Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: A Very Late Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: A Very Late Movie Review

The newest Luc Besson film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, is set several hundreds of years into the future, after mankind and many alien species have joined alliances to create Alpha in hopes of exchanging knowledge in the far reaches of space. Agents Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevinge) are charged with discovering and putting a stop to a growing threat inside the center of the city, which involves traveling through to the actual center of the space city. The adventure involves saving, fighting, and joining forces with many of the inhabitants. In doing so, they not only save Alpha, but all the citizens and then some. valerian2.0

Luc Besson is the legendary film maker of The Fifth Element and Lucy. In the very beginning of this film, you can identify the same style that went into The Fifth Element that is also in this movie. Mostly in the alien designs. This film has turned out to be one of Europe’s most expensive movies ever made at a cost of 117-210 billion. Since the effects were suppose to be so magnificent, I went ahead and saw it in 3D. The effects definitely did not disappoint. The story line is a whole other can of worms though.

As I’ve stated before, you can definitely see similarities between Valerian and The Fifth Element in the way they are shot and the designs of the aliens and environments around them. When it came to characters, story, and everything else… Meh. Dane-DeHaan-Valerian-and-the-City-of-a-Thousand-Planets Valerian brags throughout the whole movie at how he is a good soldiers that gets the job done (top of his class and all that jazz). He isn’t wrong, but most of the time is saved by his partner, Laureline. However, between the two of them, in my mind, there wasn’t much character development or even chemestry. In interviews with Besson, he talked about how Valerian is absolutely in love with his partner, but I didn’t feel it.

When we first see them, they have a discussion about his playlist (aka the list of women he’s slept with), but he doesn’t make a real effort to convince her that she’s who he wants to be with. cara-delevingne-in-valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planetsWhich, I understand that by the end of the movie, he “deletes” the playlist, but it just felt a bit forced. When Valerian proposes to her, it’s a bit annoying… Mostly because he consistently talks about it throughout the remaining of the film. Like, dude… We got it. Laureline is smart and serious about her job… but that’s it. She’s serious at all times. Though she does save him plenty of times (both physically and morally), there’s just not much character development with her either. I can appreciate some of the sarcasm though.

vdf-24045Other than the effects, it did have good parts. John Goodman makes an appearance (voice-wise) as a black market dealer in a market place that only exist in another dimension. Rihanna plays Bubble, the shape-shifting, burlesque-dancing prostitute who’s being pimped out by Jolly (Ethan Hawke). John Clive plays Commander Arün Filitt, a military man who is obsessed with hiding his sins for the “good of humans” in Alpha. There’s a scene where Delevingne is kidnapped by aliens that results in a pretty humorous exchange between the queen and Laureline.

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You can definitely tell that Luc Besson put a lot of heart into the designs and effects of Valerian, but it just seems like he was so focused on the visual part of it that he forgot to tweak the story and all that exists in that world. In interviews, he seems so excited that he finally got to make this movie, but it just a little short. Honestly, it’s not the most awful film I’ve ever seen (cough cough… Batman Forever), but it’s not one that I would watch in hopes that it will give me some sort of life changing epiphany.

review-valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planetsShould you watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets? Yeah, sure. I mean, it is one of Europe’s most expensive films to date. Should you expect to be wowed? The extremely expensive effects will definitely impress you, but just don’t expect to be blown away by the story. I will say that I now am a little interested in reading the French graphic novels this movie was based on in hopes of recovering what may have been lost from paper to screen.

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Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast

Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast

Warning: I’m going to try and avoid too many spoilers, but there may be some.

This film follows the original very closely. You can hear many of your favorite lines (except the Baroque pun, which I was a little upset about) delivered slightly differently, and at times not in the same order or by the same characters. Which was to be expected because they are taking a master piece in attempts to give the audiences that grew up watching the film something fresh, and making it their own. Even some of the songs have different verses and choruses than what I was used to, but I enjoyed it because it kept me on my toes.

Emma-Watson-Belle-Dress-Beauty-Beast-2016-600x800One of the reasons I was so excited to see this movie was the fact that it was going to stay true to the style and time period of the original, which is set in late 18th century France. When you first see the Prince dancing in his ballroom the night that the Enchantress comes, the guests are in the Rococo/Marie Antoinette fashion. In fact, I was impressed that the makeup that the guests wore is very accurate to the makeup that the aristocrats would have worn during that time: big white powdered wigs, white powdered faces, red lips… It was a bit much, at first, but it is suppose to reflect the time period that this movie takes place.

Attitudes towards women were reflected as well. For example, in the scene where Belle is teaching a girl to read, many disapproving townspeople decide to put a stop to it. In the scene that follows, Gaston tells Belle that spinsters in the town eventually become beggars when their fathers die, but marrying him meant she would have financial security. BEAUTY AND THE BEASTBelle still refuses him. However, not everyone carried that negativity towards Belle (her father and the librarian). Not only did Emma Watson’s Belle like reading, she was inventive and headstrong. Belle knows what tools her father will need, before he knows it. When Gaston bombards her with marriage, she tells him no. When Beast demands that she join him for dinner, she says, “And I told you NO!” I’m not saying Page O’Hara’s version wasn’t brilliant, because she was. However, Watson’s was not sweet about it. She even blatantly tells Gaston she is not interested in ANY of the men in the town, and tells him he will not be joining her for dinner when he invites himself.

gallery-1478513336-belle-and-her-father-beauty-and-the-beastThe only critique I really have of this version of Belle is that I wish she had been more inventive. Maurice was more of an artist, who seemed to build trinkets for money. Which put a more romantic spin on him. I just wish she had done more than know what tools her father would need and built a washing machine.

Beast was more intelligent in this one. In the original, he just comes off as an angry, brooding character whose heart is warmed by Belle’s compassion. In the extended version, Belle finishes reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to him. She tells him she wants him to read it to her and he says he can read “a little” and that it had been “so long”. However, in the live-action version, when she mentions Romeo and Juliet, he scoffs. He says he had an “expensive” education (he was a Prince) and that there were better things to read. Later, in the library she asks if he had read all the books and he responds, “Not all of them. Some of them are in Greek.” To me, this makes more sense than Beast being uneducated.

beautyandthebeast_relevant_cMany characters from the original had bigger parts in this version. For example, Maurice and Belle have a much closer father-daughter relationship than in the cartoon. Plumette, the feather duster, is much more involved than just the couple of times she’s seen flirting with Lumiere. The townspeople are also more involved in the film than just singing choruses for Gaston. Overall: if you want to swim in nostalgia, and be enchanted while you do so, then I suggest you see this movie. Of course, nothing will ever replace the original 1992 film for me, but this kept me entertained with the familiar songs, some new numbers, new and old characters, and new attitudes.

Overall: if you want to swim in nostalgia, and be enchanted while you do so, then I suggest you see this movie. Of course, nothing will ever replace the original 1992 film for me, but this kept me entertained with the familiar songs, some new numbers, new and old characters, and new attitudes.

Beauty and the Beast

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

I finally got a chance to go see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I decided to see it after the mass crowds had swarmed the theaters. Now, I’m going to refrain from putting in too many spoilers in this review, but I think most people have seen the film by now.

jynJyn Erso is a prisoner of the Empire. She is the daughter of Galen Erso, who just so happens to be the scientist behind the creation of the Death Star’s planet-destroying power. Years after her father is taken by the Empire, Jyn joins forces with Cassian Andor and K-2SO, a Rebel spy and a reprogrammed Imperial droid. Along the way, they befriend with Imwe and Malbus; a blind martial artist and his gun-wielding companion, who join them in the rogue mission to obtain the information from the Imperial base of Eadu.

 

The first thing I noticed about this film is it did not open with the traditional credits intro we normally get. I was expecting it, but later it made more sense not to put it since this is a side story, and not the main plot. We already know what has happened in Episodes I-III, and we know about the events that happen in Episodes IV-VI. This film nestles right in between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope. In fact, this story actually ends just moments before Princess Leia is captured by Darth Vader. I loved how this gave us more insight into the conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion. When the Rebellion was able to destroy the Death Star, it was a major turning point in the war between the two.

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Some fans have complained that Star Wars is about the Skywalkers. This is true, and I do not argue with that. However, how I can justify this story is that the Empire, the Sith, the Rebellion, and the Jedi are all key to the story of the Skywalker lineage. This story just simply expands on those key elements of the larger story. Plus, this film does actually feature two Skywalkers. Even if it is only for a brief time.

 

Which brings me to another aspect of the film that really helped me connect with it. It helped fill that nearly two decade gap that we get between Episode III and IV. We see the ruined city of Jedha, which was where the Jedi once resided rehost2f20162f122f202f6929688d-1a69-4671-8f33-5b02af51d4fe1before their downfall. The film, in my opinion, did capture the feel of Episode IV. They mention Obi Wan and the fact that he has been “in hiding” for several years.
The other way how it really helps the audience connect with the other Star Wars films is it brings back familiar faces such as Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, and a brief look at young Princess Leia. We also get the Rebel and Imperial fighter ships, the Deathstar, and both fleets. If you watch, you’ll catch that they actually recycle footage from Episodes IV-VI, which was pretty clever way to connect the two films to tie it into the others of the franchise.

Overall, the film was as I expected it to be. It not only gave you insight into the Star Wars universe, but I feel it was the film we needed for the end of 2016. It introduced new characters, and even revived the more familiar faces that we grew up watching. Rogue One was definitely worth the wait.

“I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” 

c82c1bbfb0cfdb1c12bb8dd381090786f06dc67d1Unfortunately, it was announced that Carrie Fisher died due to a heart attack she had on a plane a few days ago. I actually had ordered my tickets minutes before I read the news on Tuesday, and was deeply saddened. Not only was she Leia Organa, but she was a witty comedian and a beautiful writer. Recently she published The Princess Diarist where she revealed after 30 years that she did in fact have an affair with Harrison Ford on the set of the original Star Wars film. But being Leia isn’t the only way I will remember Carrie. I will remember the way she addressed people criticizing her for aging and returning to the screen as the beloved character. I will remember how funny she was in her interviews, and how she seemed to be at peace with who she was. One quote of hers that I found that really stuck out to me was:

“There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.’ “

Hopefully for 2017, I will read and review her new memoir and be sure to write a review on it. It saddens me that it took me this long to realize that she was a writer.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Dir. Gareth Edwards. Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Mads Mikkelsen. Images from Google Images.