*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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LUCY REVIEW

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I love Lucy? Well I love ScarJo. But this movie? Not so much. A contender for blockbuster of the year. Luc Besson at his most ambitious. ScarJo at the helm. Hopes were high. But alas, it was not to be.

Now the film is about a woman named Lucy (You don’t say) who gets roped into the illegal drug trade. Abducted and forced to be a drug mule, one of the bag bursts unleashing chemicals that unlock the full capacity of her mind. Woah. Turning her into a mind controlling mercenary.

It sounds ridiculous but good, right? Let’s be honest. I was ready to accept a ridiculous premise if the action was good and the characters were entertaining enough but apart from a great opening, this film seemed to run out of ideas drastically, throwing all sorts of stupendous CGI in the hope of distracting us from it. The madness soon cranks up to 11 but ends so abruptly and bizarre, I was left scratching my head. I haven’t felt like that since I watched The Matrix Revolutions. Besson tried to be clever and philosophical but it came off pretentious and lazy.

A pacey opening sequence in which our alluring heroine is thrown into the criminal underworld had me gripped. It was suspenseful, gritty and intriguing. That and a collection of strange characters; Pilou Asbaek’s (Borgen/Eurovision 2014 host) dim-witted dispatcher, Min-sik Choi’s creepy Yakuza boss and Julian Rhind-Tutt’s (Green Wing) ultra-camp scientist appropriately titled The Limey had enough to keep me humoured. The concept is pretty much Limitless 2 with boobs (Ha. Boobs. Stop it). However, Besson tried to take it to another level. Another level that for me didn’t work and made me just want to watch Limitless again.

The initial transition when Lucy starts unlocking another section of her mind’s capacity is actually pretty good. Some fast action punch ups and shoot-em ups kept the film on its toes. However, as Lucy continues to reach her full potential, the movie hits a major lull as we drawn into scientific mumbo jumbo and random animation sequences as they speculate hypothetical “What If?” scenarios. It only highlighted the ridiculousness of it all. Not even Morgan Freeman’s eloquent tones could make that any more interesting. The only interesting fact that came out of it was that the first cave woman was called Lucy.

Limitless didn’t really try and pin point what could happen. While Lucy, the scenario is that our heroine will control mind over matter and even become matter herself. Wait . . . what? Controlling computers, people and emptying bullets out of police officer’s guns, cool. But ScarJo soon becomes more robotic, which I suppose is understandable as she is becoming something much more than human but her acting comes off a little wooden. And the more Morgan Freeman appears in this, the more I realise how pointless his character actually is. He even admits that this is far beyond his research and hasn’t got a clue. He is left standing on the sidelines shrugging his shoulders and collecting his paycheck.

The car chase sequence around Paris was brilliant. That is until our good friend CGI rears its ugly head and ruins what was a decent action set piece. Computer animated cars flying left right and centre just looked naff. However, the finale soon shot down any momentum and enjoyment that I had during the first 30 minutes. Lucy’s mind soon reaches the capacity *POSSIBLE SPOILER* and she soon turns into something that is a mish mesh between Superman, Neo and her alien hybrid from Under the Skin (I couldn’t stand that movie). Seriously, the finale was so frantic, ridiculous and bizarre that by the time I got past all the flashing images, it had ended and I was left baffled, confused and disappointed.

I say confused. I know what Besson was trying to say with his pretentious message but that was not what I expected from the trailers nor what I wanted this film to be. This is where it will make all the difference on how you perceive this movie. For me, a great opening was soon forced into a lull that sky rocketed into all out action finale (At last!) but was soon let down by a plot that had no idea where it wanted to go and unleashed an ending that would relieve the Wachowski Brothers after the Matrix trilogy.

Watchable. Yeah. Blockbuster of the year? Certainly not. Guardians of the Galaxy still takes that honour at the moment. 2.5/5 for me. Sorry Besson, go watch Leon and get back to basics. I do miss it.

BRICK MANSIONS REVIEW

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A ridiculous remake of a furious French film that did not need to be touched.

This won’t sully the memory of an actor that left us too soon but it won’t do much to help it.

Let’s be honest, Paul Walker’s movies were hardly groundbreaking but they were big, dumb and most importantly fun. I thought he was a decent actor and loved the Fast and Furious franchise.

Brick Mansions is so incredibly stupid and OTT that you can’t help but laugh at it. A guilty pleasure. It’s the sort of film you’d expect to find in the bargain bin at your local supermarket, the kind you would sit and watch on a Saturday night with a few tins and a curry or when the lads come over. But to pay a tenner? Nah, you’re alright.

Nearly every cliché in the action movie checklist was ticked with this bad boy. The late Paul Walker and District veteran John Belle do their best with the laughable and predictable reluctant cop and criminal duo who must work together for the greater good, after lazy insults and typical fisticuffs.

In all fairness, as the film goes on, the pair manage to make the laughable lines work to their advantage and comes off quite well by the end.

RZA cannot act. It’s bad enough that his character is naff to boot but he doesn’t do anything to make the shoddy lines any better. He is so flat and robotic. Surely he couldn’t have grabbed some emotion from his rapping days? No? His only outstanding attribute being his craving for culinary excellence while unleashing hell. Problem is, not much hell is unleashed. Well, not as much as you think or hope.

District 13 and District B: Ultimatum were hardly renowned for their fantastic plot lines but how could Brick Mansions make it look like Inception by comparison. What made it was the frenetic free running sequences and the opening sequence with Belle gives us hope.

For those who have seen the originals, it literally is a rehash of the same sequence but if you were impressed, the first time round, you most likely will be again. The slow motion does kill a little of the fun. Belle’s acting leaves little to be desired as he’s grasps, well I say he, as I grasp that he’s speaking English.

Always will find it weird when you’ve watched a foreign film and then you see the actor speak English. I know, multi-cultural. People can speak more than one language. But weird, guy. Anyway, he soon gets into the flow and his acting does improve. More so when paired with Walker.

Paul Walker is to be expected, charismatic as hell and constantly poking fun at the stupidity of the movie. He manages to make it work; embracing the madness and giving it a good old go. You can tell he’s having a laugh and just accepting that this is what it is. Big, dumb, and mental.

A mental sequence in which Belle and Walker are fighting a Goliath-esque henchman has enough humour and craziness to get away with it. The action sequences, when not bogged down with droll predictable dialogue are fast paced, frantic and utterly bonkers.

A little too much quick cut editing reduces the impact as we see Walker go for a punch, then suddenly the henchman is on the floor. Just lacks that hard hitting tenacity. I mean this is Camille Delamarre who brought us Taken 2 and Transporter 3; the weaker sequel entries. Third time’s the charm? Apparently not.

However, why should Luc Besson and Delamarre care about it now when they’ve been doing this for some time? I mean they knew who they were aiming for this film. The lads. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the ladies will want to see the late Walker.

But in one scene, Belle’s incredibly raunchy and short skirted waitress gf/ex-gf (the alluring Catalina Denis – The Tunnel) gets into one of the raunchiest punch ups I’ve seen. It pretty much goes into a violent game of slap and tickle with leather clad HOT head case Ayisha Issa (Warm Bodies).

As a side note for the 24 nuts out there, I can’t believe Carlo Rota was in this. Old Maurice as a mobster. Brilliant!

I don’t know why but it felt a little close to home with Walker racing around in fast cars, crashing them into numerous objects. A scene in which he drives a car with no brakes was a little near the mark. I mean granted this was done some time ago but still . . .

A nice little tribute is tagged on before the end credits. Look, this is hardly going to win plaudits. It brings the odd laugh, cheesy banter, the occasional crash bang whallop to take your mind of the crappy dialogue.

It’s laughable and that’s the thing you can’t help but come out with a guilty grin, even if it is for the wrong reasons.

2/5 (just)

Currently ranks #143 out of 171!