*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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RUN ALL NIGHT REVIEW

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Sleep All Night, more like.

Liam Neeson does what he does be- . . .

A shame that this talented actor is now reduced to playing the same old tired role.

Two stars for two ageing stars who do their best to put a little Hollywood grit on this overlong, by the numbers action movie.

It wasn’t all bad but it wasn’t all that great either.

I seem to be saying this a lot lately but a lot of the films I’ve seen recently are making the same piddly mistakes.

So what’s it all about? Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), whose life is in danger, or his long time best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.

The first 30 minutes didn’t really get things going.

It was the inevitable “build up” with all the schmaltzy back story and predictable bilge before the pow pow, ka boom!

I could feel my eyes wavering at the big hand on my watch.

However, I did like the fact that writer Brad Inglesby tried to do a slightly different spin on Neeson’s tired fighter.

A man truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. Relying on an old reputation and being best friends with the head mafioso just to get scraps.

Neeson certainly does his best to keep things watchable.

Ed Harris was everything you could expect. Menacing, brooding, perfect for the role. I just wish Inglesby had given him some better lines.

Joel Kinnaman actually didn’t do too bad a job. He actually came off a lot less wooden than his disastrous turn as Robocop.

It’s just a shame that his character is so flat.

Boyd Holbrook played the sleazy mob son quite well. I was a little gutted that his character got struck off so early on BUT then there wouldn’t have been much of a film otherwise. (Well, there still wasn’t).

GEEK SIDE NOTE: Holbrook featured alongside Neeson in A Walk Among The Tombstones

Kinnaman’s little relationship with his “boxing protegee” Eric (Devon O’Brien) seemed forced and was a little unnecessary. Desperate to add a dimension to Michael’s character.

If he didn’t have vital evidence, Eric’s character would have been useless.

Kinnaman proved he could do the action scenes and do them well. The sequence in which he evades capture from Holbrook was frantic, tense and riveting.

It was just irritating that he then had to take the back seat for Neeson.

Neeson’s Jimmy tells him not to fight or shoot. Or else he’s no better than him. Great in the sense of feeble parenting. Better late than never. BUT terrible when you’re watching an action thriller!

Martin Ruhe’s cinematography was something else. Brilliantly shot. The cityscape at night was something to behold.

The flicking back and forth across the city was a little disorienting though.

And the “metaphorical” thunderstorm (Well, literal thunderstorm) as Neeson signs his own death warrant was cheesy as hell.

Neeson and Hardy were fantastic together. The scene in which they confront each other in a cafe may have been a desperate stab at Heat but it worked for me.

I wished for a little more of that.

However, we did finally get a little more action as the gruffly gangster must stop his son from being . . . TAKEN! Yeah, I said it.

I thought the fight sequences should be commended. Unlike Taken 2 and 3, we actually get to see Neeson throw a punch and hit someone.

They may have absolutely ridiculous. No kidding. Neeson must have hit every foe with any random object he could find from metal toilet roll dispensers to fiery table legs.

You read that right. Fiery table legs. Neeson and Common (Hell on Wheels) were mano y mano with two sticks of fire.

Stupid but fast and furious.

The car chases were relentless. The first person camera work reminded me of the classic car movies. It had the same nostalgia that I felt when I watched The French Connection for the first time.

Common didn’t too bad as the relentless hitman but then again he didn’t have to say a lot.

What annoyed me was that for every positive, there were a dozen negatives.

The predictable and cliched bickering between Mike and Jimmy was terrible. Typical father/son spattering. At least they were able to bury the hatchet to dispense of some baddies. Take note, Die Hard 5!

It infuriated me that Mike still wouldn’t allow Jimmy in the same room as his family after saving his life several times in one night.

BUT have no fear, it all ends oh so predictably and cornily which killed off any momentum that the film finally seemed to build up.

At it’s best, violent, frantic, a beauty to watch. At it’s worst, hammy, overlong with that fearful question; “Is this all that Neeson is going to do now?”

Taken 4: A Fool? Not quite. Give it a go. It’s not all bad. BUT there are so many better ones out there.

2/5

TAKEN 3 REVIEW

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Taken the p*ss, more like. Hopefully it will end here.

I made the mistake of listening to a critic when the first one came out. I ended up seeing Shrooms. Remember that? If you don’t, you’re lucky. And DO NOT bother checking it out.

When I finally got round to watching the first Taken film, I was impressed. A proper action movie. Iconic dialogue, intense action sequences and a welcome return for a very talented actor. Instant cult status achieved.

The only problem with instant cult success and a shed load of money at the box office, it meant meant one thing. SEQUELS!

Taken 2 was a poor retread of the exact same story line. Only in a different city and with Maggie Grace’s irritating Kim having to save Mills. NO!

It didn’t help that the static camera work didn’t show any of the action properly and the dialogue was that hammy, I felt myself cringing.

So, here we are. Third time’s the charm? A reprieve to end the franchise with a fiery finale?

Unfortunately not. They should have left it at the first one.

The trailers piqued my interest and with Forest Whitaker taking the helm as the relentless pursuer, I had hope.

That was soon crushed after the drab opening sequence.

So what happens in this one? Ex-government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.

Where to begin? It was a mess. I know! It’s an action movie. Not a thought provoking, mind bending thriller. BUT still . . .

A feeble attempt at mystery came off flat and dull as Sam Spruell’s “menacing” villain (with a ridiculous Lloyd Christmas haircut) disposed of some unknown secondary characters.

Dull, uninteresting . . . where’s Liam Neeson?

We are then pulled through some awful and incredibly cheesy exposition between Bryan and Kim. It’s obviously become a joke. BUT a joke that was never funny in the first place.

I could feel my very being sinking into the seat.

Then we had the inevitable “Will they, won’t they?” spiel with Famke Janssen and Neeson. You would have thought after all their “mishaps” (two violent kidnappings that destroyed two cities) that they would have got back together.

No, no, no. She’s gone and married another moronic businessman. Dougray Scott nailed the accent but was terrible as the suspiciously shady looking Stuart.

However, it soon kicks off. Rather predictably if you’ve seen the heavily flogged trailers with Mills set up for murder and on the run.

One thing I will commend is Eric Kress’ cinematography. A beautiful sunny Hollywood gloss over the relentless, unnecessary and OTT carnage.

Olivier Megaton really needs to fire his editing team; Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz. The action was way too fast and far too frantic.

The very sequence in which Mills must run from the scene of the crime was disorienting. One second, you’re looking at Neeson’s foot, his shadow, an angry dog and then a confused police man.

It felt like it was overcompensating for the fact that Neeson is too old.

It pains me to say that but the poor guy look jaded. Every time the sporadic shot swapping subsided, you could see he was struggling to keep up with the pace and the frantic fist fighting the film desperately tried to deliver.

He did his best to add his gruffly gravitas to this disaster but even his performance felt like a parody of his own. He doesn’t even say the iconic line properly, “I have skills. You know what I can do with them”.

To me, it felt like “You know what I’m going to say, you can fill in the blanks”.

A shame. What annoyed me even more was the fact that he suddenly breaks into a house, finds a garage containing an old truck which is conveniently hiding an escape route to the sewers that leads to Bryan’s hidden factory fortress complete in emergency supplies.

WHAAAAT?!

I thought switch off. It’s just a dumb action movie. Forest Whitaker is here. He’ll do something good.

He pretty much plays Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh from The Shield. At first glance. BUT he does absolutely nothing.

While Mills is running around aimlessly, punching people left, right and centre. Whitaker is scoffing bagels, flicking an elastic band around his wrist (for no reason) while fumbling about with a chess piece (Steady now) in his pocket, looking confused.

What a waste of a talented actor. All he does is relay the information we all know. The plot isn’t that complicated or that interesting for that matter!

In fact, it’s bloody bonkers. Mills makes more elaborate and unexplained escapes than Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes!

He escapes a car that we saw him drive down an exploding lift shaft that seemed to blow up a whole car park complex. And somehow manages to hide behind a rock despite seeing his car rammed off a cliff and rolling into a fiery blaze.

A crappy flashback makes no explanation or sense to his miraculous Houdini acts.

I also felt my loyalties divided with Mills. I used to route for the big guy BUT I felt myself scratching my head at his logic. He kills and injures dozens of coppers. He throws grenades in a school. And even causes a ridiculous police chase that was completely unnecessary.

Mills finds evidence that proves his innocence. Does he tell the police or show them? No! He lets them take him in for questioning. Changes his mind. Only to cause a highway pile up with heavily used CGI cars flying all over the place.

Time to let old dogs lie.

I think it’s time for Neeson to get back to what he did best. Acting. This affair offered no cool dialogue, no baddies of any merit, by the book action sequences with no memorable moments to recollect and . . . hammy vomit inducing exposition.

Olivier Megaton, I don’t know where you are. BUT I have a particular set of skills. If you dare make another, I will find you . . .

1.5/5

BRICK MANSIONS REVIEW

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A ridiculous remake of a French blockbuster that didn’t 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 I enjoy the Fast and Furious franchise (for what they are).

Brick Mansions was 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 or watch on a Saturday night with a few tins and a curry.

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 high-octane action.

For those who have seen the original; the opening sequence was literally a shot-for-shot remake with Belle doing what he does best. If you were impressed the first time round, you most likely will be again.

It’s a shame that momentum couldn’t stick and Belle’s acting left a little to be desired.

Always 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.

Nearly every cliché in the action movie checklist was ticked off with this bad boy. The late Paul Walker and District veteran John Belle did their best with the “reluctant cop/street thug crime fighting duo set up”.

Once they got over the playground insults and macho fisticuffs. They even managed to make the laughable lines work to their advantage by the end.

RZA cannot act. It’s bad enough that his villain was naff to boot but he didn’t do anything to make the shoddy lines any better. He was so robotic. Surely he could have used some of that emotion from his rapping days? His only memorable trait being a craving for culinary excellence while unleashing hell.

The only problem was that not much hell was unleashed.

Paul Walker smirked his way through the whole thing. He managed to make it work; embracing the madness and giving it a good old go. You can tell he was having a laugh. Accepting the film for what it was. Mental.

An insane sequence in which Belle and Walker fought a Goliath-esque henchman had enough humour and craziness to subdue my grumbling. The action sequences, when not bogged down with droll dialogue, were fast paced, frantic and utterly bonkers.

A little too much quick cut editing reduced the impact as we saw Walker go for a punch and then suddenly the henchman was on the floor. Disorienting, to say the least. I should have seen this coming from the man who brought us Taken 2 and Transporter 3; the weaker sequel entries. Third time’s the charm? Apparently not.

Director Camille Delamarre managed to deliver one of the most ridiculous and raunchiest punch ups I’ve seen. Seriously, the alluring Catalina Denis’ (The Tunnel) short skirted waitress Lola literally got into one big violent game of slap and tickle with her leather clad adversary, the HOT head case Ayisha Issa (Warm Bodies).

Look, this was hardly going to win plaudits. It delivered the odd laugh, the occasional crash bang whallop and enough cheesy banter to take your mind of the crappy dialogue and silliness of it all.

A guilty pleasure that was laughable for all the wrong reasons.

There was a nice little tribute to Walker tagged on before the end credits.

2/5

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