Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson (Screenplay) Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mezleres (Comic Book)

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu

 

Plot: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Brilliant, Lacking Chemistry

 

Story: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets starts as we see peaceful world of Mul destroyed setting out a flash out light across the universe. Move forward in time and we meet Major Valerian (DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Delevingne) to elite soldiers that complete the difficult missions.

On their latest mission for Commander Filitt (Owen) the two learn the Alpha station where all races come to communicate in peace live, they learn a secret to what caused the end of Mul and they will need to potential bring down a problem from within.

 

Thoughts on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

 

Characters – Major Valerian feels like he is meant to be like a Han Solo like space pilot who is trying his hardest to bed his new partner but he is also slick at getting the job done, the ones others wouldn’t. Sergeant Laureline is the partner of Valerian that shows great working relationship but it does feel like she has only just been placed with him, but we don’t know why. Commander Filitt is trying to keep Alpha together from a threat coming from within, this is a typical strict military leader. Bubble is an alien species who can transformer effortless into whatever you desire.

PerformanceThe performances, well this will get interesting. Dane DeHaan does feel slightly miss-cast as he can always give us strange or strong character performances but as a strapping captain is just doesn’t seem to click. Cara Delevingne shows once again she isn’t ready for these leading roles, sure she looks stunning but otherwise not much coming from the delivery. Clive Owen can at least go off and do a string of indie films after this pay day. Rihanna works as the dancer but as soon as emotion is needed she starts to look lost.

StoryThe story is something that does feel like it borrows from a lot of other films, but also has all the potential to be something amazing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t reach the top levels, it does feel like it gets dulled down and wants to be fun but just isn’t, the idea that the International Space Centre has become a beacon of peace across the universe is the highlight of the film showing how it continued to grow with new visitors. The story is easy to follow and you won’t get challenged enough though.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action is big and huge sci-fi spectacles which is fine to watch but the adventure does feel slightly miss-leading because you feel like it will be across the universe when in truth it is across the mega station. The fantasy world of different alien species is enjoyable to see all the wonderful creations.

SettingsThe settings do look fantastic in places with the different worlds visited but certain other parts all feel like places we have seen before.

Special EffectsThe world created is mostly CGI effects which make the world we visit a great piece of fun.

Scene of the Movie – Quickest Route

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  We lacked subtitles for certain alien conversations.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable movie, it isn’t ground breaking though, you can sit back and enjoy this film unfold but it isn’t Luc Besson’s best sci-fi film.

 

Overall: Sit back and enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Balto (1995)

Director: Simon Wells

Writer: Cliff Ruby, Elana Lesser, David Steven Cohen, Roger S H Schulman (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Kevin Bacon, Bob Hoskins, Bridget Fonda, Jim Cumming, Phil Collins, Jack Angel, Danny Mann

 

Plot: An outcast half-wolf risks his life to prevent a deadly epidemic from ravaging Nome, Alaska.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Hero Story

 

Story: Balto starts as we see the sledge racing in Nome Alaska, Steele is the most famous lead dog in all the races, he breaks the rules as well as being feared by the other dogs, Balto a stray half breed roams the streets trying to impress the female husky Jenna with his bumbling sidekick goose Boris.

When Nome is struck down with diphtheria the town is running low on antidote they have no way of getting the antidote to the town directly, the only option is to put together a team of the fastest sledge dogs to pick up medicine with Balto showing the town he is fastest in town, but still not welcome to the town’s team.

When Steele’s team goes missing in the snowstorm, Balto goes out with Boris, Jenna and polar bears Muk and Luk to collect the medicine to save the town making himself the hero.

 

Thoughts on Balto

 

CharactersBalto is the outsider of the town, never fitting in but given the chance to prove himself to the whole town by returning the medicine, he is the reluctant hero type. Boris is the sidekick here for extra laughs in the story, with Jenna being the love interest needed for the story. Steele is the typical arrogant villain that doesn’t want anyone to take his place. All of the character blend together to make this a pleasant viewing experience.

StoryThe story is loosely based on the true events of the sledge team that saves a small town from a medical disaster, we get to see this from the dogs side of the events which does take away from the true story of heroism the real dogs went through.

Adventure/Family/HistoryThe adventure is great to see unfold keeping us on edge, it does have a couple of dark scenes going on through the film which could be slightly too much for the younger members of the family. I don’t think this story does enough justice to the true history story though.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic showing just how peril filled the journey would have been for the dogs as well as the people stuck with no chance of rescue unless they get the medicine.

AnimationThe animation all looks great with the darker characters including the bear feeling terrifying and the heroes all looking pure.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great adventure movie but does forget the true story involved too much to make a family friendly movie.

 

Overall: Great fun animated movie that can be enjoyed by all.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

Director: Andrew Adamson

Writer: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) C.S. Lewis (Novel)

Starring: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Williams Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Sergio Castellitto, Peter Dinklage

 

Plot: The Pevensie siblings return to Narnia, where they are enlisted to once again help ward off an evil king and restore the rightful heir to the land’s throne, Prince Caspian.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magic Lost

 

Story: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian starts in Narnia where Prince Caspian (Barnes) is taken away from the kingdom for his own safety when his Uncle Miraz (Castellitto) has a son. We move to London, post-war now as we meet the Pevensie children, Lucy (Henley), Edmund (Keynes), Peter (Moseley) and Susan (Popplewell) who find themselves magically transported back to Narnia, a different Narnia to the one they left though.

With Narnia on the verge of another war the children must lead the resistance against Miraz as they all wait in hope of Aslan’s return, but with a battle from within as Prince Caspian clashes with Peter as the children must answer questions to why they abandoned Narnia all those years ago.

 

Thoughts on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

 

Characters/PerformanceThe children are now all back in London, they get called back to be the leaders Narnia thought they were going to be. The children all seem to have smaller parts in this film and just doing less of the more we saw first time around. Prince Caspian is a solid character but nothing too important in this battle with the villain just being human makes the threat not are scary as the first time around.

Performance wise, it would be fair to say we have nothing but average at best performances here, the kids are all fine coming off slightly too posh with the rest all feeling like no bigger name actors wanted to get involved in the film.

StoryI feel the story just doesn’t seem to have the magic we had first time around, first the idea the kids just go back after the war seems out of place because the first story seems to be about escaping the war. The battle within Narnia is just a power struggle again but the animals don’t talk as much and it is mostly a human battle losing all the fantasy elements which made the first fun.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure side of the film does feel lost here, as does the family and fantasy side which showed how Harry Potter was the dominate force at the time.

SettingsThe settings also don’t seem to be as well created as first time, nothing comes off memorable through this one.

Special EffectsWith this seeming to be a human battle the special effects are no as needed in what should be a big fantasy battle film.

Final ThoughtsThis was a huge step back, with a huge budget I just don’t get how it came off as dull as it did.

 

Overall: Poor sequel that should have continued what was created.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Director: Andrew Adamson

Writer: Ann Peacock, Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) C.S. Lewis (Book)

Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Williams Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent

 

Plot: Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Start to a Franchise

 

Story: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe starts as the Pevensie children Lucy (Henley), Edmund (Keynes), Peter (Moseley) and Susan (Popplewell) are evacuated to the country during World War II.

When the youngest Lucy discovers a wardrobe in the house she finds the magical world of Narnia and Mr Tumnus (McAvoy) who teaches her all about this winter ravished land with the evil White Witch controlling. With Edmund finding his way into Narnia he meets the White Witch (Swinton) who asks him to bring the rest of the children to her kingdom.

When the four children are reunited, they learn they must fight alongside Aslan the lion in a battle against the evil Witch in an adventure they could never imagine.

 

Thoughts on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

Characters/PerformanceLucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan are thee four children, they all have their difference but most of all they work together to succeed on their mission. They must look after each other through the human war and the fantasy war they find themselves fighting in. thee White Witch is a character that works on the villainous side of the story and with her deceiving white image we can get misled to her true nature. With any extra characters being the different fantasy creatures the children meet along the way we know the world we find ourselves in.

Performances now, the four children all do a good job in their roles showing each of the character’s strengths and weakness. Tilda Swinton always makes for a great villain with McAvoy giving us a good supporting performance.

StoryStory wise this plays into the idea of what children could find themselves doing when they have escaped from a war-torn country. I do understand that this is meant to be a real adventure they find themselves on but the reality is it can be looked at as an escape. The idea of a battle between good and evil is all fine and needed for this film as it is the start of a bigger set of stories to come.

Adventure/Fantasy/FamilyThe adventure is massive for these children as they find themselves in a fantasy world they could never imagine, this is one the whole family could find themselves enjoying.

SettingsThe settings all come off very well for this film as we see the bleakness of the world the children find themselves escaping from and the wonder of the fantasy world they find themselves entering.

Special EffectsMost of the special effects here are brilliant, we do have a lot of CGI which in the most part in flawless it would only be the voice acting for some of the creatures that I would question.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good starter for a franchise, it does go generic with the male children doing the fighting and the female being considered for magic and curing style but this franchise came at the wrong time getting buried by the Harry Potter one.

 

Overall: This is how you start a franchise correctly.

Rating

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves (Screenplay) Pierre Boulle (Novel)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Ty Olsson, Amiah Miller, Sara Canning, Max Lloyd-Jones

 

Plot: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blockbuster of the Year

 

Story: War for the Planet of the Apes starts as two years have passed after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Caesar (Serkis) has had his ape herd in hiding with the humans desperately searching to finish the job on the apes.

The conflict between the humans now led by The Colonel (Harrelson) and the apes has intensified and after Caesar is pushed past his limits of peace he sends the ape herd to safety and goes on his own mission with his three most trusted allies Maurice (Konoval) often the voice of reason, Rocket (Notary) who would fight to the death to save Caesar and Luca (Adamthwaite) who sees his own kind betraying the apes to work for the humans.

Without giving too much more away we see how Caesar searches to find an end to the war be it peaceful or not, so his herd can just live in peace instead of watching out for humans wanting to kill them.

 

Thoughts on War for the Planet of the Apes

 

Characters/PerformanceCaesar is the hero of the previous two films, he leads the apes, he wants peace between humans and apes but this time he is pushed two far as we see a darker side of Caesar come out. We get a full story arc for Caesar through the films now but his nature has always stayed true, protect the apes from humans. The Colonel is the villain of the piece, he wants to eliminate all apes and he will not blink in his methods, he does have plenty of twists to his story arc too. Maurice has been by the side of Caesar since Rise and still his voice of reason when making any decision, the heart this character shows also brings the human child along too. Bad Ape adds the only comedy to the movie, but we didn’t need to much either, Nova shows the consequences of the war that has now been raging for 17 years has had on the Earth. Rocket is the loyal soldier willing to die. We do have other characters that don’t get flushed out as much but otherwise they do all fit their role in the film.

Performance wise, Andy Serkis completes his third outing as Caesar and shows just how fantastic he is, give this man an Oscar nomination. Woody Harrelson is a great villain and easily the best human villain the trilogy has seen, I saw parts that reminded me of what Negan is like in the Walking Dead where he comes onto the screen gives a speech seemingly never blinking and having you just want to hear more from his. The rest of the motion capture cast are all brilliant too and the humans we see are good too.

StoryThe story does continue on the Planet of the Apes saga, we get to see how the end of the last film effected the world with the military ruthlessly hunting down the apes now. We get to see just how far Caesar could be pushed with his arc being told perfectly, the film does also go in a direction I wasn’t expecting which I did like too. If you have followed and enjoyed the first two this will feel like the bow on top of the packet it is that interesting of a story.

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/WarThe action sequences are tied in with the war side of the film as most are the elaborate battle sequences which all work and do something different on each battle. The adventure side of the film does suffer now though as we do get part adventure but in the end, we just fall into focusing on the other elements of the film. the sci-fi side of the film does show the future world that apes look to control.

SettingsThe settings bring another fresh look to the trilogy, first it was the big city, then it was the woods and the city now it is the mountain range with snow being added into the mix, the settings all work and look great through the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are brilliant, the motion capture is fantastic and this film shows just how to use special effects to their upmost.

Final ThoughtsThis has completed one of the best film trilogies of modern cinema, sure we could knit pick a couple of moments but otherwise the emotional rollercoaster you go on will leave you needing to take a breath by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Brilliant, stunning and the best modern cinema trilogy.

Rating