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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Monday, September 30, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Prisoners

Prisoners (15)

Dir. Denis Villeneuve

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (read another version of this review in the Bedford Times & Citizen)

“Someone has to make him talk or they're gonna die!”

Welcome to every parents worst nightmare – Prisoners is a nail biting abduct-em-up thriller that sees average American family man Keller Dover (Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman) trying to deal with the kidnap of his young daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and her pal Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons).

When a massive police hunt locates a dodgy looking RV that had been parked in Keller’s neighbourhood – it falls to Detective Loki (Jake ‘End of Watch’ Gyllenhaal) to take the RV's driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano) into custody. But with no actual evidence, the police have to release Alex – even though Keller is convinced that he knows where the girls and is the only link to saving them.

"happy families - but not for long..."

Frustrated and angry, Keller abducts Alex and imprisons him an abandoned, run-down apartment building, then with the reluctant help of Joy's father, Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), they torture Alex for days trying to get him to confess.

The tension ramps up furher when Dt Loki confronts another suspect named Bob Taylor (David Dastmalchian) who has no children but seems to be buying kids clothes each week. Taylor’s house is covered in drawings of intricate mazes, there are also freaky locked crates filled with maze books, snakes, and bloody children's clothing… But does this mean that Keller is torturing an innocent man?

"friend or foe?"

As the clock ticks down – Keller becomes even more desperate whilst Dt Loki has to sift through the various clues. Throw into the mix a possibly dodgy vicar who has a dead body hidden in his basement and Alex’s creepy aunt and you have all the ingredients for a classy, hard-hitting mystery.

Villeneuve proves to be a cool, calm calculating director who has an uncanny knack for wrong footing you with bursts of menace that punctuate the race against time desperate plot. Cleverly intertwining elements such as the destructive nature of guilt, the compulsion of vigilantism, the need for penance and a father’s desire for vengeance – Prisoners will take you captive with its fevered subversive world-views.

"kids today eh?"

The cinematography is spot on, the plot twists and turns nicely and Jackman eats up the scenery in the lead role with a deliciously unhinged performance. Be warned too that Prisoners ends with one of the biggest unresolved climaxes ever – so you’ll be walking away contemplating just what might have happened next…

Good luck sleeping afterwards…

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


(4 - prime suspect for a decent thriller!)...

Awesomeness öööö – grim but good

Laughs ö – not funny

Horror ööö – quite nasty in places

Babes ö – nope

Spiritual Enlightenment öö – how far do you go for justice?

"Maria Bello - is one of the concerned mummies"

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Darkmatters Review: RIPD

R.I.P.D. (12)

Dir. Robert Schwentke

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (read another version of this review over at The Bucks Herald)

“They look like regular people, but they're monsters inside. You see, if you slip through the cracks, and stay on Earth after you die, your soul rots. They rot, the world rots. Global warming, black plague, bad cell reception – the dead are responsible.”

Imagine the situation – you’ve just died (having been shot in the face by your supposed best friend / cop partner) and find yourself ascending through the sky to the afterlife. But before you hit the pearly gates you are whisked into an sterile white office where a stern faced woman named Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise ‘Saved!’ Parker). It turns out that she’s the director of the Boston division of the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) - an specialist afterlife agency that recruits deceased police officers to capture "Deados", spirits that failed to cross over and return to Earth as monstrous ghosts.

You don’t need to imagine it though because this is exactly what happens to Detectives Nick Walker (Ryan ‘Green Lantern’ Reynolds) who is double crossed and killed by his partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin ‘I sold my soul to EE advertising’ Bacon) over some stolen gold they found during a drug bust.

"do you feel lucky punk?"

As he’s a little worried that he might make it into eternal paradise thanks to some of his dodgy dealings on earth, Nick agrees to join the R.I.P.D. after Proctor explains that service can potentially make up for a negative final judgment and it’s ‘only’ for a century of work.

Nick gets saddled with a grizzled partner, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff ‘True Grit’ Bridges), an ex-U.S. Marshal who lived in the 1800s – who has closure issues thanks to his body having been ravaged by coyotes.

"so I'll sign you up for a 5 year mobile phone contract yeah?"

From then on it’s like a kind of mash up of Ghostbusters, Men In Black and Lethal Weapon – except that R.I.P.D. isn’t even half as good as any of those… Based on a comic book by Rest in Peace Department by Peter M. Lenkov – alas R.I.P.D. doesn’t work very well on the big screen.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with R.I.P.D. – there are some good funny moments, often based around the duo’s altered perceptions… Nick appears as an elderly Chinese man (James Hong), whereas Roy's is a very sexy blonde Russian woman (Marisa Miller). But the action is weak and the tone wildly uneven, with very adult jokes thrown in to this ‘12’ cert film that the trailers make look like a family action romp.

"the whiskered arm of the afterlife law"

R.I.P.D. is destined to be forgotten quickly despite it’s great cast and fun premise…

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


(2.5 - average ghostbusting lawbringing)...

Awesomeness ööö – occasional good stuff

Laughs öö – comedy but not enough funnies

Horror öö – nothing too grim

Babes ööö – Marisa Miller is hot

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – bank your eternal life credit now!

"she really wanted to catch the bus..."

"Marisa Miller brings the looks"

Monday, September 16, 2013

Darkmatters Review: RUSH

RUSH (15)

Dir. Ron Howard

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (another version of this review can be read at the Milton Keynes Citizen)

“Everyone’s driven by something…”

Vroom vroom – buckle up for some seriously entertaining race drama action from two-time Academy Award winner Ron ‘A Beautiful Mind’ Howard. Rush, is a full on spectacular big-screen re-creation of the bitter rivalry between pretty boy English F1 driver James Hunt (Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda. (Daniel ‘Inglourious Basterds’ Brühl).

You don’t have to be a fan of Formula One to enjoy this fast and furious, action-drama powered not just by the nail-biting racing as by the sexy crackling charisma of Hemsworth who is on top form as Hunt. He is ably backed up by Brühl who is all icy discipline as Austrian perfectionist Lauda., Hunt’s nemesis on the Grand Prix racetrack.

"Things that make you go 'Vroom!'"

Howard directs the film with style and heart, bringing to life the ’70s, which was arguably the most glamorous and dangerous age of Formula 1 racing.

Rush really lives up to its name covering the exhilarating true story of how two people pushed themselves to the very edge of physical and psychological endurance in their desire to win.

Everything works to deliver a superb viewing experience. The racing action rivals the excellent Senna for the title of most edge-of-your-seat cinematic on track thrills. Whilst the personal lives of the two drivers are fascinating as their sheer opposite lifestyles offer insights into the driving styles of these two legends of F1 history.

"See you on the track..."

There are some great dialogue lines – enough funnies to make you laugh out loud in places, too. The many love interests of Hunt bring a James Bond-esq playboy element too even though the main females of the film Olivia ‘TRON: Legacy’ Wilde and Alexandra ‘The Reader’ Maria Lara play second fiddle to the two men who eat up the screen with their fierce rivalry.

Rush packs real emotion too – especially in dealing with Lauda’s near death crash, which sidelined him for many races and gave Hunt the chance to wrestle the title from his grasp. Both men are flawed but the actors manage to have you empathize with them – all the while leaving you astounded that this is a true story.

For sheer visceral racing thrills there is nothing else out there to touch Rush and it is definitely a film that deserves to be seen on the big screen. You can almost smell the ‘70s cologne alongside the engine fumes and burnt rubber!?

"Hunt 'and friends' at the races"

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


(4 - You'll feel the need, the need for speed)...

Awesomeness öööö – racing has rarely ever looked so good

Laughs öö – some very funny scenes but not a comedy

Horror öö – the crash is a bit nasty

Babes ööö – Hunt is a lady's man...

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – being driven can get you results...

A friend asked how he might tempt his wife to go see RUSH with him - well all I can offer is this gif of a shirtless Hemsworth:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Killzone Mercenary

Killzone Mercenary (PSVITA)

Developed by Guerrilla Games Cambridge

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"My People, sons and daughters of Helghan! On this day, as our enemy's ships burn away in orbit, as their bodies lie broken in our streets, we are once again reminded of the depths of their depravity. For years we have suffered unbearable hardships - such as Call of Duty: Declassified and to a lesser extent Resistance: Burning Skies... But now we banish these mediocre FPS games from our minds. Yes they scarred us, they weakened us... But that time has passed. For years we worked away on empty stomachs, slowly rebuilding our strength, our pride and our VITA! And from this day, till the end of days... KILLZONE MERCENARY will rule!"

It's time people, picking up just after the ending of the original Killzone, and revisiting many of the events from the Killzone trilogy, this new hand-held shooter par excellence puts you in the boots of a highly skilled mercenary Arran Danner - a former UCA-soldier who has no qualms about taking on paid contracts from the ISA as well as the Helghast.

"Bring the pain to the enemy"

When a seemingly routine mission to evacuate the Vektan Ambassador and his family in Pyrrhus goes awry, Danner discovers that the outcome of the war could very well depend on the fate of the Ambassador’s young son. With both sides going through increasingly desperate lengths to get hold of the boy, he begins to wonder whether the price of victory is really worth the paycheck...

Saddle up for some sweet run and gun gameplay of the quality first-person shooter kind - finally a portable shooter that delivers a solid single-player campaign and even better - a kick ass multiplayer mode.

Is this the killer app that Sony fans have waited for?

In a word 'yes'!!

"some new friends to play with / kill"

Guerrilla Games Cambridge created a mini masterpiece on the PSVita- somehow managing to get the Killzone 3 engine to run on the hand-held at an impressive rate and with some delicious graphics.

Mercenary makes great use of the Vita's dual analogue stick controls - it feels immediately like playing a home console - just with some added touchscreen melee options which really immerse you in the action. Other touchscreen uses include some mini game hacking sessions which will test your brain power.

"there's a price on my head..."

This time you get to play through a decent campaign not as ISA but fighting alongside Helghast and ISA depending on the mission. You're given freedom to work out how you want to tackle each mission - building up experience, buying new weapons and equipment to refine your loadouts to suit you style of play.

Always the aim is to carry out your contract but there are things to collect hidden on each level and a ton of stuff to unlock through actions such as nailing headshots, carrying out brutal melee kills or just successful hacking and scavenging ammo.

Multiplayer is a blast - you will bring your experience and load outs into the online battle - plus there is a fun 'valour card' system which sees you gain a higher card for better play - and allows you to pick up and loot the cards of the fallen to add to your collection / experience total. It's a great dynamic that sees you eagerly hunting down online foes to build your collection.

"you won't believe the graphics are on a hand-held"

Overall - Killzone Mercenary is a 'must have' for any FPS fan, or just any gamer who enjoys a quality game. Online and offline there is plenty to do and of course there is likely to be DLC in the future. 

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
ööööö - awesome and worth investing in... this bodes incredibly well for playing KILLONE: SHADOWFALL remotely on the VITA!!

"Just don't take it too seriously!"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Darkmatters Review: About Time

About Time (12a)

Dir. Richard Curtis

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (read another version of this review over at: The Bucks Herald

Time travel – the ultimate ‘wish fulfillment’. What would you do if you could jump through time to any point in your life? Fame, fortune, love, surely iall there for the taking, even just going back and changing those mistakes that haunt you…

"not the Game of Thrones Red Wedding"

This time jumping is the fun plot device that elevates Richard ‘Love Actually’ Curtis’s latest love-em-up romantic comedy About Time.

The Dr Who alike in question here is young Tim Lake (Domhnall ‘Dredd’ Gleeson) a ginger haired lovesick chap who is told by his dad (Bill Nighy) on his 21st Birthday that he – like all the men in his family – can travel in time...

"sister (l) and potential girlfriend (r)"

What’s a guy to do upon hearing news like that? Well Tim goes straight back in time on a mission to get himself a girlfriend! Sadly, even with time jumping abilities it isn’t easy as you might think.

First striking out with the stunning Charlotte (Margot Robbie) who’s a friend of his kooky sister (Lydia Wilson). Then whilst in London trainings a lawyer, Tim finally meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). A fate would have it Tim and Mary fall in love, but Tim manages to unwittingly delete having met her with an unfortunate time-travel incident.

"nice onsies"

There’s a lot of fun in watching Tim use his time jump powers to track down and woo Mary again-and-again – think a romantic Groundhog Day with extra smaltzy cheese. And then just when you’re in the thick of the budding romance Curtis sucker punches you with some heavy-duty emotional material. My lovely wife was in tears by the end credits but she wasn’t alone, About Time should come with a warning that it may well leave you aching for the chance to jump back and spend some extra time those loved ones you’ve lost!?

This is definitely a cut above the standard rom-com fair. All the cast goes about the romantic business with gusto and Tim makes for a winning bumbling hero to root for (he’s a kind of Hugh Grant lite).

About Time has characters that are well written and developed, a fun sense of humour and crunching emotional impact. I went into this on a date night with fairly low expectations but came out having really enjoyed a romantic time travelling treat, which I have no qualms in recommending to you!

"father son bonding at its best"

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


(4 - sci-fi romance of the year)...

Awesomeness öööö – heartbreaking emotional pull

Laughs ööö – plenty of funnies too

Horror ö – not too grim

Babes ööö – robbie and wilson and mcadams!

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – time is valuable!!

"Margot Robbie"

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Darkmatters Review: 2 Guns

2 Guns (15)

Dir. Baltasar ' Contraband' Kormákur

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

"You're my people and we have a code. You fight for the guy that's fighting next to you."

Meet Robert 'Bobby' Trench (Denzil Washington), an undercover DEA agent who has gone so deep in with the criminals that he's practically one of them...

Then there's Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) who's a sharp shooting Navy Special Forces operative who is trying to bring down a heavyweight scumbag...

Put them together and let the good times roll as they rob a bank (inadvertently stealing over $40 million of the CIA's cash) and that's when things go really nuts.

"guns and money"

Step forward big bad drug lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) who Trench is trying to set up by engineering a large cocaine deal and convict him. Greco is a nasty piece of work - he keeps the heads of traitors in bowling ball bags, has his men pass the time by shooting the heads off chickens and generally enjoys a spot of torture when not pushing drugs.

Can the two heroes work together a take on not just the might of the drug cartel but also a shady CIA hit team and a corrupt unit of Navy Seals? It's an absolute blast finding out!!

2 Guns delivers some of most fun action I've witnessed on screen this year - the chemistry between the two leads is palpable and it seems like director Kormákur has learnt well from his previous effort Contraband and is now very happy throwing quality action scenes at the viewer.

Sure it's a bit violent and yes the plot takes a few highly unlikely turns but overall 2 Guns is a must see for action lovers.

"Meet the monster robbers"

If you like the film (and I've a feeling you will) - then you might want to pick up the graphic novel too upon which the film is based.

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


(4 - Best buddy action movie of the year)...

Awesomeness öööö – shoot outs, chases, fights - all classy

Laughs ööö – funny enough to make you smile throughout!

Horror ööö – gets a little nasty at times

Babes ööö – Paula Patton looks fine

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö – fight for what's right, punish the wicked

"Paula Patton brings the sizzle"

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Darkmatters Review: Pain & Gain

Pain & Gain (15)

Dir. Michael Bay

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“My name is Daniel Lugo, and I believe in fitness. All this began because it was time to push myself harder, otherwise I was looking at another forty years wearing sweatpants to work...”

Saddle up for an incredibly over-the-top overload of violent misdemeanours and insane criminal schemes, all wrapped in a stylish Michael Bay visual explosion that will drag you by the eyeballs through a most unpleasant true story…

"oh dear"

It’s 1994 and Danny Lugo (Mark ‘2 Guns’ Wahlberg) is a steroid-pumping trainer at the Miami Sun Gym. He’s got a killer body but he’s not content with his lot in life and feels that the American dream is passing him by.

One day, inspired by a motivational seminar given by Johnny Wu (Ken ‘Community’ Jeong) Lugo decides to take matters into his own hands and devises a plan to get rich quick. His ticket to the easy life is to kidnap one his wealthy gym clients who has connections in many dodgy areas. So before you can say ‘that’s really not a good idea’

Danny has rounded up pals – fellow trainer Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and born-again Christian ex-con Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson). The three hapless wannabe crims abduct Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) – and more by luck than judgement – after an extended month of inexpert torture and extortion manage to get him to sign over all this worldly assets to them.

"Yes - it's a Michael Bay film..."

But perhaps the American Dream isn’t for those who haven’t the brains to make a decent fist of it and Pain & Gain soon becomes a worrying cautionary tale which scrapes the dark underbelly of the U.S. Murder, injury, insanity, flow through this extreme black comedy which pulls the rug from under you just you’re laughing along with some crunching ultra-violence.

Pain & Gain sure isn’t subtle (it’s a Michael Bay film after all) but it is a ‘you cannot be serious’ blast that depicts a situation so screwed up that it really is hard to believe it actually happened. This really could be taken as a horror film if you think about it too much...

It’s highly likely that you’ll get carried away in the action anyway – at least there are some great lines, mostly for Doyle who comes out this things like “Jesus Christ himself has blessed me with many gifts, one of them is knocking someone out!” But afterwards you’re likely to feel a bit dirty, as these main characters are nasty scumbags – two of whom are on death row now in the U.S.

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


(2.5 - More pain than gain overall)...

Awesomeness ööö – occasionally jolts the senses in a good way

Laughs ööö – funny but in a horribly black comedy way

Horror öööö – really nasty in places

Babes ööö – Bay likes his eye-candy

Spiritual Enlightenment ö – crime does not pay?

"female empowerment!"