Han Solo Weeps

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets  M Valerian 2017

Theaters:  July 2017

Streaming:  November 2017

Rated:  PG-13

Runtime:  137 minutes

Genre:  Action – Adventure – Fantasy – Science Fiction – Space Opera

els:  5.0/10

IMDB:  6.5/10

Amazon:  3.5/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics: 5.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience:  3.3/5

Metacritic Metascore:  51/100

Metacritic User Score:  6.4/10

Awards:  NA

Directed by:  Luc Besson

Written by:  Luc Besson (screenplay), Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières (comic book)

Music by:  Alexandre Desplat

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

Film Locations:  Studios de Paris, La Cité du Cinéma, Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, France

Budget:  $209,000,000

Worldwide Box Office:  $215,116,000

For centuries the International Space Station has acquired additional modules at a consistent rate and by the 28th century its mass is too much for its low Earth orbit. Consequently the decision is made to move it out of the solar system, into the wild cosmos of open space, acquiring a new name in the process; Alpha. As it travels the galaxy it continues to  grow, both in size and population. Millions of life forms from all corners of the galaxy now inhabit the station necessitating a special police force to maintain peace not only on the station but throughout the galaxy. The two protagonists: Major Valerian (DeHaan) and his side kick Sergeant Laureline (Delevingne) are members of this police force.

Flash back 30 years,  Commander Arün Filitt (Owen) is in a space battle with another space faring species above the planet Mul. In order to win a decisive victory the Commander must destroy the idyllic planet, killing most of the peaceful sentient beings that occupy the surface and their priceless energy pearl replicator.  Flash forward 30 years; one replicator did survive the destruction of the planet, becoming the most sought after object in the Galaxy. Valerian and Laureline are tasked with retrieving the object, initiating a grand adventure through fantastic planets and the mysterious bowels of the quirky Alpha.

The movie is based on the 1967-2010 French comic book series; Valerian and Laureline, created by Pierre Christin (story), Jean-Claude Mézières (art).  The best-selling comic focuses on the pair as they traverse space and time for adventure and good.

Luc Besson, director of imaginative and idiosyncratic films, including the 2014 Lucy and the 1997 The Fifth Element, has created another highly original movie replete with a story containing unique concepts, great cinematography, exceptional special effects, and mostly superb acting. And it all fails to gel into a coherent whole.  The parts are greater than their sum, great scenes producing an indifferent movie.

The movie fails because of the 2 main characters: Valerian and Laureline. Neither one has a screen presence, just reciting lines without bringing the audience along. Harrison Ford would have had you cheering and believing. DeHaan has you wondering when will he start shaving. Delevingne’s “oh please” attitude throughout the movie reminds one of a pretty high school football cheerleader being pursued by the awkward school geek. These two eventually deliver you to a mental stage of not bothering to care what they do. Unfortunately for the movie you reach that stage with these two very early on.  On the flip side, Rihanna and Ethan Hawke are the movies tour de force along with the 3 goofy trumpet nosed, fuzz balls. Without their talents the whole movie would have cratered into a mess of special effects without any pretense of art or style.

I saw this in 2D so the story and acting had to carry the movie where as the 3D version likely overwhelmed the audience with inner-ear confusion and visual exhilaration. Besson personally crowd sourced and financed this big-budget extravaganza. On paper it appears to have grossed a bit more than it cost to make but with all things “Hollywood” it likely lost money. Talk of a sequel is in the air but finding the money may prove insurmountable, especially if they keep DeHaan and Delevingne in the lead roles.  This is a mediocre movie at best. You will be able to carry on with your life if you miss this one.

God Will Come

Blade Runner (Theaters-1982; DVD-2001) Rated: R — Runtime: 117 minutesM Blade 1982

Blade Runner 2049 (Theaters-October 2017; Streaming-January 2018) Rated: R — Runtime: 163 minutes

Genre: Action-Drama-Mystery-Science Fiction-Suspense-Thriller

els – 8.0/10 (1982); 7.5/10 (2017)

IMDb – 8.2/10 (1982); 8.2/10 (2017)

Amazon – 4.3/5 stars (1982); 3.6/10 (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 8.5/10 (1982); 8.2/10 (2017);

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 4.0/10 (1982); 4.1/5 (2017)

Metacritic Metascore – 89/100 (1982); 81/100 (2017)

Metacritic User Score – 8.8/10 (1982); 8.2/10 (2017)

Directed by: Ridley Scott (1982); Denis Villeneuve (2017)

Written by: Hampton Fancher and David Peoples (1982); Hampton Fancher and Michael Green (2017); Movies Based on the 1968 Story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Music by: Vangelis (1982); Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch (2017)

M Blade 2017Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young (1982); Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas (2017)

Film Locations: Burbank–Los Angeles, US; London–Surrey, England (1982): Budapest–Etyek–Hungary; Iceland; Mexico; Almería–Andalucía–El Ejido–Sevilla, Spain; Nevada, US (2017)

Budget: $28,000,000 (1982); $185,000,000 (2017)

Worldwide Box Office: $33,139,618 (1982); $258,978,008 (2017)

In a not too distant dystopian future, replicants, or bio-engineered humans are created to perform tasks humans can’t or won’t do.  Due to their greater than human physical attributes they are relegated to planets beyond  Earth, kept as slaves and forever banned from humanity’s home planet.  The replicants, in case they escape their captivity, are created with built-in fail-safes; a four-year life span and sterility.  Blade Runners (Harrison and Gosling) are bounty hunters hired to retire, kill, fugitive replicants. In the first Blade Runner movie Ford hunts down replicants that want to live beyond their 4 years of existence. In the second Blade Runner, Gosling, a replicant himself and a Blade Runner, a rather bizarre twist causing serious cognitive disconnects, searches for the replicant miracle: the spawn of a replicant, reminiscent of the 1993 Jurassic Park fail-safe: the all-female dinosaurs couldn’t reproduce but they found a way.

Philip K. Dick in his 1968 book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, explores the meaning of human life. What distinguishes humans from replicants or any sentient life?  These two movies follow a similar path as the book, a similar plot but eventually go deeper; delving into man’s ability to create life, to control life, to supplant God. If creation is the mark of God does man reach godhead by creating a likeness of himself?  What are man’s responsibilities as a creator; what are his duties to his children?

In a symbolic scene from the first movie, Roy (Hauer), leader of the renegade replicants, is reaching his pre-programmed death as he pursues Deckard (Harrison) for destroying his vision of salvation from the fail-safe. As his death advances he loses control of his hand muscles and to stave off the inevitable he pushes a square nail through his palm and out the other side to stabilize the involuntary contractions. A painful suffering from, or possibly for, his creators’ designs. Roy finally reaches Deckard who is slowly slipping from the roof of an apartment building.  As Deckard’s grip gives way, Roy clasps his wrist and pulls him to safety; the hunted saving the hunter. As the two sit on the roof and face each other, Roy’s life slowly leaves him as he recites his eulogy:

“…All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

The creation dies having shown mercy and empathy.

The second movie explores the miracle of birth that couldn’t happen.  A birth from the womb of a replicant, a birth of a detached and lonely creature, but a true gift to humanity.  A child that transcends our being by giving us our memories.  Memories that make us whole and real: human.  A child burning bright, leaving a future by leaving a past, but denied progeny.  She is Asimov’s 1951 Foundation Mule; a conqueror and a giver, but sterile.

These are movies examining the meaning of God, what it is to be God. An examination of the burdens of God. An investigation into what it means to strive towards godhead. An investigation of paths taken and not taken.  An inquiry into our will to die for our creations or to live with them. Will God come when we become gods?

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