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Wooo. What the fuck, movies? Why you so worst? Here’s last year’s list.

As always, my list is half a “most disappointing” list and half a “these movies are truly awful shit” list. This was another year where I was light on movies that I could include on this list. Ghost in the Shell narrowly avoided being on it, but you could consider it a bonus 11th spot since I think dependent on mood I could easily swap it in for the current 10th spot. Also, Little Evil could probably take the place of any on the back half of this list because that movie was a piece of shit but I kind of forgot about it when writing this whole thing so call it the bonus 12th spot?

I’ve had more time this year for movies and hobbies and fun shit and 2017 was a very obliging year for distractions and escapism. Makes sense, I guess? Still, every year brings its movies that should have been good, but weren’t, and ones that were just pure trash and maybe even a little evil like gift-wrapped packages sent straight to us from some kind of belligerent cinema demi-god that wants us to suffer. And suffer we have! At least a little bit. Because even in a year as stacked as 2017, you’re still going to get a Transformers movie. Read the rest of this entry »

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They just can’t quite carry it.

So I was very in for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. There’s a bunch of reasons, but foremost among them is that I fucking love this kind of whiz bang, go for broke science fiction. Throw me all the weird tech and weirder aliens. I am down for the French comic book sensibilities, especially the ridiculous fashion, and I’ll even put up with the clunkiest dialogue this side of a Syfy Original. This is my kind of movie and if there’s any kind of nested audience for the Valerians of the world, it’s me.

However, this is no Jupiter Ascending situation. It’s safe to say that if you didn’t like that movie, you will loathe this one. In most ways, they are dissimilar, but it’s hard to not be reminded of the slightly more serious but also more coherent and well-plotted Wachowski Sisters’ foray into manic space opera. The same genre DNA gave birth to both films, though Valerian is a direct adaptation of a seminal French comic while for Jupiter, the comic Valerian and Laureline was just one of many influences it wore on its sleeve. Many might also compare this one to the Guardians of the Galaxy films, but I’d caution against that since kicking this movie while its down (it really bombed) to that extent just seems cruel.

If you like imaginative space opera and come for just the visuals, world-building, and literally hundreds of weird and wonderful aliens, you may be able to put aside this movie’s narrative problems and enjoy it. I mostly did. Valerian is dizzyingly ambitious, so it’s tempting to brush aside that it doesn’t really work. And while the story is nothing special, it plays out in an offbeat way and is packed to the brim with worthwhile diversion. There’s hardly a frame in the first half of this movie that won’t light a scifi fan’s mind up. It has that same special quality Jupiter Ascending had where every five minutes, there’s a new idea that you could make a whole movie out of. For example, the concepts and mechanics of Big Market, a virtual bazaar in another dimension, are just a set-piece here, but the whole of the upcoming Ready Player One will deal with somewhat similar ideas. Valerian has imagination to spare but suffers from an overindulgence in its own poorly executed dramatic core, which aggressively sucks, and also fails to trust its own plot enough to avoid a third act recap sequence that, frankly, was where the movie really fell apart for me. I love Luc Besson, even when he makes a bad movie (Lucy) and while I might summarize Valerian as “The 5th Element for kids” and while that might sound good… it’s only really two thirds good. That said, the opening ten minutes are straight up wonderful and honestly worth the whole movie. Read the rest of this entry »

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