Release Date: January 28th, 2012 (France – Gerardmer Fantasy Film Festival)
Directed by: Josh Trank
Written by: Josh Trank, Max Landis
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Anna Wood
Davis Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, 89 Minutes, 89 Minutes (Director’s Cut)
“Please believe me, Steve. Please, it’s just I-I don’t know what I did. I lost control, and I’m so sorry. This thing, it’s just becoming a part of me now and I don’t… I miss you, Steve.” – Andrew Detmer
I kind of wanted to see this back in 2012 when it came out but apparently not enough to actually get off of my ass and go to the theater. That was also a busy year for me, as I was at the height of writing political commentary and free time was a fantasy.
Years have now passed and I kind of lost interest after seeing how awful Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie was. However, this was available on Cinemax and I figured I’d finally give it a shot.
This isn’t a bad film but it’s not a particularly good one either. It’s fairly impressive for being made on a very small budget but it also takes advantage of the “found footage” style that was way too popular at the time.
Still, the big finale is superbly executed and pulled off really well. Everything leading up to that, however, is just okay.
The plot follows three teens who find a weird glowing star thing in a cave in the woods. This thing gives them telekinetic powers. Over time, they grow stronger but one of them is a tortured teen that comes from a terrible home life and is also picked on relentlessly by bullies at school. So, you probably know where this is going.
Anyway, angsty teen ends up hurting people and also accidentally kills one of his friends. The finale sees the angsty teen’s cousin try to stop him from hurting more people, as the police come out in full force to take him out.
For the most part, this is enjoyable and certainly worth checking out for those who like this genre. But it’s nothing special, which is probably why it’s fallen down the cultural memory hole.
The acting and direction are okay but nothing really stands out. Ultimately, it’s a bit better than meh but much better films have explored these concepts already.
Pairs well with: Brightburn, Super 8 and Project Almanac.
Release Date: July 17th, 2017 (TCL Chinese Theatre premiere)
Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Based on: Valérian and Laureline by Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer
EuropaCorp, Fundamental Films, BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance, Universum Film, Gulf Film, River Road Entertainment, Belga Films, STX Entertainment, 137 Minutes
“I didn’t come here to get a makeover.” – Laureline
Going into this, I had no expectations either way. Part of me wanted this to be a true spiritual successor to Luc Besson’s classic The Fifth Element, which is twenty years old this year. Another part of me sort of expected this to follow the trend of Besson’s modern work, which has been hit or miss but mostly miss. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is both of these things.
Is it on the level of The Fifth Element? No. But it does channel that film in its subject matter, visual flair, bizarreness and creativity.
The film starts out strong and really gets you into the spirit of what it’s trying to do. Unfortunately, once the main actors show up, it takes you out of the picture. I don’t necessarily blame them but the quirky dialogue that they had to work with was pretty awful. They also completely lacked chemistry and just looked like two fish out of water when they were forced together. It was like watching two young kids trying to be witty and cool while trying to be into each other but you knew they were probably just dating because of social pressure from kids cooler than them.
I’m not sure why but Dane DeHaan just doesn’t do anything for me. People seem to love this guy but I don’t get it. Most of the time, he talks like he is trying to channel some sort of cool inner bad ass but it just sounds like a teenager trying to act tough. His voice sounds like it isn’t even confident in its delivery. It’s like he’s a weakling playing the part of a bad ass and that he’s terrified that he’ll be exposed at any second for not being a cool tough guy. It brings me back to when he played Harry Osborn a.k.a. the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I kind of just want to smack him and tell him to go to his room. And if you want to compare this to The Fifth Element, he doesn’t have a tenth of the presence or personality of Bruce Willis.
Cara Delevingne is better than DeHaan in this but she still needs more experience before taking over the reigns of a film. However, my favorite part of this movie was when DeHaan was briefly taken out of the picture and Delevingne took over in an effort to find him and rescue him. I’d actually prefer her in a solo film, to be completely honest.
The biggest problem with this movie is not the acting, dialogue or the directing. What killed this movie for me is that it seems like a collage of really cool visual shit mixed up in a nonsensical way. The story was all over the place and just seemed like it was there to string together a bunch of random scenes that would have worked better as shorts or music videos. The plot was confusing and hard to follow throughout most of the picture. When you get to the end, there is a lot of over-explanation as to what is going on in an attempt to make sense out of the two hour mess before the big climax.
Valerian is absolutely beautiful and imaginative but that is all it is. It is a film that showcases so much potential but fails to do anything with it. It was poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted and poorly executed. Even Clive Owen and his iron gravitas could not save the picture.
And ultimately, the best thing about the movie is the opening sequence which features humans and aliens coming together over generations, set to the tune of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.
I also find it odd that this film completely whitewashes the Avatar aliens and no one cares.
Release Date: March 31st, 2014 (Tokyo premiere)
Directed by: Marc Webb
Written by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkler, James Vanderbilt
Based on: The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Music by: Hans Zimmer, The Magnificent Six
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Felicity Jones, B.J. Novak, Denis Leary, Chris Cooper
Marvel Entertainment, Arad Productions, Inc., Matt Tolmach Productions, Columbia Pictures, 142 Minutes
Man, where do I begin with this film? To start, it was pretty awful overall. Granted, I wasn’t a fan of the first one and I didn’t expect much from this outing but despite a few things I liked, the vast majority of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was complete shit.
Every male actor in this film was horrible. Andrew Garfield is not all that likeable and I can’t relate to him like I did to the previous Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire. Garfield just can’t sell the “nerdy photographer” shtick all that well and most of the time he is borderline emo (I am ignoring Maguire’s fall into emo madness in Spider-Man 3 because I pretend that that film doesn’t exist).
Speaking of emo, Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn was atrocious. He was an emo girl’s wet dream, whining and crawling on the ground and whining some more with his burnout lizard-looking face and Dashboard Confessional haircut. I never felt threatened by this dime store wuss and his attempts at being bad ass were laughable when they weren’t just irritating. His look as Green Goblin was just goofy and ridiculous. I felt like I was watching some waify angsty morally conflicted rich kid at Comic-Con trying to dress up as Sting in Dune but doing a bad job at it.
Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon a.k.a. Electro was probably the worst performance of his illustrious career since Booty Call. The character was also unlikable and so one-dimensional that almost every piece of dialogue that was written for him was completely predictable. He may have been the stupidest smart person in the history of cinema.
Then there was Paul Giamatti as the dude who becomes Rhino, talking in the worst Russian accent I have ever heard while just being completely idiotic. I typically love Giamatti, but in this film, I felt embarrassed for him.
Weirdly, all the females in the movie were pretty good. Emma Stone was great, adorable and mesmerizing, as always, Sally Field was fantastic and Felicity Jones was good with the limited role she had. But even the strong female presences couldn’t save this pile of insipid juvenile crap.
As far as the plot goes, there was so much nonsensical bullshit that it became a complete clusterfuck and the plot was just secondary and didn’t matter all that much. The whole film was a cookie cutter superhero love story with a predictable outcome mixed in with over-the-top CGI orgasmfests that offered nothing new or captivating.
And why was it so friggin’ long?
On a positive note, it wasn’t as dull and boring as the first film in the series.