Ocean’s Eight


Year: 2018
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring:  Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Poulson, Awkwafina


The ‘all-female reboot’ has been a controversial trend in recent movies, none more so than ‘Ghostbusters’, a film which I loved, after growing up with and being a huge fan of the originals. Although many have been mooted (let’s pray the female ‘Lord of the Flies’ never happens), only two high-profile examples have come to fruition, with ‘Ocean’s Eight‘ being the second. These reboots have been unpopular with some men (the ‘Ghostbusters ruined my childhood’ crowd) and also some women, who believe we should have new, original and risk-taking material for teams of women to star in, instead of rehashing male-dominated franchises. I fall somewhere in between; I have mostly found them fun, but my biggest issue is that they don’t have women directors or predominantly female crews. The female empowerment aspect feels somewhat empty without the women being behind, as well as in front of the camera.

When I first heard about the cast of ‘Ocean’s Eight‘, I couldn’t help but get excited. As each name was announced and added to the impressive roster, the anticipation built. Then on-set photos were released, revealing the ultra-cool costuming, especially of Cate Blanchett’s character in her velvet suits and scarves. The press tour has blessed us even further in terms of spectacular outfits and great humour, chemistry and flirtations between the cast members. With a cast clearly having this much fun, making and promoting a film, it’s hard not to fall a little bit in love.

The film begins with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) blagging her way out of jail and immediately returning to her old criminal ways, which clearly run in the family. She contacts her old partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett), with whom she certainly shares a history, which seems both professional and personal. Debbie has spent her jail time (including deliberately landing herself in solitary) planning an elaborate heist (it wouldn’t be an Oceans film without one) and sets about assembling the team she needs. Key to the plan is fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), who Debbie recruits to dress film star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) for the event of the year – the Met Gala Ball. She wants Rose to pretend that she simply must have a 150-million dollar necklace from the vaults of Cartier to adorn the neck of Daphne and then the team can steal it. Further members of the team include diamond expert and forger Amita (Mindy Kaling), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), multi-talented suburban Mum Tammy (my favourite; Sarah Paulson) and lastly, in an inspired piece of casting, hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna).

The sparkling and in some cases, sizzling chemistry between the cast is definitely the main strength of this film. There is undeniable tension between Bullock and Blanchett especially, although the plot does hinge around revenge against Bullock’s ex-boyfriend (played by The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage). The glamour of the Met Ball is obviously a big selling point, including an abundance of celebrity cameos. The outfits, coupled with the actual exhibition of crown jewels makes for an impossibly beautiful backdrop and you cannot help but be sucked in by it. There is lots of humour, with Hathaway being particularly great as the spoiled film star who hasn’t eaten for days. Flavours of the familiar score from the original films are featured throughout, along with the trademark split-screen style.

Look, I don’t know what else to tell you. I watched this film in a gorgeous setting, with a cocktail, quality savoury snacks and a good friend. That may have prejudiced me in favour of this film, but so what? It’s meant to be an easy-going, fun, enjoyable ride for women (especially) to enjoy on a Friday night (as we did) and that’s exactly what it is. I really hope Rihanna continues making movies in exactly the vein of this and ‘Valerian‘ because it’s Rihanna and she does what the f**k she wants. As for the continuation of the ‘female reboot’ trend? It’s hard to say at this stage if I’m for or against. I certainly am here for films with amazing ensemble casts of incredible women. If they are new, original and have women directors, all the better.





The Heist Begins In The First Trailer For ‘Ocean’s 8’

“In Summer 2018, the tide will turn as Debbie Ocean attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect crew: Lou; Nine Ball; Amita; Constance; Rose; Daphne Kluger; and Tammy.”

Directed by: Gary Ross

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter

Release Date: June 22nd, 2018

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Year: 2017
Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke 

Written by Fiona Underhill

Well, it’s difficult to know where to start with this one. I am a fan of the director – I loved ‘Leon’ and ‘The Fifth Element’ and I have managed to avoid his more poorly received offerings (I’m looking at you, ‘Lucy’). I haven’t read the comics that this film is based on, although they certainly sound intriguing. As for the actors involved – well I’ve only seen Cara Delevingne in a small part in Anna Karenina before this, so wasn’t really sure what to expect. I would be interested to see her play a British character in a role, as I don’t think she has yet (in any of her high-profile work). As for Dane DeHaan, well there will be more on him later. 

So I think I can sum ‘Valerian’ up by saying; The Visuals = Good Bonkers, The Plot = Bad Bonkers. Believe me, it’s all bonkers. The visuals and effects in this film are insanely rich, detailed and sumptuous – it is an absolute feast for the eyes. It is easy to see where the enormous budget was splurged in this film, but unfortunately, I don’t think there is a hope of it making much of a profit. I could make some comparisons between ‘Valerian’ and the Star Wars prequels, but having rewatched ‘The Phantom Menace’ recently (don’t ask me why), it is clear to see that CGI has moved on in leaps and bounds in the last 15 years or so. 

I don’t really know where to begin with the plot to this film. There is an alien world which relies on pearls to be reproduced by feeding one to an aardvark-like creature, who then ‘poops’ out hundreds more – yes, really. Their planet is destroyed and a small group of the aliens manage to make it to ‘The City of a Thousand Planets’ – an enormous expanding space station, in which nearly all known species of the universe are represented. They need to find the one surviving pearl-pooping creature to be able to establish a new world for their people. Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work for the government of the human population, as special operatives and they become embroiled in the plot to protect this unique alien creature and return it to the ‘right’ hands. 

Unfortunately, the dialogue in this film leaves much to be desired. The opening sequence features a fairly excruciating scene in which Valerian and Laureline TELL the audience everything they might need to know about their characters through clunky exposition. However, I can see why – if we didn’t have the characters telling us that Dane DeHaan is a ‘ladykiller’, it may be be difficult to work this out for ourselves. Dane DeHaan appears in two films this year, in which he is the romantic lead – to Cara Delevingne (the supermodel) and to Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander (in ‘Tulip Fever’ – out later this year). And I’m sorry, I just ain’t buying it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him in ‘Chronicle’. But I do  wonder who has decided he has big-budget, mainstream leading man status. 

Back to the positives – how this film looks. As well as the CGI, the costumes are also incredible. There is an awesome sequence featuring Rihanna as a nightclub entertainer, who can change her appearance at will. Surprisingly, Ethan Hawke features – in a flamboyant performance – as the nightclub owner. Luckily, this part comes in the second half, when things are starting to flag in this overlong film. As well as Delevingne, there is more British acting talent involved – Clive Owen as the Commander and Sam Spruell as the General of the military outfit Valerian and Laureline work for. I do feel slightly sorry for middle-aged men with British teeth getting close-ups in super high definition these days. I couldn’t take my eyes off a blackhead on Owen’s top lip during his scenes, which may say something about how the mind wanders during films which are at least 30 minutes too long. 

Well – ‘Valerian’ is probably going to be looked back on as a giant turkey, which isn’t entirely fair. Of course, it is garishly multi-coloured bobbins on an insanely huge scale. It is, mostly, entertaining and the visual feast is almost worth your time and money. I just wish a more charming leading man (it isn’t often you’re praying for an Efron) could have been found to helm the madness and to give you someone to root for. However, if you’re looking for a 3D spectacular – this is it. Just a shame that it came out on the same weekend as ‘Dunkirk’, a visual feast of a very different type, but still something that has harmed ‘Valerian’, I think. I hope this doesn’t end up being some sort of death-knell for Luc Besson’s career, but at the same time wonder how on earth he managed to raise such a big budget for this level of craziness. Perhaps he should go back to something on the scale of ‘Leon’ next time. THAT I would like to see.

Fiona’s rating: 6.5 out of 10


First Official Ocean’s Eight Photo and Synopsis Released

‘Ocean’s Eight’ is an all-female spin-off to Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney’s 2001 ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ trilogy. The spin-off is set to focus on Debbie Ocean, the cousin of Danny Ocean (George Clooney) as she attempts to pull off a heist at a “star-studded annual Met Gala”. 

Debbie Ocean enlists the help of  Lou (Cate Blanchett); Nine Ball (Rihanna); Amita (Mindy Kaling); Constance (Awkwafina); Rose ( Helena Bonham Carter); Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway); and Tammy (Sarah Paulson) who all feature in the first picture released from Warner Bros. (below)

Also set to join the star-studded cast are Damian Lewis, Richard Armitage, Olivia Munn, Katie Holmes, James Corden, Kim Kardashian West, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Matt Damon is even rumoured to be reprising his role as Linus Caldwell, who we met in the trilogy. 

The synopsis Warner Bros. release with the picture is: 

“In Summer 2018, the tide will turn as (L-r) Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect crew: Lou (Cate Blanchett); Nine Ball (Rihanna); Amita (Mindy Kaling); Constance (Awkwafina); Rose ( Helena Bonham Carter); Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway); and Tammy (Sarah Paulson)”

Are you ready for Ocean and the ladies to hit the screen? Are you looking forward to this female-led spin off?

‘Ocean’s Eight’ currently doesn’t have a UK release date, but it scheduled to release on 8th June 2018 in the USA.

Written by Tom Sheffield