Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a failure, but it’s an interesting failure. Luc Besson creates a colorful, mind-blowing futuristic world, but then proceeds to stock it with a painfully dull story and two unengaging leads. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne lack the charisma to carry this weird, wild story, which is kind of a shame. Because once you look past them, you’ll find a lot of exciting stuff here. The first few minutes of the film alone, spanning hundreds of years to show how the titular City of a Thousand Planets is formed, is worth the price of admission alone. Set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” we watch as one alien species after another arrives over a period of years, and the city grows. It’s incredibly cool, and the film struggles to live up to such a show-stopping opener. There’s still fun to be had here, though, especially when Rihanna shows up as a shape-shifting alien. Yet don’t expect too much of her – Besson tragically wastes her, to the point that it’s almost offensive. The audacity to cast Rihanna and give her such a nothing part! A lot of Valerian doesn’t work, yet you have to (sort of) appreciate how gutsy and committed the film is to selling its out-of-this-world concepts. More sci-fi films should dare to be so inventive. But it would also help if the script were a little better, too.

Special Features to Note: The making-of documentary Citizens of Imagination: Creating the Universe of Valerian covers several elements of the film’s production, including the French comic book series that inspired it, the casting, the special effects, and more. It’s a bit dry, but there’s some interesting trivia. For instance: Besson reveals that he first discovered the comic when he was 10 years old, and wanted to turn it into a film ever since. He had to wait to make it, however, because he thought the technology just wasn’t quite where it needed to be to recreate the comic book world. To illustrate this point, Besson says that while his earlier sci-fi extravaganza The Fifth Element had about 188 special effects shots, Valerian has 2,734. See if you can count them all! (No, I’m kidding, please don’t do that).

Special Features Include:

  • Citizens of Imagination: Creating the Universe of Valerian (multi-part documentary)
  • Enhancement Pods
  • The Art of Valerian Photo Gallery
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Final Trailer –Lionsgate

Good Time

The Safdie Brothers helm this dirty, grungy, all-nighter of a film that features Robert Pattinson giving the best performance of his career. Pattinson is a small-time-crook who gets in way over his head during a bank robbery. During the course of the robbery, Pattinson’s developmentally disabled brother (Ben Safdie) gets arrested, and Pattinson has to scrounge together a hefty chunk of change to spring his kid brother from jail. What follows is a hectic, nerve racking journey through one night as Pattinson finds himself in one uncomfortable situation after another. The Safdie Brothers direct it all with a furious intensity that never lets up, to the point where you may find yourself wanting to hit pause and take a breather. There’s a darkly humorous tone to it all, but the filmmakers take great pains to de-glamorize the criminal lifestyle of Pattinson’s character. Pattinson, in turn, goes all-in on his performance, crafting an unlikable yet somehow sympathetic character that we can’t exactly root for, yet we can’t entirely condemn either. It’s a tricky, morally gray character, and not a lot of actors could handle such a performance, but Pattinson does it exceedingly well.

Special Features to Note: In the documentary feature The Pure and the Damned, the Safdie Brothers reveal that the main reason they made the film was because Pattinson approached them. The actor had seen the filmmakers’ previous gritty flick Heaven Knows What, and told them he wanted them to craft a part for him that he could disappear into. What followed was Good Time, which the Safdie’s fully confess is a “piece of pulp” and a film “almost without moral.” The brothers also discuss how they strove for authenticity, going so far as to use a real bail bondsman in the part of a bail bondsman. Originally, they had cast an actor in the role, yet at the last minute decided to use the real bail bondsman whose office they were using for the scene. It works surprisingly well.

Special Features Include:

  • “The Pure and the Damned: Good Time” Featurette
  • Audio Commentary with directors Josh and Benny Safdie, producer Sebastian Bear-McClard, and actors Taliah Lennice Webster and Buddy Duress
  • Music Video

Into the Night

This weird, mostly forgotten dark comedy from American Werewolf in London director John Landis features Jeff Goldblum as an insomniac who gets mixed-up with a smuggler, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. The pair are pursued through one long, crazy night by murderers and a hitman (David Bowie, in a scene-stealing extended cameo). Into the Night is a mishmash of tones, with occasional bursts of graphic, unsettling violence, but Landis has always been good at balancing that sort of thing (as American Werewolf proves). This may not be the best film Landis made in his eclectic career, but it’s certainly one of the more interesting. Much of the film’s charm comes from the pairing of Goldblum and Pfeiffer, who work really well together, to the point where you wish they had made a string of films. The Shout! Factory off-shot Shout Select brings Into the Night to Blu-ray with new interviews with Goldblum and Landis.

Special Features to Note: If you ever had a suspicion that Jeff Goldblum might be a little…eccentric, the special feature Requiem for An Insomniac pretty much confirms this. In this new interview, Goldblum can’t sit still for one second, and seems utterly unhinged as he recounts his approach to the character and the making of the film. It’s a treat for sure, especially for Goldblum fans, but it’s also a little exhausting trying to follow the thread of Goldblum’s narrative. There’s also an interview with director John Landis, in which he recounts an amusing story about casting the film: he originally wanted Jack Nicholson for the lead. To convince Nicholson to play the part, Landis flew out to Nicholson’s secluded house in Aspen. This trip came right after Landis had seen The Shining, and when he got to Aspen he found himself driving through a blizzard to get to Nicholson’s home. The snowy conditions plaguing Landis as he tried to get to Nicholson made for some uncomfortable comparisons with The Shining. There’s no real point to this anecdote, per se, but it’s still fun to hear Landis tell it.

Special Features Include:

  • NEW Restored Master
  • NEW John Landis: “Back Into The Night”
  • NEW Jeff Goldblum: “Requiem For An Insomniac”
  • Award-Winning Documentary B.B. King Into The Night
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Pages: Previous page 1 2

Cool Posts From Around the Web: