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, May 28, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Fast & Furious 6

Fast & Furious 6 (12a)

Dir. Justin Lin

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (read another version of this review over at the Bedfordshire Times & Citizen)

“Ride or die, remember?”

Fast Five back in 2011 was a crazy, jump-start for this auto-action franchise that was in danger of running out of gas.

Now the series blasts back and instead of miss firing, Fast & Furious 6 (yes with the ‘& Furious’ reinstated) sees loveable street racers Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), plus their pals Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Han (Sung Kang) and Tej (Ludacris) getting in over their heads - again.

"is it s bird? is it a plane?"

Director Justin ‘Community’ Lin somehow manages to create a plot that allows for the vehicular warfare to go further over the top than anything we’ve seen on a big screen before. It revolves around the ‘Fast’ gang – who are now fugitives living the high life after their successful Rio heist of Fast 5, being recalled by hard ass cop Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to help him take down a new threat in the form of Shaw (Luke ‘The new Crow’ Evans).

It seems that evil Shaw, working with a gang of nasty mercenary drivers is stealing parts to construct a super weapon, which would be worth over a billion dollars, by attacking military convoys. He only needs one more part and so Hobbs and his new partner Riley (Gina Carano) are desperate enough to offer full pardons to Dom and crew if they can help nail Shaw – and save the world.

"mmmm shiny"

Cue high speed chases, tons of auto-destruction – some involving a battle tank on a Spanish motorway and ending with a climax that would have been at home in a Die Hard movie…

The action globe hops round the world with segments in the U.S., London, Spain and Tokyo – each is well used and as a Brit it was especially cool to see the London scenes, although the good ol’ UK coppers aren’t any match for the hotshot street racers or their new enemies.

The car action is what has always been the beating heart of the ‘Fast & Furious’ films and it pays off again here although it does mean that the ‘acting’ has to take a back seat to modified vehicles going incredibly fast and crashing. There is an awkward subplot about Dom trying to win back the heart of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) who was though to have been killed in an earlier film but who survived, lost her memory and is now working for the bad guys.

"Battle cars anyone?"

So sure, it’s nonsense but it is highly entertaining nitrous fuelled nonsense and certainly keeps the series’ engine revving nicely!

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


(3.5 - Solid and lots of fun - who'd have thought!? )...

Awesomeness öööö – fast and furious action? oh yes...

Laughs öö –  funny in places but don't take it seriously

Horror ö – crunching fights but nothing too grim

Babes ööö – Elsa Pataky, Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano plus eye-candy street racer crowds

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – not much

"premier fun"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Terraria

Terraria (PS3)

Developed By: 505 Games

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"Can you dig it?"

Something evil lurks underground… Only you can dig to victory!!

It’s time to grab some tools and go to work!

Terraria was a superb PC sandbox game of epic proportions – like a funky 2D version of Minecraft where you can make weapons, craft useful items and fight off a variety of enemies as you dig deep underground to find accessories, money, and other useful things, gather wood, stone, ores, and other resources to create everything you need to make the world your own and defend it.

Now the mining / building / crafting fun comes to the PlayStation 3 (and the VITA later this year) and the good news is that it has been upgraded and works even better than it did before!

There is real joy in building yourself a house, upgrading it with some defences so it can be a castle – make it large enough and NPC people will move in to live there and perhaps even sell you different wares to assist you on your journey.

"Yes you can create a great home..."

The real challenges awaiting you are endless... How much time do you have and are you up to the task?

If you’ve played Minecraft you’ll have some idea about what to do except this is all in 2D, reminiscent of Classic Spectrum games like Manic Miner or Jet Set Willy. Terraria is much more of an RPG than Minecraft as you dig to find better items to make better weapons and take on better enemies allowing you to go further get better weapons etc.

One point of note – if you jump straight in to Terraria without consulting the various online guides and wiki you might not do so great… It really is worth reading some stuff before playing the game as there are many things to take in and the more you know the more fun you’ll have!

The worlds are randomly generated and in Terraria the weapons are also placed randomly so exploring is a must. Forging your own armour from items dropped by enemies is satisfying and finding the right ore to craft something very tasty is what will keep you digging late into the night.

Terraria is different at heart to Minecraft so don’t write it off as a ‘me too’ effort. This is an addictive, wonderful game that will give back many hundreds of hours of fun.

"How geeky are you? There are limitless possibilities"

The console version works a treat on the controller - I was a bit worried that it wouldn't be as easy to fight and mine without the mouse to click but if anything the PS3 DualShock (more accurate than the Xbox360 controller) actually becomes second nature very quickly and I find it easier to use...

Other enhancements include enemies now packing life bars over them and a host of small innovative improvements to the inventory system etc.

There is also the genius of online play - teaming up with some mates is a brilliant way to spend an evening.

Terraria is a highly recommended addition to any gamers inventory.

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

ööööö Dig for glory my friends

5 –  as the incredible PWEI once said… ‘Can you dig it? HELL YEAH!’ 

"Deathnote fans are known to play Terraria!?"

Darkmatters Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (12a)

Dir. Baz Luhrmann

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past….”

Buckle up for a lavish and stylish new big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's much-loved novel from Baz ‘Moulin Rouge’ Luhrmann. Meet wide-eyed Midwesterner Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who finds himself lured into the decadently over the top world of his glamorous and mysterious neighbour, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The tale is told from Carraway’s recollections about his time spent in the heady summer of 1922, when he catches up with his beautiful cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), and her husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton). Daisy turns out to have had a romantic attachment to enigmatic Gatsby and Carraway finds himself being befriended by the smooth, confident millionaire who wants to win Daisy’s heart back.

"smug much?"

But this isn’t your standard love story drama – there is an inherent danger lurking under the surface here and there will certainly be tragedy as well as romance before the credits role.

Everything looks incredible – the screen sizzles with a sheen of pizazz the like of which has not been seen before. The cars are shiny powerhouses, the men dandy super manicured icons and the woman are gorgeous foxes across the board. Luhrmann updates the original jazz soundtrack with hip-hop thanks to producer Shawn 'Jay Z' Carter and the more contemporary vibe works well.

The supporting roles of Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), George Wilson (Jason Clarke) and his saucy wife, Myrtle (Isla Fisher) all do their parts well and drive the plot along.

"In order of coolness..."

So is this Gatsby a roaring success?

Well yes and no – on the plus side it’s a visually lush cinematic experience and the performance of DiCaprio stands out as one of his best ever. Mulligan is gorgeous and brings plenty of va va voom to the role of Daisy – she has some of the best eyes to get lost in ever!? And as I said, the music and overall style is superb.

Less good is the unnecessary 3D, which adds nothing but extra price to the cinema ticket. Tobey Maguire is an absolute waste of space too - with his stock range of 3 faces including his very annoying bug eyed / amazed look... There is also an overall feeling of shallowness that prevents you ever getting quite as emotionally involved in the drama as might have made this a classic.

So maybe not The ‘Great’ Gatsby in the end but perhaps The ‘Cool’ Gatsby? Still worth checking!

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

ööö1/2  - Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope 

3.5 – Fantastic in parts, slightly unsatisfying as a whole

Awesomeness öööö – amazing partying

Laughs öö – amusing as opposed to hilarious

Horror ö  – mildly grim, not much to worry you except a couple of violent scenes

Babes öööö – Mulligan is an all time beauty

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - the wages of sin...

"Mulligan in my fav film Drive"

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Soul Sacrifice

Soul Sacrifice (PS Vita)

Developed by: Marvelous AQL / Sony Entertainment

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Will you save or sacrifice your mortally wounded enemies?

That’s the crux of this superb Monster-Hunter-em-up for the PSVITA…

As a kick-ass sorcerer who can wield a crazy array of battle magic, it still comes down to ‘what sort of person do you want to be’ in the end.

You see having smashed an enemy to the point of submission you then have the power to sacrifice them and drain their magical energy for yourself (this leads to the dark path) or save them and boost your life force – and thus be a ‘good guy’.

It is rare to see a compelling new Triple A title burst onto the gaming scene – especially on the VITA which has been collecting a lot of indie games and PS3 / 3DS ports but only a handful of really ‘must have’ exclusives to date. But Sony are masters of creating new I.P.s and Soul Sacrifice is a ready made battle adventure that will eat up your life with its addictive monster slaying (both as a single player campaign or with pals in multiplayer).

The plot sees you start the game in a grim prison made of wood and bone – with only a strange talking sentient book for company – it’s name is ‘Librom’ and he is the place where you’ll find missions to play through and the backstories about the fantastical beasties hidden in it’s pages. The gameplay is very ‘jump straight in and figure it out on the fly’ with six magical powers to use from the start – you can see three at a time and jump between the two banks of them with the right trigger. The combat system is a lot of fun to use – experimenting with eh various ranged and close attacks, weapons, shields, abilities to morph into other forms and more…

"big battles are standard"

The leveling up system is linked to the whole save / sacrifice mechanic. It’s not just enemies that you sacrifice either – when playing with an ally you can sacrifice them or save them too – either to give them life-points back or unleash a devastating attack on all enemies. If you or an ally is sacrificed you can still ‘watch’ the rest of the fight in spirit mode boosting allies or weaken enemies but not actually attacking. The magical powers each have a limited number of uses before they break and can’t be recharged but they can be repaired using Librom's own ‘tears’, which you can evoke by talking to the book and wiping his face (sounds a bit odd but it kind of works).

There is lots to do – hundreds of powers to obtain and enhance by combining them / mixing elements to create a new customized weapons. In addition you get the chance to customize your arm – opening up slots to add new skills and this is made even more complex by super powered sacrificial powers that you can equip and use when near death – but they require you to ‘give’ something in order to use them – so rip off your skin to summon a fire giant or pluck out an eyeball to send a cloud of bomb like eyes at the enemies… But beware as you’ll have to fight without your limbs given up from then on (although Librom can help you rebuild yourself after battles).

Sacrificing part of your own body is known as using a ‘forbidden spell’ but it can be very addictive trying out differing attacks and reaping the rewards of risking yourself. The menagerie of enemies is a real strong point of Soul Sacrifice which has a fantastic design look, feel and unique takes on traditional creatures – such as goblins which are super sized mutated rats etc.

"leather look"

The graphics are far far in advance of anything you’ll see on a 3DS, and the special effects of your magical weapons are slick. Everything works really well, the menus, animated pages of the book, soundtrack and weapon creating are all very slick. Creating and customizing your sorcerer is a satisfying gaming experience – then of course you can take your character online where the multiplayer fights are really fun too – and playing with friends is a rush over the rock solid connection that the free PlayStation Network allows.

Soul Sacrifice is a quality game which can provide a ton of addictive battling, it can be rewarding to leap in for a 5 minute blast but beware, you may well find it will keep you coming back for ‘one more battle’ until you have lost hours. Add to this ongoing support of downloadable content with new missions and equipment and this is a game that no Vita owner should be without!

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

öööö - worth an arm and a leg!

4 – Super magical battle hunting fun 

"Cos play inspired - convert your Mortal Kombat outfits today!"

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness (12)

Dir. J. J. Abrams

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“You think your world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace. For I have returned, to have my vengeance!”

It’s a good feeling when you see a sequel that delivers on the promise of the first film – especially when it’s a rebooted series… But Star Trek Into Darkness under the expert direction of J. J. ‘next up will be Star Wars Episode VII’ Abrams is a joy to behold for Trekkies and fans of quality cinema thrills alike.

Into Darkness picks up straight from the end of the 2009 Star Trek that successfully reengineered whole cinematic presence of the starship USS Enterprise and her crew led by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris ‘soon to be the new Jack Ryan’ Pine).

Darkness however lives up to its name in that it brings a new level of threat in the swathe and menacing form of Khan (Benedict ‘Sherlock from TV’ Cumberbatch) – an enigmatic agent of mass destruction with a hidden agenda.

"bad, ass"

The plot involves the good guys Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quint), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) desperately trying to halt Khan’s seemingly unstoppable campaign of terror from which is targeting Starfleet. The rapport of the Enterprise crew is a winning one which helps gloss over the occasion plot hole – along with copious amounts of lens flair.

Captain Kirk is picked to lead a dangerous manhunt into a war-zone to try and capture Khan – easier said than done considering he’s one-man weapon of mass destruction. It makes for an exciting rollercoaster ride that sees the Enterprise out maneuvered and out gunned. Is this the premature end to their potential new long running franchise? If you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know to expect serious potential losses…

"bad times"

Into Darkness brings lots of fan references including stuff only Trekkies will really ‘get’ like a Tribble being experimented on but also some upgraded visual effects and iconic new technology. Alive Eve is also on hand to catch the eye (and Kirk’s attention) as the new crewmember Dr. Carol Marcus.

This is a great movie that continues the series in fine style, it also bodes well for the planned Star Wars VII as Abrams is clearly at home with sci-fi adventure.

I highly recommend that you boldly go and see Star Trek: Into Darkness…

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

öööö - Delivers the sci-fi Trek you want!

4 – if earth burns, it won't be without a fight!

Awesomeness öööö – tasty action scenese

Laughs öö – plenty of laughs

Horror öö  – not very nast, but tense!

Babes öööö – Eve is hot,  Saldana too

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - boldly go!!

"Oh Captain..."

Friday, May 10, 2013

The World's End TRAILER / Anticipation

The World's End... is coming

Matt Adcock is excited!!

In The World's End, 20 years after attempting an epic pub crawl, five childhood friends reunite when one of them becomes hellbent on trying the drinking marathon again. They are convinced to stage an encore by mate Gary King (Simon Pegg), a 40-year-old man trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, who drags his reluctant pals to their hometown and once again attempts to reach the fabled pub - The World's End. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realise the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind's. Reaching The World's End is the least of their worries.

Now witness the trailer...

"Rosamund Pike" 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Dead Man Down

Dead Man Down (15)

Dir. Niels Arden Oplev

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

- you can read a version of this review over at THE LUTON NEWS

“They killed my wife. They killed my daughter. They should have made sure they killed me too.”

If you’re in the mood for a dark crime revenge thriller from the maker of the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, then Dead Man Down is an interesting oddity that delivers enough to make it worth a look.

"Farrell and the she dragon"

Meet Victor (Colin ‘Seven Psychopaths’ Farrell), a small-time gang member who has a dark reason for signing up with the crime empire run by scary kingpin Alphonse (Terrence ‘Red Tails’ Howard).

Victor, you see, is a man on a revenge mission and he means to have payback for the killing of his wife and child by taking down those responsible from the inside of their shady operation.

His plan is somewhat complicated when he crosses paths with Beatrice (Noomi ‘Prometheus’ Rapace), a strange young woman with terrible facial scarring who lives across from him. It seems that she seen something that Victor would rather she had not, and now he must do something for her which also involves revenge.

"Blood demands blood..."

Dead Man Down looks superb. The cinematography is far better than you’d expect for a film part- funded by WWE Studios, who normally make terrible movies involving at least one of their former grunt and gurn wrestling stars.

I’m guessing that the main reason the film works so well is that director Opley brings his bleak-infused Nordic edge to the party. It might not have the same cult following as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but it does have a similar aura.

The central relationship between Victor and Beatrice keeps you hooked through the fairly standard crime drama plot. Farrell and Rapace generate some good chemistry and the supporting cast work well, especially Dominic Cooper as Darcy, Victor’s only real friend in the gang, who might just be the biggest threat to his plan.

If there’s anything that doesn’t quite work it’s the semi-comedy role of French actress Isabelle Huppert as Beatrice’s mother Valentin, all nudge nudge, wink wink encouragement for the two leads to get together.

"oh wait, that was the other film..."

The trailer for Dead Man Down shows off pretty much all the action scenes.

They are good but you shouldn’t go in expecting a gung-ho Die Hard shoot-em-up.

Rather this will leave you thinking dark thoughts about how far people will go to avenge wrongs and, despite the large body-count, there is a deeper level of emotion being effectively tapped here.

"Blatant 'Driver' rip off foreign poster"

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

ööö - dark and dangerous thirlls

3 – the girl with the dragon on her face?

Awesomeness ööö – some good action and lots of contemplation

Laughs öö – lacking laughs even when trying to be funny

Horror öööö  – some bits are overly nasty

Babes ööö – Rapace is hot under her disfigured make up

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - revenge won't heal you

"Rapace, needs new jeans"