Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Hey, not only did Anika Go to the Movies, but I’m blogging about it. Cool.

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YOU GUYS!!!

Stars: 3.8/5

Quick review: Definitely PG-13. I would feel a bit uncomfortable with my kiddos sitting next to me regardless of age- Rhiana’s scene featured in the trailer in particular. But gorgeous!! And if you are one of those people who will be miserable because the science in this sci-fi is all wrong, maybe it’s not for you. Things blow up yet remain space worthy, that kind of thing. But if you can just romp along for the ride, if you liked Fifth Element and you’ve kinda been waiting for something as tongue-in-cheek, but still deliciously sic-fi, this is right in your wheelhouse. Go see it-nnooowww!

And now for some spoiler-y things.

Look away if you’re squeamish.

They gone? Good.

So many shiny things. So. Many. The visuals on this piece are worth the price of a matinee ticket alone. Add in some of the trademark Beeson bits: Plot line you have all the questions for and few of the answers, all the fun covert agent stuff-contacts, drop points, holding folk at gun point, big shoot outs, and that lingering sense of bad is coming and there’s nothing you can do about it but wait. That pushes it to date night heights. Also I want a Mul converter. I want one. Not for it’s duplicating properties, but for it squee- delightfulness. It’s like having a baby dragon that never starts breathing fire or eating meats. Duplicating what it eats is just a bonus. Here little converter, have some silver, then to finish, we’ll snuggle.

Draw backs: I don’t buy the love story. Not even a little bit. i mean i get that the actors are 30 and 25 respectively, but for most actors that means they are still playing teenagers. Well, they look the part. If you were to tell me that Dane Deehan (Valerian) was actually 15, I would believe you. Conversely, if you’ were to say that Cara Delevingne was 30 I would buy that. And the chemistry just, isn’t. Granted this is Dane’s first time as a romantic lead (that I know of). But do i believe for one second that he has any feelings for her? Nope. Do I believe she has feelings for him. Yeah, kinda, cause she’s a good actress. But why the character would be into a pasty, short (5’8″), arrogant, dingbat who totally falls through in most instances… still no clue. Laureline, you can do better, honey.

Rhianna though. Wow, just wow. i mean I like her voice, especially when she is singing things I can listen to in the car with my kids (*cough* almostnever*cough*), but I am finding I enjoy her more and more on stage. Her voicing of Tip from Home was so much fun, and here she just slays it. Perfectly vulnerable, yet complicated. About halfway through her risqué performance I started thinking, Valerian is the worst boyfriend ever. His girl is gonna get eaten and he’s about to get a lap dance. One more reason for L to dump it to Krumpit. Seriously who does that? i mean, yeah you need the shape-shifter’s help, but interrupt the preening to get on with the rescue please. Her the-artist-dies moment, another Beeson hallmark, was great– if a little rushed. But she’s still a highlight.

And the plot was a hot mess. All kinds of random diversions, but in the end it came together and Clive Owen got punched in the face. Let’s face it we all kinda want to punch Clive Owen. So it was cathartic.

The themes in the end: innocent people who are truly one with the land are so much more virtuous than their evil, war fighting human enemies- look they even forgave them completely. Yeah, more than a little heavy handed. Humans are hate mongers, except the few that pass the peace pipe and give back what they took- we get it guys.  And you can walk away from the movie with whatever lesson you like, really, but to me it’s just an illustration of how bad an idea consolidated power is, no matter who holds it. It could have been more nuanced, but then the movie would have been four hours long and I could never have found a babysitter.

And even though you don’t want to care about the love story, ’cause meh, the fact that they get together in the end is really satisfying.

If you were one of those wacky folks that “got” the Fifth Element, this will be good times. If not, then you probably should carry on with whatever currently occupies your time. For me, it was just what I wanted it to be, a far flung romp through the universe that didn’t take itself too seriously.

If you go see it, comment below and tell me what you thought! Giant pearl ring FTW, am I right?

 

Anika Goes to the Movies: The Second-Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Quick review: 4.25 stars, Super freaking adorable. Go see it with someone who likes to laugh.

And now for spoilers.

This movie manages to add more romance and be less about sex than the first. WHICH. I. Love!! Way too often in our cultures offerings we are given the choice between no romance at all or an eye-rolling lust fest. But Second-Best does the favor of assuming its audience’s intelligence and implies rather than shows. Moreover, it gets into the emotional complexities of relationships at any age.

No one actually dies this time. But the shadow of Maggie Smith’s impending departure hangs over much of the film, and then is poignantly and tear-jerkingly wrapped up in a letter written to Dev Patel’s character Sonny and his fiancé Sunaina. They are leaving for their honeymoon after a series of disastrous pre-wedding parties and half a dozen or so of Sonny’s screw-ups, and Mrs. Donnelly says a final goodbye. We don’t see her pass, but the feeling is certainly that she will not be there when they get back.

The not-quite-budding relationship between Norman and Evelyn played by Bill Nighy and Judi Dench (who is seriously just lovely) is perfectly frustrating and simultaneously delightful. And the random appearance of everyone’s least favorite ball of negativity, Norman’s wife, adds to the hilarity and gives Evelyn a chance to show her backbone.

It was, I think, just as good as the first. Which is very hard to do in a sequel. And since there was the addition of some bollywood style dancing at the wedding, it managed to be the same and different. Can’t wait until it comes out on video.

Happy watching!