*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* KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD REVIEW *NEW*

I don’t know what was worse; David Beckham’s cameo or the movie altogether.

Thy verdict is in and its all apples and pears, san.

Robbed of his birthright, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

The opening 20 minutes was better than I thought with Eric Bana (Troy) bossin’ it as Uther Pendragon. The murky Sherlock Holmes style backdrop may have put a dampener on things but there was action, sword fights and creatures with enough cheese to keep things entertaining.

Ritchie regular Jude Law did his best as the slimy Vortigern. BUT he spent the majority of the film sulking, pouting and pulling faces. His dialogue was bland bar one exchange with a tortured prisoner that delivered an unexpected ear gag.

What annoyed me the most was that Ritchie and co skimmed through the origin build up. Flash forwarding Arthur’s upbringing in a brothel with a quick montage of Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam screaming and pounding on his well toned abs.

I wouldn’t have minded the build up as we might have had better connections with Arthur’s band of cockney geezers. I might have actually cared about them.

By the 30 minute marker, it felt like Ritchie had copped out and tried to work his Lock, Stock magic on the thing. An interrogation sequence with the King’s Guard tried to deliver that quick witted humour BUT it just didn’t work.

“Which Mick? Flat Nose Mick, East End Mick or Chinese Mick?” Really? Taking the mick, more like. I preferred the darker Game of Thrones undertone.

I know this wasn’t going to win plaudits for groundbreaking cinema. It was a blockbuster retelling the legend of Arthur BUT it was a bit of a hot mess.

Hunnam just about pulled off the charm offensive as Arthur BUT he came off as such a cocky tool.

I could understand his initial behaviour (at first) BUT he didn’t get any better and grew considerably more childish as the agonizing pace fumbled along.

The tone was was all over the gaff. Silly and laughable one second and relentlessly dark and brooding, the next. Failing to work on any level.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There were chunks that were highly watchable and there was fun to be had . . . in places. I loved the street chase sequence with the Rock ‘n’ Rolla style handicam perspective.

Some of the exchanges delivered the odd quip and drew a smile. BUT not as much as Golden Balls’ squeaky Sarge. His voice and laughable dialogue did nothing for him. Eric Cantona may have been bitten by the acting bug. BUT not everyone can make that transition. Sorry, Becks.

The female roles were terrible. I don’t know who Katie McGrath (Jurassic World) has upset in Hollywood BUT she always plays characters that never last. Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinkers) was weak. Anyone could have played her. If they needed her character altogether.

Astrid Berges-Frisby (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) was dreadful as The Mage. Her deadpan delivery and pasty faced complexion did nothing for the role. There was zero chemistry between her and Hunnam. The “friendly” banter was so awkward to watch that I was screaming for Merlin.

It didn’t help that the story (for all its “re-working”) went through the motions. The majority of the supporting cast were highly unmemorable.

NOT even Game of Thrones’ Little Finger (Aiden Gillen) could save the day. Utopia’s Neil Maskell was the only “knight” who made an impression.

The film picked up by the 75th minute marker and delivered an entertaining 30 minutes BUT I could still feel my eyes wandering to my phone as we waited for the (rushed) finale.

The mixed special effects delivered impressive visuals and disorienting mayhem. Especially when Arthur finally got to use Excalibur in all its horrifically CGI ‘d glory. Blasting knights left, right and centre in a horrendously dusky haze of carnage.

Arthur and Vortigen’s fight was disappointing after all the build up and endless dreams/flashbacks revisiting Arthur’s past.

Frustrating doesn’t come close. Ritchie kept skimming through the good bits and leaving us with the chaff. The Dark Island training montage had giant creatures; bats, snakes and god knows what else. Felt like an excerpt from a different movie. Why couldn’t we have more of that?

Watchable guff BUT nothing to shout home about. I actually preferred the Clive Owen re-working instead.

2.5/5

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR REVIEW

sin-city-art

I loved Sin City. It’s visceral hard boiled pulp story lines. The noir characters. The beautifully animated graphic underworld that literally lifts off the pages of Miller’s comic books. It was always going to be tough for a sequel. This time round, it’s a mixed bag. A violent, sexy one but mixed.

The animation is fantastic. The 3D? Well what 3D? Not an investment. (Yet again). The film launches you straight into the madness with an incredibly unhinged Marv going on yet another killing spree in the dark underbelly of Basin City. Rourke is brilliant but I couldn’t help but feel Marv’s irrational behaviour was ridiculous, bordering on overkill. His revenge spree in the first film had some warped justification. This time, not so much. I mean Marv is in a much more volatile state with blackouts and confusion galore. The littlest glance or grunt throwing him into a merciless rage.

Now I must advise you to watch the first movie. I hadn’t seen it in ages. And remember it has been NINE years. That’s right. Nine years since its release. This is very much a prequel/sequel of sorts. This will be made clear with Marv when a certain character appears. I was baffled and confused until I went back to the original. Scratching my head as to how he survived the electric . . . Oh wait. The same can be said for Dwight. Brolin takes over the helm from Clive Owen. Brolin’s drawl voice and grimacing face pulling are spot on. His delivery of Miller’s lines are sublime. A true noir actor. His storyline involving the dame to kill for (and I would kill for her) Eva Green reeked of the stories of old. The ultimate femme fatale. It may come off a little pastiche and predictable but it’s great to see a re-visiting of the classics.

Eva Green was born for the role. Conniving but attractive on the eye. Her beauty a trap for any foolish man. The reason why Dwight had to change his face. Miller seemed to cut the amount and reduce the length of story lines. There was two main stories with two little subplots (new stories for the movie) running along aside them. The new story lines involve Nancy (Alba) and Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt). JGL was to be expected charismatic and perfect for the part. He has proven that he can do the noir protagonist after Brick. He rolls off Miller’s lines like he was born in that world. He boosts the film and to be honest I wanted to see more of his story line.

However, for all it’s potential, it ends all rather abruptly. His speech at the poker table would be something that QT would love. A lesson in power if ever there was one but disappointing after such a suspenseful build up. But it is a typical noir ending as his cocky ambition gets the best of him as he takes on Rourke (Powers Boothe) in a game of poker.

Powers Boothe was deliciously sinister with his shark toothed grin, lapping up every moment of it. A perfectly cast villain, composing all his past bad guys role into one nasty piece of work. The one aspect of Sin City that I felt pushed this glossy colourful seedy crime saga over its ridiculously violent edge was the inhabitants of Old Town. Too much time spent on it in the first film. Miller must have realised this and only brings in Gail (Rosario Dawson) and samurai wielding assassin Miho (The alluring Jamie Chung now replacing Devon Aoki) to assist Dwight. And they are actually taken out of Old Town.

Dawson was less irritating this time round for me and Chung did as well as she could playing a silent killer. Of course, there was ridiculous sword play and white blood spread across the screen, along with various body parts. Dennis Haysbert was relentless as Manute (taking over the reins from the late Michael Clarke Duncan). He will always be David Palmer but it made a change to see him play the thug. It also made some of the references in the first film make so much more sense.

I never felt so dirty watching a film. Jessica Alba manages to outdo her infamous strip tease dance number. In fact, she delivers one every time one of the characters enters Kadie’s Club Pecos. To be honest, I wondered whether Nancy was only brought in to be the eye candy. Beautiful Miss Alba may be; I wanted to see some resolution following her story line after Hartigan’s sacrifice. Bruce Willis does make a return as Hartigan. It’s pretty clear from the trailers. But to what capacity? Well . . .  “POSSIBLE SPOILER” Don’t panic! He is very much dead. Even in death, you can’t escape Sin City.

The idea of Hartigan watching Nancy, seeing her deteriorate into a pool of grief and misery was a good angle. But at the same time, Willis does nothing else. He is merely a cameo that appears to say two little speeches and then bugger off. Might as well have not bothered turning up at all. It doesn’t help that for some reason in all it’s ridiculousness, he cannot talk to Nancy. But yet Benicio Del Toro’s Jackie could talk to Clive Owen’s Dwight? Strange. The switching back and forth from past to present did cause some confusion.

The cast were perfect, the animation always impressed me and the story lines were good but much more predictable. I felt that the film lacked something. I mean the characters were good but I wanted more of the memorable cult characters. The Yellow Bastard, Elijah Wood’s crazy cannibal Kevin, Rutger Hauer’s messed up priest. We only really got that in Stacey Keach’s Jabba-esque mob boss Wallenquist and Christopher Lloyd’s demented street doc Kroenig (Believe me, Doc Brown would be screaming more than Great Scott!). The pace lulled in parts for me. Story lines seemed to build up and end abruptly. However, I still want more and it was still very watchable.

Not as good as the first but still worth a go for fans and anyone with a little blood lust. 3.5/5 for me