*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* THE TRANSPORTER REFUELLED REVIEW *NEW*

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The Transporter returns rebooted, recast and rehashed.

In the south of France, former special-ops mercenary Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) enters into a game of chess with a femme-fatale (Loan Chabanol) and her three sidekicks who are looking for revenge against a sinister Russian kingpin (Radivoje Bukvic).

I can remember watching the first Transporter. It was violent, fast, furious and with that bald chap from Lock, Stock. It was a cult action flick. Unfortunately they had to make more of them. Okay, Transporter 2 may have pushed it but it was an enjoyable thrill ride. And the less we say about Transporter 3, the better. Well, that was until I saw this.

I could see why a fresh start was needed. BUT why on Earth would Luc Besson give a reboot to the director that killed the franchise in the first place? I didn’t realise how big a void Jason Statham would leave. It wasn’t just his physical presence. His deadpan style. His humour. The guy can generally make the naffest lines sound cool.

The opening of this shambolic affair did everything to grab my attention with people being shot left, right and centre. It also flicked back and forth as we follow Anna (Chabanol) preparing her revenge on her handler. A plan ten years in the making.

Anna was probably the most interesting character in the whole piece. Only giving Frank little tidbits of her master plan. It may have been the same old guff. The young migrant forced into prostitution after the false promise of a new life. BUT she kept things watchable.

If anything, she made Frank Martin the supporting character in his own story. And the supporting ladies may have looked nice BUT they had no depth or character at all. Their sole purpose to be Stevenson’s lapdogs while they held him hostage.

From the moment the “resurged” Frank Martin made his introduction, I cringed. He may have looked the part. BUT for every cool punch and kick, Skrein’s horrific delivery would spew a cheesy one liner that just sounded terrible. It was laughable for all the wrong reasons. The car park scene (A complete rip off of Transporter 2 by the way) was cliched to death.

The story line was terrible. What didn’t help was the shoddy time frame. The writers’ maths must have gone out the window because this film was set in the year 2000. Considering this was supposed to be a reworking into the present day? Hmmm . . . By the end though, I couldn’t care less.

One thing director Camille Delamarre can deliver is set pieces. His only saving grace. The airport sequence was sheer bloody bonkers. The car chases were fast and furious. Even if the bank heist opener was a complete rehash of the first film. The only thing that infuriated me was the use of CGI. It wasn’t needed. It just spoiled the stunts for me.

It didn’t help that for every decent set piece, there was a hammy piece of dialogue or dull storytelling. Martin slamming his Audi into crawl mode and beating up all the baddies blocking his way. YES! Bickering to his dad about women and being late. NO!

That’s what really annoyed me. The Stath’s Martin tried to stick to the rules. Skrein never did. He kept changing the rules and was late every time. The iconic character’s gimmick and they messed it up. Gutted.

Chabanol and Skrein didn’t work too badly. They had good chemistry BUT I felt their love scene was forced. It was rushed and wasn’t necessary. Just like Stath and Shu Qi’s little tete-a-tete. Any excuse for a bit of skin.

I liked the mystery around Martin in the original. I could respect the attempt to bring in a different angle to his character BUT it just didn’t work. The endless bickering and “banter” between Skrein and Ray Stevenson’s father figure was terrible. It just made me miss Francois Berleand’s Inspector Tarconi. And Stevenson? What on Earth was he playing at? I’m sure he had fun and gave it a good old go. BUT he came off as a right old lech.

Radivoje Bukvic was a terrible villain. He failed to make any real impression. To be honest, Noemie Lenoir’s character did a better job. And no! Not just because she’s a model. I actually thought she was running things. She was doing a whole lot more than him. And put up more of a fight!

A steaming mess. I think they should let this sleeping dog lie. Laughable and cringe-inducing. If not for some cracking action scenes and one interesting character, this would have got nil points from me.

A rebooted franchise that was never needed and never wanted. No Stath? I lose faith.

2/5