‘Valerian’ is a visual feast for the eyes.

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‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ is the comic book adaptation of the same name by Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin. It tells the story of a dark force that 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.

If you’re familiar with any of French director Luc Besson’s work, ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ holds a very similarly nostalgic style to that of ‘The Fifth Element.’ In saying this, however, despite its visual and stylistic similarities, ‘Valerian’ hardly lives up to it. Even with the sarcastic humour played adequately enough by English model-turned-actress Cara Delevigne (who’s still yet to prove that she can act) and the cameo from Rihanna, who wasn’t as painful as you might expect, the visuals are overstuffed to the max.

Besson, who’s known for his usual impeccable casting especially with the find in Natalie Portman with ‘Leon the Professional,’ was only to be doubted with this film. Dane Dehaan’s Valerian seemed unsuited to his personality as with Delevinge’s Laureline. In a film with such lush eye candy, it’s a shame that their relationship wasn’t as exciting and interesting. The film begs you to care about them but really, their characteristics were eye roll worthy at things we have sen before. There was nothing to love about them and occasionally makes you question how or why Laureline would fall for someone like Valerian.

It’s not a film that can dazzle us with it’s visuals, including more than 2,500 shots of visual effects, visuals and expect us to ignore the rather simplistic plot. The rich vividness of the film only brings to light the lifelessness of those leading us through the story. Valerian’s is one we’ve seen before and can only remind us of ‘Star Wars” Han Solo. Though the first half of the film was something that would be truly of interest, it soon fell flat into something that was more formulaic and proved to be far less exciting than it’s first half conceived it to be.

If it’s anything that the film got right, it was the visuals, but it’s not the only thing that a film can ride on. There are so many other elements that make a good film great and it’s a shame that ‘Valerian’ missed out on that. The story was undeniably predictable, making you say “well, duh,” though it did leave you to just be able to sit back and enjoy the visuals for what they were. It does make you want to know more about the world and head back to the original source material to read more into it.

Overall, the film wasn’t amazing but it delivers for what it is and much more enjoyable than the superhero nonsense that has plagued the marketplace.

Film-O-Meter: 6/10.

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Why did they make ‘The Face of an Angel’ in the first place?

The Face of an Angel is a film about a journalist and documentary filmmaker that chase the story of a murder and its prime suspect.

Now, I went to a Q&A of this with director Michael Winterbottom and writer Paul Viragh. I was particularly interested in what they had to say about the film since the film centred around such a well know case of Amanda Knox that was covered by the media extensively over the period of two or more years. That and also the fact that the film was nothing like I expected. I was confused, especially by Thomas’ (Daniel Bruhl) hallucinations, and strangely dissatisfied. They had such a chance to cover something that us as an audience had some insight into but failed to make anything out of it and we were left as confused and alone as our lead. There wasn’t much semblance of a story and introduces unnecessary oddities and fantasies to somehow “guide” us through the film.

From the documentary filmmaker who rabidly turned to alcohol and drugs, constantly snorting cocaine in attempts to help him write a script, to the disjointed storyline incorporating mythical creatures that were totally unnecessary and hardly helped the story at all. And not to mention the CGI was an awful mess too.

There was so many loose ends and unanswered questions with sensationalist journalism that there could have been a serious movie to be made here but it fell on its back.

I left to question why this film was made in the first place if it had nothing to say about the Amanda Knox story.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

‘Suicide Squad’ is an absolute mess.

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Suicide Squad
 tells the story of a secret government agency that recruits a group of imprisoned super-villains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

What a badly made, racist, sexist, piece of trash film. The ONLY saving grace of this film was Will Smith bringing his great comedic timing and I always loved the actor.

This film tries to be so much and it does have so much potential but dramatically fails in all ways. The editing made no sense . Writer-director David Ayer reportedly had only six weeks to write the screenplay, which is CLEARLY not enough to write something properly. There is that rare occasion where brilliant screenplays can be written in a short period of time like that of Academy Award winning screenplay Juno that took screenwriter Diablo Cody seven weeks to write (a film that had some good one liners but overall didn’t particularly like) but in this case with Suicide Squad, it doesn’t work in it’s favour.

The editing of the film is a whole other question. Often scenes didn’t interconnect and dream sequences jarring when cut between. It was like the film was edited by so many different people with different styles that created one clusterbomb of a film. This also lead to jokes being misplaced and the jokes forced. A lot of moments edited out of the final film and many moments clearly made for the sake of the trailer, which portrayed nothing of what the final film was like.

As someone who wants to be involved in the film industry as a writer-producer, and even if this wasn’t the case, it was hard not to see the obvious problems with the film. Introductions to characters runs for almost a quarter of the running time, if not half to really understand who these characters are though we don’t get much.

And even with all this character set up, you still don’t care about the characters. You don’t believe the relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn and if you didn’t know anything about their characters previously, there would be a lot of blanks that would be scratching your head.

You kind of got the loving father vibe from Will Smith’s Deadshot but it seemed somewhat forced and the constant reappearance of his daughter reminding him to be a better person just seemed downright annoying. I had to contain myself to scream outwardly for her to just shut up.

Also, who thought it was a good idea for Cara Delevigne to act? Because she dragged down the whole film and is an absolutely horrible actress, cringeworthy at every moment she was on screen. Her relationship with Joel Kinnaman’s character was so unbelievable  and made me want to poke my eyes out with needles then watch them interact. She was a pointless addition and further cemented the film as a failure.

Delevigne was a poor casting choice along with Jared Leto’s joker, who had large shoes to fill after Heath Ledger’s award winning performance. The Dark Knight films are a completely different kind of film to Suicide Squad but that doesn’t make the Joker any less of an interesting character to portray on screen. He has so much to his character but had so little time to show it in screen, racking up only about twenty minutes of screen time.

Speaking of which, this film had no clear protagonist. It did have an antagonist, a bad guy, but even with it’s league of villains battling a larger more evil and powerful villain, there wasn’t a clear person leading that fight that we could even remotely identify or sympathise with or even find interesting. Television shows like House of Cards has a brilliantly created and portrayed villain in Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood and films like American Psycho with Patrick Bateman or Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. It can be done right, even in ensemble films like with Tony Stark/Iron Man can be considered a clear protagonist in the Avengers films, Peter Quill/Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, and Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboots.

What Suicide Squad is trying to do is emulate something they can never be. With a string of failures both commercially and creatively, you think they might’ve learned their lesson by now but they clearly haven’t. They need to stop being Marvel, stop trying to be something else, and try to find their own voice. It almost felt like a extremely Guardians of the Galaxy rip off with a bad music mash-up that clearly didn’t suit the supposed aesthetic of the film that David Ayer was trying to create.

All in all, this film is an absolute mess.

Film-O-Metre: 1/10.