Review: After nearly two decades, Luc Besson finally materializes Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a space adventure adapted from his childhood favorite comic ‘Valérian and Laureline’—which he’s been craving to make ever since The Fifth Element (1997).
With visual endeavors the size of Cameron’s Avatar and vibrant universe to rival Star Wars (if not Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending) also with largest budget in French cinema history, it is exactly the size of Besson’s ambition on full creative control mode. The result is an elegant (borderline to over-the-top) space odyssey if not a style-over-substance one by any measure. What Valerian doesn’t have is a compelling script to cover the whole duration.
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Review: In adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (Logan), take Gaiman’s vision—for a divine story about immigrants and gods in a land of no god—into a whole new level of occultism. While retaining the novel’s tongue-in-cheek philosophical relevance, the show combines it with current real-world issue—about religion and humanity—and revises the author’s neglects towards minor storylines with a more engaging, intertwined ‘war of gods’ epic.
Same as the novel, American Gods centers on Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), a purposeless ex-convict whose wife (Emily Browning) is killed on a car accident a few moment before his release. Upon his despair, Shadow encounters a man-god who calls himself, Wednesday (Ian McShane) and gets recruited as a henchman in war between the Old Gods (Wednesday and comrades) and the New Gods of media, technology et al. Once hired, series of enigmatic events and bands of obscure characters appears, rendering Shadow (and audience’s, too) baffled and puzzled. Yet, as Wednesday said, there’s only one rule among others: Shadow is not paid for asking questions. Continue reading A Season with: American Gods (2017) – Season 1
Review: In Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, the near-future world is depicted as a real horror show, especially for women. A theocratic totalitarian government of Gilead rises from the ashes of what once known as the United States—which has perished in aftermath of a civil war leading to environment contamination and financial crisis. In this dystopian world, stability is built upon sacrifices; but the sacrifice is too tremendous: women’s position in the society.
Gilead—a fascist regime, which lays its foundation upon Biblical inspiration, diabolically confiscates women’s right and subjugates them to the outer realm of society. Those women—who mostly become infertile due to the war—are considered low and no longer allowed to work, even read. Those who are lucky enough to still be fertile aren’t actually lucky. They are enslaved as Handmaids to be legally raped in a ceremony to conceive children for the bourgeois. Continue reading A Season with: The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) – Season 1
First, Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy has nothing to do with Stephen Sommers’ 1999 Brendan Fraser-fueled blockbuster of the same title; let alone Karl Freund’s 1932 Boris Karloff-incited classic. Second, it has nothing to do with Mission Impossible, despite Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, and David Koepp’s involvement. Third, it, however, is a completely different film to mark a confident opening for Universal’s audacious Dark Universe, which sets to assemble the studio’s classic monster films into a whole new rebooted universe.
The Mummy does not take place in Egypt at all. It only begins in the ancient Egypt where Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was mummified alive, before shifts away to both Iraq and England. In England, mysterious catacombs of deceased Templar knights from the Crusade was found underground, inviting Dr. Henry Jekyll’s (Russell Crowe) grave attention. Meanwhile, soldiers Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his comrade, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), along with an archaeologist, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) found a mystically guarded ancient tomb of Ahmanet. Continue reading The Mummy (2017) – Review
Review: At one point, we might see Wonder Woman as the real biggest gamble ever in recent superhero film spree. There are myriads of dire reasons that made this DC entry’s stake even bigger than Marvel’s first Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange combined.
First, DCEU has previously been ill-started with several ill-fated attempts. Second, there are doubts about Gal Gadot’s capability to lead as main character. In addition, Patty Jenkins’ reputation as the first female director to helm a superhero film with female protagonist did not seem to give security, albeit she used to direct Charlize Theron to her Oscar win. But, that’s before Wonder Woman saves the day and brings DCEU back to game. Continue reading Wonder Woman (2017) – Review
Review: For the fifth installment (a.k.a. another comeback), Pirates of the Caribbean franchise decided to use a more narrative-friendly Salazar’s Revenge title over the more occult (and, still, US title) Dead Men Tell No Tales purposively. After all, giving away an obscure name in the title might help convincing audiences that this is a new series, not just a hasty recycle of the original trilogy… or a too-early Force Awakens in the ocean.
In case you forget, ‘original’ Pirates series progressed upon an electric narrative involving an unholy trinity – Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). In surviving a trilogy, the last two names were retired from the narrative in the disjointed fourth installment, which marked Sparrow’s solo-career. And, yet, Salazar’s Revenge, learning from the last lambasted tenure, decides to create a small reunion, assemble a rejuvenated trinity, add some family issue there, and starts a new been-there-done-that voyage. Now you know why I called it a nautical Force Awakens rip-off, don’t you? Continue reading Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017) – Review