Category Archives: Thumbs Down

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Thumbs up or Thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a science fiction action adventure film based on the French comic series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. It stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline.

Now, granted I know absolutely nothing of the original source material but I simply refuse to accept that for something first published in 1967 all the way through to 2010 that this movie is the best that could be made. It’s rushed, sloppy and ultimately soulless.

It’s a shame because the opening scenes with Valerian and Laureline do show some potential, however unfortunately everything quickly devolves into a big mess of nonstop…Things happening. You meet this character for a scene and then this character for another. It is all so meaningless. The movie barely takes a second to breathe and when it does try, it misses the mark.

Valerian was written and directed by Luc Besson, who directed the cult classic Fifth Element and in many ways this does feel like a 2017 version. It has a similar vibe, the same bright colours and a daft, poorly executed plot. Truth be told, it is not as good as the Fifth Element. Maybe the whole thing just needed a Chris Tucker cameo to tie it all together though? Maybe…

Meanwhile you have Dane DeHaan, I just don’t see him as an action star. He’s has that scrawny, weird-looking kid kind of vibe about him. To me, he felt like a fish out of water but again, I do not know the source material so that casting could have been spot on. In my opinion it looked like a nerd trying to play a badass, but it wasn’t done intentionally for laughs. He’s just been miscast.

The main problem however is the lack of any sort of back story, who are these people? What have they done before? Couple that with very minimal character development and you leave me wondering why I should care about anything I am watching. I literally did not care for anyone in this entire film, they were either boring or CGI. Okay fine, I thought the little animal converter thing was cute, but that is just playing on my weaknesses. A friend of mine said that hopefully we would get more information if a sequel was greenlit but that is one film too late!

The love story, which is the only thing that you could even pretend had any development in was forced, on the nose and in honesty kind of boring. There is pretty much zero chemistry between the two leads. Valerian is meant to be some sort of big time ladies’ man, but I didn’t believe it and by the end I was just rolling my eyes.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets also ticks another box on my pet peeves list. Too much CGI! Many others are praising the movie for how good it looks and in some shots it is fantastic but the main aliens themselves reminded me far too much of John Carter and the Star Wars prequels. Which I believe we can all agree is not a good thing! Can we not get some make up and prosthetics up in here?!

Ultimately watching this film I was both bored and frustrated, which is not a particularly good combination to have. I have to say that I would not recommend it and in my opinion this movie is an absolute bomb. Which I take zero pleasure in saying. If you were hoping for a new ‘Guardians of the Galaxy out of left field’ hit franchise, this isn’t it folks. It’s more Jupiter Ascending.

Verdict: Thumbs Down

 

Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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Things get worse for a down-on-his-luck Capt. Jack Sparrow when his old nemesis, the evil Capt. Salazar, escapes from the Devil’s Triangle. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon…

Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment because I keep going to see these massive pieces of trash. Some how they just keep getting worse…and to be honest that’s saying something because they’ve been utter rubbish for 4 films now. Which is a massive, massive shame because when it first came out the original Pirates of the Caribbean was probably my favourite movie as a kid.

I still can’t get my head around the fact that producers, script writers and directors have completely missed the point on what made the first film so brilliant. They’ve taken the ‘curse of the black pearl’ and decided that the reason fans liked a pirate film was the magic element. It couldn’t possibly be the fact that a fun, swash-buckling romp is just…well fun? Instead, every film since they’ve doubled down on the whole magic nonsense and quite frankly its just a little bit pants.

Not only that, the franchise quickly went from exciting action set pieces to completely over-the-top, bizarre and down right implausible moments. Now I know that you’re meant to have some level of suspension of disbelief (and in a film about magic you probably should) but it’s just dumb. Continue reading

Review: The Mummy

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Because everything in Hollywood has to be a reboot and have its own cinematic universe, here is the 2017 version of The Mummy. A franchise reboot that nobody was wanting or asking for. It’s the first in the Universal ‘Dark Universe’ which will also feature films like Dracula, Frankenstein, Van Helsing and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russel Crowe and Sofia Boutella as the titular character of The Mummy or Princess Ahmanet if you want to be slightly friendlier. I’ve listed four people there, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is anything more than the regular Tom Cruise show. Which normally I wouldn’t have a problem with, as I like Tom Cruise, but it’s just one of many things that stop this being a ‘Mummy’ film as it focuses its attentions elsewhere.

First of all, like many before it, The Mummy is the first film in a franchise that spends far too long trying to set up multiple movies down the line instead of making sure that the first movie is actually good. Why would people want to return to the universe if the first one is rubbish? For example, you know what made Iron Man one so successful? Despite being the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it actually just focused on being a good Iron Man movie, with Easter eggs hidden here and there and then a post credits scene with Nick Fury. Simple.

Perhaps more importantly though is the overall tone and general pacing of the movie that’s wrong here. Now I think we can all admit that the previous iteration of The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser was by no means perfect, in fact it was a bit rubbish, but what you can say is that the general tone of the films was entertaining. Simple and fun action fantasy adventure flicks. This time around everything has to be real, modernised and gritty. Dark tones and jump scares galore. That might float some people’s boats but it’s not really what I wanted to be honest.

Then you get to the pacing. In places they fly through scenes, such as when they find the burial chamber at the start but then the film lingers in the middle and really slows down to a crawl. There is a scene in which Tom Cruise fights something, it’s almost completely irrelevant to the main plot and serves nothing more than as a distraction. I guess the writers thought they needed an action scene to spice things up a little.

One of the main problems that this film has though is that Tom Cruise’s character is just a bit of a dick. It’s the classic cocky scoundrel who eventually ends up doing the right thing and saving the day routine. For whatever reason I just couldn’t connect with it. Then you get to his best friend, who is as dumb as Cruise was unlikable, and their comedy bickering and general relationship are at complete odds with the rest of the films darker vibes.

It’s not all bad though, for example; the set pieces, in particular the plane crash that you get a glimpse of in the trailer is fantastic and as usual with Tom Cruise films you do appreciate the fact that he does his own stunts.

The most interesting thing about this film is, somewhat ironically for all of my complaining, Russel Crowe’s character(s), Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde. He’s in this movie simply to be the connecting arm throughout the new cinematic universe and while sort of necessary for the plot, very much shoehorned in at the same time. However, I actually left the cinema thinking how much more interesting a movie revolving around those characters at the helm of a monster hunting organisation would be. I guess we’ll get glimpses of that throughout all of the films.

This version of The Mummy’s main crime though isn’t that it’s trying too hard to set up an entire new cinematic universe or that its darker tone is rather hit and miss. Instead it’s actually that the film is just pretty boring.

Verdict: Thumbs Down

Review: King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an epic fantasy film directed by Guy Ritchie starring Charlie Hunnam as Arthur with Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law and Eric Bana in supporting roles.

Where do I even begin? This film was absolutely terrible. Completely rubbish. Awful.

I disliked pretty much everything about this film and I mean everything. The tone, the pacing and calling the characters ‘thinly written’ would be too generous to what they actually are. Style over substance leaves the film completely all over the place and at no point does it feel like there is an actual point to anything, things just happen, people say things. I went into this movie thinking, there is no way this film can be as bad as the critics are saying it is. Its worse.

Why can’t Hollywood just make a regular King Arthur film? Why does it always have to have a new twist and new lore created. In 2004 we had an awful attempt at making him a Roman and ‘real’, now he’s a geezer from London with the lads. As a casual viewer the story I want to see would be described as a more classical King Arthur tale, not a rewritten and re-imagined version. I want the Knights of the Roundtable, gallantry and chivalry if Hollywood don’t think audiences want that King Arthur, why do they think they want any version at all?

Also, other than a brief flashback there is no Merlin to be had at all or even Sir Lancelot. What is this nonsense? Instead Merlin is replaced by The Mage played by Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, who controls a few animals, gives Arthur some visions and then promptly gets captured. Rubbish.

One of the main problems with this movie though is Charlie Hunnam. He just doesn’t work for me. When he tires to come of a confident he only comes of as smug. I don’t want a smug King Arthur I want a noble King Arthur! In general he comes across as a little bit wooden and a little bit flat. This is actually the second film I’ve seen him in this year, the other being The Lost City of Z, and I said exactly the same thing for that too. Come to think of it you could say the same thing about his role in Pacific Rim as well.Unfortunately though this means that both leading candidates for worst film of the year, star the same man.

When you’re leading role isn’t on point then you are always going to struggle to keep me on board with the story. Jude Law however in his defence, is probably the best thing about the entire movie. He actually showed a little bit of emotional, character depth and confliction in his actions while yearning for ultimate power and control. Everyone else with their barely sketched in characters has nothing really to play with at all and so just float from scene to scene following Arthur because ‘he’s Arthur’.

There were two things I did like about this film. Firstly, Excalibur’s magical powers and use in the fight scenes was pretty awesome. Secondly and this one is bitter-sweet as it actually gave me hope that the film had minor potential not to be awful. One of the first few scenes is Arthur and the lads talking to the captain of the city guard and the whole scene is excellent Guy Ritchie-esque dialogue and banter. Unfortunately the reason this is bitter-sweet is because this is the only time in the film this style actually works.

In short, don’t waste your money or your time. Maybe one day we’ll get a good King Arthur film on the big screen but this is not it. Oh and also David Beckham’s cameo was crap too.

Verdict: Thumbs down

Review: The Lost City of Z

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At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilisation. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, which views indigenous populations as savages, the determined Fawcett returns to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case.

Long, drawn out, flat, dull…boring. All words I would use to describe The Lost City of Z. At 140 minutes, it feels even longer while you watch it. You might be able to tell that I was not a fan. I’m actually surprised over the number of positive reviews this has. Maybe I’m in the minority, although the people leaving the cinema all seemed to agree with me from what I overheard.

the-lost-city-of-z-posterThe story and history of the events are quite fascinating but the movie itself just wasn’t a very exciting or interesting watch. Far too much time was spent not adventuring. For a film about an explorer, you would have thought he’d be exploring in it.

Charlie Hunnam as Colonel Percy Fawcett, is wooden, one-dimensional and generally uninspiring. Tom Holland as his son is awkward and unconvincing. Sienna Miller however is quite good as Mrs Nina Fawcett and Robert Pattinson is probably the best I’ve ever seen him.

Fawcett’s obsession with finding Z was merely hinted at as well, rather than focused on. In this film it seems more like a casual hobby to do on a Sunday afternoon than anything else.

There were a few good moments strung throughout though, finding an opera in the middle of the jungle and a tense exchange with a slave dealer for example. Not enough to keep me interested though unfortunately.

Verdict: Thumbs Down

Review: Power Rangers

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Chosen by destiny five teenagers must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. But to do so, they will have to overcome their issues and band together as the Power Rangers.

Okay here’s the thing. I was never really that big of a Power Rangers fan when it was on TV. So I’m not the target audience for this film, i.e. children or older, preexisting fans of the franchise but I thought I’d see it anyway! Because you never know. So, with that in mind, continue reading….

This new Power Rangers is overly long, incredibly dumb, mind numbing trash. So in other words, a perfect Power Rangers film. I imagine kids will love it too, for some reason.

I’ll say this, Power Rangers in 2017 is still just as awkward and cheesy as power rangers of old. I mean, Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa is bonkers throughout, but in the climatic battle scenes it’s just all out classic Power Rangers nonsense. I must admit to cracking a smile for the old Power Rangers theme when they ran into battle though.

The problem I have with this film is that every character is an idiot. Other than Jason’s (Red Ranger’s) Dad, who constantly talks sense and has to put up with having an incredibly talented but wasteful son. Everything he says is bang on the money.

It’s zero to 100 in barely a scene. They find the gems, the feel stronger, they jump ravines. Baby steps people! Unbelievably reckless. And I mean that, I found it to be unbelievable that five people would do the things they do, so soon.

It’s not that this film is ‘terrible’ its just not very good. Do the Power Rangers belong on the big screen in 2017? I don’t think so. Television… sure, as toys sure. Actually big budget movies? Pass. However, this will probably do quite well and they’ll sell a billion toys. So expect another one in 2019.

Verdict: Thumbs Down

This Is The Police [Game Review]

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This Is The Police is a story driven strategy game developed by Weappy Studio. It was released in August 2016 for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux. The game is set in the fictional city of Freeburg in the late 1980’s. You play as Police Chief Jack Boyd who is being forced into early retirement by the mayor for his final one hundred and eighty days on the force.

this-is-the-police_screenshot3Okay, let’s start with the positives. The basic game play (pictured) is fundamentally fun. The basics of sending out your officers to crime scenes, investigating cases with your detectives. Hiring and firing, allowing staff time off and generally trying to keep them happy while still being successful. Officers political opinions come into play later on, adding another challenge when sending them out to work as a team. Balancing the major and the mafia to keep them both happy so you don’t have your budget cut or end up dead. This is all interesting stuff and while rather simple is again, enjoyable.

Unfortunately there are 180 days to play through and not enough changes to keep it interesting. The middle part of this game is quite sluggish in the middle. The overarching story keeps moving along, but those are mostly cut scenes, and it’s not enough to cover the fact that you are doing the same task over and over.

If you’re successful in keeping the major happy, he’ll keep increasing your police budget and staffing allowances. Meaning you can answer most calls no problem. The game play needed something extra on top to keep it going. Instead it becomes slow and stops being as enjoyable to play quite quickly.

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