Valerian And The City of A Thousand Planets (2017) Review

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (2017)
French: Valérian et la Cité des mille planètes

Directed by Luc Besson

Based on Valérian and Laureline
by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

My Opinion:

I liked this. I didn’t really expect to. I do think I should just go into every movie with low expectations as I often end up far less disappointed that way. I went into this with low expectations as it looked like it could be a disaster. It’s a fun film.

Believe me, this movie is far from perfect. But if you like Besson’s The Fifth Element, I can’t see why you wouldn’t get some enjoyment out of this one as well. It’s visually impressive and I especially liked the gorgeous planet & alien race at the beginning of the film. I’m not sure if it’s really accurate to compare it to Avatar but I couldn’t help comparing them in my mind & I personally enjoyed this “science fiction movie with funny-looking aliens that some people won’t take seriously” film more than that one. The story itself & the look of the whole thing & even the comic relief all worked just fine for me. As I said, it’s a fun film & it kept me entertained throughout its rather long running time. I actually didn’t think it felt overlong, whereas I did feel that way about the film I watched before this one, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The only thing I can really fault about this film is its casting. Specifically its main stars: Dane DeHaan & Cara Delevingne as Valérian and Laureline. It’s a shame, as I think the lack of true leading character star power hurts the film. I know nothing whatsoever about the source material but they seem like two pretty cool characters and I imagine that they don’t really do them justice in this film. The surprising thing is I think DeHaan was almost weaker than Delevingne (who I really don’t like), although I’ve thought he was pretty good in the past in things such as The Place Beyond The Pines. Even more surprising is that Rihanna was pretty good in a small role but also as one of the better characters in the film overall. I liked her dance routine, which was pretty unique (but a little saucy if you bring your kids to the movie). Well, it’s no more saucy than her videos. But I may be the only one in my cinema who kept picturing the girl from Home every time she talked (my kid really likes that movie so I’ve seen it several times).

So. Where were we? A fun movie with weak stars that let the film down a little but lovely to look at and filled with wacky characters & some comic relief that you’ll either love or hate. The film is definitely not going to be for everyone but, hey – if you’ve seen The Fifth Element, you should know what to expect. If you like this genre (it’s my favorite) and if you’re happy to just enjoy a movie without overthinking things & being too judge-y, you may like this one just fine.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Life After Beth (2014) Review

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Life After Beth (2014)

Directed by Jeff Baena

Starring:
Aubrey Plaza
Dane DeHaan
Molly Shannon
Cheryl Hines
Paul Reiser
Matthew Gray Gubler
John C Reilly
Anna Kendrick

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her.

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My Opinion:

I can’t figure out how I feel about Aubrey Plaza. I’ve never seen Parks And Recreation. I first saw her in Safety Not Guaranteed, which I didn’t exactly love but I didn’t mind her. Then I saw her in a couple interviews and thought she was kind of weirdly funny. Then I watched that awful The To Do List and she just got on my nerves. This is my “horror month”, however, so I figured I’d check this movie out as I love a decent zombie movie (even though there are too many of them now).

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This movie had potential even though it’s too much of the same old “been there done that” when it comes to zombie comedy. The title is perfect and it makes you wonder if they came up with the title first then tried to write a movie around it. Some of this movie works but most of it doesn’t. Unfortunately, the weakest thing about the film is its two main characters (played by Aubrey Plaza & Dane DeHaan). I didn’t really like Plaza in this one – she played the role fine, I guess, but it possibly could have been a bit better with a different actress. That funny-looking Dane DeHaan was fine (sorry, Zoe – I think he’s a little funny-looking). 😉 I liked him most in Chronicle but it feels like he plays that same sort of role too much and his role in this one is somewhat similar in that he’s again a “troubled youth with issues”. Oh well – the role suits him. His main issue in this one is that he seems perfectly happy to have sex with a girl who has just returned from the dead and is very likely a zombie. Ew. The ROT…

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I understand the point this movie is trying to make about relationships and how we can sometimes stay in unhealthy ones because we find it hard to let go. It doesn’t work that well in the film, though, as I really didn’t care at all about the two main characters (especially poor Beth, who we don’t get to know at all in “life” – we only see her as a thoroughly unlikable zombie-girl made to represent the stereotypical “crazy bitch” girlfriend, which was almost a little sexist & insulting). It may have been better if we’d seen her as she was before her death. Maybe. I don’t know.

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What DOES work fairly well in this movie are all the lesser characters that provide the comic relief. Both sets of parents (John C Reilly & Molly Shannon as Plaza’s and Cheryl Hines & Paul Reiser as DeHaan’s) were pretty funny and I liked DeHaan’s asshole brother (Matthew Gray Gubler), who was a little bit like Bill Paxton in Weird Science. I wish these characters had had more screen time and that we’d had more of the overall story explained & happening all along (there’s a bit more to it than just “girlfriend comes back from the dead”) but, unfortunately, they chose to pretty much focus ONLY on the relationship between Plaza & DeHaan. This may have worked if their characters had been at all developed so that the audience cared one way or another what would happen to them. Without knowing what their relationship was like before the death, it just seemed a bit pointless.

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Summary:

Pretty pointless zombie-romance-comedy when there are plenty of better ones out there in this day & age of zombie movie obsessiveness. Just watch Zombieland or Shaun Of The Dead if you want a zombie comedy (or the movie I’ll be reviewing tomorrow) or Warm Bodies if you want this weird new genre of zombie romance. Those are good – Life After Beth is not. A waste of a good movie title.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Review & Poll

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by Marc Webb

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring:
Andrew Garfield
Emma Stone
Jamie Foxx
Dane DeHaan
Colm Feore
Felicity Jones
Campbell Scott
Embeth Davidtz
Paul Giamatti
Sally Field

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Not much different from The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). And I’m too lazy to write a synopsis.

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My Opinion:

I remembered writing a bit about The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) somewhere on this blog. I found the post! I started this blog at the end of 2012 so I just did a round-up of every film I’d seen that year (And ranked them from my favorite to least favorite. Those who know me know I’m anal like that). 😉 Anyway, that post is HERE and it makes for more interesting reading than the very little bit I said about The Amazing Spider-Man, which I ranked as the 18th best movie I went to in 2012 & gave a 6/10. I actually thought I’d liked it more than that! Hmm… This was my in-depth analysis: “Not actually that bad, but… What’s the point?? Do prefer Andrew Garfield to Tobey Maguire, though.

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Well, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is pretty similar to the last one. As I say at the start of every superhero movie review I do, I’ve never read a comic book so all my knowledge is only of the films I’ve seen. All I’ve really ever known of Spider-Man is what I saw in the Tobey Maguire movies (I still do NOT understand why they’ve done this whole reboot). Anyway, I enjoyed those just fine. Can’t say I’ve watched any of them since going to them, though, and I never really bought into Maguire.

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So far, I feel pretty much the same way about the Garfield films – I’ve enjoyed them so far but it’s unlikely that I’ll be re-watching them anytime soon. They’re fun popcorn movies but I don’t enjoy them to the same degree as the Avengers films or the X-Men films. I do still prefer Andrew Garfield to Tobey Maguire, though.

FYI: I casually mentioned on Twitter that I’d seen this movie & ended up discussing the whole Maguire vs Garfield thing for a good couple of hours. I’ll go into detail on this at the end of the review plus there’ll be a POLL! You can vote for Team Maguire or Team Garfield. Go team Garfield! 😉

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I do think this second Amazing Spider-Man is a slight improvement over the first one. I thought the villains and the big showdowns were better. They did a good job further developing the Gwen Stacy/Peter Parker romance plus his relationship with his aunt. The villains didn’t feel very developed, though, but this is often a problem with superhero films anyway. And Jamie Foxx was a bit weird as a total Poindexter nerd.

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I’m not sure what else to say about this. I do still feel this reboot is pointless but it doesn’t mean these new films are BAD… If the others didn’t exist, people would like the Andrew Garfield ones more than they seem to. To be honest, I just want to start talking about the Twitter debate now because that was pretty entertaining. 😉

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is fun, as was the first one. It’s not going to change the world but it’s light entertainment. I had fun with it & there are far worse ways to spend a couple of hours.

My Rating: 7/10

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ANDREW GARFIELD vs TOBEY MAGUIRE: THE BIG DEBATE

So, after seeing this movie last Tuesday, I casually mentioned to my usual group of Twitter buddies that I’d seen it. Bloody hell – I didn’t expect to spend a good chunk of the rest of the day arguing about who was the better Spider-Man: Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire. But it was fun and that’s what I love about this little group of people – I think I enjoyed the Twitter debate more than the movie. 😉

So I’ve chosen just one quote from each person as the debate went on for ages. And at the very end of this post, you’ll find a poll so you can vote for your favorite Spider-Man of the two. If you want to also put your choice in the comments below, I can add you to TEAM MAGUIRE or TEAM GARFIELD here & link to your blog.

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TEAM MAGUIRE:

Brian at Hard Ticket To Home Video:

I was considering adding the choice of “Team Don’t Give A Fuck” as this is the team Brian declared he was on after spending a good couple of hours making it pretty clear he was very much NOT Team Garfield. Lol! Gotta love Brian. Here’s my favorite Brian quote. Note the time – 7:26 pm. My first post about going to the movie was at 1:50 pm. I think I just wore him out! Bwahaha! 😉

https://twitter.com/dr_goodtimes/status/458673224994533376

Eric at The IPC:

Eric seems to think Andrew Garfield is a teenage girl. This was Eric’s main argument throughout the day. Funny how all the girls are on Team Garfield. I think the boys may just be jealous of Garfield’s lovely big, brown, puppy dog eyes…

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TEAM GARFIELD:

Me at Cinema Parrot Disco:

The tweet that started it all…

Zoe at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger:

After Brian & Eric had a go at me on the Garfield thing for a bit, I was very relieved when Zoe came to my rescue!

Mike at Screenkicker:

THEN, as a huge surprise, Mike showed up and agreed with us girls! We weren’t expecting that! Yay, Mike!

Cara at Silver Screen Serenade:

Cara wasn’t around until later in the day and we were all dying to know which team she was on. Well, I was at least. Lol. Luckily, she chose wisely…

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UNDECIDED:

(Never got an exact answer from these two. If either of you wish to pick a side, I’ll move you to the appropriate place). 😉

Seth at Kloipy Speaks:

In a bit of a “Brian move”, this is the reply I got from Seth when I asked for everyone to choose a side “for the record” as I planned to mention the Twitter debate in my review. Lol!

Melissa at Snap Crackle Watch:

Melissa was more interested in another conversation that started up in which I reminded Zoe that she should watch the film Never Let Me Go, starring Garfield. I think we’d all like to read the book it’s based on. 😉

PICK YOUR SIDE:

Metallica Erupt In Through The Never Trailer

Link: Rolling Stone

From article:

A grisly car crash followed by an all-out riot may not be what you expected to see in a Metallica 3D concert film, but that’s exactly how the new trailer for Metallica Through the Never opens. Helmed by Hungarian director Nimród Antal, the film was said to blend concert footage from three shows filmed in Vancouver last August with a narrative arc featuring the actor Dane DeHaan playing a fictional member of the band’s road crew.

Hmm. Dunno. I’ll probably watch it – I was a big Metallica fan in the 80s. Here’s a list of My Top Five Metallica Songs. 🙂

Through The Never trailer:

The Place Beyond The Pines (2012) Review

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Seriously – this is a 2012 movie??

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring:
Ryan Gosling
Bradley Cooper
Eva Mendes
Dane DeHaan
Emory Cohen
Ray Liotta
Ben Mendelsohn
Rose Byrne
Mahershala Ali
Bruce Greenwood
Harris Yulin

Music By: Mike Patton. That’s right – of Faith No More! Cool. Noticed his name in the credits and wanted to make sure to mention him – love Faith No More. And… Anyone remember Mr Bungle?? Ha!

Plot:

I’m not sure if I should go into the plot much. The way they are marketing this film, by only really focusing on Ryan Gosling, is a bit misleading. Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stuntman. While in town with a travelling fair he works for, he sees an ex-lover of his (Romina, played by Eva Mendes). Luke learns that Romina’s one-year-old son is his. Luke decides to stay in town and help to raise his son even though Romina has moved on & is with another man. He gets a job at an auto repair shop but, when that doesn’t earn him enough money to help his son, he turns to robbing banks. Luke soon becomes addicted to this “easy” way of getting money.

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This is all pretty much everything I read about before seeing the film. But there’s MUCH more to the movie than just this one story about Luke. So don’t go to it expecting the entire movie to just be about Ryan Gosling going on a bank-robbing spree. The movie is better than just that.

I really enjoyed this movie. My hubby didn’t so much. He thinks it’s because I have the hots for Gosling but I don’t think that has anything to do with it. He’s still hot, even with some really ugly tattoos and a Metallica t-shirt, but he certainly doesn’t do it for me as much in this film as in others. And he’s good in this, as always, but he doesn’t steal the whole show. His character isn’t quite as strong as in other films – he was much deeper in things like Lars And The Real Girl & Half Nelson and he was “cooler” and more mysterious in Drive. The director, Derek Cianfrance, also did Blue Valentine. I still haven’t fully decided if I prefer that or Pines but I do think Gosling’s character was more well-developed in Valentine & he delivered a better performance. But, overall, Pines is probably a more “entertaining” film with a better story as opposed to Valentine which is more about the performances than the story.

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If you love Drive, you MIGHT like Pines but don’t go to it expecting it to be anything like it. It’s very different. There was a bit of a hoodie at our screening – he did stay for the whole thing but he & his woman kept talking to each other about being bored. This is where I always get a bit snobby and say things like “people need to find a little something out about a movie before going to it!” but to be fair, although I knew what kind of movie it was as I’m a movie lover & do my research, I do think they’re making this movie look a little too much like another Drive. As to be expected as it’s the same director, it’s much more like Blue Valentine. It’s a drama. It has a slow pace. It IS a little overlong (as much as I enjoyed it I did feel it could have been cut down by half an hour). It’s my kind of thing, though. It’s not going to be for everyone.

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As for the stories (as I said, there’s more to it than just the story of Luke and this has been hinted at in enough reviews that I don’t think I’m spoiling anything), they were all good but I especially liked the first one & the final one. The final one was a complete surprise as I knew nothing at all about that one before seeing the film. I think I felt the most for the characters in the final bit & found my heart pounding a little when there were a couple of times where you really didn’t know what was going to happen to them. I thought all the characters in the whole film felt realistic as well – these seemed like real people because I thought they acted in ways that real-life people in the same situations may behave (not as common in movies as it should be!). As it’s marketed in that Drive kind of way, I thought it would be really violent. It’s not. There were a few times where I thought it might suddenly get crazy-Drive-level-violent but it thankfully didn’t. Not saying I don’t like Drive – I love it. But this film didn’t feel the need to up the violence or the action or to start acting all “cool”. It kept things slow & steady but it still had me on the edge of my seat at the end in a similar way to how I felt while watching American History X. Not sure why this comparison popped into my head while watching Pines – I think the tension I felt toward the end was quite similar (although American History X is definitely a better film).

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A quick mention of the performances: As I said, Gosling is good as always but it’s not his strongest role. Eva Mendes is good as is Mahershala Ali, who plays her boyfriend. I liked the character Ben Mendelsohn plays – the owner of the body shop where Gosling works. Ray Liotta is… sooooo Ray Liotta! So, you’ll be happy if you like Ray Liotta but I found it quite disappointing that he’s playing the same role here that he ALWAYS plays. In fact, that’s probably the thing I liked least about this film. Dane DeHaan also plays a very similar character to one he’s played before but he’s very good at that sort of role and I thought he was very good in this – he’s possibly one of the best things about this movie, actually. For me the most pleasant surprise was probably Bradley Cooper, though. He plays a rookie cop. This is also widely known about the plot (if there’s a bank robber there has to be a cop!) but they REALLY don’t focus much on him in the trailers & things I’d seen beforehand. It’s a big role! Honestly, the only thing I’d really seen him in was The Hangover so, naturally, I wasn’t overly impressed with him. (The Hangover isn’t really my type of thing). But then he was suddenly up for an Oscar! (I really do want to see Silver Linings Playbook). So, yeah – turns out he can act. I thought he was good as the rookie cop who’s a bit unsure of himself.

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Summary: I liked this a lot but it’s not for everyone. It’s a slow-paced drama with some very good performances but not any really amazing ones. It’s a little overlong but has a good sense of growing tension, especially at the end, which kept me very gripped. And I really cared about most of the characters. Good drama. I recommend it. But remember it is NOTHING like Drive. Overall, though, something holds this movie back from being excellent instead of just very good. No, I don’t know what that something is. If I knew, I’d be the one making the movies! 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

Mike Patton – The Snow Angel

The Ryan Gosling Project

My Top Five Metallica Songs