As trendy as it is to bash DC movies, I have to admit in 2017, DC has improved considerably from 2016. They have addressed a lot (not all) of my complaints about Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad. Because of this, Justice League is entertaining enough for me to watch, but not enough for me to get pumped up for the franchise. I am not convinced they have “Found their stride” for a lack of a better term.
Watching Justice League, I noticed that they took a lot of the critical consensus from last year into account. That is admirable. The tone was not as murky and depressing as Batman vs. Superman, it is not overly zany and jarring as Suicide Squad. The character development still needs work (especially Cyborg) but it was miles better than Suicide Squad just to name a few critiques.
What I ultimately got out of Justice League was a basic plot that was easy to understand and mildly entertaining. It is the kind of movie you would watch to pass the time. Sometimes that is all a movie aspires to be, which I am fine with. Justice League has more ambition than that. The end product is not good enough be an outstanding superhero movie that you would expect or want. It’s just another superhero movie.
To put in perspective how ordinary it is, the villain is the most generic villain ever. He is called Steppenwolf and his movie is to destroy the world, Why? Who knows. I bet you have never heard of a movie villain like that before! He aims to destroy the world through the unification of three boxes that represent power. One box is protected by the Amazonians, another box is protected by the Atlantians and the third box is protected by humans.
Another thing about Justice League you may need to know is that it’s entirely the Superman show. Justice League shows you how omnipotent he really is. In Superman’s first fight sequence, it goes to show how insignificant the rest of the superheroes are. The rest of the characters have some form of inner conflict or vulnerability, but Justice League does not follow through with them, making them small insignificant in comparison to Superman. At least they all want to work together this time.
When I first saw Wonder Woman, I felt it was a great launching platform for a bigger movie down the line. Justice League is not that bigger movie down the line, even though it aspires to be. Nevertheless, it is a step up from BvS and Suicide Squad purely because it addresses a lot of what annoyed me about those movies. However, if you wanted an epic movie where well-developed superheroes united to fight a well-developed villain, well, you would want more than what Justice League gives you. ⭐⭐3/4
Thor: Ragnarok I feel, is the most standardized Marvel movie. Thor: Ragnarok has good special effects, nice action set pieces, fleshed out characters and a story that is engaging. In turn, it also has all the minute elements that drive me crazy about Marvel movies in general.
Thor: Ragnarok starts off with Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) dying. Odin tells Thor that Hela: Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) has been released. In an ensuing fight, Hela banishes Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to the other end of the universe in a planet where Thor has to win an arena battle and travel back to Asgard before Hela takes control of the land and the people.
Thor: Ragnarok meets the minimum requirements of what you would expect from a Marvel movie. It has fun action sequences, character-building elements, and storytelling that is easy to follow and engaging. Ultimately, those are the main elements that make a good Marvel movie and that makes Thor: Ragnarock a success.
The Positives of Thor: Ragnarock
The bits that are the most fun are far and away the scenes where Thor is banished and has to fight in an arena to gain freedom. His opponent is a surprising one which I will leave you, the viewer to find out (even though they spoil it in the trailer). This creates interesting an funny dynamic between the characters both in and out of the battle.
The action sequences are also well choreographed as you would expect. This time, Thor: Ragnarok decides to take its influences of action sequences through previous entities of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Doctor Strange when there are action sequences occurring through interdimensional time travel. Blanchett gets action sequences reminiscent of the infamous Kill Bill action sequences 1 person against the 99 extras.The climactic battle sequence was also well chreographed.
Finally (For the good aspects at least), I would like to praise Thor: Ragnarock for making a story that is easy to understand particularly being the third installment of the franchise. You don’t have to know what happens in the first two to know what is going on in this one. Normally, it takes me awhile before I understand what is going on in a franchise if I start halfway in. It makes it easier for not only me to enjoy it, but for newer viewers as well.
Now comes what I think the sucky part of Thor Ragnarock. Unfortunately, it is what a lot of what I think a lot Marvel movies suffer from which is the ill-placed gags that don’t usually work.
The Annoying Gags of Thor: Ragnarock
Thor: Ragnarok, unfortunately, does not move as smoothly as I would have expected from a Marvel movie and that is because of the jarring tone. Thor: Ragnarock aims to have the mix the humor of Deadpool while trying to be as serious as Captain America: Civil War. Doctor Strange manages to balance the tons better than in Thor Ragnarock
This is mainly due to the ill-placed and predictable gags that Thor: Ragnarock possesses. You just know that when a villain is monologing there is going to be an ill-placed gag and when there a climactic scene, you guessed it, is an incoming gag. Marvel has to dilute the gravitas and disrupt the film’s momentum to insert a smarmy joke. It is like a compulsion. There are times when it is funny but most of the time, it really isn’t.
Nevertheless, the humor is an element of the movie, but the main elements of the movie (action, characters, storytelling) Thor: Ragnarok gets right. Unfortunately, I don’t see a point of difference in Thor Ragnarock with the recent Marvel entries like Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 or Doctor Strange, but by no means is it a bad movie. It is entertaining to watch, easy to follow and never felt too long. ⭐⭐⭐1/2
Me and disaster movies do not mix well generally. There is more emphasis on special effects than on characters. Therefore, most disaster movies are meant to look awesome than give off a sense of danger and urgency. The problem is, most disaster movies have laughable special effects too.
I broke a cardinal rule that I placed upon myself. That rule being watching the trailer and I swear to you, with the laughable and over-exaggerated special effects that the trailer seems to give off, I expected a shitstorm. There was a moment in the trailer where a tornado caused a high-rise building to topple over into other high rise buildings, creating a domino effect.
I was expecting the next Sharknado. I was banking that the only chance Geostorm is a figurative (and near-literal) shitstorm that I would be able to laugh ironically at. I hoped that was the movie’s intention
But as most blockbuster movies, Geostrom seems unwilling to commit to a crazy idea. It was not funny-bad, it was generically bad. It is taking itself seriously with some of the most tedious drama possible with bad scriptwriting and some wooden acting. Having said that, this is the best film, Gerard Butler has been in for the past two years I have been reviewing movies.
You see, Geostorm is not only generically bad, it is also inconsistently bad, meaning that I found aspects of it that are actually good. Geostorm is a movie where Gerard Butler is sent to space to fix the satellite spaceship that he created that controls the weather. Butler himself was fine. He did not make me want to mentally check out like I normally would. The special effects in space were also fine. It’s not Interstellar or Gravity levels or greatness, but it is good enough to easily suspend disbelief.
The problem comes when the plot has to kick in and Geostom cannot juggle the disaster and human elements right, nor could they make either of them work separately. The relationships between Butler’s character, his brother (Jim Sturgess) and his daughter (Talitha Bateman) feels forced and inauthentic. There was a point early on in the movie where the daughter says to Butler’s character that she resents him for abandoning her and then in the same scene says that she loves him. I groaned with how rushed this movie was going to be.
The time when the special effects are terrible occurs when the disaster scenes happen. There were shot for shot comparisons with The Day After Tomorrow where I could tell that Geostorm wanted to top it by being bigger and deadlier but not having the budget to make these special effects look more convincing. It was not TV movie level bad but not much better. But since the main conflict in the story involves someone controlling the satellite and thus the weather, you see all sorts or major disasters with sizes of sheer magnitude and I did not give a shit.
There was a corrupt energy company called Enron who postulated that they could commoditize the weather and thus control and trade it. Obviously, this did not come to fruition, but it makes me wonder if Geostorm foreshadows a future of sheer brutality if a corrupt man could control the weather. I know this movie was not meant to be of that high-concept.
But I do hope there is a good man who could control the weather and blow this movie away ⭐1/2
*Note, when I am referring to “the original” Blade Runner I am referring to the directors cut, as that is the only version of Blade Runner I have seen*
Blade Runner 2049 was a surprising entity for me. Like the original, it was more story-centric than the marketing department would leave you to believe, which is a good decision from director Dennis Villeneuve and combined with fantastic sets and visuals, it did keep me invested for the 161-minute running time and that is worth a lot of praise.
However, even describing a brief synopsis for Blade Runner 2049 is both complex and constitutes spoiler territory so I will only say two things about it 1. Ryan Gosling is a Blade Runner and 2. Harrison Ford is in it. I would say that watching the original Blade Runner will help the viewer to understand the world it occupies and why you need to be emotionally invested in Harrison Ford’s character because Blade Runner 2049 draw so many parallels to the original that it is not funny.
Literally, from the first shot, Blade Runner 2049 pays homage to the original Blade Runner. There were so many moments and scenes that aim to replicate the original that I can make direct comparisons. I have concluded that the even though the original was a stronger film, it was only stronger by a whisker. That is because Blade Runner 2049 has many twists and turn to not only the story, but to the themes that the original evokes such as what humans perceive as love, identity, and existence.
My favorite scene involves Harrison Ford’s and Jared Leto’s characters meeting the first time and what the scene develops into. That scene does expand the notion of the perception of love itself from the original movie.
There were also many other scenes that differed from the original that worked in their own right but the movie always lost me slightly when they did all the callbacks as I was thinking “The original movie did it slightly better” I don’t want to be reminded of that in any movie I see, I want a movie to earn it’s own stripes or and stand on its own accord. This is especially frustrating when a movie like Blade Runner 2049 was hitting a home run anyway.
The visuals and set pieces were the best things in the movie. In terms of cinematography, a lot of it looks like a digitized version of sepia tone, which gave off a warm absorbing effect, yet gave off the scene of dread. It was unique, simple and effective. It may rival Dunkirk so far for the best cinematography of 2017. For the set designs, it is like going into a candy shop if you have seen the original Blade Runner. That is because you know where the characters are heading and it’s intriguing. The set designs give off the right mindset of understanding of the world geographically.
I cannot deny that Blade Runner 2049 is an absorbing movie that kept my attention for a long period of time. I did not reach the level of emotional brevity that this film tries hard to do (admittedly, that is not even a negative critique as that is a massive undertaking) but I was in it with the story and characters the whole way with plenty of visual delight and ideas that make it a worthy candidate next to the original ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/4
I am not going to say I was at a loss for words when watching The Emoji Movie because I don’t want to resort to emojis to express how I feel. Surprising, I wasn’t angry or annoyed when watching the Emoji movie but that was because I had quickly adopted two techniques towards watching The Emoji Movie to becoming bearable.
These two techniques are sleeping in small intervals (10 minutes awake and 10 minutes asleep) and treating The Emoji Movie as a bizarre avant-garde children’s comedy. The rest of the review will show you why.
The Emoji movie is about the personified meh emoji called Gene (T.J. Miller) who lives in a society with other emojis. This society lives in a place called Textopolis (I am not making that word up) which is an app on a smartphone owned by a kid called Alex. Gene is considered a malfunction because he cannot sustain an expressionless “meh” face and wants to travel to the cloud to reprogram himself to have a perpetual meh face so he can do his job.
The reason Gene is important is that Alex is crushing hard on a girl and a Meh face emoji is the most critical emoji to send to her so she falls in love with him. The movie even says that words take too long to truly express how someone feels.
Because the premise is shallow and not movie length worthy, the movie takes its characters to various apps that have nothing to do with plot and story progression. It’s more of an exhibit than a movie. They play games like Candy Crush and Just Dance, interact with a firewall, go to Youtube and Facebook, and ride the Twitter logo to their destinations.
Because The Emjoi Movie did this over and over again I decided to sleep, feeling that when I wake up I would not have missed anything. I was right, and I repeated this process until the climax when I realized I could leave in ten minutes if I stayed up.
The other bizarre thing about The Emoji Movie which occurs frequently is when all these emojis are put into situations where their emotions don’t match the tone or the situation.
Gene’s meh parents at one point argue and fight at each other about finding their son but entirely through expressionless faces and voices. You’d think they would express sadness and frustration instead on nonchalance, but it’s not played for laughs.
Similarly, when Smily (A smiley faced emoji) is constantly angry, it is weird seeing her smiling throughout the movie. It was such a poor directorial choice to do this I pretended to think it was an experimental avart grade kids movie just to get my head over the stunning ineptitude. Not that it was funny, but I was tying to find my own justifications to continue watching.
I could go on with other things like
1.how the entire movie is just a blatant ad to kids to consume more technology or;
2. How there are numerous dance-offs just to fill time and;
3. The fact that all the jokes are always the first bad pun you think of when encountering an emoji
But I was not offended by the movie because it was such void that it sucked any energy that would require anger.
By the end, my face was like a zombie. I was both stunned at how inept The Emoji Movie was while being so sleepy tired because nothing happened that was remotely interesting. I would just watch Inside Out a thousand times instead ➖
Well, after over 100 years of films and film criticism, movie studios have now blamed Rotten Tomatoes for killing their profit margins this year.
It is really strange considering that the Rotten Tomatoes has existed for 19 years and film criticism has existed far longer than that. Despite this, major blockbuster movies very rarely failed to make a profit.
So it would not surprise you that I believe the movie studio arguments do not really hold. I am about 90-10 in terms of disagreeing with them over agreeing with them.
I will be writing about
The movie studio’s main argument
How Rotten Tomatoes works and how little correlation Rotten Tomatoes is to box office performance
How these movies the movie studio mentioned may have failed
Where the money is really made.
Finally, I will write about what people, movie studios and Rotten Tomatoes can do to make the overall movie experience better.
Movie Studio Argument
The argument movie studios have for their diminishing returns is that young adult’s purchase online more often and since the purchase of Rotten Tomatoes website from Fandango, there has been a significant drop in box office revenue from movies that have given poor reviews. This is because they see the rating before they purchase movie tickets. They also questioned the Rotten Tomatoes rating system and how it works and how that contributes to the box office decline.
The “Questionable” Rotten Tomatoes System
I will respond to the dumbest part of the argument first which is that Rotten Tomatoes is a questionable system in how it rates movies. They argue that it is a misrepresentation, which is partly true, but it is not intended to be deceitful. This misrepresentation only happens when critical opinion is mixed and even then it’s only in specific situations. The system is an aggerate of many critics opinions boiled down to either liking it (Fresh) or not liking it (rotten) which creates an approval rating percentage (The Tomatometer). If the Tomatometer is more than 60% positive (6 out 10 critics like the movie), it is considered “fresh” and anything less is considered “rotten”. The misrepresentation here is that the Tomatometer does not measure how much a movie critic loves or loathes a movie.
To delve further into what critics really rate a movie, there is a weighted average mean that is scored out of ten to weed out the mixed reviews that The Tomatometer could misrepresent. The weighted average is more accurate to critic sentiment than the Tomatometer as the Tomatometer does not represent mixed reviews very well sometimes and is a better indicator on how much they liked or disliked a movie.
Theoretically, a movie that has a weighted average of 6/10 may get 100% because if every critic gave it a 6/10 they are all considered positive responses. Another movie could get an average 9/10 and get the same 100% score on the Tomatometer because 9/10 is also considered a positive score. Conversely, a movie may 0% on the Tomatometer despite the average score to be a 4/10 because 4/10 is considered a negative score. This is the only time in which I believe the Tomatometer can become skewed. That is the main disadvantage of the Tomatometer.
In other words, movies with 0% could only be mildly negative when you read the weighted average and a movie with an 100% rating in reality may only be passable entertainment.
However, I do wish the weighted average score is emphasized (larger font size) more and the Tomatometer is emphasized less on their website as the weighted score is a better representation for critical consensus. If moviegoers are only reading the percentage, then I can see why this may be a problem for movie studios when their movies are actually half decent when the Tomatometer measure a 20% or less approval rating.
But if you really want the best information, look at what critics think of a movie by reading their reviews. Rotten Tomatoes provide links to the full reviews that they have collected and you can gain a wealth of information that way. Lot of critics I have found would like or dislike a movie for similar reasons, movie studios may even see the trend and transfer it into their movie making!
Rotten Tomatoes is not a rigged system nor do they intend to be misleading, Rotten Tomatoes accurately provies aggerates from many (sometimes even hundreds) of critics per movie and you can even have access to what each individual says about the movie. It’s a wealth of data that comes from many people, which is why the website is popular in the first place.
The “Correlation” of Rotten Tomatoes and the Box Office
Now that we are done with the dumbest part of their argument which was the entree lets move on to the meat of their argument which is there is a strong correlation between Rotten Tomatoes scores via Fandango and each movie’s box office performance.
Well, Fandango purchased Rotten Tomatoes in February of 2016. Since that time here is a list of movies that contradicts the theory. Anything less than 60% is considered “rotten” or negative by Rotten Tomatoes scoring
1. How to be Single 47% positive, cost $38 million and made $112 million
2. London Has Fallen 25% positive, cost $60 million and made $205 million
3. Batman vs. Superman 27% positive cost $300 million and made $873 million
4. Suicide Squad 25% positive: cost $175 million and made $745 million
5. Alice Through the Looking Glass: 30% positive, Cost $170 million and made $300 million
6. Me Before You: 58% positive: Cost $20 million and made $200 million
7, Ice Age Collision Course: 15% Positive, cost $105 million and made $400 million
8. Blair Witch: 36% positive: Cost $5 million and made $45 million
9.xXx The Return of Xander Cage (my favorite bad film:) Cost $85 million and Made $346 million
10. A Dog’s Purpose: 30% positive: Cost $22 million and made $194 million
11. Rings 7% positive, cost $25 million: and made $83 million
12. Fifty Shades Darker: $55 million and made $378 million
13. The Mummy: 16% positive, Cost $ 125-195 million and made $407 million
Yes, I did cherry pick, I cherry picked because there are a lot more movies released since February of 2016 that have made a ton of money despite negative critical reviews. I just thought you’d get the picture by the thirteenth example
Also, if the inverse were to be true, all positively reviewed movies make money. That is not true either. There have been many movies that have had positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and have failed. Examples like Raw, Land of Mine, Lovesong, Free Fire, Logan Lucky, Silence, Things to Come, Miss Slone and Morris from America were all received positive reviews in the last two years but did not make twice their production budget (the general amount of money needed to break even) back.
Yes, there are many movies that have failed that have negative reviews and others have made lots of money while having positive reviews, but that there is no correlation to that being a formulaic rule. I have just disproven that with countless examples over the past two years that Fandango has purchased Rotten Tomatoes.
Reasons These Movies “Underperformed”
The majority of these examples that movie studios have come up with were franchise movies like Transformers: The Last Knight. All of these franchise movies made money, but not as much as they wanted to. Movie studios have to know that every product has a shelf life and nothing lasts forever because people either get tired of it or they find other things that are more entertaining or beneficial to them. From the fidget spinner to Kodak, nothing lasts forever.
Maybe after ten years and over 600 minutes of robots and explosions fighting against larger robots and more explosions, people have been numbed by the experience? Maybe after fourteen years and more than 600 minutes of crazy pirates, the audience has gotten a little sea sick? If people were not simply bored of a repetitive product, why am I not watching the 66th season of I Love Lucy that should be out today if they were still creating new episodes?
Also, what was also more believable about the decline in the movie industry is the increase in advanced technologies in home entertainment where people now are more than willing to stream content at the touch of a button at home, or the expansion of more television channels which gives consumers broader range of entertainment and make them less likely to leave their homes to watch movies.
Another reason for the decline is the increase of movie piracy through video torrenting and online streaming services. Because people can just get the movie for free that way, it would become harder for movie producers, distributors and cinemas to compete based on price. I would have also believed that more as a factor for industry decline than Rotten Tomatoes eroding profit margins
If movie companies sincerely believe in their own reasoning as to why they have failed at the box office recently, I wished I shared that fantasy. I’d love to be in a reality where all the great movies were successful and all the crappy movies were not. But that is not the reality and movie companies have known this for the last 40-50 years.
Where the Money Goes
The last 40-50 years of box office successess have harnessed hype to be successful. When people say that the movie industry is built on hype, that is absolutely true. Movie companies love hype and will pay advertising companies millions and millions of dollars to create it.
Marketing agencies will use every trick in the book to make a movie financially successful. They will use the press, guerrilla advertising, event marketing, publicity stunts, create websites and edit trailers to whatever mood they desire to get you in the door and I am only scratching the surface. They create such an event that they build hype and, if strong enough, people will be compelled to see the movie no matter how bad or good it may be.
If I tell a person in my University to not see the newest superhero movie they will shoot me. If I told them to watch Embrace of the Serpent, they would ask me why and I would tell them why. They would probably end up not watching it anyway.
A month ago I wrote a piece on how I wrote a blog titled “A Call to Action” where I wanted casual moviegoers to not tolerate mediocracy in movies as they have so often done (and continue to do to this day). If people only saw the good movies and rejected the poor ones, I would not have felt compelled to write that blog. The reality is, movie critics do not have a lot of power in persuading people to see or not to see a movie. Most of the time people read critics reviews to validate their own opinions on a movie. Critics only have the power of their word and that word is not strong enough, even though we try to make it stronger.
The people who have all the power in the world are the advertising agencies that market the movies because they resonate more with consumers by creating a major desire for them. That desire is so strong that moviegoers are willing to get out of their houses, drive to the cinema, pay to park, pay an expensive movie ticket and concessions and sit in a room with people they don’t want to be with, to spend two hours out of their time to simply watch a movie. That is a lot of opportunity cost that advertising agencies overcome, that is a lot of power.
That is what determines the success or failure at box office.
As I said earlier, I am glad movie studios believe their delusion. Why? Well, if they truly believe that the scores on Rotten Tomatoes are the results of their diminishing returns, then they have the solution in their own hands: Make better movies.
For the web designers at Rotten Tomatoes: emphasize the weighted average more so than the Tomatometer to better represent critical consensus so consumers gain more of an informed opinion
To moviegoers: Read more than the Tomatometer to gain some real insight into a film to determine what you may want to see. Generally, critics don’t like spoiling movies and they try to entertain the reader in the hopes you engage with them.
If people followed these steps, then the quality of movies would probably be better.
It is a movie adaption of a Steven King novel that does work surprisingly well I personally never understood the near common fear of clowns but in this movie, they sure know how to make him demonic.
It is the name of Pennywise the Dancing Clown played by Bill Skarsgard. This clown resides by the sewer system in the local town. Pennywise captures and possesses children and teenagers by transforming himself into their worst fear (like a boggart in the Harry Potter series) before consuming them. It is up to a team of five pre-adolescents to find a way to stop Pennywise the Dancing Clown from continuously terrorizing the city.
It the movie is but it is genuinely scary. I would have loved more scares but am I being too greedy? Who really knows because a lot of the time the movie is about the lives of the five kids in the movie and it spends a lot of time exploring the interaction with these characters and it is entertaining to watch.
What I love about the dialogue in this movie is that the accuracy of how tweens speak. The dialogue is along the lines of “Your mother” and “That’s what she said” but with more wit and vulgarity. I don’t expect any of the child actors to that quick on the trigger in real life but it did serve as comic relief. Their insults and banter were smarter than Mark Whalberg’s banter and insults in the Transformers franchise.
What is a million times scarier than Mark Whalbergs banter though are the slash scenes. Most of the time they work because they put a new spin on the old set-up and slash scenes from lesser horror movies. One of my favorites from It is the very first scene with Pennywise talking to a kid called Georgie from the drain. Georgie’s paper boat fell down the drain where Pennywise is and Pennywise tells George to put his hand out to get the paper boat from him. You know when George puts his hand in the drain something bad is going to happen to his arm, but the set-up was ingenious and the payoff was surprisingly graphic, which made the scene feel unique and terrifying.
One of the main frustrating things about It though is how they only commit halfway to Pennywise the Dancing Clowns motives and origins. The ending may be a justification as to why, but for those kinds of things, I am an all-in or nothing kind of guy. It tries to have an origin story (and I use the term loosely) that is vague, to say the least. They entertain the idea of how Pennywise lives for so long, but they don’t commit to it. Also, It does not show as to why Pennywise preys on fear. I have not read the book so I am only left with unlikely assumptions. I personally find that annoying.
Nevertheless, It is excellent in the film because all of the creative ways the Pennywise manifests into many forms of fear outweigh it’s probably going to be the highest grossing horror film of the year and if you do like It, there are recent horror films like Get Out (a horror movie that redefines the genre), Ouija Origin of Evil (A movie that was so scary, my hands shook with adreline when I walked out) and Don’t Breathe (A brillantly told horror story that is both intriguing and terrifying) that I would recommend too if you have the time if you are a casual moviegoer and you want to delve into more recent horror pictures
Valerian revels in ambition, but does it succeed in it’s ambition? I would say “Yes… enough to recommend at least. Not enough to say it completely succeeds”
If anyone were to ask me “Hey Nelson, What movie has the best visuals going around multiplex right now?” I would say “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by a long margin” because there are so many worlds and environments this movie takes you on and makes you feel like a kid in a candy shop. However, this movie is by no means a masterpiece as Valerian is considerably subpar on it’s other movie elements, especially in storytelling.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a story played out almost exactly like Avatar. There is a planet that is run on pearls as it’s main resource and is governed by a friendly alien species. There is one human in power that seeks to destroy it and the main characters Valerian and Laureline (Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne) are there to try and save it. If you ever get confused with the plot (which I understand) just think of the story of “Avatar” and it’s essentially the same thing.
I could explain the plot further and in more detail, but in doing so I am essentially spoiling the movie from this point on. That is because Valerian is one of the films that only gives you a bit of info one moment at a time either by adding new information on the plot, or you have a retelling of the story told from the perspectives of different characters. This is actually a ballsy move because if you don’t care about the movie as you are watching it, you will be completely lost. If you are into the movie, it is like a gift that keeps on giving.
For me, I understood the majority of the plot but only after listening intently and memorising what was said. I liked the ideas from the plot itself but for a movie that relies on you losing yourself emotionally with the visuals Valerian expects the viewer to use a lot on intellect and memorisation of the plot to get the full concept of the movie. The intended experience, I believe, to be at one with your emotion or your intellect in the movie. In practice it does not mix, either giving you 30 minutes of visuals or 30 minutes of plot rehashing and repeating that process for more than two hours. I understood and liked both elements, but they never came together for me.
There was only one moment in Valerian where the movie was particularly bad which occurs when the story just stops completely. It is the two scenes that involve Rihanna. It’s not that she was bad, it was just that her character arc made seemingly no sense in the movie’s story. Those scenes just don’t develop any of the characters, nor do these scenes have any impact of the main plot whatsoever. If you took the two scenes out that involve her, I believe the story would have made just as much sense and you would have missed nothing.
What you would not have missed in Valerian is the visual experience of it all. If you take out the mountains of average- sounding dialogue, it is like those Imax films that only exist to test the limits of the imax medium. It is, in of itself, beautiful. Alpha, which is the name of the city of the thousand planets, helps illustrate the visual variety. Since many planets from many species inhabited this city, there are various environments that are traversed and experienced, testing the limits of imagination. That, alone is more than enough of a recommendation to watch this film. ⭐⭐⭐1/2
There is a reason people say “They don’t make great movies anymore” For me, it’s because it has been proven time and again that people like the familiar, which is fine, but it reaches a point to which people watch the same thing over and over again to the point where we watch for the entity and not the story. That is a creative killer.
Hoverever, recently I have seen some blockbuster movies that have squashed the mundane expectations that major film companies have benchmarked themselves for so long. I want this to continue but I don’t have any power to change that. Only the people can.
The last month and a half have been the best period for movies in the last sixteen months of reviewing movies by a country mile. I have had entire months without a single excellent movie (four stars or more). In the last five weeks, I have seen five excellent movies in a row. They are:
For me, to watch two excellent movies in a row is rare. To watch 5 has been unprecedented. To see two movies in a row that have gotten 4.75 stars from me is unreal.
I don’t rate movies on a bell curve. I call it like it is. I was wondering if it was just me and my positivity influencing these unusually high ratings. That is until I saw a video by the Double Toasted Podcast (Who have reviewed movies for a lot longer than I have) and they came to the consensus that this short period was the best period of watching movies they have had in the last several years.
I personally don’t know if this is going to be a recurring pattern but I hope it is. In the last month, these movies have curbed a lot of their vapid, uninspired movie making and have either gone for a stripped back approach, (The Big Sick) a reinvention, (Dunkirk) classic fun, (Spiderman Homecoming and Baby Driver) or a bit of everything (War of the Planet of the Apes)
Each one of these movies is completely different, memorable and engaging in their own way and that is when movies start to hit the stratosphere. To do that, a movie must take its chances to become either a great film or a film that burns to ashes.
If 2016 was any indicator to me, the movie industry was not willing to take that chance. Ultimately, they knew that to protect their investment these businesses they turned to advertising and repeated the same old formulas that get tiresome after awhile. This is where you, the reader, come in.
Movie industries (As well as any other industry) care about the money you make. They (like any other industry) fear it when a wave of people complain about their crappy product. With preview screenings, creative decision-making and statistics by their side, the movie industry listens intently. So it’s up to you to make a response.
I hope people these days want a new twist, something that is different that you don’t expect. It does not have to be a completely original or unheard of idea, but maybe go for a movie that has that’s familiar but a little bit different creatively. The above movies, aside from Dunkirk are not reinventions but old stories told in a new light.
Movie studios will only keep making these excellent movies if you the consumer ask for it. And I am behind that. It is easy to stay in the comfort zone of familiarity in movies but that gets old really fast. My advice: Don’t fear excellence, embrace it. To paraphrase from Field of Dreams “If you demand it: The movie studios will come”
After watching Atomic Blonde I realized that David Leitch the director does a fantastic job at choreographing action sequences. As for telling an interesting and coherent story, he did not in this cinematic venture. The only reason Atomic Blonde gets a pass mark is that the action sequences are jaw droppingly amazing
Then I did a little bit of research and realized that David Leitch has been a professional stuntman for twenty years. That explained everything to me after seeing such a movie like Atomic Blonde. I have no doubt that Leitch will be known for his great action sequences because that alone got me through his convoluted storytelling.
The story is the formulaic “manhunt for the secret document that could put the world in jeopardy” cliche. I would not have minded this had a movie like Atomic Blonde but it’s own spin on the idea. Instead, you get many characters who work for different government agencies (MI6, CIA, Stazi, French agents, Drug lords etc.) and by the final third act, they betray each other so frequently that it would take a rocket scientist to untangle all the betrayals and deceits. To top it all off, There are even multiple characters who are proud of “deceiving the deceiver”. My head was spinning with confusion.
If there is anything that is salvageable in the movie it is the cinematography and action sequences. Atomic Blonde is shot like it was an entrant at some youth art-house film festival. There are a half dozen matching cuts, the camera is slowly rotating up and down and side to side and the colors are both oversaturated and sketchy. While that is a turn off in most instances, Atomic Blonde makes these shots work
What drives Atomic Blonde home though is the action sequences. They are violent, brutal, seamless and inventive all at once. The best action sequence was a seamless long take that takes place in a staircase. The bad guys don’t go down with one punch, making them legit badasses and a real threat in the movie.
So if I were you I would get a rental or watch it online and just skip to all the action sequences. If lesbian scenes are your thing there are a couple of love scenes in which Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella passionately make out in their perfect lingerie. Atomic Blonde is an exercise in style for style’s sake that works on style alone. Expect there is no sense in the story. Even London has Fallen had more sense in it’s story. ⭐⭐⭐