Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

valerian and the city of a thousand planets

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Dan DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Sam Spruell, Kris Wu, John Goodman, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. – IMDB

Adapted from a French comic series titled Valerian and Laureline, Luc Besson’s latest piece takes us on a sci-fi adventure to Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets where we follow the adventures of two young agents and partners, Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline. Luc Besson heading back to a sci-fi premise and seemingly calling back to The Fifth Element days is an endearing thought. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a visually stunning adventure full of new aliens and characters to discover, perhaps more so for those that have not read the source material. While filled with great performances what does let  down the overall experience is the story itself being adventurous and fun but slightly predictable.

The performances here focus mostly on Cara Delevingne’s Laureline and Dan DeHaan’s Valerian. As a team, they work together well and while on missions, there is a friction and conflict they have as Laureline fights for her recognition and importance. While some of their dialogue feels cheesy and oddly out of place, they have a certain chemistry that helps in certain ways. It adds in some laughs here and there and their bickering while overused in movies does help ease in some relaxing moments between the action. There are some bigger names here as well such as Clive Owen as the Commander who gets taken by an alien race that was deemed to have been destroyed. While not a huge role, he excelled at commanding his scene. What is also a nice face to see here is Kris Wu, a young actor that appeared earlier this year in XXX:The Return of Xander Cage, who gives a good performance while in a supporting role as well. Aside from that, Ethan Hawke has a cameo role that draws similarities to Jack Sparrow’s free spirit and this leads to Rihanna who is really showing off as a performer more than she is an actress as she dazzles us with a beautiful on-stage transformational dance which is followed shortly after with an emotional scene that falls short from its intentions.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets does lack depth in its story. Perhaps the length of over two hours did more harm than good, as there was a certain level of suspense in the beginning however, the ending became increasingly predictable. What does make this flick worth your time is how Luc Besson brings this world to life in every single way. The City of a Thousand Planets is fascinating to discover at every corner and the effects are done incredibly well. While some may complain about the drawback of having too much CGI, this is a strength in creating this fictional fantasy world. The action and technology here makes those moments feel like we are immersed in great adventures as Valerian and Laureline go on their own mission. It almost feels like we are in a video game. The best example is when Valerian’s gun can shoot platforms as he vaults through a gap with all these fantastical creatures that are both beautiful and dangerous simultaneously.

Overall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has its flaws. It is meant to be a popcorn flick that will dazzle its audience visually with its beautiful and mesmerizing world along with its action-packed sequences. There is no doubt that this one has decent cast that delivers even with a story that lacks depth however it is a fun and entertaining flick.

Double Review: Sin City (2005) & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

Surprisingly enough, I got selected for a special advanced screening of Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.  However, my memory of the first one was not that great especially since I didn’t remember much, so I decided to revisit it the night before I went.  The experience of being the first group to see the movie is definitely great and since I’ve been doing this little blog and diving into the world of movies, I’ve learned that I’ve changed a little in how I appreciate movies and that is the main reason why I wanted to revisit this.

Since I’ve been massively behind with everything, I decided to just go ahead and do a double review of these two movies. It baffles me that after almost 10 years we get a sequel for Sin City but still, lets see how it all went.

SIN CITY (2005)

sin city posterDirector: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez (special guest director: Quentin Tarantino)

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel, Powers Boothe, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jaime King

A film that explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption.-IMDB

I have no other way has to how to describe this movie but just use the synopsis in IMDB. I’d give it a shot but honestly, I think it all starts with this.  The first time I saw Sin City in theatres with some college friends, I thought it was THE most boring thing ever.  Why? Because nothing made sense and it was like a jumble of nothing.  It was beautiful and black and white gory and brutal.  Its not really not my thing and as I rewatched it a few nights ago, I saw it in a different light.  There is a brilliance to the jumbled-up story and I stayed awake for it and apparently, I only remembered two parts from the original viewing.

Sin City

What I absolutely love is the style.  The black and white and the interlacing of sharp colors: the red silk (and sometimes, blood), the colors in the eyes, the contrast in hair and that sort of thing.  It just makes an impression.  Then you have one of the bad guys, Yellow Bastard who is just a disturbing and ugly character that popped out because he was literally yellow.

sin city

The second thing that I love about it was the cast.  Bruce Willis is just amazing as Jack Hartigan.  Clive Owen is awesome as Dwight.  And then there’s the passion and chemistry between the characters. The stories gave time for the characters to grow and develop in exactly the space and time it needed.  Each of the stories had their impact and honestly, Basin City has some pretty impressive characters.  The Old Town girls are brutal, violent and fun to watch.

sin city dwight gail

As I sit here thinking about it more, its really starting to grow.  The third thing that works is the stories.  Everyone has something that makes it worthwhile to watch. It has exaggeration, sarcasm, darkness, violence, manipulation.  This town is full of ugly people in personality.  Its corrupt and dark but strange enough, its also covered in beautiful women who are almost as lethal as you can imagine.  There are boundaries and all that.  Its a pretty amazing set-up for a movie.

Sin City has the formula for a great movie and for the most part, it delivers.  The question is whether its your type of movie.  I love the comic book visuals, the sharp contrasts, the set up of the town and the stories of our main characters, and especially the fantastic cast.  It was well-balanced, brutal and very fun to watch. However, its not exactly my type of movie that I go for everyday so it took time for me to really see it through.  The second viewing definitely made me praise it a lot more.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

sin city a dame to kill for

Director: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller

Cast: Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Bruce Willis

Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants.-IMDB

On a lesser run time than the first one and having a few new characters, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For still lacks a little something.  I loved the style that was equally has beautiful as the first with the black and white and sudden colors to give it a great experience.  The music was awesome and matched the atmosphere.  I’m trying to pinpoint in my mind if there were 3 or 4 story arcs right now but they weren’t quite as fun as the first.

 

The characters were great because the cast is still very decent.  Mickey Rourke returned as Marv and is still as violent (and a bit stupid) as before.  The new additions of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Josh Brolin all bring something new to the table. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets his own story arc as a cocky gambler who never loses.  He goes to Kadie’s to challenge Senator Roark except in the corrupted sin city, he gets warned time and time again that its not a wise thing to do.  As much I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt in absolutely anything and he is very wonderful as Johnny, I felt his story wasn’t quite where I wanted it to go.

sin city a dame to kill for

The next story arc was for an older Dwight (previously played by Clive Owen) but is returned this time played by Josh Brolin. Dwight’s story is possibly the most elaborate.  He is trapped in a flame that he can’t shake off.  He tries to not respond to the attractive Ava, played by Eva Green who is now married to a rich man.  She comes back and he falls right back into her arms.  This leads to a game of manipulation, a trap, revenge and a lot of naked Eva Green scenes. This one was actually pretty fun to watch.  The chemistry, passion, manipulation all works out even if you can predict what will happen 😉

sin city a dame to kill for

I guess, the fourth story would be Marv retracing how he ended up where he was, except I’m wondering if there was anything for him.  Except, Marv, played by Mickey Rourke (like the first one) is the key to drawing everything together because he appears in all the stories in one way or another.  If anyone is easily manipulated, it would have to go to him. Plus, he is the action and the brutal violence.  There is no doubt that Marv is a great character and Mickey Rourke does a great job, even after 9 years he still has the essence of Marv in him and revives him on the big screen.

sin city a dame to kill for

I personally like the follow up with Hartigan’s death and the impact it has on Nancy the best.  The roles are both still played by the original two, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba. Although Nancy and her dancing scenes are thrown around the entire movie and it lets the audience see how she’s completely broken by it all.  Its a mental struggle for her and she not only wants revenge that she can’t pick up the courage to do so she drowns herself in alcohol.  In her struggle, she sees glimpses of Hartigan, as if he’s never left her side.  Its really something to watch.  There was one shocking part that I never would’ve guessed and its pretty awesome the way they handled it.

Overall, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is not as good as the first one.  The stories lack the punch it had in the first one, even though there are two that particularly stand out.  However, the style and the music is still amazing.  The 3D is done extremely well and adds to the overall effects.  The cast does a great job at bringing everything they can to the movie and for the most part, they do a very good job.  Even the new additions, Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings a charm to his story (even though it falls flat), Josh Brolin has a compelling character and story and Mickey Rourke is fantastic once again as the ever so violent Marv.

I need to make a point of saying this: If you were a fan of the first one, the chances of you enjoying this one more than me is very high.  Keep that in mind when you decide whether you’d like to see this 😉

Are you a fan of Sin City? What makes it so great to you? Have you been anticipating the sequel? Do you think its been long-awaited or unnecessary?

 

Children of Men (2006)

This week, I plan on getting through 3 movies on Netflix that are going to expire on December 1st.  I decided to choose the first one using the highest RT Score and it happened to be Children of Men.  I’ve read a few positive reviews about it recently so it was one I had already planned to watch.  Knowing that Alfonso Cuaron, director of Gravity that I recently watched, loved and reviewed HERE was also the director for this one made it even more motivating. Lets check it out!

children of men posterDirector: Alfonso Cuaron

Cast: Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Pam Ferris, Clare-Hope Ashitey

In 2027, the youngest member of the population Baby Diego dies at the age of 18.  There hasn’t been a child for eighteen years as the women have become infertile.  This causes chaos.  An activist group has now found a miracle and their leader, Julian (Julianne Moore) seeks the help of her ex-husband Theo (Clive Owen) to help get papers to help them transport a pregnant girl, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) to the Human Project, a refuge on the sea that tries to find a way to build up the population again.

Children of Men was an unexpected choice for a Saturday night Netflix pick.  I hadn’t intended on seeing it but it turned out to be a very good futuristic chase thriller. Children of Men is well-rounded with a thought-provoking script, a good amount of action, and portrayed with a great cast.

children of men clive julianne

I’m a huge fan of the cast.  I’ve seen some decent works from Clive Owen before (with one exception being The International *grimace*) I hate that one but in general, he’s great at these sort of thriller roles with a bit of action and suspense, fighting for a cause, etc.  He’s a pretty great actor and most of the time, he pulls me into the story effectively.  In this one, he plays Theo, a man that numbs his life with alcohol after his son passed away years ago.  He doesn’t really care much about whats going on but he gets pulled into this whirlwind of crazy when he decides to help his ex-wife and realizes that he’s in something that seems to be more than it actually seems.

children of men michael caine

My favorite part of the cast is Michael Caine.  Stick him in any movie and he usually is my fave part.  He is a phenomenal actor and in this one, he has some funny lines to loosen up the pretty tense situation. Although, the supporting actors and actresses didn’t get such a crazy amount of screen time, they did contribute in their small way with their great acting to give some substance to the thriller.  Julianne Moore had that same sort of effect.

children of men kee

Overall, Children of Men is an engaging thriller that touches on an interesting story about a possible future where humans are bordering extinction.  The drama and the struggle behind keeping mankind alive to bring hope for the future.  Although even now, I haven’t quite figured out if the first 30 minutes was just slow so it felt long or it was so much information overload that I felt tired.  But I promise, the following hour after that is pretty awesome! Plus, I didn’t know Alfonso Cuaron by name until Gravity but suddenly I realized he also made one of my fave parts of Harry Potter (I love the 3rd one).  So yes, I do recommend this 🙂

Are you a Clive Owen fan? Whats your favorite role of his? Did you see Children of Men?