Valerian

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we went through space?

Vampire Bat: Yes, that was when the portal created by Doctor Frankenstein opened at the wrong place.

Vampire Owl: It is still a much debated topic. He says that the portal still opened at the right place, which has another portal as a connection.

Vampire Bat: There is no history of the existence of having a portal connected or placed within another portal.

Vampire Owl: He always makes new history. Last time he did something like this, it became a novel.

Vampire Bat: There is real debate on that, about his motives behind the same.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Uncle Dracula trusts him more than anybody else?

Vampire Bat: Yes, just like the Frankenstein Monster trusted his monster. Where did it lead him?

Vampire Owl: Frankenstein Monster’s case is different. He was never really alive to be dead, and so he never really got out of life to die.

Vampire Bat: Life and death, they are just two sides of a leviathan’s coin, marked with the sign of the undead.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Krackjack biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A long way into the future, a former International Space Station has reached critical mass, getting relocated into deep space, being renamed as the city of Alpha, a space-traveling world inhabited by millions of creatures from many thousands of planets from different galaxies as humans build contact wit them. With the population going out of control, there is a special police force created to preserve peace as well as law and order, and it has Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who go on special missions all around the galaxy to make sure that everything works according to the plan. It is one of those days when they are having some vacation time that Valerian dreams about Princess Liho-Minaa (Sasha Luss) who is living in a planet with her peaceful group of people who fishes for pearls, but has their world destroyed by spaceships coming right out of the sky. But he is clueless about how the dream could be so clear, and it is as if the princess is calling out to him.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: It is analyzed that the message could have been from any time period and any part of the universe, and there is no chance of finding what could have caused the message to get through him, and the source remains unknown. At the same time, their next mission is on, with the need to get something that replicates almost anything in the universe – but it turns out that the same is with the black market dealer Igon Siruss (John Goodman) who is part of an extra-dimensional marketplace. There, Valerian and Laureline find the secret to unlocking something which has been troubling the government for a long time – Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) of something strange happening in the centre of Alpha, and that the troops sent into that particular area have not returned, and the area which is out of their control, is growing. Now, it is up to the two to find more of the missing links, and unveil the big mystery.

The defence of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets :: What you would notice as the first thing about Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is that it is one of the most beautiful things that you can watch on the screen, as the space, the planets, the world of thousands planets, as well as the alien creatures and people, they all make it such a colourful world which has so much detail with everything. The skill is not limited to that, as there are those nice action sequences which go with them, and there is also one mystery to come to light. What you see on the screen is the marvel that you will need to keep watching again and again, as we are transported to that world which has no boundaries in extravagance. You might need this one to make sure that you can escape to that world, some place further away than any travel site can tell you, as imagination run high here, and there is a twist to be discovered, as one would expect with a movie like this, as dark secrets get out.

The claws of flaw :: There are moments when you feel that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has been focusing the most on its visuals – it is no crime, and we are invited into a wonderful feast on the screen, but you are certain to feel that there was scope for more with its story that goes beyond planets and galaxies. The last few moments take a little more time to reach the end unlike having a smooth run – there is a little unnecessary extension there without which the movie could have been smartly smoother. We also hope that the audience can grow up to this movie, instead of claiming that any fantasy movie without quality is so good just because it is from their industry – they were not looking for substance them, claiming that the over-hyped movies was something which it surely couldn’t go on to become. We have such shameless people around, and so, it is no surprise that the critics would also want to please them up to an extent.

Performers of the soul :: There is some good chemistry being shared by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in this movie which is about the two more than anyone else, except for a few aliens, if we look closer. Well, most of the Bollywood fans are not going to call this one chemistry for sure, and we can say the same about those critics who have been watching too many of those romantic melodrama nonsense for years. A good science fiction or action flick might be a long way out of their world. One might have still wanted more with the protagonists, but they are good, maintaining peace not just in the city of thousand planets, but also for the viewers. You remember Cara Delevingne from Suicide Squad, she made a wonderful Enchantress, a young archaeologist who was possessed by an ancient evil force – of course, critics took the right to be prejudiced then. Dane DeHaan was fantastic in A Cure for Wellness, if you have watched it, and when we consider the superhero movie stuff, it is The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s Green Goblin and Enchantress making a lovable no-longer-villain couple.

How it finishes :: Coming from the director of the surprise awesomeness Lucy, you will see that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is that beautiful world on the screen that deserved more than what it got – the same was the case with Jupiter Ascending and John Carter, both having some wonderful worlds on the screen, with tales that go the distance; but we know that the audience and critics cam both be the kind of people who got the history of not making excellent movies score with box-office collections or opinions. Well, at least movies like Pacific Rim and Terminator Genisys did well outside North America to get the attention that they deserved. Well, it is good to have divergent audience all around, and only then can we nullify the effects of prejudiced viewers. For the same reason, lets hope that more people watch this movie and come with the good opinions, inspiring a sequel to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – we can see that the scope is rather endless with this one, like in the game Mass Effect.

Release date: 21st July 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer, John Goodman, Elizabeth Debicki, Sam Spruell, Alain Chabat, Thom Findlay, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jonas Bloquet, Sand Van Roy, Sasha Luss, Louis Leterrier, Olivier Megaton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Now You See Me

Nowyouseeme (7)

There has always been something special about magic, going as far as the wizards and sorcery, often even into necromancy summoning the apparitions or even the living corpses from the grave. That should be black magic or witchcraft, and Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus had the hero ending up giving his soul for it in not that romantic a way as in the movie Bedazzled. One can’t really abandon Goethe’s Faust in that case. But this movie has none of these deals with Mephistopheles, Lucifer, or Belzebub, and neither does it have walking dead, nor does it lead you to Hogwarts or to Narnia as the lord of a particular, incredibly powerful ring which will change your life in that fairy tale style. This is magic purely of this world, and connected to a crime as an engaging, powerful thriller. Magic has always been a thing arousing curiosity among the common cats of the world, but none of them stays killed or dead as part of it. Magic shows still have some of its essence which still affects the minds of the common man over his mundane existence, for being able to manipulate and create illusions still have that mysterious charm for the unexplained, no matter how much science and technology and the reason has improved. One needs to see how this movie has managed to do nothing special and still manages to be special!

But it is not yet a magic movie, or something which takes you to a magical environment like Harry Potter, Narnia or Lord of the Rings, and there are no goblins, hobbits, dwarves or elves, and this one is the story of tricks, illusions and deception, which doesn’t really make it of lesser quality. This is more of that magic which is closer to reality and the real world, and it is a caper movie – a crime fiction supported by magic; and it is Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen all of them explored with the support of magic provided in the right manner. If you loved Tower Heist and Entrapment, there is no option not to like this one, as there are the additions which you can’t reject. The focus of the story is still magic, and the four magicians who performs it not for money or for entertainment, but for a greater cause. There are thefts, and there are police, FBI and even Interpol involved in this heist movie, but what forms the base of all this is still magic, not as the fantasy and the mythological wonder that attracts the generations starting from kids, this one is more of that thriller which keeps you at the edge of your seats. The world of these magicians are more than what meets the eye, and therefore you see me at one moment and then you don’t, and for now you watch what is justified by the title Now You See Me!

We have to start by introducing our wonderful protagonists of deception; the four magicians—Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) the illusionist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) the escape artist and former assistant of Daniel, Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) the street magician and master thief along with Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) the mentalist specialized in mind-reading abilities —are brought together by a mysterious benefactor who is shown only as a man in a hood and, one year later, they have a performance in Las Vegas identifying themselves as “The Four Horsemen” and is sponsored by a billionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). During their first grand performance, the magicians invite a random member of the audience to help them in their next trick which is the first of its kind to be ever performed on stage, that is robbing a bank. The man is teleported to his bank in Paris, where he activates an airduct which vacuums up the money which brough down from the top onto their audience in the venue at Las Vegas. It is a bank in Paris that they are supposed to have robbed, and how they have done that to an institution in France from a location in the United States would remain a mystery to many.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) investigates the theft and is unwillingly partnered with Interpol Agent Alma Vargas (Melanie Laurent). They interrogate the Four Horsemen, but are forced to release them when no explanation for the theft can be found other than magic. The magicianis even taunt them and says that if they charge them as criminals, it means that their magic is real and that adds to their popularity. Dylan then meets a man who was present during the show and had video-taped the whole thing, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). He is known to be an former magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians’ tricks and have his fun with it. He tells them that the magicians had stolen the money long ago, and manipulated the audience as well as the police with their tricks and illusions into believing it happened at the moment of their show. He even shows a sample to Dylan after they have a look at the “site of the crime and the magic show”. He adds that the whole thing might have planned for months or even years and the group is up to something big and what was seen in Las Vegas was just the first of the samples.

The three of them attend the magicians’ next performance which is in New Orleans during the festival of Mardi Gras. The group’s manages a number of magic tricks including disappearing acts, floating in a bubble and even predicting the bank accounts of random people among the audience. Their last item involved them emptying their own sponsor’s bank account and distributing it to the audience, which had a good number of people whose insurance claims had been denied or reduced by Tressler’s insurance company in the name of a variety of reasons. The agents make an attempt to arrest the magicians, but they fails and even humiliates themselves, and becomes the breaking news in most of the television channels. Arthur hires Thaddeus to expose the fake tricks of the magicians and humiliate them before the public as revenge. Later, while researching on magic and the history of the world of illusions, Alma comes across the information about a secret society of magicians called “The Eye”, which exists unknown to the contemporary society of common man, and remains a myth. But if such a thing existed, the robberies were more of a test or initiation. She even suggests that the case might be connected to a magician whom Thaddeus had earlier exposed; the man was so embarrassed and depressed that he attempted a dangerous underwater stunt to prove his worth and drowned. Meanwhile, the Four Horsemen plan a final performance at New York City, which would decide many things.

Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco steal the show as the four horsemen who entertains not only the audience inside the movie, but also those outside with not only the thrills, but also the funny lines. They don’t really connect to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation directly with Conquest, War, Famine and Death, even as they do bring a disclosure, an uncovering which might come up more clearly in a possible sequel, as there is the concept of “The Eye” to add to it. I would suspect not only an upcoming apocalypse, but also a final judgement. It is stylish and also sure fun, and its use of CGI has been real appropriate as well as inspiring. Melanie Laurent has come a long way since Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and successfully portrays her suspicious character and so does Morgan Freeman whose character remains in doubt of being the fifth horseman. Isla Fisher’s character has that charm which is matched only by Jesse Eisenberg’s illusionist. Forget Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk of The Avengers, for this should be his better or may be among the best performances, as he seems to have that balance in his character about which only the Hulk can have doubts. There might be the need for a little more explanation in case of the logic freaks, but the movie had a well-deserved clap from the audience in the multiplex after it finished, something which was this loud only with The Dark Knight Rises.

As the options at the theatre are considered, this would seem to be a clear winner at least at this part of the world. After Earth has been bulldozed by the critics as well as the viewers as far as the rottentomatoes and imdb ratings are concerned, and there are only a few shows of the movie around here, which opens that door for Now You See Me which might have been seemed locked before its release here. I would still like to watch the critically panned movie as I won’t trust them on my individual taste, even as there might be nobody to accompany me. Now You See Me has had its share of appreciation in the theatre itself, and I would expect it to bring more audience by the word of mouth, that passing of this magic, and more seats would be full even with a less known cast for the common man of the Indian subcontinent despite of the Will Smith – Jaden Smith power and the power-packed Bollywood releases which take hold of most of the shows along with its wonderful Malayalam counterparts; not to forget Hangover III, Fast & Furious 6 and Iron Man III, all three of those crowd-puller which have refused to go away from the big screens of the malls around here. I would vote for this movie as of now, as I consider this the best of the year 2013 so far, edging ahead of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6.

Release date: 7th June 2013 (India); 13th May 2013 (USA)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Mélanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

nowyouseeme copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.