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, December 30, 2010

Darkmatters Review: Gullivers Travels

Gulliver’s Travels (PG)

Dir. Rob Letterman

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Hear that rumbling, is it thunder, is it heavy traffic? No, that’s the

sound of Jonathan Swift (author of the original 18th century classic

novel) turning in his grave as Rob ‘Monsters and Aliens’ Letterman

brings a lumbering slapstick modern day adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels

to the big screen.

Jack Black stars in the title role as lardy loser Lemuel Gulliver a little

guy who's been underachieving all his life. Stuck in the same dead-end

corporate mailroom job for the last 10 years, Gulliver spends his time

pining for his sexy journalist boss Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet) but

lacking the balls to actually ask her out.

Everything changes when he inadvertently signs up to write a travel piece

for the newspaper about the Bermuda Triangle – and has to travel out

there for an ‘on the location’ report. No sooner has he set off when

Gulliver gets sucked into a weird whirlpool and wakes up in the land of

Lilliput where he’s a giant in size to the tiny Lilliudian natives.

After the iconic being roped down by teeny ropes and apparatus (probably

the biggest reference to the original tale) the story veers off into

movie, game and music nerd fanboy reference heaven.

Massive Gulliver proves his worth to his new insect sized hosts, after

initially imprisoning him for being a ‘beast’, by trashing an enemy

invasion force. Cue hero worship from the little people, who begin to

worship him – so Gulliver takes full advantage, getting them to build

him a luxury apartment, act out Star Wars plays for his amusement and

generally goof about (as Jack Black has been doing for his entire career).

Throw in a romantic subplot about commoner Horatio (Jason Segel) trying to

woo the lovely Princess Mary (Emily Blunt), and a standoff against uptight

Chris O'Dowd's General Edward which leads to an unlikely transformers

style smack down of giant chubby man versus giant mech armour machine.

Sure the special effects work well and everybody appears to be having a

good time – even though the plot criminally wastes its comic rich cast

who include Billy Connolly, James Corden and Catherine Tate. So for a film

that I was convinced would rocket straight into my top 5 worst films of

the year, this is actually a fun cheesy kids film that passes the time in

a not too offensive manner.

High praise huh!?

Not going to make my 'Top 10 Films of 2010' though

Darkmatters rating: öööööö (6 very big asses out of 10)

Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 6 / Style 6 / Babes 6 / Comedy 6 / Horror 3 / Spiritual Enlightenment -2

"Emily Blunt - a princess worth wooing!"

Nic Cage enters the 'Season of the Witch'

Season of the Witch

Darkmatters preview by Matt Adcock

This supernatural historic witch-em-up could either be a cool dark chiller or a hammy waste of space... Nic Cage stars as a 14th century Crusader who returns with his comrade (Ron Perlman) to a homeland devastated by the Black Plague. A beleaguered church, deeming sorcery the culprit of the plague, commands the two knights to transport an accused witch (Claire Foy) to a remote abbey, where monks will perform a ritual in hopes of ending the pestilence.

A priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), a grieving knight (Ulrich Thomsen), an itinerant swindler (Stephen Graham) and a headstrong youth who can only dream of becoming a knight (Robert Sheehan) join a mission troubled by mythically hostile wilderness and fierce contention over the fate of the girl...

Check out this trailer to see what you think:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Darkmatters Top 10 Films of 2010

Darkmatters - Matt Adcock's Top 10 Films of 2010

It’s been a good year for film – here are the ones that really counted!!

10. The American (15)
Adapted from a novel by Martin Booth, The American in question is George Clooney acting his manly eyebrows off in a dark role of a good hearted hit-man who wants to escape his violent life.

9. Let Me In (15)
Easily the best horror film of the year. Let Me In (a remake of the excellent ‘Let The Right One In’) does for vampires something that a million Twilights, True Bloods or Vampire Diaries can only hope to – it grips the very soul of the viewer and never lets go. Darkmatters Review

8. The Book of Eli (15)
Through a near future Mad Max style wasteland where law has collapsed comes a traveller by the name of Eli (Denzel Washington), carrying with him the very last copy of the Good Book. Cue quality violent heroics and possible salvation – all set against a fantastic bleached out cinematic vista. Darkmatters Review

7. Four Lions (15)
Four Lions is the darkest, bravest comedy of the year which will leave you dazed and confused, challenged and inspired. It’s a brilliant film that deserves to be seen – prepare to laugh, cry and wince, probably all at the same time!! Darkmatters Review

6. Toy Story 3 (PG)
2010 saw us go to infinity and beyond – one more time… And the animation genius’s at Disney / Pixar saved the best trip till last with this all age feel good artistic masterpiece. Darkmatters Review

5. Somewhere (15)
A hard-living Hollywood actor has to re-examine his life after his 11-year-old daughter surprises him with an extended visit. This is a gorgeous life changing film that really needs to be seen.

4. The Town (15)
Take a trip to The Town with Ben Affleck for a full on, nerve shredding cops and robbers romp, packing some seriously cool shoot-outs which even rival those of the crime epic Heat. Darkmatters Review

3. Scott Pilgrim vs The World (12)
Brit Director Edgar Wright does for romance, video games and super heroes what he did for zombie films with Shaun of the Dead and police action buddy films with Hot Fuzz. Prepare for a dazzling pop culture overload which rocks a cinematic endorphin buzz of pure fun. Darkmatters Review

2. KICK-ASS (15)
Speaking of kick ass action – Kick-Ass is a fantastic new breed of superhero movie, a twisted, action packed megaton of wanton comic book violence quite unlike anything you’ve seen. Darkmatters Review

1. Inception (12)
Inception was without doubt the most exciting, brain frying, pleasure-inducing film of 2010. You don’t need to enter anyone’s dreams to realise that director Christopher Nolan delivered a very cool mind twisting plot, awesome special effects and kick-ass action. Darkmatters Review

Previous lists:

Matt's Top 10 Films 2009

Matt's Top 10 Films 2008

Matt's Top 10 Films 2007

Matt's Top 10 Films 2006

Matt's Top 10 Films 2005

Matt's Top 10 Films 2004

Darkmatters hearts Yoostar 2

Here's Darkmatters hot tip for pure movie / game crossover fun for 2011:

Yoostar 2

Yoostar 2 allows you to 'enter' hundreds of famous movie scenes, record your performances, and upload them to impress your friends and family who can view and rate them online.

The magic is created via the Playstation Eye camera which allows Yoostar2 to produce Hollywood 'green- screen' style effects without having to turn your front room into a movie set with green screen backing.

I was dubious but after watching the trailer below (via IGN) it really looks like you'll be literally able to step into well-known movie scenes and 'be' your favourite actors / characters... I'm so going to 'be' KICK-ASS, Neo, Maverick and the Terminator for starters!?

Yoostar 2 has the potential to be the ultimate party game - featuring multiple gameplay modes, including a party mode that allows a group of players to perform in quick succession and a progression mode where players face a series of challenges and unlock new scenes.

The menus etc are controlled with the Playstation Move so this is just another reason to pick one up!!

Review HERE

Check out the official site HERE

Imagine finally getting to 'act' with Leia...

Random Princess Leia Appreciation

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Darkmattters Review: TRON Legacy

TRON: Legacy (PG)

Dir. Joseph Kosinski

Darkmatters Review by Matt Adcock

Welcome back to the ‘Grid’ – the digital frontier where clusters of information travelling through computers take the form of sky-running ships and’ light’ motorcycles. Circuits are the freeways and programmes exist as the populace of this fantastic digital world.

In 1982 the first ever human managed to enter the Grid – Arcade owner Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) crossed into the computer and fought for his life with the help of a rebel security programme ‘TRON’ (Bruce Boxleitner). Now almost 30 years later Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of Kevin is drawn into the Grid – where he aims to try and rescue his father. But things have changed in the digital realm, a rogue computer version of Flynn named ‘Clu’ has taken control and is running a dystopian state. Indeed it is he who has actually drawn Sam into his world with a view of using him to break out into our ‘real’ world and take over…

The original film TRON is widely remembered for being an innovative if cheesy sci-fi that set a new threshold for special effects and introduced the notion of gladiator battling with discs of light or fighting to the death (or de-resolution) on light-cycles which wove walls of light behind them. TRON: Legacy has its work cut out to up the effects ante again in this post AVATAR and Matrix cinematic world but amazingly the makers have managed to deliver something bold, unique and mesmerizingly new.

From the moment you see the stunning Quorra (Olivia Wilde) replete in a fetishist rubber combat suit pulsing with neon glow strips – who wouldn’t look out of place in one of the Matrix films – you know that you’re witnessing something very very cool. Everything has been seriously visually upgraded - TRON: Legacy is to the original TRON what the PlayStation 3 is to the ZX Spectrum. And that’s a good thing because whilst TRON: Legacy is awesomely flash, it is very hollow when it comes to the storyline. If you’re looking for anything meaningful of resonating this isn’t the movie for you.

Basically TRON: Legacy re- treads much of the same ‘battle to escape the Grid’ plot of the first film – just with different baddies (including a now evil TRON!?). But that doesn’t really matter when you’re caught up in the frantic battles, eye-melting visuals and pounding sonic soundtrack from Daft Punk (who also cameo).

TRON: Legacy succeeds in dragging the geek friendly franchise into the 21st Century – it’s a wild ride for sci-fi fans but probably won’t be remembered as fondly as the original.

Darkmatters rating: öööööööö (8 head tripping visual overloads out of 10)

Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 8 / Style 9 / Babes 8 / Comedy 6 / Horror 5 / Spiritual Enlightenment 5

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Darkmatters Review: Kung Fu Live

Kung Fu LIVE (PS3 Exclusive)

Developed by: Virtual Air Guitar Company

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

The PS3 is about to witness the birth of the ultimate warrior… As the Kung Fu Panda might say: “He’s so deadly, in fact, that his enemies go blind from over-exposure to pure awesomeness!”

Here’s an extraordinary idea… How about a console game where you are the controller? No joypads and not even a glowing MOVE controller? Why didn’t anybody think of this before?

Kung Fu LIVE is pure motion gaming awesomeness – the talented guys at Virtual Air Guitar Company have done something amazing utilising the PS Eye to kick the ass of Kinect and create the most fun you’ll have leaping around in front of your TV this year.

Prepare to put yourself inside a comic book scrolling beat-em-up – your real life kicks and punches are mapped to your on screen character. And here’s the best bit… The on screen character is you!?

OK so you’ll need some space to play this sucker – I’m talking about a good 7x9ft if possible (which it wasn’t in my lounge but I still managed it effectively with a bit of tinkering). You’ll also need to make sure that you stand out from the background and be sure to have good stable lighting conditions. Finally there is some calibrating to do – setting up your positions etc… It takes a couple of minutes but it really is worth it as when it all clicks Kung Fu LIVE is a megaton uppercut to the pleasure cortex which will leave you dizzy and reeling with satisfaction.

The main ‘campaign’ sees you playing through several comic book chapters, each of which has you posing for ‘action’ shots at the start, these shots then appear in comic book pages and they can be saved to your PS3 hard drive for viewing pleasure.

The PS Eye does an admirable job of tracking your kicks, punches and movements – which ramp up to pulling off special moves such as shooting lightening out of your hands and causing earthquakes with your ground pound slam. You can rack up some excellent combos and bring all sorts of devastation to your various enemies – which range from ink blob monsters through to henchmen and end of level bosses.

There is a fun multiplayer element too where you can fight up to four of your pals (who use DualShocks to control their ninja baddies). It’s a wild blast and it works a treat, even if there are occasions when the motion capture doesn’t pick up every little movement.

Finally there is a ‘Mayhem Designer’ option where you can design your own levels and pick which enemies you battle and for how long etc. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the tasty ‘use your own weapon’ bit where you can incorporate household objects into the mayhem – I found that my son’s lightsaber forged a fearsome weapon and looked excellent on screen!

Is Kung Fu LIVE perfect? No, it does have the occasional issue but overall it delivers something really really special – the chance to live out a superhero dream on your own TV in your own comic book… As Kick Ass said: “A**holes, laying into one guy while everybody else watches? And you wanna know what's wrong with me? Yeah, I'd rather die... so bring it on!!”

The future of gaming starts here and you don’t need to drop over a hundred bucks for the privilege…

Darkmatters rating: öööööööö (8 kung fu kicks out of 10)

Official site: http://www.kungfulivegame.com/home/
Not to be confused with Kung Fu Rider

Darkmatters Review: Open House

Open House (18)

Dir: Andrew Paquin

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

An ‘Open House’ is a house which is for sale and is open for inspection or tour by interested parties. But what if a psycho serial killer took the opportunity to sneak in while your house was being shown to prospective buyers? What if when the estate agent left, you were at the mercy of your unwanted new occupants?

This is the chilling premise for the nasty schlock-em-up ‘Open House’ from first time director Andrew ‘brother of Anna’ Paquin. Think minimalist horror in the vein of ‘Funny Games’ as viewers join the heinous David (Brian Geraghty) and Lila (Tricia Helfer) who take over the home of Alice (Rachel Blanchard).

David takes a bit of a shine to Alice though and so instead of chopping her to pulp – which is the fate of many other characters – she ends up being chained in the crawlspace and kept as a sort of pet. Although Alice’s being alive has to be kept a secret from the homicidal Lila because she wants to be the only woman in David’s life…
"David struggled to get people to watch him playing his Xbox Kinect"

Open House brings limited serial killer thrills with a few graphic knife murders which tip it into horror territory. Most of what happens you’ll see coming a mile off and whilst the cast do their best with the material - Anna Paquin pops up to support her director brother but she gets the chop pretty quick...

Of the killers, Lila is the more interesting - a hard-hearted killer babe who lures unsuspecting males to their death with her hot body. Overall there isn’t anything here that horror fans haven’t seen many times before in one guise of another and you’ll probably have forgotten this seconds after the credits role.

So no classic but watchable for some cheap n nasty thrills if that's what turns you on!?

Darkmatters rating: ööööö (5 psycho house-nabbers out of 10)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review - Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (PG)

Dir. Michael Apted

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“You have returned for a reason. Your adventure begins now...”

All aboard the fabled ‘Dawn Treader’ – the mighty battleship
captained by the valiant King Caspian (Ben Barnes) for a trip back to
Narnia. Following on a few years after Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawn
Treader sees the younger Pevensie children, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and
Lucy (Georgie Henley) transported back to the magical realm along with
their sniveling cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter).

Narnia is under threat again but this time not from an evil king intent on
battle or the wicked White Witch (although she does make a fun cameo
appearance). The danger this time is that a strange evil green mist is
devouring the populace – so the young heroes must confront various
challenges in order to retrieve seven magical swords and free the kingdom

With invisible giants (who might not be all they seem), vicious slave
traders and a climactic battle between a massive scary sea-serpent against
a golden dragon – there is plenty of action on offer. Lucy and Edmond
each have their characters tested as they face the temptations of being a
‘real man / real king’ – for weedy Edmond and of being ‘gorgeous
like her older sister’ – for buck toothed Lucy (who looks a lot like 'Mater' from Cars at times).
These trials add an extra dimension to the battling “for Narnia” and the not so hidden faith allegories which are present and correct as in the two previous films.

Anna Popplewell = What Lucy would like to be...

C.S Lewis’s imaginative third book is brought to impressive big screen
life, keeping up the high production values and slick special effects
heavy drama. The plot has been chopped and changed to make it all flow a
bit more easily and there are far more action scenes (which may not please
purist fans of the original text) but the end result is a rousing Narnian
romp that keeps the series rolling along nicely.

The character of Eustace adds some dry comedy to the mix whilst Caspian
reprises his requisite ‘hunky heart throb’ role. Talking mouse
Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg, replacing Eddie Izzard) returns, as does
the mighty God-Lion Aslan (still voiced by Liam Neeson).

The Narnia films offer quality child friendly fantasies which pack enough
thought provoking deeper messages to set them apart from the mass of brain
shrivelingly bad festive kiddie flicks. Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a
journey worth taking, although not necessarily in 3D which adds very
little except to the cost of viewing.

Darkmatters rating: ööööööö (7 nice fantasy voyages out of 10)

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

Alternative reading-

Darkmatters review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

Darkmatters review of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Dawn of the Voyage Treader WIKI

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Darkmatters hearts StarHawk (poss release date)


StarHawk adds the win to PS3 in 2011

Matt Adcock

StarHawk - the unofficially named sequel to WarHawk might just be hitting the UK in February if a post over at the mighty SIXTH AXIS (who got it from this source) is to be believed.

Darkmatters loves WarHawk - it has been one of the most played PS3 games in our household for years so the very possibility of playing a massive, multi-player space war made to the same gorgeously playable standards is a very exciting thought - even if the 04 Feb '11 date proves to be a fake, and please note that the artwork above is completely speculative... 

Seems that 2011 is going to be a monster year for PS3 owners - Mass Effect 2 (finally), then exclusives like: Killzone 3, Little Big Planet 2, The Agency, DC Universe Online, The Last Guardian, SOCOM 4, Resistance 3 and Twisted Metal to name but a few...

Back in the days of PS1 they used to say "Do not underestimate the power of PlayStation" - might be time to dust off that slogan again as with over 4 million MOVE controllers already out the door and funky 'Kung-Fu Live' which teaches the Kinect a thing or two about how to make a satisfying controller free game - without the Kinect! (review this week).

There has never been a better time to pick up a PS3!

ps3 move

Madchen Amick Sexy
"Madchen Amick - little known PS3 fan!"
Madchen Amick Sexy

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Buzz! The Ultimate Music Quiz

Buzz! The Ultimate Music Quiz (PS3)

Developed by SCEE / Relentless Software

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

The name’s Buzz! and I’m here to quiz you…

People say that I’m the smoothest Buzz-tard in town – and yes, when Buzz! is in the house, I’ll make your PS3 rock you up a quizz-tastic good time.

If you have a PS2, PSP or PS3, you’ve probably played a Buzz! game, and if you haven’t – you really should have because they are superb examples of quizzes with their own Buzz! buzzers to play with. The latest title, Buzz! The Ultimate Music Quiz, jumps into the era of the PlayStation Move controls on PS3 and is (if you’re slow on the uptake - a quiz video game about music!?).

Buzz! The Ultimate Music Quiz is now looking better than ever and the genius inclusion of support for PlayStation Move makes this the best Buzz! game yet. Everything is sparkly scrubbed up and generally improved – from the looks of the characters (Buzz himself – still Jason Donovan – looks less like a mutant cartoon and more like a proper host), whilst he studio glistens in high definition glory. Players can now photo and map their own face onto their Buzz! character, a bit like TV Superstars and record a custom buzzer sound which brings you closer to the action. You can still use the excellent custom questions made and uploaded by other players.

Basic gameplay sees any number (well up to four if you want to be picky) of players battling through quiz rounds such ‘Fastest Finger’ etc. New to the music quiz is ‘Twisted Tunes’ which is brilliant addition in the vein of a club singer distortion which you need to identify. Throw in some cool bursts of music videos and a decent range of questions either on wide topics like ‘No.1 Hits’ or more specialist topics like ‘Lady Gaga’.

"this is where you get to put your face on your players"

Bringing the PlayStation Move brings four bespoke rounds where you’ll use the controller to pick / smash answers, stab incorrect answers, pick up and slide answers to a bin or – my favourite - shoot the correct answer. It works really well and adds a new dimension to the whole Buzz! experience.

Buzz! The Ultimate Music Quiz takes what was already a great game and adds even more functionality and ‘bang’ for your buck. This is going to be the quiz you need this festive Season and music / trivia lovers will be well served with this slick and engaging game! Get your Move on and play this sucker!

Overall: Darkmatters rating: öööööööö (8 music 'moves' out of 10)

Monday, December 06, 2010

PS3 PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour Review

PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour (PS3 – Move controller compatible)

Developed by O-Games / Redoubt

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

As legendary darts commentator Sid Waddell once said: “The atmosphere is a cross between the Munich Beer Festival and the Coliseum when the Christians were on the menu.” Yes it’s PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour being played using the PlayStation Move motion control technology and it’s getting a bit tense…

I’m stepping up at the Oche, my PlayStation Move held like a ‘dart’, I aim at the treble twenty – I need this then double 17 to finish – there is an audible hush from the crowd (well my two sons and cat) as I let fly…
"Only the best looking men step up to the Oche"

PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour on PlayStation 3 is the nearest thing you’ll get to actually picking up some darts and throwing them towards a dartboard… The game is uncanny in accurately capturing your gestures and measures your throw – which means two things:

1. If you’re cack at darts in real life – you’ll be hopeless at it virtually


2. It’s a brilliant laugh when played against friends and family for bragging rights.

I’m told that professional darts players have a preferred land angle to their dart, which allows them to plan their shots to the board to allow the maximum possible room on the board for that third dart into the Treble Twenty zone – alas that doesn’t apply so much to me as I scored one 180 hand in all my review games!? You see PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour isn’t for noobs or the hand / eye uncoordinated (me). This game brings such a whole new level of realism to the PS3 that you almost expect to catch the whiff of beer and large men with moustaches coming from your sleek black games machine. Graphically – this is amazing, the glamorous dart venues such as Bolton are brought to high definition life whilst the facial hair and worry lines of the competitors are meticulously rendered. The darts themselves and the target board are crisp and detailed.

If the motion control of the Move is highlighting your weakness then you can still play with the trusty DualShock which uses a Tiger Woods style control stick back / forward flick that works nicely but doesn’t feel as ‘real’ as the Move.

PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour features international superstars like Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, James Wade, Mervyn King, Simon Whitlock and Jelle Klaasen – all packing detailed character models. You’d be right if you thought that this really is the definitive darts game for fans of the sport.

O-Games has also brought online 1-on-1 matches to the PlayStation 3, as well as PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour featuring a raft of downloadable content support on PSN: including new players, events and darting accessories.

"Leave it woman, I've got some darts to play!"

If darts is your thing you might want to check out how PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour is teaming up with PDC darts referee Russ Bray in a Facebook search for the public’s own interpretation of Bray’s famous ‘180!’ catchphrase. Entrants are encouraged to film a short video of themselves saying ‘180!’, and then share it with the official PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour community by uploading the video to the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pdcworldchampionshipdartsprotour  to win some prizes.

It takes a little practice but you’ll be taking part in tournaments, including the Grand Slam of Darts, a new fixture in the PDC events calendar in no time. The atmosphere is enhanced with the commentary from TV’s ‘Voice of Darts’ Sid Waddell and John Gwynne; top level match referees, Bruce Spendley and Russ Bray; and Master of Ceremonies, John McDonald.

Basically – if you want darts action without the actual darts – this should be your next purchase – I’ll see you online!

Overall: Darkmatters rating: ööööööö (7 top flight moves out of 10)

Darkmatters Review: Monsters

Monsters (12a)

Dir. Gareth Edwards

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

We are getting reports that a NASA probe carrying alien samples from Europa has crashed somewhere over Mexico… It seems that the resulting infection has led to massive squid like creatures running rampant – destroying everything in their path, leaving half the country needing to be quarantined. So by the looks of it, all that ‘We come in peace’ talk was complete rubbish.

Monsters sees a young couple having to make the hazardous trek through the alien infested ‘Infected Zone’, risking their lives to try and get back to the US after becoming stranded in South America. Photo-journalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) makes a living getting shots of the aliens and the death and devastation they cause. He gets lumbered with having to babysit his boss’s daughter - engaged American tourist Sam Wynden (Whitney Able) and escort her safely back to the US border… But as she’s a blonde hottie, he starts to develop feelings for her, as is only natural when at any moment you could be eaten by giant extra-terrestrials.

Director Gareth Edwards makes his debut with this cool indie sci-fi creature feature which delivers not only the freaky sci-fi ‘Monsters’ of the title but also an impressive human emotional payload. On the surface Monsters sounds a lot like the recent ‘Skyline’ – a film made on a shoestring budget by film makers who have cut their teeth in special effects development. Both films deliver on the effects but where Skyline failed with weak plot and hammy acting, Monsters delivers by sucking you in with believable characters and a compelling story of likeable people, falling for each other whilst in peril.

McNairy and Able make a cute, believable couple (which isn’t so surprising when you realise that they were dating whilst making the film and are now married). The ‘Monsters’ are fascinating too – even though we rarely get to see too much of them apart from a few key attacks and bold alien mating sequence.

The atmosphere of sustained menace makes up for the slow pace, Monsters is a film to savour and the not so hidden subtext about the US heavy handed attitude to the aliens adds plenty to ponder after the end credits.
"Whitney Able models the latest fashion!?"

Monsters could well gate crash many sci-fi fans top ten films of the year and proves that creativity can win over budget restrictions. After the spectacular but overblown AVATAR, Monsters is a refreshing alternative that gets inside your head and wreaks some pleasing destruction. Recommend viewing.


The alien monsters from Monsters are rounded up and pitted against the mutant alien beasties from Skyline - for a 'winner takes all' smackdown...

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

 öööö (4 freaky alien monsters a go go)

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

Sunday, December 05, 2010

SingStar Dance PS3

SingStar Dance PS3

Developed by Sony London Studio

Published by Sony

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Gamers have different needs, some have to be shooting stuff (see Call of Duty or Killzone), others aren’t happy unless they’re burning along at over 200mph (see Darkmatters' Gran Turismo 5 review)… Then there are those who feel the need to dance and they can ‘Just Dance’ on the Wii, fling some controller less moves on ‘Dance Central’ on the Xbox and now get their groove on with SingStar Dance on the mighty PS3 - thanks to Sony’s excellent ‘Move’ controller.

Yep ever since the dance mat powered games hit the PS2 there has been an appetite for dance-related gaming, but up until now none of the offerings have successfully combined AAA karaoke with the ability to get jiggy in front of your console…

SingStar Dance changes all this and follows in the ‘we’ve got a fantastic product so let’s expand it’ thinking of SingStar Guitar by putting a Move controller in your hand and letting you dance your ass off, either while singing at the same time, just watching the original music video (with added dancing characters on the side for you to copy) or get down with your friends or family singing along to the words…

"Now you can 'pull a Britney'"

As the name suggests, singing is still the main business here and for the nice price of under £15 SingStar Dance (providing you’re already packing a Move controller - sold separately) and the new addition is the ability to score points by pulling off some moves. The singing is still absolutely boss, there isn’t a singing game that can hold a candle to SingStar – especially with its awesome SingStore that puts thousands of original song videos at your download finger tips in seconds, plus the brilliant chance to check out other players videos and vote on them – so things like the famous ‘dancing Wookie’ can get to number one in the chart!? There are other SingStar niceties like voice control of menus (which came before any of the competition did this) and quality wireless mics.

SingStar Dance keeps the mechanics nice and easy to follow – the video and lyrics play as always but now on the right hand side funky dancers appear which you have to mimic. The moves go from wiggles, waves, twists and all manner of variations – some easier than others. Of course you can see yourself performing instead of the original video if you fancy and if you do the Move controller even sparkles like a firework erm ‘sparkler’ when you play watching yourself dance with the PS Eye. You score points for how well you perform and it can be very satisfying to nail a perfect set of combos – especially if you’re attempting to sing at the same time!

Everything is very nicely presented, the menus are a dream to navigate (which makes this a much easier game to use in the party setting than the fiddly Kinect dance games) and you can even take requests and download the selected track (for a small price) so you’re not limited to the selection on the disc. There is also the option to watch back and edit the video of your dancing efforts before unleashing your amazing moves online for the wider community to vote on…

The track listing on the disc is diverse and includes Bye Bye Bye from N Sync, Shut Up by Black Eyed Peas, That’s the Way (I Like It) by KC & The Sunshine Band and more recent hits like Poker Face from Lady Gaga, or Don’t Cha from The Pussycat Dolls.

SingStar is the household name for music gaming on the PlayStation platforms and perhaps the ultimate ‘party game’. By Adding Dance to the mix it feels that Singstar evolves into a ‘must have’ for anyone who’s ever sung along to a track and wondered what they’d look like getting down to it too… The party season this Christmas is going to be fun!

Overall: Darkmatters rating: öööööööö (8 smooth moves out of 10)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Darkmatters Review: Unstoppable

unstoppable sex bomb
Unstoppable (12a)

Dir. Tony Scott

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Attention travellers we are sorry to announce that the train on platform 3 is unmanned, out of control and carrying a dangerous payload of highly explosive chemicals. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause but hey, let’s look on the bright side, it makes for awesome cinema!!
Nobody does macho action films quite like Tony ‘Top Gun’ Scott and Unstoppable sees the high velocity loving director let loose with a massive train set, backed up with helicopters, cop cars and explosions – lots of explosions… Denzel Washington brings his class to the lead role of Frank – a world weary engineer tasked with training newbie conductor Will (Chris ‘Kirk from Star Trek’ Pine) who is having women trouble.

These two decent chaps get caught up in this "inspired by true events" tale where an unmanned runaway train is out of control in southern Pennsylvania and threatening to derail in a highly populated area – killing thousands.

The simple ‘men versus machine’ plot serves the film well and allows for lots of macho posturing as the train bosses fret over how much their stocks will be hit if the train crashes while the heroic dynamic duo frantically try and bring the beast of the train under control.

It couldn’t be more formulaic but Scott knows how to build up the suspense and uses his whizz bang filming style to frame the speeding unmanned locomotive 777 as some kind of evil entity hungry for destruction.

"The chance would be a fine thing - given the delays facing UK commuters at the moment"

Train control room operator Connie (Rosario Dawson) is on hand to fret as the runaway train finds itself on a head to head course with various hazards including a trainload of innocent schoolchildren… You couldn’t make this stuff up… The supporting cast include Frank’s two unfeasibly attractive daughters who happen to work in ‘Hooters’ which gives them an excuse to spend the whole film in hot pants and tight t-shirts whilst looking concerned at the news coverage of their brave dad. Not to be outdone though Will has a smokin’ hot blonde wife who’s unhappy with him do to his suspecting her of infidelity – although maybe his ‘day-saving’ actions might win her round?

Unstoppable sure is stupid and shallow but it is also, unbelievably, the most fun you’re likely to have in the cinema this autumn. With dialogue like: “This is Will Coalson your conductor speaking, we are gonna run this bitch down.”

All aboard for a pleasingly edge of your seat white knuckle ride - book your tickets ASAP and hold on tight!


The Road Train from 'Road Train' turns up and goes head to head with the 777 from Unstoppable in the ultimate game of 'chicken' not realising that there's no way the 777 can turn off the tracks!? It gets very messy!

Darkmatters rating: öööööööö (8 unstoppable sex machines out of 10)

Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 8 / Style 7 / Babes 7 / Comedy 6 / Horror / Spiritual Enlightenment 2

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gran Turismo 5 - Darkmatters Review

Gran Turismo 5
Gran Turismo 5 – PS3

Developed by Polyphony Digital

Published by Sony

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

You see the corner closing rapidly as the scenery blurs past at blinding speed. You take your foot off the throttle and slam on the brakes. The G-Force from the deceleration immediately dominates your senses – the tyres scream out as if in pain as they battle for grip on the road surface. You’ve picked your racing line and aim for the sweet spot of the corner – the point where centrifugal and cornering forces reach their equilibrium – where all there is left is pure acceleration… This is the essence of Gran Turismo 5, this is the ‘Real Driving Simulator’…

OK so GT5 is finally here. Over five years of painstaking development time, delayed so often that it made grown men weep with anticipation as the hype reached proportions that made Halo look ‘meh’. Having sold over 56 million units worldwide, the award-winning Gran Turismo franchise is regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulator ever created due to its true-to-life graphics, authentic physics technology and design. Since the inception of the Gran Turismo franchise, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital have pretty much revolutionised the racing category as we know it today. GT games bring the most realistic driving simulation you can find on a console and give a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products. So, with much pressure comes much responsibility for Polyphony Digital to deliver the ultimate racing sim and with so many preorders expectation is running at an all-time high…

Gran Turismo 5

And now we have it so is it any good?

I can still remember the first time I played Gran Turismo – on my brother in-law’s original PlayStation circa 1997. I had a Sega Saturn and was mid-way through telling him how much better Daytona USA was than anything on the Sony machine when he loaded it up. In the next few hours everything changed… I loved it, but then my first word was ‘car’ – not ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ but ‘car’!?

When Gran Turismo made the jump to PS2, I was there straight away and likewise I was at the midnight launch of Gran Turismo 5 where I won a Signature Edition of the game – the omens were good!

Gran Turismo 5
"yeah - that's my copy..."

First things first then, Gran Turismo 5 is an astonishing achievement – (un)charting new territories in visual wonder, the new ‘premium’ cars are shiny models that could make even the most car adverse person drool in awe. Taking these babies for a spin through some of the greatest cities in the world is an experience which will flood you with auto-endorphins as streetlights or sunlight (depending on the time of day) reflect off the polished sheen of your automobile. Alas not all the 1000+ cars are built to this level of jaw-dropping detail. There are many ‘ported’ cars from GT4 and you can add more from the PSP version – these cars are ok but stand out miles compared to the premium ones in terms of graphical fidelity.

But looks aren’t everything and even the most eye-popping visuals can’t make up for shoddy gameplay. Fortunately Gran Turismo 5 keeps the ‘tried and tested’ gameplay that has served the series so well up until now and upgrades the wealth of options to a point unmatched by any other console racing title.

Gran Turismo 5
Hungry to jump into a performance care straight away? Head for the ‘Arcade mode’ which is ready and waiting to entertain. If however you’re keen to work through the fabled GT Career - which is like a car based RPG - then you’ll get to earn your licences, build up cash and experience points through racing to unlock / buy better cars.

The GT5 physics engine is crazy realistic, there is a real feeling that each car is handling as you’d expect it to in real life which is much more noticeable than in the arcade flavoured games such as Need for Speed where each car is basically just either a faster or slower model with essentially very similar handling.

So it looks great and plays beautifully (and is a dream if you invest in a decent steering wheel controller) but there are some tasty new elements added this time too. First up is car damage – a feature never before allowed in the world of Gran Turismo due to real world manufacturers not really wanted people seeing their cars mangled in such explicit detail. GT5 brings the damage, which is great on the premium cars and not even really noticeable on the standard ones. It may affect your driving style though when you see the prices of repairs after a heavy bout of paint trading with opponents!?

The online portion has been upgraded – and although the servers are struggling at the moment with the Call of Duty levels of people trying to get onto them – the racing in multiplayer sessions is fun. Sixteen people can race against each other and there are multiple options for setting up your own challenges etc. Speaking of setting up your own things – GT5 has a track builder which allows you design your own course and then race them.

Gran Turismo 5

Another ‘oohhh that’s nice’ feature is using the PS Eye camera to play with ‘head tracking’ which lets you look around when using the cockpit view… And if that wasn’t enough there is also the option to play in stunning 3D – I got to play a rally stage in 3D at Sony Betarooms Event and it really does add something special to the driving experience (although not special enough for my wife to countenance us upgrading to a 3D TV at home!?).

The feeling of burning around the Top Gear Test Track one minute, then drafting behind your opponent in a tense NASCAR showdown the next before going on to rain drenched F1 race is amazing. As is the satisfaction of tuning and building up your own garage of cars, photographing them and re-watching your spectacular saved films of your greatest victories…

Is Gran Turismo 5 perfect? Not quite – there have been many reviewers out there getting hung up on ‘odd looking shadows’ or moaning about the standard cars… But to be critical of Gran Turismo 5’s small issues is to miss the overall point, kind of like refusing to go out with a supermodel because she has odd toenail…
GT5 is an awesome game, it stands head and shoulders above any other racing game on the market and should be top of every car / racing game fan’s Christmas list.

Overall: Darkmatters rating: öööööööööö (10 car porn experiences out of 10)

"If GT5 was a girl - it would probably be Amber Heard!"

Is it real or is it GT5??