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Valerian and the city of a thousand planets (2017)

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Summary

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.Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Genre : SF
Country : France/China/Belgium/Germany/USA

Cast :
Dane DeHaan : Major Valerian
Cara Delevingne : Sergeant Laureline
Clive Owen : Commander Arun Filitt

Director :
Luc Besson

My opinion on “Valerian and the city of a thousand planets”

“It’s our mission that doesn’t make sense, sir.”

After watching “Valerian and the City of a thousand planets” I can imagine how someone sees his surroundings while being under the influence of psychedelics. This SF-opera based on a comic is a cacophony of surrealistic and grotesque images from an immeasurable universe where all sorts of extraterrestrials make their appearance. Believe me, it really didn’t take long before I realized I no longer knew what it was about. The only thing left for me was to lay down in my cozy couch and marvel at the spectacle Luc Besson fabricated.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Visually overwhelming.

Visually, this SF is really overwhelming. Color tones splashing off the screen. And an infinite collection of aliens. Already during the opening scene you get a concatenation of delegations arriving at the space station Alpha. Then the spectacle moves to the planet Mül inhabited by a peaceful civilization whose daily life consists of strolling over idyllic-looking beaches with a deep blue ocean and producing magical spheres which have an unseen power. The image of a sensual extraterrestrial beauty (who wouldn’t look bad on the centerfold of an alien nude magazine) is in stark contrast with the images of destruction of this planet afterwards. And so it goes from a virtual market in a cork-dry desert, with a trillion bazaars and shops you can only see and touch with the help of a special helmet and gloves, to the bizarre space station Alpha. A place with more than 3000 life forms living in different territories, each with their own specific characteristics and expertise.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

A lot happens around a simple storyline.

I don’t know how many parts there are from the French comic book Valerian, but it seems as if Besson attempted to put the entire series in one film. The different characters and side-plots follow each other with a breathtaking speed. In such a way that you go from one surprise to the next. Perhaps the aim is to use this oversupply together with the sensational visual material, to divert our attention from the simple storyline. The story itself is far from impressive. I’m not a connoisseur when it comes to the stories about Valerian. That’s why I thought it was rather confusing after a while. The storyline remained disappointingly minimalistic, despite the huge budget.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Willy and Wanda save the universe.

The biggest mistake Besson surely made, was the choice of actors responsible for the roles of Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline. Was it the intention to create cartoonish characters? Well, he succeeded in that. For the rest, I thought they were annoying and childish and they didn’t have the looks of real heroes. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne look like two minors who ended up in a loaded, mature story. A sort of Willy and Wanda saving the universe. That’s why the so-called romantic part, full of flirtation and nonsense about commitments and being faithful, doesn’t come across as credible. I’m not claiming that they are bad actors because DeHaan was formidable in “A cure for Welness“. And Delevingne’s interpretation in “Paper Towns” was of a different caliber.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

A flood of titillating images.

“Valerian” looks like a mishmash of fragments taken from other large-scale SF epics. Everyone will notice something that looks familiar to him. It sometimes looks like a futuristic painting full of bombastic elements. The images vary from “Star Wars“-like to that of a PC game. The view of the planet Mül, for example, resembled that of what I saw in “Myst”. An old PC adventure game I used to play ages ago. But titillating images aren’t good enough to call a film successful. You can compare “Valerian and the city of a Thousand Planets” with an amusement park with an abundance of attractions. It’s fun to be there and you’re trying to do as much as possible, but afterwards you’re stuck with a feeling of disappointment because you haven’t been able to fully experience it all. And this thanks to the overwhelming (and exagerated) number of activities.

My rating 6/10
Links : IMDB

HORROR

Pledge – “One Of The Better Low-Budget Indie Horror Movies I’ve Seen In The Last Year”

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Do I tuck my shirt in?
I don’t care, you look like you’re gonna fix the computer anyway.

This straightforward movie “Pledge” managed to surprise me. At first, I didn’t expect much from it. But as the story unfolded, I thought that the makers of this horror story had incorporated some strong elements into it. Those who have experienced the rush into a fraternity personally will be happy that they didn’t have to endure a similar experience. It’s extremely difficult to stand out with horror when you see the number of horrors being released these days. After the first 20 minutes, it looks like you are going to watch a remake of “Porky’s“. Or better still, “Revenge of the Nerds“. You could say it was funny one way or another. But the fun part soon made way for the disturbing section. An atmosphere of panic, fear, and despair prevails until the end of the film.

 

Pledge

They didn’t have to ask twice.

Three close friends, who probably always sit on the sidelines when it comes to social events, do their utmost to be admitted by a fraternity. Hence the title of this film. The film starts with David (Zack Weiner, writer of this film), Ethan (Philip Andre Botello) and Justin (Zachery Byrd) who visit one clubhouse after the other. The three nerds, however, are rejected, ridiculed or simply denied access everywhere. Until they suddenly receive an invitation from a hot looking girl to attend a private party somewhere on a remote domain. An orgasmic experience with ditches of alcohol in the company of a horde of ravishing looking young ladies. Young ladies who they refer to as being “out of their league” most probably. Not surprisingly, all three (and a few other “freshmen”) over-enthusiastically agree with Max’s (Aaron Dalla Villa) invitation to join this exclusive student association. An elitist club with only a limited number of members.

 

Pledge

 

It certainly isn’t a typical ritual.

Unfortunately, the hazing procedure is rather rough on our 3 friends. It’s well known there are often oddities and extreme things involved during hazings here in Belgium. Binge drinking, beating with a cricket bat, sexually charged assignments and eating disgusting things. Other academies are taking it a bit easier. There, students have to work out a translation or explanation about a certain topic as an assignment. Boring! The club our three nerds want to join has another agenda. The assignments are painful, disgusting and especially deadly in nature. It’s not really terrible “torture porn”. So don’t expect situations as in “Hostel” or “Saw“. Could be I’m insensitive to that. When you’re able to watch a movie such as “Martyrs” without feeling disturbed, the humiliations the newbies have to undergo are of Sesame Street level.

 

Pledge

 

Decent acting.

There’s a lot of decent acting in “Pledge“. The three silly friends portray those typical characters who are mostly the center of mockery and bullying in American schools. A chubby dude who’s always asking for something to eat and cannot really be praised for his speed. The nerdy guy who most likely spends his days sitting behind a screen and always says the wrong things. And finally, a kind of a sissy who reacts girlishly to threatening situations and most certainly will jump on a chair when a mouse appears in front of him. Three types that are convincingly interpreted by Zachery Byrd, Zack Weiner, and Philip Andre Botello. But especially Aaron Dalla Villa made an impression. That demonic look and sadistic tone fit perfectly with the cruel Max.

 

Pledge

 

Low-Budget but certainly successful.

Thanks to the short playing time, “Pledge” is suitable as an in-betweener during a weekday evening. Thanks to the pace of the film, it never gets boring. And although I found the horror level quite average, they managed to deliver an intense and exciting film. And despite the fact that it was a low-budget film (“Pledge” was funded through Kickstarter), I thought the cinematography was of high quality. The lurid and threatening atmosphere was not only delivered by the story but certainly also by the supplied footage. To be honest, “Pledge” is one of the better Low-Budget indie horror movies I’ve seen in the last year. Certainly a must-see for lovers of the genre.

 

My rating 6.5/10
Links: IMDB

 

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Action

Big Legend – Is This Just Another Film About The Legendary Sasquatch..?

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I don’t believe in fairy tales.

Another film about the legendary Sasquatch, better known as Bigfoot. A few months ago I saw the film “Primal Rage” which I really could appreciate despite the low budget. And that because of the tension and the scarce moments of gore that were incorporated in it. In the movie “Big Legend” you have to deal with the same horrible monster, but unfortunately, that’s the only similarity with the previous movie. The film is long-winded and boring at certain times. And it’s not bloody at all. Something you should expect in a monster movie with an extremely powerful, hairy creature. A creature that tears off limbs and effortlessly slides vehicles in front of it. Not that “Big Legend” was torture to watch, but I still had to make an effort to keep my attention. And I always felt the urge to scroll on my tablet for something interesting to read. Not a good sign.

 

Big Legend

First happy and then his girlfriend disappears.

Although, it didn’t start too badly. We see Tyler (Kevin Makely) and Natalie (Summer Spiro) hiking through an idyllic looking landscape. It provides some unbelievably beautiful images. It’s a peaceful scene with two lovers who unquestionably love each other passionately. And then our friend Tyler also came up with the plan to ask his loved one to marrie him. Can it be even sweeter? Well, life has certainly been good to Tyler. Until his fiancée is dragged into the forest with their tent and the rest of the stuff, while her future husband is exploring the surrounding because of some suspicious noises. Well, Tyler ends up in a psychiatric institute after the disappearing of Natalie. And when he’s released, the only thing he can think of is to return to the scene to see if he can find his missing girlfriend again. But your gut’s scream at you he better had stayed sitting by his fireplace.

 

Big Legend

 

I truly hate the word “chief” from now on.

Not because a giant furry ape is going to make life miserable for him (Isn’t that the initial subject of this film?). But mainly because he runs into a colorful figure who would drive me completely crazy instantly. If I had received a Euro every time Eli (Todd A. Robinson) says the word “chief”, I could quietly retire. I expected Tyler to aim his automatic rifle at this forest runner after a while, instead of the still-to-be-spotted monster. Moreover. Eli has been in these forests for a long time already, hoping for that moment to see the legend. And yet he never saw it. Apparently, there are some primitive symbols placed here and there (by the Chinook) in the forest that somehow define a boundary the creature won’t pass. The fact that Eli never went beyond this symbolic border could be an explanation. However, afterwards, it appears that the symbols are damaged in certain places. A bit weird. And really confusing. But there are more of those bizarre and nonsensical facts.

 

Big Legend

 

5 Seconds and he saw the strange shadow.

The police dropped a box full of possessions of the missing Natalie at Tyler’s place. Tyler starts to look through it all and scrolls through the photos Natalie has taken during their trip. And would you believe it? Suddenly he discovers a photo with a suspicious shadow in the background. Now, or the police are doing an extremely poor job in that part of America. Or they have not even bothered to view the device. Except for Tyler, who discovers it within 5 seconds. And wouldn’t you call the authorities after your pick-up is being twirled around at night while sleeping in it and you discover a huge footprint in a muddy puddle? And who the hell hung up the signs with “No trespassing”? Bigfoot itself? And hasn’t Tyler been an Army Ranger for 12 years? Well, then he has forgotten many of his army instincts. Not only did he lose his backpack at a certain moment. The next moment he even leaves a water bottle behind. Not very smart I thought.

 

Big Legend

 

I’ll skip a possible sequel for sure.

I wasn’t really impressed by this film. Even though the scenery is wonderfully beautiful and everything has been reasonably portrayed, it failed in other areas. The acting was so-so. At certain times it wasn’t too bad. Next moment it feels amateurish. Perhaps also because I found the character Eli highly annoying. They also remained rather vague about the background of the two main characters. The most positive thing was Bigfoot looked like. In any case, better than the hairy beast from “Primal Rage“. It seemed more realistic and threatening, even though it’s mostly not explicitly shown. The biggest annoyances for me was the fact that this movie brings nothing new, has an unsatisfactory ending and ends with a hospital scene that shows that a possible follow-up could be made. Most likely I won’t have much trouble skipping that one. Be sure of that, Chief!

 

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

 

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Brightburn – This Superhero Parody Peppered With SF And Horror Elements Is Simply Sublime

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Take.. The.. World.
Take the world.

Superhero-movie-haters unite. Run to a nearby movie theater to see this movie. Because “Brightburn” is the ultimate anti-superhero-film of all time. The moment I realized which direction it was going, I cursed myself because after seeing “Avengers: Endgame” I’d decided to have a little sabbatical. I was going to avoid movies with characters in tightly fitting latex suits and superhuman powers. But as it became clear that it wasn’t what I expected, my enthusiasm grew all the more. My enthusiasm for films such as “Deadpool” and “Ant-Man” (because of a touch of whimsy and the originality) was effortlessly overtaken by this highly original anti-superhero film. And if one also mixes the superhero genre (of which they are continuously producing sequels and prequels) with my all-time favorite genre horror, it simply can’t go wrong. I am indeed enthusiastic, yes. Extremely enthusiastic!

 

Brightburn

 

Is it a plane? A bird? Is it Superman? Uh, nope.

It all starts as a sort of Superman parody or reboot (another favorite Hollywood term these days). Here too, we meet a young couple who have been trying to have a child for years. Even spicy lingerie doesn’t do wonders because farmer Kyle Bryer (David Denman) (and yes, the location is again a big farm) is rather clumsy, which means that his watch always gets stuck in his wife’s hair. BANG! Before they realize it, some object out of space crashes nearby. Right in their back yard. And as if it’s the most normal thing, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) finds an innocent, sweet little guy in this comet or spacecraft. They adopt him instantly and call him Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn). All peace and light, you think. Until the boy realizes that something is wrong. Especially when he tries to start the lawnmower and suddenly the thing ends up at the neighbors. A few meadows further.

 

Brightburn

 

An evil superhero with an attitude.

With the well-known figure Superman, the parents didn’t waste any time and told young Superman to keep his growing powers under control and only use it to help humans. In the 70s this fact was acceptable. But after the trillionth superhero movie, that concept really starts to sound boring. And that’s where “Brightburn” starts to deviate substantially. As soon as it seems as if puberty hits Brandon, and no it’s not about hair growth and other side-effects, and he wanders around the farm at night looking for something that seems to call him, it becomes clear that a constructive parent-child conversation is not really useful. When Brandon feels disadvantaged, it’s best to stay away from him. The consequences of a tantrum can be disastrous. You could end up flying into a closet or have a crushed hand as a result. So they are stuck with a teenage son with issues who has superpowers. A “Dennis the Menace” with an attitude. You don’t have to be smart to know what’s going to happen next.

 

Brightburn

 

Not really horror.

Let’s talk about the horror part. For those who are only used to super-hero films, it will be a shock. For a seasoned horror fanatic, it’s all just ordinary. It’s not terrifying or too bloody. There are some excellent gore effects in it, though. I personally found it simply exciting at certain moments. Exciting as in how the story will continue and end. And they even tried to tackle that part in an original and quirky way. The majority of blockbusters always have such a predictable outcome. In a western, the bad guys always eat dust in the end. A romcom has a happy ending in most cases. And even superheroes on the verge of despair will eventually prevail (such as The Avengers, for example). If you expect this to happen here as well, you’re absolutely wrong. But there’s one thing I’m sure of. The marketing department of Marvel already smells money. I bet they are planning a sequel already with The Avengers trying to beat the unstoppable Brandon.

 

Brightburn

 

Excellent acting.

About the acting, I can be brief and concise. Simply excellent. Especially the mother and son bonding was worked out and portrayed in a proper way. The desperation and motherly love that Elizabeth Banks radiates is simply wonderful to see. And even though Brandon seems incomparably innocent at times, the moment his evil ego pops up, he can conjure up a frightening and impressive facial expression. It’s just a shame he didn’t focus his anger on the annoying class bully as well.

 

Brightburn

 

I repeat it once more: a brilliant film.

Brightburn” definitely will end up in my top list this year. The only downside was the duration. Far too short of course. But otherwise, this superhero parody, peppered with SF and horror elements, is simply sublime. The fact this film has a go-against-the-rules attitude and the idea of a superhero who doesn’t care about humanity is a pleasant and refreshing change compared to the commercial one-size-fits-all releases nowadays. Just something as simple as Brandon’s costume. Has anyone ever wondered who actually made the Spiderman suit? Or did Peter Park have a Sewing and knitting diploma? Brandon uses a piece of woolen textile and a bedspread as equipment. Ingenious anyway. As brilliant as the film itself. I keep repeating it. It is hoped that it will stay with this unique film and that they won’t come up with a miserable number of sequels.

 

My rating 9/10
Links: IMDB

 

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