“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – (2017, France, 2hrs 17mins – PG13)
Luc Besson takes us on a trip through Space and Time with personal meaning. Those unfamiliar with the “Valerian & Laureline” series of comic books, and other materials referenced in this film, might hopefully find it to be good escapist fare. Good offerings in the Space Opera genre are too rare and having grown up reading them I am just as fond of “Valerian & Laureline” as the director, Luc Besson.
A disclaimer: although I read the comics the film is based on, I read them between 35 to 45 years ago, and my review is based largely on personal recollection.
As the saying goes, ‘first I was like OMG, then I LOL’d’… On this side of the ring, the good guys: Daimon and his motorcycle , the titular Zaborgar thingamajig. The Zaborgar thing transforms into a robot which fights bad guys and bad robots alike with karate. It’s also made from Daimon’s dead brother’s DNA, extracted and mechanized by Daimon’s Nobel Prize winning scientist dad.
If this wasn’t enough baggage, while training in karate years ago, Daimon witnessed the death of his father, who had been captured by the evil Sigma organization, trolling about in the sky aboard what looks like – well, a gigantic ass.
Thankfully, Daimon was spared the spectacle of his father’s humiliation (his word) at the hands of Dr. Akunomiya’s cyborg henchmen, who inflicted titty-twisters on the venerable scientist, before he leaped off the giant ass in the sky and got nuked in mid-air by a laser blast, exploding above Daimon’s karate class… Did I mention the professor used to breast-feed his sons..?
I know. At this point you might think an aspirin is in order but perhaps a stiff drink is more apropos. We still have to discuss the bad guys, the Samurai robot and the Diarrhea robot. That’s right: the Diarrhea robot, an ant spewing acid from both ends. As for Samurai robot, he has giant lips designed to kiss politicians on the mouth, stealing their DNA. Their karate skills are no match for Zaborgar, but Miss Cyborg and her missile-launching bra is another matter. Why, she even manages to steal Daimon’s heart (not literally)…
With Daimon’s loyalty tested by corrupt politicians he’s sworn to protect and his heart divided between Zaborgar and Miss Cyborg, which path will he take? To find out, let’s kill a few people and flash forward twenty-five years…
This is more than a revival of ’70s Japanese television, “Karate Robo Zaborgar” is a comedy well off the beaten path, in the same vein as “Gentlemen Broncos“. “Karate Robo Zaborgar” pits high-school misfits (both the good and bad guys) against the true villains: lecherous, corrupt politicians, with slow-mo explosions, Bruce Lee moves and moos, ludicrous subtitles and very weird innuendos…
Drummers Magnus (Magnus Borjeson) and his pal Sanna (Sanna Persson) are speeding along Swedish freeways in a van, when Sanna’s rythmic (erratic?) driving prompts a motorcycle cop to give chase, which all ends up looking like a terrorist plot after the crashed van is found at the German embassy’s gates and the tick-tock of the metronome on the dash sounds like a bomb to the cops.
“The fall” – (117 minutes, India/USA, 2006 – rated R)
In a Los Angeles hospital of the 1920s, a 5 year old Romanian girl named Alexandria (Cantinca Untaru) is recovering from a broken arm she suffered picking up oranges with her migrant workers parents. Relieving the monotony of long days in this adult world is her accidental meeting of another patient, Roy Walker (Lee Pace), a young movie stuntman.
Roy is bedridden after performing a stunt he intended to impress the film’s female lead. The opening sequence of “the fall“, a gorgeous black and white montage using Beethoven’s 7th symphony, reveals what happened after Roy plunged off a railroad bridge on horseback into the river below, killing his horse and wrenching his back.
As it turns out, Roy is not only just as bored as Alexandria, he is contemplating suicide, the hopeless romantic…
“The girl with the dragon tattoo” – (158 minutes, USA, 2011 – rated R)
I wanted to like this. Great cast, great director, great story… But like Steven Spielberg, David Fincher hits it about as much as he misses, and the opening sequence of “the girl with the dragon tattoo” is the best part of the movie.
Steven Zaillian is credited as screenwriter for this adaptation and described on imdb as a veteran scrip doctor. Here, it appears the doctor killed the patient. You very seldom get a strong female character matched to a strong female lead as was the case with Salander and Noomi Rapace. To say this version adds nothing to the original Swedish film is true but incomplete: the character treatment of Lisbeth Salander amounts to character assassination, although at 158 minutes it’s more like a prolonged torture session.
SPOILER ALERT BELOW.
When Lisbeth rescues Blomqvist from the killer and chases after him, she actually asks Blomqvist for his permission to kill the bad guy. In Fincher’s “girl with the dragon tattoo”, Lisbeth subordinates herself to Blomqvist, which is not just contrary to the source material (book and film), but bizarre…
The book’s original title, Män som hatar kvinnor, means “men who hate women”, and makes me wonder at the guys involved here. Too bad, so sad, avoid this stinker. This gets no beans.
UPDATE BY Rudha-an
Here is the opening title sequence that Lastech mentioned. It’s the best part of the movie.
I had really been looking forward to watching “Hugo” because Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite directors and his latest film competed directly with “the artist” at the last Academy Awards.
Both films express a passion for movies at a time when much of the public shuns theaters for at-home viewing, like us here at JBoD. I frankly can only think of two films in recent memory which passed the “windshield rule”: “we are what we are“, Terrence Malick’s “the tree of life“, perhaps even Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia“.
On my daily commute, especially in the summer months, I get to enjoy both sunset and sunrise, a benefit of working nights. And so I got to wonder just how many films are really worth watching on anything larger than a car windscreen. By and large, especially with high definition TV, I feel most movies fail the test.
I’ll be honest. I’m a Madison Avenue nightmare. Not only do I ignore most advertising, when I do pay attention I don’t bother to remember WHAT company was being advertised. Once in a while I surprise myself. I don’t jump to buy the product, but I pay attention. This advert from The Guardian, got my attention. It’s well done and smart. It stars the Big Bad Wolf and The Three Little Pigs.
“We are what we are” is largely about what it takes to keep a family together and that thing here isn’t love. “We are what we are” is a Mexican film written and directed by Jorge Michel Grau whose career so far shows promise, mostly documentaries centered on culture, the arts and education.
It helps to know this as this work of fiction has strong sociological themes, rather specific to Hispanic culture, Mexican in particular.