Thursday, December 28, 2017

VALERIAN & THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017)



Written & Directed By: Luc Besson 
Based on the Comic Book Series “Valerian and Laureline” By: Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mezieres 
Cinematography By: Thierry Arbogast 
Editor: Julien Rey 


Cast: Dale DeHann, Cara Delevingne, Ethan Hawke, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Alain Chabat, Rugter Hauer, Louis Letterier, Benoit Jacquot, Olivier Megaton 

In the Century XXVIII, the space station Alpha is a city where beings from different planets live together exchanging their knowledge and culture. Peace is granted by a human force, including Major Valerian and his partner Sergeant Laureline. They are assigned by the Defence Minister to retrieve the last species of converter in a dangerous mission. They succeed and back to Alpha, unknown humanoids abduct Commander Arun Filitt expecting to steal the converter. They head to a forbidden area that is infected but Valerian and Laureline follow them and disclose a hidden secret about the race and the infected area.

The film might have played better as an animated film. Which would have saved on the budget. Though As the Live action element is what brings the audience in. It also exposes the weaker and more ridiculous elements of the film.

The one thing I can say positively about this film is that it is very beautiful and very colorful.

The film seems more hellbent on truly creating and immersing you in it’s world. Then adding a plot line they relied heavily on a conspiracy. As it will leave the audience confused with action sequences that are exciting, but we wonder not only what it the point as it serves as a distraction or sidebar to the main story. Which only comes into focus later in the film. As at times you forget what is the main point of the film.

The film is filled with side characters galore. Who are great in small doses and would work as recurring characters. You want to see come into the film if it became a franchise.

The film reaches for epic heights as it desires to explore a galaxy and feels way too long. As often the film ends up being confusing for the audience and it seems to be confused itself.

Rihanna’s scenes are one of the only time the movie becomes lively and truly alive. Even with the thinness of the writing for her character and making it obvious it was written for a star to play.

The two leads are miscast and have absolutely no chemistry or believability in their roles. Dale Dehann is usually a good actor but a heroic action lead does nothing for him. He never comes off as dangerous or authoritative.

Cara Delevingne has the look but for such an unorthodox character. She lacks any charisma or signs of life for her character. So she comes off as stiff and non-exciting. Though most of the cast plays it as seriously as they can but at least with flair.

Even the humor throughout the film comes off as stilted and is never as funny as it thinks it is.

You can see the budget of $200 million independently financed dollars on the screen. As the film is definitely audacious. Yet it feels rather formless and is after an experience more than just a plotted film narrative adventure.

It does feel more like a comic book type movie as the adventures seem to come and pile up on Top of one another. Which is what leads to the confusion.

The opening scene works as a prologue with great silent filmmaking that ties the majority of the rest of the film together, but could have been a great short film itself and shows what the film could have been.

Director Luc Besson is a success and has made enough movies through producing and either screenwriting it story by credits. Though as a director his career started off well and seen as a major force of French filmmaking behind the camera. His later more modern projects have proved to be more disappointing and rather commercially bland (THE FAMILY) This project like his previous science fiction film THE FIFTH ELEMENT Seemed to have both sides working together when it came to artistic and commercial filmmaking.

While this is a beautiful film to behold. It feels like an amusement park ride. Exciting while here as it fills you with joy and opens plenty of distractions. Once it’s over you leave with an empty feeling and a sensitivity to lights as the move is really about nothing and seem to have no point or heart. Even though it’s supposed to be about humanity.

I realize this is a popcorn movie, but you leave with barely anything to hold on to. Barely even the filmmaking. Only the special effects.

This is what I mean when I refer to this film as a digital movie. It seems more made on a computer rather than physically. As this movie is a prime example of DIGITAL MOVIES.

These are films that are supposed to be live action but seen more animated. Truly dependent on special effects more than anything not necessarily movies like THOR: RANGAROK but more films like WARCRAFT that are based on videotapes which these digital films more remind you of as everything is more photorealistic then real. Except for some live action filmed.

As sometimes depending on the source material that is the only way it seems to be able to make them

Not necessarily films like POLAR EXPRESS which despite using motion capture technology is still considered an animated film overall more like something and where at least I began to notice it heavily a movie like VAN HELSING.

Now with studios having more of a desire to make live action renditions of traditionally animated tales. It seems unavoidable as technology has caught up but the reasons these tapes were animated to begin with seems to be that they were so hard or expensive to make love action on the first place.

Now of course more and more films use CGI for or instead of special effects but these specific films are just filled with so much digital in that you can barely tell what is physical and real.

I decided to address this phenomena or type of film as it is not totally a genre. After watching this film and having recently seeing the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the book READY PLAYER ONE. Which has so many pop culture references that it seems needed for a film of that magnitude where you get to rewrite and reenact so many classic moments.

These films are pure imagination as they are on another level of things we can never love or envision. Which was also thought of movies and film at certain points. I don’t know if it’s good or not better for the future but I believe it to be a new medium and reality to a certain degree we will have to get used to. Less human and more artificial and stylish.

Films such as AVATAR and VAN HELSING, This film comes off as an less balanced AVATAR

I will give the film points for what it tried to achieve, but needed more balance and a more steady tone.

The movie feels like a WATERWORLD esque fiasco without the star power or ego to blame it on. It is similar seemingly singular grand epic vision that no one in particular asked for or even requested or thought needed.

Though have to give it up for trying something so big and somewhat experimental.

Grade D+

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