*NEW* VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS REVIEW *NEW*

Dull-Erian.

Trust me, that pun was as clever and witty as the dialogue and plot.

Sheesh. What has happened to Luc Besson? The man who gave us The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, Taken, The Transporter.

Okay, yes. He also made Taken 2, Taken 3, Lucy, Transporter 2, Transporter 3 – you get the idea. To say his recent endeavours have been poor would be an understatement.

I really hoped this mega blockbuster would be a return to form but alas it was not to be.

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne) must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha but the future of the universe.

The iconic French comic book series that spanned over 40 years and influenced Star Wars and Besson’s very own Fifth Element. A series that inspired Besson to personally fund and crowd source one of the most expensive independent films in Europe.

The iconic comic book series . . . that I hadn’t even heard of until this movie. I won’t be seeking it out after watching this. Fo’ sure.

It wasn’t all bad. In fact, Valerian was actually quite watchable.

Cara Delevigne was very good. The high browed model has done it again. She had already won me over in Paper Towns. The less we say about Suicide Squad the better. I can still picture that weird dance.

Anyway, contrary to reviews that I’d read, I thought there was good chemistry between the pair. What didn’t help was the dreadfully corny exchanges and flat lines.

Dane DeHaan really has been getting a bad wrap. He didn’t do a bad job. It just didn’t help that his Keanu-esque delivery managed to make the flat lines sound even flatter. I think he took the airhead persona a little too literal. Only Wick himself would have made that work.

A shame. His lacklustre charisma made Valerian such an unlikeable (Well, I say unlikeable) and uninteresting character. A bit bad considering he’s the main man.

One thing I couldn’t fault was Thierry Arbogast’s stunning cinematography and the visual effects. Stunning.

That gif doesn’t do it justice BUT you get the idea.

The colours, the detail. The immersive galaxies and numerous planets. A feast for the eyes. I just wish some of that detail could have been spent on the script.

The action set pieces were entertaining enough. BUT I wasn’t invested in the people.

All the jumping from interstellar galaxies and dimension guff was cool and an interstellar street market chase kept my grumbling at bay for a good 15 minutes. BUT that was only because I hadn’t got a clue what was going on.

The pace was as long as the ridiculous title. It dipped in and out and was far too sporadic. Ridiculously complicated one second, then dull and predictable the next. No consistency.

It didn’t help that the story was hampered by boring and pointless exchanges with flashbacks that highlighted stuff we already knew about. For example (NO SPOILERS);

CHARACTER: “I was following orders!”

*Cue a FLASHBACK of said character saying, “Follow my orders”.

Really? There were no real twists and turns. It was all too disjointed. And the “unravelling” made more plot holes by the frantic finale. BUT by the end, I didn’t care.

The sci-fi references and nods were a nice touch. The Millennium Falcon-esque ship, the Tron style hologram suits, the Battlestar Galactica Cylon style droids, the Blade Runner cityscapes. I knew Besson would excel in that field.

The supporting cast were disappointingly hit and miss with various cameos from unexpected actors popping up in this mad mess. I won’t spoil any. There were two I didn’t expect.

It was great to see Clive Owen back on the big screen. I just wish he wasn’t in this movie.

He did his best with the part BUT he was oh so laughable and old. My God. He didn’t need those silver patches on his sideburns (Ageing his character for a pointless flashback that had no relevance).

Rihanna was a welcome addition. And no, not just for the striptease with her numerous wardrobe changes (that will please any teen fanboy).

She was fun and entertaining as the changeling Bubble. I was more interested in her origin story than anybody else. And NO, not just because of that sequence! Naughty. A tragically small role.

And that’s what was missing.

We needed somebody like this guy;

Valerian took itself far too seriously for its own good. A bit of cheese and humour would have improved this by a country mile.

Besson tried to offer comic relief with some of the crazy and wonderfully animated characters. My personal favourite being the demented gargoyle hybrids of Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck.

Prepared to share information for a price, of course.

BUT it just wasn’t enough. It was watchable guff BUT enjoyable?

Meh. It just about killed the time BUT all I wanted to do when I got home . . . was find my DVD of The Fifth Element and stick that on.

Nothing to shout home about for me.

2.5/5

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OCULUS REVIEW

oculus-poster

Oculus no scaro. What a shame. An intriguing premise that fails to deliver, revealing nothing behind its glassy surface and turning out to be just as wooden and lazy as the film’s antagonist.

I think I’m going to have to throw in the towel with horror movies. Not that I haven’t already. I was at least intrigued to see a new horror film that wasn’t using handheld cameras or being a “found footage” film, which Hollywood has succumbed to these days. Endless entries of Paranormal/Blair Witch rip offs. If something is good, copy it and milk it until it’s dry. Rant over on that little one. However, this felt like an old school horror film. Back to basics. Suspense, actual acting and well . . . we had one out of two, so not bad.

Gillan (Doctor Who) does her best with the material but it’s all so boring and unintentionally laughable, even with her flawless mastering of the American accent. The premise of Oculus is pretty much about a woman trying to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was actually committed by a supernatural phenomenon. That phenomenon being . . . a manipulative mirror. Another film to go on the list of bad killer mirror movies. Is there even a good one? Minus Snow White . . . at a big push.

Now when dealing with a mirror that has managed to survive by its own defence mechanisms for centuries by manipulating time, space and god knows what, there is only one tragically irritating outcome which kills any intrigue that this film desperately tries to convey. Gillan and Brenton Thwaites play the siblings hell bent on destroying the antique foe as well as they can. The flashback structure didn’t work too badly as we go back to their childhood when their father (Rory Cochrane – Right At Your Door) first brings the mirror into their household.

Inevitably strange things start happening. The odd jumpy moment. Two I can recall. A creepy looking woman loitering around the office. The only thing that is annoying is that any suspense or tension built up is soon crushed by the fact that this is a replay. We know that the kids live to tell the tale . . . so far. However, when we go back to the children grown up; all they are doing is being pranked, at times, quite darkly by the mirror.

Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan do a sterling job at playing the young Kaylie and Tom. To be honest as the madness ensues with the Gillian and Thwaites siblings, I couldn’t help but feel that maybe the film would have been stronger, sticking with the kids story line alone as there was enough suspense and moments to keep you at least stop complaining at why they didn’t just smash the damn thing. However, that is finally demonstrated and explained later on.

There was one laughable moment in which Gillan explains how many victims the mirror has claimed. Okay, I’ll buy it. But endless reports and slide shows turning an initial one minute tension burner into a full blown ten minute crime expose. Droll, boring, we get it. The mirror kills people!

Mike Flanagan tried to break the mould but it still yields the same results, regurgitating the same old typical by the book “scares” or jolts (mine was from my elbow slipping off the seat after nodding off) that leads to the same old monotonous, predictable finale. At one point I was more intrigued by the possessed pony tail of Karen Gillan.

The cast do their best and it was great to see kids that didn’t get on my nerves taking the fold. Katee “Starbuck” Sackhoff does her utmost to play the tormented mother who is at her wit’s end with the medieval mirror menace. But it’s slow, boring, predictable. A couple of watchable moments does not a good film make. Also for the Medium fans, what a waste for poor Miguel Sandoval. A wasted talent in a pointless role. Such a shame. 1.5 out of 5 for me!

Currently ranked 178 out of 186!