Movie Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Valérian et la Cité des mille planètes)

TL;DR – Truly beautiful visuals, and fascinating worlds, and … well not a whole lot else unfortunately

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Review

I’ve really been impressed by Luc Besson previous work, indeed, I would probably put The Fifth Element on my top 10 Films of All-time List if I ever got around to making one, which I should, come to think of it. So given everything I have seen of Luc Besson’s filmography, I’m going to be honest, I came into Valerian with really high expectations, indeed maybe that was the problem. So in today’s review, we are going to first look at the production side of things, and the world building, before taking a stab at the story.
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Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

TL;DR – Volume 2 takes everything from the first film and elevates it with an interesting story, beautiful visuals, and some of the best humour in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but your mileage may vary depending on a couple of factors.

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

P.S. There are 5 mid/post credit scenes

GOTGVol2

Review

Back in 2014 Marvel undertook the biggest experiment yet in this whole expanded universe, it was an ensemble cast which they had not done outside of an Avengers film at that point, its main lead was still a mostly unknown Chris Pratt. Seriously when he was cast he was mostly known as that quirky dude on Parks and Rec, two of the main cast were CGI and one of those only said I am Groot and it was amazing. It was funny, but emotional at places and that opening still makes me tear up, and until Captain America Civil War came along it was my favourite film in the MCU, or maybe still is, I go back and forth a bit here. So it would not be a surprise to say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 might be the film I was the most looking forward to in 2017. Now this as a reviewer is something you have to be careful with, you need to make sure your rose-tinted glasses are not blinding you to the flaws, or conversely that you don’t hype it up so much that it is a disappointment no matter how good it is. But I have just come from the cinemas and overall I really loved Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but I can also see areas that may put people off. So with this in mind let’s start the review.

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Movie Review – The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

TL;DR – While not the best movie I have seen this year, it’s full of charm and a lot of fun, well worth a look

Score – 4 out of 5 stars 

Review

Before I start I should mention I have not seen the source TV show, unlike Get Smart, MASH or Hogan’s Heroes etc. it just did not get a lot of reruns on TV where I live, so I no idea if this is a faithful adaption or not, on a side note can you imagine how bad a remake of MASH would be, so I am just judging on what I saw in the movies.

Henry Cavill shows that he has charisma

Henry Cavill shows that he has charisma

The basic premise for the film is that the world is in the middle of the Cold War, and Europe is divided between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. However, a new threat is rising (or an old threat is resurfacing, the movie needed to be more clear on this) that has forced the two enemy’s the USA and the USSR to work together. As far as settings go, it’s a pretty good one, it allows you to create tension easily among the characters, but it also allows you to revel in the 1960s and all its charm.

 

This is a film that if the two leads didn’t work, then the rest of the film would be a total mess. Thankfully this is not the case. Henry Cavill is great as the American agent Napoleon Solo, even if that is a ridiculous name for a character. Napoleon, is a womaniser, a conman and a thief, but at the same time, he has a sense of composure that fits his character well. The real stand out for me is Armie Hammer as the Soviet agent Illya Kuryakin, he has a charm I was not expecting and also a physical presence unmatched by the rest of the cast. He also has an understandable motivation for everything he does. Together both Cavill and Hammer help drive the film and give the movie a lot of its strength. Alicia Vikander works well as Gabby Teller, a mechanic from East Berlin caught up in the villain’s plot, and the rest of the supporting cast works quite well, with special mention to Elizabeth Debicki who give the main villain Victoria Vinciguerra a sense of power and importance.

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From the sets, to the locations, to the costumes, everything screams the era

While the casting is quite good another key aspect of why the film works is the style it uses throughout. The production design is really quite spectacular, they really work hard to recreate 1960s Europe and it is a lot of the small touches that ground the film. There is a really good use of sound, using the lack of music, or the lack of sound effects to give a scene heightened tension. Also, it was nice to see at times the use of zooms and pans (CGI-assisted of course) to help give a sense of geography in the big fight scenes. It today’s tendency to cut to a new shot every second, taking that moment to let you know where everyone is, is kind of refreshing.

While this is a good film there are some things that don’t quite work. Generally, the special effects are quite good but there are a couple of shots that really do look like CGI. The story needed a little work, like a lot of Guy Richie films (see Sherlock Holmes) the story tends to lack a sense of scope which they then try to make up for with character interactions and stylish filmmaking which is good, but it would also be nice to have an in-depth story as well. Also as this is an origins type of film, it does feel like they have held back a bit so as to leave room for a sequel and some of the pacing at the start is a bit off.

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Even the geopolitics of the time work out

Look this is not going to be my favourite film of the year, but the tone is spot on, the characters are compelling, the action is good, and overall it is an enjoyable 2 hours. With this in mind, I recommend The Man from U.N.C.L.E. even if United Network Command for Law and Enforcement is once again a really silly name.

 

Directed by – Guy Ritchie
Screenplay by – Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram
Story By – Jeff Kleeman, David Campbell Wilson, Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram
Based on – ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ by Sam Rolfe
Starring – Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Luca Calvani & Hugh Grant
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13