29 August 2017

Some Hazey Cosmic Jive

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Near the end of Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, the two lead characters find out that they're going to be stuck in a shuttle with each other for two hours and with nothing to do. “Great” one of them says to the other, “Two hours with you is going to feel like an eternity”. “Imagine how I felt”, a friend said to me after the film, “I had to spend two and a quarter fucking hours with them”. To be fair the film hasn't exactly received the warmest of welcomes with critics accusing it of essentially being cinematic candy-floss, colourful to look at but ultimately lacking in any substance whatsoever. They're not wrong either. Sci-fi movies have the potential to hold a mirror up to our own society and reveal profound truths about our existence and way of life. In this film we see Cara Delevingne stick her head up a jelly-fishes arse hole in order to see the future and, in honesty, I fucking loved it. Not just the head to anus scene but every rainbow coloured piece of bullshit that the film spewed my way. If gay pride was a person then this is the film that it would vomit out at the end of a really enjoyable but ultimately forgettable night out.

So the film tells the story of two humans travelling in space. I have no idea what their job was because the film is already starting to fade from my memory. But I think they were like intergalactic police or something. Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck cares? Anyway, for one reason or another, they're tasked with finding and protecting a small rat-like creature that literally shits out whatever you feed into it. Which isn't actually that special when you think about it considering that most things tend to shit out what you put into them. However at the very beginning of the movie, some aliens that look like the Na'vi from Avatar-but-if-they-were-dying-of-cancer have their planet destroyed and somehow this shitting rat is the key to them building their a new home. Again.. I don't remember why and I can't really care. Also, all of this has somehow got something to do with a giant space-station in which aliens from all across the galaxy have moved in and added to its bulk by parking their own spaceships onto its side. Oh, and Clive Owen is in charge of it, I think(?) Although I can't be sure because he gets bashed on the head or something and as a result spends most of the film asleep. Which probably means that his character still has more of a fucking clue about what's going on than I did.

However in a world in which we burn our poor people to death in giant flammable apartment blocks, and as our world leaders threaten nuclear war in a pissing competition that's presumably over which of them has the shittest haircut, I found Valerian to be the escapism that I needed. From the moment the film began it simply charged from set-piece to set-piece like a pisshead running between tables and necking the discarded pints as the bar staff chase him out with a fucking broom. Sure the film might be as hollow as reality television contestants are dumb, but it's also as inventive as the bastard offspring of Doc Brown and Willy Wonka. Transformers: The Last Knight had scenes in that they were so bland and incomprehensible that you could literally have chopped them out and edited them into any of the other films in that franchise and they wouldn't have looked out of place. Nor would they have looked out of place in a film entitled The Visual Representation Of A Fucking Lobotomy. However, this film has a chase through a market that takes place during multiple dimensions and a scene in which a giant alien-turkey king tries to eat somebodies brain. There's also a moment when the film drops everything to just show you around all of the different species that exist for literally no other reason than to show off what's been designed for it. It's like the film knows that nobody is going to buy it on DVD and so simply includes the randomness of the bonus features within the movie itself.

It probably helps this film's cause with me too that I kind of have a soft spot for this kind of badly reviewed, campy sci-fi crap. See also: Jupiter Ascending, in which a toilet cleaner inherits the universe causing a half-wolf Channing Tatum and a half-bumble bee Sean Bean to begin protecting her from Eddie Redmayne's intergalactic Kenneth Williams. Oh and although I do agree that Valerian has literally nothing going on beneath its surface, I think it's unfair to suggest the film doesn't have a heart as many critics have done. Director Luc Besson has been obsessing over the source material of this film for years with the final result clearly being something of a passion project for him. Every frame is filled to the brim with detail, and although that detail might well be multi-coloured bollocks, it's clearly been put there by somebody that genuinely cares about what they're doing. It's almost as though Besson's earlier sci-fi The Fifth Element was his practice run for this movie, or perhaps the closest to it that he could make before technology caught up to his vision. It just so happens that the somewhat over-rated first attempt is still much better than this most recent result. In many ways this film could literally take place in the same world as The Fifth Element but simply on a much larger scale and thankfully much, much further into space, meaning we're thankfully much less likely to bump into that gooch-stingingly awful character played by Chris fucking Tucker.

Perhaps the biggest problem for me though was simply that the main two characters were just pretty dull. Or rather they were miscast. I read one review that claimed that Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne are actually perfect for the movie because they're two feisty and good-looking leads. However ignoring the fact that Dehaan looks like the fetal stage of a mutated Leonardo DiCaprio and Delevingne looks like Justin Bieber has dragged up and had his eyebrows replaced by permanent marker, I just don't feel that they're right for it. The characters bicker in a screwball comedy kind of way, with the script attempting to hint towards the two having some sort of past. However, both actors look so young that the only past they could possibly have had must have taken place in either nursery school or in between episodes of fucking Sesame Street. I was trying to think of who could have been more suited to the roles and although I originally came up with Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer because fuck it, why not? It occurred to me that perhaps Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt might have been better. There's no doubting that they had chemistry in Passengers, it's just that Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is a lot less rapey with its central romance.

So I'm not saying that this film is the best film of the year. In fact, I'm not even saying it was a particularly good film. It just so happens that whatever bullshit it is was pretty much exactly what I was in the mood for and so as easy as it would be to tear it apart I really don't feel any desire to. I should maybe point out that I'd been for a meal before seeing this movie and my pudding had been fifteen scoops of ice-cream, with two chocolate flakes, and three cookies in it. So it's certainly possible that I was experiencing a sugar rush so powerful that my very atoms had begun to vibrate to the same sugary, candy-floss-vibe as the movie itself and we simply found ourselves in tune as a result. And my enjoyment was certainly not in keeping with how the rest of the people I was with felt about it with another friend declaring, “If we see any more films as shit as that then I'm going to stop coming to the fucking cinema”. However as somebody that's also seen Transformers: The Last Knight, Fifty Shades Darker, Fist Fight, and fucking Bay Watch, I'd have to say that even if I wasn't overdosing on ice-cream at the time then there'd still be no fucking chance that this film would be on my list of worst films from 2017. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time.

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