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OCEAN’S 8 (2018) – My rating: 7/10

Ocean’s 8 (stylized onscreen as Ocean’s Eight) is a comedy directed by Gary Ross and written by Ross and Olivia Milch. The film is a spin-off from Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy and features an ensemble cast.  Ocean’s 8 follows a group of women, led by Debbie Ocean, who plan on robbing a very expensive necklace, after serving time for a crime she actually didn’t commit.

 

**** THIS PLOT HAS SOME SPOILERS **** 

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the younger sister of the late Danny Ocean (character from the previous Oceans 11 through 13), spends five years, eight months and twelve days in prison planning a heist. Debbie convinces her partner-in-crime and friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) to join forces with her while she proceeds to recruit a jewelry maker,  Amita (Mindy Kaling), a profiteer, Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a street hustler, Constance (Awkwafina), a computer cracker, Leslie a.k.a. Nine Ball (Rihanna), and a fashion designer, Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter). The film reveals in a flashback that Debbie’s ex-lover, Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), had involved her in a fraudulent scheme, then testified against her, which resulted in the 5+ years prison sentence she served. However, unbeknownst to Becker and as payback, Debbie chooses him to be the scapegoat for the plot to steal the Toussaint, a $150 million necklace to be worn by Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala.

Cast who appeared in a reprised, cameo role:
Dakota Fanning cameos as Penelope Stern
Elliott Gould reprises his role as Reuben Tishkoff
Shaobo Qin reprise his roles as  “The Amazing” Yen
Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, Mary Louise Wilson and Elizabeth Ashley cameos as actresses who help the crew shift their stolen gems.

These celebrities make cameo appearances as themselves:
Anna Wintour, Zayn Malik, Katie Holmes, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, Kylie Jenner, Alexander Wang, Nina Cuso, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Lily Aldridge, Olivia Munn, Zac Posen, Hailey Baldwin, Derek Blasberg, Heidi Klum and Lauren Santo Domingo.

I didn’t know what to expect from this movie but I have now formed an opinion that Ocean’s 8 was somewhat entertaining and somewhat boring and very unbelievable.  While the premise was okay, the overall execution was ridiculous and sloppy.  I think this film could have been thought out better before presenting it, especially to the Ocean’s trilogy fans.  Speaking of presentation, I thought Cate Blanchett looked fabulously beautiful, I hardly recognized her.  That’s not to say she isn’t beautiful all the time, it’s just to say she was especially beautiful in Ocean’s 8.  My recommendation is to wait for the DVD.  It’ll be an enjoyable night of watching movies at best!

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Since I don’t read comic books, I didn’t know what to expect or even that this movie was derived from a comic book series. The pitch was “Valerian is the most beautiful movie we’ll ever see.” It was compared to Avatar and I was convinced that if it was half as good as Avatar, it still would be pretty fantastic as far as outstanding special effects goes. As it turns out, some of this was right but not all. It wasn’t until two thirds through, I found Valerian becoming more than tolerable and even interesting. The acting was good but the story was a little confusing. Then something happened; camera, action, a change of pace — oh boy, I think I like this after all.

A space station called Alpha was started in the 28th century where millions of creatures from different planets could live peacefully, exchange knowledge and cultures without any problems. What began as a space station around the planet Earth, grew as many nations from Earth and races from other planets joined. One of the planets called Mül was a low-tech humanoid race that lives peacefully in a tropical paradise. They fish for energy-containing pearls and use certain animals to duplicate the pearls.  Their philosophy was to give back what was given to them, much like Luke 12:48 – (NLT) “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are romantically involved as well as special agents of the human police forces. In a dream, Valerian sees this planet in all it’s beauty and glory.  As this idyll is destroyed by spaceship debris crashing onto the planet, Valerian wakes up to find he and Laureline on a mission to retrieve one of the rare animals from his dream, called a “converter”, from a black market dealer.

Valerian interrupts a meeting of the dealer with two prospective customers for the converter, both looking like the humanoids from his dream. He and Laureline obtain the converter, and he surreptitiously steals one of the pearls that had been given to the dealer as payment.  They now return to Alpha, where they are told by their Commander, Arün Filitt, (Clive Owen) part of the station has been infected by an unknown force, rendering it highly toxic, and troops sent into the area have not returned, plus the infection is spreading. Laureline and Valerian are assigned to protect the commander. However, while briefing an assembly about the infection, they are ambushed by the humanoids, who incapacitate all participants and kidnap him. Valerian frees himself and the others and chases the kidnappers, who head for the infected area. Valerian loses control of his vehicle and Laureline loses contact with Valerian who infiltrates the residential sector of the group with the help of a shapeshifter named Bubble (Rihanna).

While this is all starting to sound a little confusing, you probably can understand why I became a little loss in the beginning.  Trust me, it all comes together and even is fun and very interesting, especially when Rihanna enters the scene.  It definitely was not the fabulous movie they promised but it was descent.  You’ll learn why and who destroyed the planet Mül, as well as what happened to the planet’s beautiful inhabitants.  Also Valerian ask for Laureline’s hand in marriage, does she say yea or nay?  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is not too violent and the special effects are fantastic.  Nicely done!    You will also get to see: Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, Herbie Hancock as a Defence Minister and hear John Goodman as the voice of Igon Siruss, a Kodar’Khan pirate captain and the galaxy’s most-wanted criminal.  Check it out!

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