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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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Darkmatters Review: The Last Stand

The Last Stand (15)

Dir. Jee-woon Kim

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome to Sommerton, a sleepy little one-horse border town that is home to ageing Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Nothing much exciting happens here… until now… as it seems that evil crime cartel boss Cortez ((Eduardo ‘ Tesis’ Noriega) is on the run from the FBI in a suped up sports car, backed up by a small army and Sommerton will be the place where he attempts to cross over into Mexico. That leaves just Arnie in his way…

Slick Korean director Kim ‘I Saw The Devil’ Ji-woon goes for broke in The Last Stand – his English language debut, sticking to the tried and tested (and tired) goodies vs baddies plotline but amping up enough just tasty car and gun battle action to make this feel like a bona-fide ‘80s throwback…

"who are you callling old?"

Helping Owens defend his town / try to stop Cortez are a motley crew consisting of washed up army vet Frank Martinez (Rodrigo ‘soon to reprise his role as Xerxes in 300: Rise of an Empire) Santoro, loveable but disposable Deputy Jerry Bailey (Zach Gilford) and Lewis Dinkum (Johnny ‘JackAss’ Knoxville).

Token cute female goodie duty goes to Jamie ‘Thor’ Alexander who is balanced by double-crossing bad agent Christie (Christiana ‘Hollywood Whores’ Leucas). Also on hand is Forest Whitaker, over acting his heart out as FBI Agent Bannister – he gets some truly cringy dialogue such as “Great - we’ve got a psychopath in the Batmobile!”

Everything plods along in a build up to the frantic gunplay final showdown which is actually great fun and makes the film worth a watch. There is much tongue-in-cheek humour including standard après kill one liners which include a wonderful vigilant grandma!?

"not sure we have enough guns..."

I love Arnie – Terminator, Predator, Commando, True Lies, Conan The Barbarian, even Red Heat and The Running Man were campy fun… So it was a joy to see him kicking ass again, and in some style, Knoxville gives good goofy support and the Seven Samurai feel of the bunch of misfits trying to fight a heavily tooled up team of uber crooks is pleasing on many levels.

What was odd though was when it came to the inevitable one-on-one climactic fight I was actually worried for Schwarzenegger in the that he might do himself a mischief other than having his head kicked in – more like ‘ohhh mind your back Arnie – are you sure it’s a good idea to try n pick that baddie up?’ Talk about audience involvement!?

"nice sight"

The Last Stand is definitely worth a look for action flick fans and anyone who watched the classic Arnies of time gone by!

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

ööö - Stupid, trashy fun all the way

3 – Arnie is back, and still delivers

Awesomeness öööö – gunfights here are well erm 'executed'

Laughs ööö – some good one liners and generally humorous tone

Horror öö – not very nasty

Babes ööö – Alexander wears a good uniform

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - stand up for what's right!

"Jamie Alexander - undercover!?"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Lincoln

Lincoln (12)

Dir. Steven Spielberg

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“I am the president of the United States of America, clothed in immense power!”

It was 1865, ah, I remember it well… The American Civil War was moving towards its end and U.S. president Abraham ‘Honest Abe’ Lincoln (another brilliant turn from Daniel Day-Lewis) was endeavouring to get the landmark constitutional amendment which would forever ban slavery from the United States passed but it seemed an almost hopeless task.

Time was very much against him as it looked like peace may be brokered by the Southern States, and if it came before the amendment was passed, there would be time to have those same slave loving states veto it and stop it becoming law.

"no vampire hunting here"

It was down to Lincoln to walk a fine line – holding the peace delegation at arms length in secret whilst trying to get enough votes from Congress to get the amendment through. But at what cost would the potentially doomed amendment be heard? Would thousands more have to die in the bitter conflict or could one man make the difference and force his nation to confront its conscience and live with the consequences.

Lincoln is a powerful, epic and soul-searing dramatization of one of history’s most important men. The issue of slavery is one that has proved a rich mine of cinematic inspiration but whereas the recent Django Unchained tackles it all guns blazing and with tongue in cheek, Lincoln delves into the political battle for hearts and minds, moral dilemmas and crises of conscience.

"Assassins Creed What?"

Day-Lewis is mesmerizing in the lead – but the film packs quality actors in just about every role including John Hawkes and James Spader as lobbyists hired to try and ‘buy’ votes for the amendment by offering positions of authority, some great ‘boo, hiss’ Democrats who oppose the amendment – led by Fernando Wood (Lee Pace). Tommy Lee Jones is fantastic as the spirited Thaddeus Stevens whose deeply personal motivation to fight to end slavery becomes apparent at the end of the film.

Spielberg is a master craftsman and he plunges deep into Lincoln's tragic personal life and pulls no punches in exploring his marriage to the wife Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field), whose life was blighted by the death of their son Willie, who died of typhoid.

Everything works from the engaging dialogue and incredible cinematography through to the well judged pacing over the almost 3 hour running time.

History never looked so good as it does here and world-changing justice such as Lincoln achieved is well honoured with a truly epic film which deserves your attention.

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

öööö - supreme film making of an important life

4 – Spielberg makes amends for War Horse!?

Awesomeness öööö – jaw dropping acting all round

Laughs öö – hardly amusing but occasionally cracks a smile

Horror öö – some brutality and war scenes

Babes ö – not much eye-candy

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - our world will never be the same

"Mrs Lincoln"

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty (15)

Dir. Kathryn Bigelow

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“I'm going to smoke everyone involved in this op and then I'm going to kill Osama bin Laden.”

Saddle up for Kathryn ‘The Hurt Locker’ Bigelow’s heavy duty Homeland-esq dramatic retelling of the U.S. hunt for Osama bin Laden. The title comes from the military term for the time when the secret stealth choppers packed with heavily armed Seals took off for their strike on the fortified house where the world’s most wanted man was holed up - 30 minutes after midnight.

Zero Dark Thirty is a serious, gritty take on the story of what could be history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man. The cast includes an amazing lead performance from Jessica ‘Tree of Life’ Chastain as Maya – a CIA operative who dedicates years of her life to bringing Bin Laden down.

"double XP for whoever gets the kill"

Everything is presented in a dusty, hyper-realised intensity which makes for powerful watching even if much of the film is spent with deskbound research and meticulous following up of leads… Which is where the controversy around the film kicks in because most of the leads that the CIA have are sourced through torturing detainees at their various ‘black’ camps. Whatever your feelings towards al-Qaeda – on a purely human level it is very hard to see suspects being interrogated and waterboarded, beaten and humiliated. It is unflinching and grim business led by ‘specialist’ Dan (Jason Clarke) who tells one suspect “In the end, bro, everybody breaks…It’s biology.”

Most of the movie is build up, there is very little real ‘action’ as in gunfights etc, which means that by the time the actual ‘take down’ mission takes place you’re really ready for it. Watching the sleek stealth helicopters hug the contours of the Afghanistan landscape on their way into Pakistan – in the darkness, with only what the bosses describe as a ‘soft 60%’ chance that Laden is actually in the building they will hit is when the adrenalin kicks in. The fact that the commandos almost manage to fumble their mission despite all their bravado only makes it feel all the more ‘real’. It’s like playing Medal of Honor or Call of Duty on a PS3 – sharp visuals but not necessarily perfect execution (if you pardon the term in this context).

"team deathmatch"

Getting a ringside seat for the mission that took place in the early hours of 2 May 2011 – is the ultimate ‘money shot’ for most of the Western World, and Zero Dark Thirty delivers on that even if the buildup is slow and in some places less than compelling.

The internal battling between the CIA suits – embodied by Mark Strong who at one point yells “We are failing! Bring me people to kill!” is believable and the frustration felt by Maya that her superiors drag their feet at almost every turn is palpable.

Everything is well edited, and the camerawork is certainly worth taking a step back to admire. Whether or not this is trip you need to take depends entirely on your world-view and tolerance for nitty-gritty investigative procedural process.

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

öööö - extremely driven / obsession = payoff

4 – torture, pen pushing and black ops writ large

Awesomeness öööö – the final assault scene is mesmerising

Laughs öö – darkly amusing in places but no comedy!

Horror ööö – the torture is grim

Babes ööö – I have a lot of love for Jessica Chastain

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - "justice" but at what cost?

"Jessica Chastain - Off duty CIA?"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Django Unchained

Django Unchained (18)

Dir. Quentin Tarantino

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“He is a rambunctious sort, ain't he?"

Tarantino blasts back onto the big screen with a fast shooting, faster talking bountyhunter-em-up and shows that he’s lost none of his love for over the top violent spectacle.

This is the tale of Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who is freed by a German bounty hunter by the name of Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) so he can help him find some notorious high value wanted criminals. Django has the additional motivation that he wants to free his beloved slave wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from her evil plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio having a ball in a brilliantly slimy performance).

"The 'D' is silent!"

Candle is backed up by a grim assortment of scumbag lowlifes and his personal valet Stephen (Samuel L Jackson who also delivers another worthy role to his illustrious CV).

Foxx is excellent, all mean moody looks and cutting one-liners and there is real chemistry with Waltz as the twosome cut a swathe through the criminal underworld. Tarantino keeps the pace moving even if the film feels indulgent in places.

There are some great comedy scenes too including a superb mass argument between the members of a racist posse about the eyeholes in their makeshift bag masks that you’ll not forget.

The cinematography is excellent in the capable hands of Robert ‘Hugo’ Richardson, the scenery is gorgeously used to great effect too. You know going in to a Tarantino film that it will have a distinctive, film reference heavy vibe and this time the many Western genre staples that have been liberally sprinkled through his other films are given free reign in their ‘home’ setting of the prairies of pre-Civil War Southern America.

"look boy, this isn't Titanic"

Whipping up a storm on the issue of slavery and all the associated inhumane cruelty is uncomfortable to watch at times, but seeing the slave master villains brought low is something that everyone can certainly get behind. Django Unchained is a riot of quality gun slinging mixed with the trademark Tarantino banter. Sure the language is offensive and the violence bloody but the sheer energy of the filmmaking keeps you hooked even if not everything works.

Revelling in the themes of justice, friendship, trust and honour, this is a comprehensively entertaining adventure that will delight Tarantino fans and most likely win him some new ones too.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö - Payback has a new name

4 – Stylish, brutal and highly entertaining!

Awesomeness öööö – You'll dream a dream of quality production values!

Laughs öööö – laugh out loud funny in places

Horror ööö – gets a bit nasty

Babes ööö – Kerry Washington is lovely

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - they were bad men and deserved what was coming!

"miss Washington scrubs up well!"

Darkmatters Review: Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad (15)

Dir. Ruben 'Zombieland' Fleischer

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"Ya gotta die of somethin'..."

I love Ryan 'Drive' Gosling - he's gorgeous and cool and so watchable that even in a misfiring cliched gangster-em-up like Gangster Squad you can happily just sit back and enjoy being in his charismatic presence...

Fleischer is a director who had put out two great fun flicks (Zombieland and 30 Mins or Less) and so hopes were high for Gangster Squad which rocks a plot very similar to The Untouchables - which I love...
"nice dress - shame about the acting"

Gangster Squad does an adequate job, the action scenes are mildly exciting, the plot averagely engaging, the love interest (Emma Stone) reasonably hot - and of course there's Gosling but somehow the final product comes off as OK where it had the potential to be 'blow the doors off cool'.

Plot: Sean Penn hams it up as bad guy Mickey Cohen, Nick Nolte is decent police chief who recruits hard-but-heroic Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) to put together a crack team to take Cohen down. The team includes Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie) and Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi) plus others. Will the plucky 'untouchable' team take down the most powerful crime boss LA has ever seen? HHhhhhmmm....


Everything creaks along looking exceptionally stylish and cool, the cast go for broke but are hampered by a very hit-n-miss script. Some of the shoot outs work but unfortunately there is very little here that we haven't seen before and better.

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

ööö - Good looking but lacks soul

3 – no classic but enjoyable / forgettable

Awesomeness ööö – You'll dream a dream of quality production values!

Laughs öö – limited light relief

Horror öö – not very nasty
Babes ööö – Stone is hot

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Stand up for what you believe in, do not fall to corruption but just be warned that if you're a minor member of the team and have a family you probably won't survive!

"miss Stone reads the reviews..."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Darkmatters Hearts The 1975

THE 1975 - Matt Adcock's new favourite band!!

"Are these guys the new Carter USM?"

If you pick one new band to get into in 2013 - choose The 1975 - possibly the coolest new alternative rock band from Manchester, England. They are: Matthew Healy (vocals/guitar), Adam Hann (guitar), George Daniel (drums), and Ross MacDonald (bass).  

"echoes of Joy Division?"

"occasional colour shot!"

"Sex - The 1975 - a visual companion"
EP's so far...

1. Facedown: 

Stand out track - The City 
(hear it here: http://the1975.com/tagged/Facedown-EP#!/post/31753914131/t-h-e-c-i-t-y)

2. Sex:

Stand out track: Sex
(hear it here: http://soundcloud.com/the1975/sets/the-1975-sex-ep)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Les Misérables

Les Misérables (12a)

Dir. Tom Hooper

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

You’ve maybe seen the stage musical, you’ve almost certainly heard Susan Boyle’s version of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ but are you ready for a big screen, all singing, all A-list sing-em-up action drama?

Set in 19th-century France, this is the tale of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a good hearted man who is hunted throughout his life by a ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. Valjean has served 19 years hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving child so he’s not the worst criminal on the block…

Fate sees him cross paths with an unfortunate woman named Fantine (Anne Hathaway) whose daughter, Cosette (played first by Isabelle Allen and then Amanda Syfried) he agrees to look after. Will Valjean manage to stay free of the law to bring up Corsette? Will Corsette find love with revolutionary rich boy Marius (British actor Eddie Redmayne) and can such a tragic tale of love and loss become a feel good sing along classic?

"Catwoman and Wolverine - that's a movie I'd like to see!"

Les Misérables – the longest ever running musical stage show lends itself to becoming a rich and visually impressive movie. Buoyed by a strong cast of actors who can actually sing and an impressive eye for detail from director Tom ‘The King’s Speech’ Hooper (who has come a long way from directing Brit kids TV show Byker Grove), there is much to enjoy here.

As well as the cat and mouse chase dynamic at the heart of the tale, there is also some welcome comic relief from Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier and Helena Bonham Carter as his wife – the two reunited after both being in 2007’s Sweeney Todd.

"What big eyes you have..."

If you hate musicals then you will struggle and even if you don’t, the is never going to be a way to make sung dialogue acceptable in movies but for fans of the original, cough Tom ‘seen it 7 times’ Wade I’m talking about people like you, this version will send you home with a song in your heart and a desire to pick up the soundtrack album…

Epic in it’s own overblown way at almost 3 hours, for me the film would have been more satisfying if trimmed by ½ an hour to stop the plot flagging, especially near the end – a sort of ‘Less’ Misérables!?

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

öööö - Do you hear the (famous) people sing?

4 – Powerful, emotive and very long...

Awesomeness öööö – You'll dream a dream of quality production values!

Laughs ööö – some light relief amongst the gloom and loss

Horror öö – dirty French peasants a go go

Babes ööö – Syfried wields her pair of big eyes, plus Samantha Barks is yummy (below)

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!

Alternative review - try CULTURESLAP!!

"Samantha Barks - looks the part!"

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Texas Chainsaw 3D

Texas Chainsaw 3D (18)

Dir. John Luessenhop

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome back to Texas… Come, enjoy the scenery, meet the locals and their shiny power-tools – they are very keen to get acquainted with you…

So somebody, somewhere thought we needed another ‘sequel’ to Tobe Hooper's extremely influential and highly unnerving cult classic horror. Director John Luessenhop at least has the decency to recognise that none of the existing sequels (the comedy 'classic' part 2 notwithstanding), prequel effort, or the 2003 reboot were anything like as good as the original but has he made this 3D follow on a worthy successor?

In a word ‘no’… Texas Chainsaw 3D might have an opening credit sequence featuring some of the key ‘kills’ from the first film but alas this only proves to highlight the gulf in quality between the two. This brutal-but-dim cash in tells the tale of young Heather (Alexandra ‘Percy Jackson films’ Daddario) who inherits a huge Texan estate owing to her being a blood relative of the original chainsaw cannibal family —the infamous Sawyer clan.

"hey I like the house - wonder what's in the basement!?"

Heather though isn’t the only surviving Sawyer – chief chainsaw wielding, other people’s face wearing, murderous man-child Leatherface (this time played by Dan Yeager) is somehow living happily in the basement of the house she inherits. Because obviously it’s likely that a 6 foot 5 inch homicidal lunatic could live for 20 odd years undetected in his grandma’s house!?

Anyway, along with Heather the nubile teen victims include her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz), plus pals Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez). The plot goes into predictable teens die one after other mode and limps along unconvincingly. The unnecessary 3D is mostly used to show off the girls’ figures – literally some shots of dialogue are from behind a hotpant wearing Raymonde whose derriere fills the screen / or for stupid ‘it’s coming out the screen’ chainsaw shots.

After the hackneyed running around screaming / dying section the plot climaxes with redneck Mayor (Paul Rae) taking on Leatherface one on one and that’s where the plot tries for one last twist which asks us to root for the fabled baddie.

"he's behind you..."

Also it seems that filmmakers remaking or adding sequels to horror franchises should note: gruesomeness does not equal scariness – just saying.

Unfortunately not even cameos from the original Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and Chop Top (Bill Mosley) from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 can lift proceedings.

In the end this is one Chainsaw that should have been left in the packaging…

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

öö - squanders more horror fan goodwill

– not the sequel the original deserves

Awesomeness ööö – a few good moments

Laughs öö – dodgy acting provides some LOLs

Horror öööö – grissly and grim all over

Babes ööö – Daddario and Raymonde are kinda hot

Spiritual Enlightenment -öö - slaughter is not an acceptable hobby

"nice collection of chainsaws..."