Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – review
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – There is a good connection between summer and fantasy films, including those in the science-fiction category. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” shown this Wednesday as part of the Fantasia Film Festival and released this Friday is a good example of this link between a time of exhilaration and leisure, and the display of imagination which is so much present throughout this movie.
A SIMPLE STORYLINE BUT GREAT EFFECTS AND RHYTHM
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” directed by Luc Besson and based on a popular French comic book is set in the 28th century when humans are supposed to have explored and get in touch with civilizations in other planets. There is an interplanetary federation of which Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special agents, charged with keeping peace and order in the section of the universe under the Federation control. “Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other.”
But things are not so easy: years before, a peaceful planet whose inhabitants enjoyed a sort of paradisiacal life, in harmony with their environment had been merciless destroyed, an event that would have an unexpected consequence for Valerian and ultimately presents a challenge to his military allegiance. This tragic occurrence could be seen metaphorically as a reference to the Holocaust (6 million inhabitants of the planet were killed) or to the genocidal destruction of indigenous peoples in the New World, since the victims had a social organization that to conquerors seemed “primitive.” Such horrific act would eventually be the focus of the film, particularly regarding what the survivors would try to do.
The story, however, is not particularly remarkable, although the special effects and the whole dynamic of the film would certainly capture the interest of the viewer, who after all will have to go through two hours and seventeen minutes which, without the rapid action on the screen—would be boring.
I would call it the science-fiction movie of this season, although with some reservations, especially regarding the rather weak storyline. But those looking for action and great special effects would love it.
THE STRANGE STORY OF A GUY AND A BEAR
One of the first movies I had the chance to see at the Fantasia Festival under way in Montreal until August 2, was “Brigsby Bear” which will be released next month. Directed by Dave McCary, the movie tells the strange story of James (Kyle Mooney) a young man in his twenties, who lives with his parents in a sort of bunker in an isolated area. His life, since he was little, has passed watching the adventures of Brigsby Bear, a kind of superhero, of which he has hundreds of episodes recorded on video cassettes. However an extraordinary event would change James’ life forever: one day the police raid the place, arrest his parents, and then he learns that indeed he was abducted when being a baby by the couple who until then he thought were his parents. James is reunited with his real family, his parents and a sister, but adapting to the new life won’t be easy. And Brigsby Bear would still be with him, dealing with that presence will be a challenge for everyone.
Fantasia continues until August 2; shows are at various locations at the downtown campus of Concordia University, the Cinemathèque Québecoise, and the McCord Museum. For detailed information visit: fantasiafestival.com