Archive for the ‘Luc Besson’ Category

Magellan’s Curve

Valerian and

the City of a Thousand Planets

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Rihanna, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer, Kris Wu, Herbie Hancock

French director Luc Besson attempts to re-enact his Sci-Fi success of his hit film The Fifth Element with a sparkling and innovative new space adventure film set in the 28th century Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets starring Dane DeHaan (Life, Kill Your Darlings) as Major Valerian and British fashion model turned actress Cara Delevingne (Paper Towns, Suicide Squad) as his sidekick stroke lover Sergeant Laureline.

After an impressive Virtual Reality sequence in a universal market, Valerian comes face to face with the Pearls a luminescent race whose planet accidentally got obliterated during a celestial conflict.

The Pearls, initially a harmonious alien race soon realize that dark forces are at play in the Universe and seek shelter in an abandoned space ship which is transported to the vast city of a Thousand Planets called Alpha.

The attractive duo Valerian and Laureline play the ever bickering lovers of this bizarre space opera have to report to the crafty Commander Arun Filitt played by Oscar nominee Clive Owen (Closer). As the duo have to discover what is really behind the malignant threat growing within the City, they come into contact with a collection of utterly bizarre CGI creatures and a guest appearance by superstar Rihanna as Bubble who appears in a Cabaret like moment as a glambot nicknamed Bubble.

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day) appears all too briefly as the crazy pimp Jolly in Paradise Alley where he attempts to entice Valerian in all sorts of virtual lascivious entanglements with Bubble.

While the pace of Valerian slackens in the second half of the film, the visual effects are utterly mind-blowing and since the majority of the film’s financing came from BNP Paribas let’s hope director Luc Besson gets a return on his box office both in France and internationally.

With fabulous onscreen chemistry between DeHaan and Delevingne, audiences should completely suspend their disbelief as they watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets which will certainly appeal to fans of comic book Sci-Fi. The funky score by Alexander Desplat and the gorgeous cinematography by Thierry Abrogast make Valerian cinematically palatable and infinitely beautiful despite some extremely imaginative sequences.

The voices of Elizabeth Debicki and John Goodman also feature in Valerian.

The story of home planets being destroyed is nothing original and has been done before in Star Trek Beyond and Star Wars, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is recommended viewing for hard core fans of Sci-Fi and gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Audiences should watch out for a cameo by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer as President of the World State Federation who appeared in the original Blade Runner film directed by Ridley Scott in 1982.

 

Lucy loses the Plot

Lucy

lucy_ver2

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Amr Waked

It’s a pity that Luc Besson return to the directorial chair seems to have backfired distinctively even with the able assistance of the ever luminous Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon, Matchpoint, Girl with a Pearl Earring) in the title role of his latest Sci-Fi action thriller Lucy. Lucy’s name comes from the first female Homo Sapien.

The bizarre plot revolves around a particularly sadistic Taiwanese drug ring headed by the sinister Mr Chang played by Min-sik Choi which have roped Lucy and three other unsuspecting drug mules into transporting a super potent mind expanding bright blue drug CPH4 from Taipei into all the major European capitals from Berlin to Paris. Think Neil Burger’s film Limitless on speed.

Whilst Limitless was vaguely plausible, Luc Besson’s Lucy takes the utterly strange sci-fi route which explores the full improbabilities of the premise, that what if humans could use 100% of their brain capacity. If this maximum cerebral capacity occurred, it would deliver contemporary society into a matrix of space and time so devoid of human capability that the effects of such a boost would enable humans to become time travelling virtual computers.

Unfortunately not even Oscar Winner Morgan Freeman as a distinguished neuroscientist Professor Norman could save Lucy both the film and the character from degenerating into a thick mass of black mess. After such superb films as The Fifth Element and Nikita, Luc Besson has clearly lost his touch as a director and should perhaps stick to writing the Taken franchise, as his screenwriting skills have clearly matured whilst his directorial skills have languished considerably.

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Lucy is a short, violent sci-fi heavily stylized action film based on a premise which however visually fascinating soon becomes plainly silly and Besson does not allow much time in the film for any significant character development, that of Lucy’s, Professor Norman or any of the supporting cast. Director Neil Burger’s more honed film Limitless did just that which made it more believable culminating in an elegant thriller launching Bradley Cooper as a much superstar.

The concept of Lucy as an international drug thriller had so much potential, but unlike its title character it does not use its full narrative properly. Besides what were Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman thinking? Clearly the chance to work with French director Luc Besson enticed them into a ridiculous plot which did not use their full potential as brilliant actors. Whilst the Taipei sequence is dazzling, Lucy clearly loses the plot in Paris.

Even the supporting cast including Julian Rhind-Tutt (Rush) as the Limey and Egyptian actor Amr Waked (Syriana, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) as a confused French policeman Pierre Del Rio are both under utilized. Lucy has dazzling special effects and a superb musical score by Eric Serra, but that’s about as much as this thriller has going for it. Lucy can be back up viewing for a lazy Saturday afternoon. Not Recommended.

 

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