Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

I walked out of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets grinning from ear to ear and giggling like a child.  Luc Besson’s adaptation of the Valerian and Laureline comic books is a breath of fresh air after what seems like an eternity of drab fantasy comic book cinema.  This doesn’t feel recycled or ponderous, it feels like a comic book brought to life with tonnes of imagination and wit.

It sometimes feels a bit too much, it’s so packed with ideas that I’m wondering what I missed and I think watching it in 3D was maybe one layer too many.  There’s also a problem with length (a regular gripe this summer) and the charm of witnessing a comic serial unfold is lessened slightly by one long segment that side-tracks proceedings and ‘damsels’ Laureline just once too often.  Which is a real pity because the central pairing of Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne brings a weird offbeat energy to proceedings that feels much more equitable than similar films.

Slight misgivings aside, it’s still a wonderful film.  It’s brash and fun in the same way as Besson’s The Fifth Element.  I can fully see why other people might dislike or even actively hate it, it’s ‘peak Besson’ and that’s a dangerous place for film makers (Mann and Malick both need to step back from the edge) but, for me, it hit all the right notes.

Highly Recommended.

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Film: Lucy (2014)

Lucy @ www.cinemascream.co.uk

As with Nymphomaniac (2013), Lucy frustrates due to a tendency to keep telling us what we are seeing.  Whether it’s the Nature Channel foregrounding of the hunter / prey scenario being played out in the opening scenes or Morgan Freeman’s Basil Exposition character, popping up more and more to explain what we are seeing, the whole thing, despite having that Luc Besson comic book feel, just gets in the way of itself.

Then, the film suddenly becomes something else and we are in a mixture of X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) and The Tree of Life (2011) and Transcendence (2014).  Does it suddenly become a satisfying movie?  No, not entirely but it does become a bit more interesting even if it is crippled by being neither one thing or another.