*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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*NEW* SUICIDE SQUAD REVIEW *NEW*

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Meh. I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it either.

Based on the DC Comic, the government gives a team of supervillains a chance at redemption. The catch: their mission will probably kill them all.

The first 30 minutes was brilliant. It hit the ground running and got straight to business. 

Director David Ayer’s rapid quick cut editing and mad eclectic soundtrack ticked all the boxes as each dysfunctional member of this demented squad were introduced with their own theme song and back story. 

A little silly BUT it gave off that Guardians of the Galaxy vibe. 

BUT despite doing a good job of flicking through everybody’s origins and getting them into the mix as quickly as possible, more time should have spent on that.

I don’t think newbies or non-DC fans need to know too much going in BUT I was more intrigued in the back stories we were teased with than the Enchantress’ apocalypse plot.

We only had a taster of the warped relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker in several flashbacks. 

The biggest scene stealer and the one I was looking forward to seeing was (of course) Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street). 

She captured Quinn perfectly. Mental and vexing in one scene, troubled and lost the next. And not too bad on the eye either (What?). She really picked up the pace which tragically lagged.

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Jared Leto, on the other hand, failed to make an impression on me. I was unconvinced by his clips in the trailers. 

I said the same thing for Heath Ledger back in the day BUT he proved me wrong tenfold and became one of the best Jokers I’ve seen.

I mean there were a lot of factors going against Leto. BUT after hearing all the weird method acting rumours and the lengths he went to get into character, he was only in this for 15 minutes. 

He looked the part BUT in one scene, he won me over; the next he infuriated and that laugh! Sounded like he was trying to cough up something stuck in the back of his throat.

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He wasn’t really necessary or needed in this piece as Harley’s origin story was rushed through too quickly.

BUT this wasn’t the Joker’s movie. It was supposed to be about the Suicide Squad. If Leto is to feature in future movies (A BIG IF), then he might still have time to convince BUT right now . . . Meh.

I had to agree with someone who said this movie should have been called Deadshot. We had more exposition and focus on Will Smith’s hitman than we did on anybody else. 

We had his troubled relationship with his daughter. Animosity towards the Caped Crusader.

I thought this could be a different role for Smith BUT he provided his usual spiel and whether it was the shoddy lines in the script, it just didn’t work.

His fractious relationship with Joel Kinnaman’s Flag was the only thing that broke up the monotonous action.

I was impressed with the effects and Deadshot’s shooting skills BUT it soon got very repetitive and very dull.

I haven’t really rated Kinnaman in his Hollywood endeavours (The less we say about Robocop, the better) BUT he was great as Flag. The rock that was weighing down on this batch of parasites.

Jai Courtney’s Boomerang should have been so much better than he was. 

His quips and quirky behaviour had potential BUT wasn’t really explored. All we knew was that he carried cans of beer and a pink unicorn under his jacket. Okayyyyyyy thennnn.

Karen Fukuhara’s Katana was a waste of time. An unnecessary addition to a bloated squad. 

Everyone else had a quick synopsis about their past. All we got was a quick flashback to an irrelevant street brawl to explain why she was late for the party. 

Oh . . . and some guff about her sword bearing the soul of her dead husband?! What? Why? By the end, I didn’t care.

Adam Beach’s (Windtalkers) Slipknot was also another waste. His introduction nothing more than a statement from Flag (and a poor one at that). 

Jay Hernandez’ (Hostel) Diablo just moped around. His personal reasons for not fighting so freakin’ predictable that by the time he wanted to share, I wanted him gone.

Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (LOST) was another disappointment as Killer Croc. The make-up and effects were brilliant BUT he was in the background far too much. 

Viola Davis (The Help) and Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbours) made more memorable turns!

Frankly, Davis wasn’t in this enough BUT thankfully we might be seeing more of her.

The second half ruined the whole thing. It took such a sombre turn and got far too serious with our motley crew all suddenly growing a conscience. 

I didn’t think the team really gelled enough to forge proper bonds and considering how violent and anti-social they were, they decide to look out for each other and become pals in one night? Come on. It hampered the momentum of the piece a treat.

They spent so much of the running time squabbling, escaping or sulking. The relationships were either forced or clichéd. 

The middle act meandered along and when we weren’t subjected to petty feuds, we had a ridiculous end of the world plot that had me in stitches.

The supernatural stuff didn’t work one bit. Cara Delevigne (Paper Towns) did her best as the Enchantress BUT her character was far too weak and the shoddy CGI didn’t do her any favours. 

What was the deal with her demon dance?! She was supposed to be summoning a death machine NOT dancing to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies”.

The story line got so stupid that you began to wonder why we needed these guys in the first place. 

Especially when we had cameos from a couple *COUGH* SPOILERS *COUGH* members of the Justice League. And that finale was so hammy and stupid. The demon fight sequence – what da fuq?

Mixed bag, to say the least. I’ve seen a lot worse. 

A mad riotous opening first half was spoiled by a lagging pace, clichéd dialogue and a complete mismatch in tone with a ridiculous finale. 

If Ayer (Training Day) could have kept that mad energy and stopped trying to be like every other superhero film, then we would have had a winner.

A fun mess that’s not completely worth the mauling it’s received. 

Despite DC’s feeble efforts, I still have high hopes for Justice League and that these are all teething problems. 

BUT if that flops then I fear the end of a franchise before it even began.

2.5/5

*NEW* PAN REVIEW *NEW*

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I fear this one might get panned.

Even with a talented cast and impressive special effects, this latest offering on the Pan myth should still walk the plank.

12-year-old orphan Peter (Levi Miller) is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

The opening zipped along. It was easygoing and got straight to business. We watch Peter endure life at the Dickensian orphanage. Battling the ever cantankerous Mother Barnabas. Played to perfection by Kathy Burke. Not enough of her if I’m honest.

Levi Miller delivered an impressive debut for a young lad. There was the odd moment where certain lines and a couple of the scenes hindered with his delivery BUT nothing that can’t be fixed with a few more movies.

And it wasn’t long before our young hero was plucked out of his bed and taken to Neverland. This part of the story I’d seen before in Once Upon A Time and it did feel like a retread for me. I was disappointed that the war time setting wasn’t used to its full potential.

It did allow for a fantastic chase sequence with The Ranger pirate ship being pursued by the Royal Air Force. It was all a little too OTT for my liking BUT the pace and effects kept me subdued. For now.

It was great to see Nonso Anozie finally getting more screen time. It was just a shame that after a memorable introduction as Bishop that he was pushed into the background.

For the first half hour, I was pleasantly surprised. BUT the problems really popped up when Peter arrived in Neverland. The strange musical number in the mines didn’t set the right tone for me.

A bunch of miners bellowing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and The Ramone’s Blitzkrieg Bop felt like something that should have been in Moulin Rouge. Things improved slightly with the introduction of Jackman’s Blackbeard. But that soon spiralled downhill.

He lapped it up and was incredibly camp. A perfect panto villain. BUT that was also the problem. He came off far too comical. His bi-polar mood swings and OTT delivery soon killed what little tension there was around the iconic villain. I understand that it’s a family movie BUT I was more afraid of the CGI’d Sid from Toy Story than this chap.

Speaking of iconic villains, Garrett Hedlund as James Hook was terrible. Don’t get me wrong, Hedlund delivered one of his most liveliest performances. He looked the part with that shark toothed smile. BUT he got on my nerves. He just shouted his lines (which were weak) and every time he appeared on the screen, I instantly wished him gone.

Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions) was perfectly cast as Smee. He fell short of ol’ Bob Hoskins from Hook BUT he gave it a go and delivered the odd chuckle. Rooney Mara did her best with the role of Tiger Lily, the native chief’s daughter.

The only problem with Mara’s character was that it was spoiled by an incredibly hammy love subplot with Hook. It was cringe-inducing. Hedlund even shouted during those bits and all!

I know I said the animation was fantastic. And for the majority of the film, it was. Not quite sure whether it was worth the 3D investment. BUT there were a couple of things that didn’t look right. The Neverbirds looked terribly cartoony. They looked like something that should have been on the cover of a cereal box.

The lovely Cara Delevigne popped up in a badly CGI’d cameo as a mermaid. I don’t know why they just didn’t have her swimming about in a mermaid costume instead (What?).

Amanda Seyfried had the easiest job going as Peter’s mother. Anyone could have played her. The final twenty minutes were entertaining enough as Tiger Lily takes on Blackbeard BUT it was so rushed that it ended quite abruptly.

It was a fresh take to see Hook and Pan start out as friends BUT we didn’t see any real conflict and by the end of the film, there wasn’t any indication of their rivalry brewing. Just a nauseating exchange that they will be friends forever. Awww . . . Yuck.

Things were inevitably left open for another. BUT if I’m honest, it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get me to check out that one. It’s was too corny, frantic and didn’t even explore the mystery of Neverland.

It was watchable BUT memorable? If anything this made me want to dig out my VHS (What are those?! Showing my age now) of Hook.

Enough to keep the little ‘uns at bay for a couple of hours BUT it falls short of any of the other versions.

2.5/5

*NEW* PAPER TOWNS REVIEW *NEW*

XCVER

It may have had a paper plot BUT I was still able to enjoy this coming of age teen flick.

A light pace and a promising cast made up for a cheesy and predictable affair.

After an all night adventure, Quentin’s (Nat Wolff) life-long crush, Margo (Cara Delevigne), disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

I’m not familiar with the novel so I can’t make comparisons. All I knew was that it was from the author who created ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. A film that managed to subdue the cynic in me. And, for the majority of this film, was able to do so again.

The film was easygoing enough as we follow the bookworm Q moping after the rebellious Margo from early childhood up to present.

Wolff played Quentin very well. I was a little anxious about all the hype surrounding Delevigne’s debut. Not every model can make the transition to acting. Naomi Campbell, I’m looking at you. We could all list a number of Playboy models that shouldn’t be popping up in movies (Just me? Oh, okay moving on).

BUT as soon as Delevigne graced the silver screen, she won me over. I thought she was very good. She nailed the accent and could actually act! If anything, she wasn’t in it enough. BUT then there wouldn’t be a movie if she was.

The first half hour chugged along. The night adventure with Q was silly, BUT funny in parts, as the pair pranked those who had hurt Margo. Innocent enough. Wrapping a car in cling film. Waxing a dude’s eyebrow off. Wiping vasoline on a door knob (Had to be careful typing that one). That is until one of the parents fired a shotgun.

BUT it was still entertaining as we watched the estranged pair reignite their friendship and something more. Delevigne and Wolff had good chemistry and made the hammy romance subplot a bit more bearable.

BUT things got a little bit more interesting as Margo disappears the next day. Leaving a variety of clues. Setting Q and his chums on a little road trip.

The clue searching and mini scavenger hunt broke up the insufferable teen melodrama as Q becomes obsessed in finding the girl of his dreams. Luckily, it got by with a little help with some friends.

Austin Abrams and Justice Smith were brilliant as Q’s pals Ben and Radar. Abrams came out with some cracking lines as Ben. His fantastic “social skills” putting the lads into more awkward situations. Smith was hilarious as Radar. I loved the quirky back story involving his parents and an eclectic collection of black Santas.

They were a great trio and kept the film moving. I wasn’t really that bored and that’s saying something after the duds I’ve had to endure this month. The whole journey story line reeked of Stand By Me. Be it a more teeny and cheesy one. Stand By Me Zero. Especially when *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* a young Margo and Q find a dead body, alarm bells started ringing.

I couldn’t help making comparisons as the film carried on. The school friends embarking on a journey. One that would inevitably change their lives.

It was a little too light for my liking. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic when the guys chanted the Pokemon theme to pump themselves up before creeping through a dodgy looking tunnel. A guilty chuckle for me.

The journey was corny and I felt the introduction of Halston Sage and Jaz Sinclair’s characters hampered things a little. Only because the outcome was so obvious. Although I did laugh at Radar’s constant confessing to Sinclair’s character on every little thing.

I didn’t expect a cameo from a certain actor during the petrol station scene either. Keep an eye out 😉

It was all a little corny as you realise that the journey is something much more. It was merely a chance for the guys to come to terms with the fact that they are moving away and embarking on a new journey. College, life, etc.

They bicker and gripe BUT you just know that everything will be alright in the end. It’s just that kind of film. And the pace did dip in places.

The closing moments, however, took me by surprise. It’s tough NOT to write about it without spoiling anything. BUT it was handled brilliantly and left an upbeat message that the young whipper snappers should listen to and the older cynics (Like yours truly) as well.

A talented cast makes this easygoing, if predictable, drama highly watchable. I can think of worse ways to kill 90 minutes.

3(Just)/5