Thursday, July 27, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (4 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets [2017] (screenplay and directed by Luc Besson [wikip] [IMDb], based on the comic book series Valérian and Laureline [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Pierre Christin [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] and Jean-Claude Mézières [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) should, if nothing else, become a _must see_ for Sci-Fi fans.

The mostly American born critics above complain about the (lack of a) plot (they have a point, there isn't much of one...).  But honestly I say: FORGET ABOUT THE PLOT AND JUST _GLORY_ IN THE WORLD(S) PORTRAYED.  This film is like the entering the audience hooking / utterly unforgettable "Space Bar" scene in the original Star Wars [1977] movie (upon which the Valerian and Laureline [wikip] comic books apparently had an influence), passing through a Harry Potter-like portal into a distant / presently utterly unfamiliar part of the universe and ... gleefully _staying there_ for the rest of the experience, err ... film ;-).

Honestly, if a video-game comes out based on this film, especially one that allowed one to just "travel its universe" I'D BUY IT.  (Similarly I'd also be willing TO PAY for the experience of spending a night of "bar hopping" on the circa-1920s Parisian street of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris [2011] chatting it up with actors playing the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali ;-)).

Indeed, my main criticism of the recent Star Wars based film Rogue One [2016] was that it still adhered too slavishly to the Star Wars story arc.  Here was an entire galaxy in which the film-makers could have gloried in, and they chose to focus yet again on "the Empire's" "Death Star."

So I didn't mind that the current film didn't have much of a plot.  Indeed, I would have preferred even _less_ plot and just be allowed to explore the world(s) portrayed -- the tranquil, white-sanded / baby blue ocean "beach planet" of "Müt," a virtual bazaar (located in a dimension only perceived when one put-on a special pair of glasses) on a seemingly a (Casablanca [1942]-evoking) French Colonial desert planet, and then a shape-shifting / pole-dancing curvy-to-blobby blue alien that could be characterized as a smurf crossed with a Na'vi from Avatar [2010] named Booble (and played in show-stopping fashion by Rhianna)! 

In any case, in my dream Sci-Fi film festival, I would include George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope [1977], late Russian director Aleskey German's ponderous Hard to be a God [2015] and now the current film.  All portray unforgettable worlds "far far away" but with strikingly different concerns and priorities.

Weakness of plot in the current film aside (and again, is plot necessarily all-important in a visual medium?) this film remains a stunning visual feast.  HENCE, AN AWESOME JOB!

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