by in ZXA altitude…’ Am I boring you yet? Seriously, I’ve not left the cinema this angry for a long long time. Yes I know it’s a film about fighting robots blah blah blah – but that’s no excuse for self indulgent bloated work that my nephew could write in his sleep
No matter what I say you’ll either still go see it, or would have already seen it. if you’ve already witnessed it – I share your anger and pain. If you haven’ yet, go wonder into your local hospital and try and catch swine flu. I promise it’ll be time better spent.

And Matt Adcock – I know you loved this. But you’re wrong"

Read the Darkmatters review of the original Transformers HERE

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Punisher: War Zone

Be warned - The Punisher is being unleashed...

Punisher: War Zone is out to buy on Blu-ray, DVD and UMD Video on 22 June, 2009 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Adapted from the popular Marvel comic, former FBI agent turned vigilante The Punisher pulls no punches in this action-packed sequel starring hard man actor Ray Stevenson and British heart throb and star of TV’s “The Wire” Dominic West.

Click below to see what all the fuss is about: