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Mark Suszko
Valerian
on Jul 24, 2017 at 8:41:05 pm

Remember that Luc Besson sci-fi extravaganza that was totally and unfairly panned when it came out, only to become a beloved cult classic?

No, the new one: Valerian.

Yes, it's The Fifth Element on crack, and you totally need to see it in 3-d, preferably in Imax. I don't get the critical hate this movie is getting, but it's all too familiar when it comes to Besson's movies; I guess you either get it and love it, or you don't. "Spectacular" is insufficient to describe the scenery and art direction, which is truly superlative. This may become the new standard movie shown in expensive big TV system showrooms to demonstrate the 4K+ sets, a job Fifth Element pretty much owned until now.

It's named after the lead character, Major Valerian, played by Dane De Haan, but his partner, Laureline, ( Cara Delevigne) really steals the show from start to finish. Kind of like Kato owns Green Hornet in the TV series. This movie is based on an old and influential comic book series, and so the characters are not exactly fully-formed, but there's enough development in them for you to care about them. The secondary characters are always threatening to upstage everything, and you want to spend more time with them. One whole section of the movie, (my favorite) was a throw-away set piece called "Big Market", it could stand as the premise of an entire movie on it's own, and here it's just used for a bit of exposition. Besson is profligate like that with his sets and art direction, it washes over you like a tsunami of impressions, all too fleeting. Step-framing this movie on blue ray will be a visual treat.

My wife found the chase scenes a bit too long and too frequent, but it gives a ton of fan service in terms of art direction... you feel like you're trapped in a motion simulator ride for part of the film, but the parts where you're not a frog in a blender are generally the more interesting ones. The 3-d in this was post-produced, a very strong trend now, I think.

Rhianna takes a very diverting turn as a chameleon-like alien, and does a very good job in her short time. While you're waiting for Blade Runner II to come out, Rutger Haur has a cameo in his one, as does... Herbie Hancock!?!?! WTH????

If you liked Lucy and Fifth Element, stamp your Multi-Pass and go see this. If you hated those films, wait for it on PPV, but I hope you have a huge high rez screen to appreciate it.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Valerian
on Jul 24, 2017 at 11:33:38 pm

I thought the set, costume, and creature design were all top notch. The market scene that you mentioned was an awesome concept that they executed pretty much spot-on. It was a better introduction to the characters than the spaceship scene on the fake beach, which brings me to my next paragraph....

...I found the dialogue to be wooden, and the acting (especially from Dehaan) was laughably bad. Especially in the beginning. My wife and I were making fun of him and doing impressions of his poor speaking patterns the entire car ride home. It sounded like a cross between Neo from the Matrix and a beer pong-loving frat boy. Which is weird, because I've seen Dane Dehaan be a good actor in other things (like Place Beyond the Pines). Maybe I just didn't find him believable as an athletic/dashing space hero...? Delevigne was more entertaining, for sure.

...And then... we got to the Rhianna scene... and I leaned over to my wife and whispered "What the hell is going on...?"

For me, this whole thing was like a dance between looking at something spectacular, and laughing at something unintentionally hilarious.

And a lot of the tech in the movie was very "convenient". Like *SPOILER ALERT* when he luckily had a mechanical spider that he could put in his mouth that would know to cut him out of a cocoon of hardened blue space goo. *END SPOILER* Cool tech, for sure. Cool special FX, for sure. The perfect possible thing he could have pulled off of his tiny utility belt at the perfect time? OH, FOR SURE.

It just seemed kind of all over the place. One scene we're watching Clive Owen interrogating a CGI person, then next we are watching a pirate removing a jellyfish from a whale's butt. I guess it was good world building, in the sense that this is a world of a thousand random species doing a thousand random things.

We saw it in 2D, because it was the best available showtime, and I could tell some of it would have been a lot cooler in 3D. Especially because I remember the 3D looked cool in the trailer. I don't think I liked it enough to see it a second time, so I guess I'll never know what the full 3D looked like... OH WELL.

I was pretty excited for this movie from the trailers, but it disappointed me somewhat. I liked Lucy better even, if I were to compare it to another recent Luc Besson project.

Now, Dunkirk... *That* was a solid display of filmmaking, in my opinion!


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