Entries tagged with “Luc Besson”.


The first two minutes of ‘s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are one of the funniest introductions that I have seen on the big screen in the last few years. After the next 15 minutes I was starting to believe that I have made a bad decision about spending the coming two hours to watch a childish and soppy comics-inspired action film. What followed developed in one of the good entertainment films of this year, but one that not everybody will like, one that you need to be in the right mood to watch and enjoy. Even the comics-inspired films fans and fans of the series may be split.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2239822/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2239822/

 

‘s source of inspiration is the comic book series “Valerian and Laureline” written by Pierre Christin and drawn artist by  (with the difference that the heroes of the comics travel in time and space, which does not happen in the film). Most of the movies Besson wrote, directed and/or produced in the last thirty years have three lead features. One is his attraction for teenage heroes (females in most cases) – this is present here as not  the lead heroes but many of the citizens of the world created by Besson seem to be hardly above today’s drinking age if at all. Maybe we are suggested that the world of the future may have found the magic elixir of youth. The other is unrestrained violence on screen, and from this point of view we are treated with a relatively soft version of Besson, with stylized fights at comics level. Last is the visual creativity. From this point of view Besson is at his best, or maybe simply reached the best until now in his career. Compare by example with War for the Planet of the Apes which I saw (and wrote about) last week. Same techniques of creating characters by computer effects enhancing actors are used, but what an explosion of fantasy we have here, conveying the idea of a infinitely diverse universe, a direct descendant from the one in the ‘Star Wars’ series (or maybe the same world of the future). This is combined with the exceptional architecture of the City of a Thousand Planets, whose areas and rooms change every few seconds into new spaces of exceptional colors and forms varieties. Cinematography, Production Design, Art Direction are all breath-taking.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

Is the story childish? Maybe, but this is after all the screen variant of a comics series. It actually carries logic, but it’s comics logic, not philosophy. No need to talk in too many details about actor performances – young (a rising actor star whom I somehow missed until now) and do what they are supposed to do and look how they are supposed to look, and it does not matter too much that a fine actor like or a music legend like are present in roles of adults. It does matter however that pop idol joins the team and creates a stellar interstellar (!) dance and music number that is to be remembered. She is part of the fun of this summer action movie, set in a beautiful and dream-like version of the future. A film for young people of all ages.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is easy entertainment, but it is not cheap entertainment.

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes melodrama works. Then the reviewer in me faces a dilemma. I know that you need to buy into the story in order to feel anything in a melodrama, but who does not buy into it if they are parents, faced the teen crises of their kids, were too busy to dedicate to them the time they deserve (which is approximately all the time in the world)? Did I actually name all the parents population in the world with a few rare exceptions? Of course, only very few of us if any practice the profession of paid killer in the service of the CIA, as does in 3 Days to Kill, a combination of a ‘absent father – daughter’ relation with a co-written thriller.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2172934/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2172934/

 

I belong to the category of fans who are quite disappointed about the downturn of the career of Kevin Costner (both as actor and director). It’s due in my opinion to some big projects that were less successful than planned at the end of the 90s, followed by a lack of great roles. ’3 Days to Kill’ is not the film that will put his acting career back on the stellar path, it’s a lead role but written in a manner where accurate execution and a touch of humor and sensibility are all that is needed. Which Costner delivers.

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

There is nothing special and nothing wrong in this film directed by . The professional level of execution of the story telling, good acting with a cast which aside Costner also includes another semi-comeback by , a touch of humor which makes the violence on screen palatable, the background of Paris which always looks well – all these are actually the setting for the family melodrama which simply works. The cast also includes good performances by (in the role of the teenage daughter, she actually has an impressive acting record although she was just around 18 when the film was made) and .

We can ask for more, of course, but for this summer day it was the good entertainment I needed.

 

Lucy was supposed to be a film I should highly enjoy. I love not only for the way she looks but also for daring to undertake complex and different roles that put at work her acting talent. Science fiction is one of the genres I like most. I liked everything that  does … actually everything he did until this film. In my opinion ‘Lucy’ is a low for both Scarlett and Luc as well. It’s not terribly bad, as they are too good artists and professionals to fall too low, but it’s highly unsatisfying, well below expectations.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2872732/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2872732/

 

Readers of popular science magazines, or watchers of the similar TV shows should be already familiar with the scientific pretext of the film. The complex and sophisticated computing machine which is our brain is barely used, maybe at 10% of its capacity. If somehow (maybe using a blue powder drug!) the brain efficiency was used at a higher percentage the respective individual would get capabilities that are well beyond average to the point that they may seem superhuman to the other mortals. This is what happens to the hero in ‘Lucy’ but the problem is that the combination of sexy techno-thriller does not work well with the pseudo-science in the film. Talking about the meaning of life and universality of time in-between car chases and the destruction of the French Academy by bullets and mortars is some kind of fun, but not much more.

 

(video source MOVIES Coming Soon)

 

When talking about many other films made in Hollywood I have often complained about their length. It’s seldom today to find a feature film that does not reach 120 minutes of projection, and in many cases American (and not only American) productions exceed the 150 threshold, without any consistent gains in complexity or quality, but adding time resistance to the qualities required from viewers and justifying to some extent the additional ticket prices. ‘Lucy’ is only 85 minutes long credits included and this may be one of the reasons it feels like hurried and superficial, with the main ideas exposed like in a crash sciences lesson and all the characters with the exception of the main hero reduced to uni-dimensional sketches, without any character development. It’s just a pity to see the talent of such fine actors like  or wasted in such a way. The becoming of a genius and superhuman is described in a manner that is neither too original, nor too spectacular, and the smart dialogs between the beauty who became a genius and the scientist whose role seems mostly to be amazed without being able to help are just deprived of any emotion. There is one sentence about losing the capability to feel which if developed could have added a very different dimension to the film, but it was lost in the rush. When time becomes a dimension to be transgressed the journey looks more like an adult version of the ‘Night at the Museum’ which may run in the neighboring cinema hall. And that cinematographic metaphor reminding a famous ceiling painting? is it parody?

‘Lucy’ has many good premises and wastes most of them.

I liked Colombiana, a film that bears the mark of Luc. Luc Besson, of course. Although he is not directing this film, he wrote the script and produced it, and more important infiltrated into it some of the stylish and cynical touch which is characteristic to his best films. By providing a feminine character that descends from comics (Laura Croft comes to mind in many of the sequences) with a realistic life story and placing choreographic and well directed action scenes in the dire atmosphere of the drug wars Besson took a bet. A bet which he won with the help of a not so experimented director (Olivier Megaton), which makes me believe that his hand may have been also behind the directing exercise as well.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1657507/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1657507/

 

The first few minutes prepare the ground by showing how the parents of pre-teen girl Cataleya are murdered in her native Colombia and how she finds the way to the US, to find her uncle, a more than honorable mobster in Chicago and achieve the dream of becoming a professional killer to revenge the parents’ death. 15 or so years later she has become that killer and has more than 20 corpses in her CV, just that all of these are bag guys which she kills just to draw the attention of her object of revenge. All these seems very unrealistic and so they are – pure comics stuff. However this film is much more than a comics-inspired action film.

 

(video source SonyPictures)

 

Part of the reason Colombiana works can be found in the excellent rendition of the environment and the careful build-up and precise acting of the supporting characters. I especially liked the one of the FBI agent played by Lennie James, an actor used much and well in TV series (Jericho was one of them). The best acting however belongs without doubt to Zoe Saldana. The greenish thin girl from Cameron’s Avatar used here her real face and body and all is to the benefit of the viewers. The combination of the incredible (the hero, the action scenes) and credible (the accurate landscape and social environment, a script line that makes sense) works well, and I need to credit again Besson for making sure all corners are carefully rounded. The ending leaves hope for a sequel, and I hope rumors about Colombiana 2 are true. There are rumors also about Avatar 2. As I know Hollywood there are chances for both sequels to come to reality, and for once it would not be a bad thing.

 

There certainly is a love story going on between Hollywood and Paris. I can hardly think about a genre that is not represented in the American cinema and has its setting in Paris – from historical films to romantic comedies, from Hitchcock or Hitchcockian thrillers to love stories, all the genres excepting the western had one or more Eiffel Tower settings. Now, with Pierre Morel’s movie the western was added :-)

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179034/

 

Because what else is this film but a B-Western, where the gunman comes in town apparently with purposes of revenge, in fact with a different mission, yet related to nothing more than the collection and addition of corpses over corpses. As an action or spy story the intrigue is completely not credible, but think at it as a western, and it suddenly works. Producer Luc Besson is in charge again with another movie that looks more American than the most American films despite the fact that it happens in Paris. If you love the genre you have good chances to hugely enjoy this film. If you are indifferent you can sit back, watch the action and the actors and you will enjoy it at least partly. If you hate the genre or you are looking for some art, or even for too much logic, you will hate it.

 

(video source LionsGate)

 

John Travolta enjoys playing the killing machine in this film, we feel this and we enjoy watching him. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, an actor I greatly appreciate for his role in the Tudor series has a much difficult role as the killer apprentice, permanently surprised by the situations he enters, always ready to assume them bravely and even overbid eventually. He does a fine job, and this role confirms that he is one of the front actors of his generation, as he gives life to a schematically drawn character. The rest of the cast does a decent job, and the best one can do after deciding to watch this film is to avoid being judgmental and start enjoying it.

My unusual relationship with films inspired by comics continues to develop, as for various reasons I have seen a lot of these in the last few weeks. I picked Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec this week at the end of an exhausting day of work (and heat outside) as I was looking for easy entertainment that would not require efforts from the few cells in my brain that staid awake. More or less I got what I wanted.

 

source http://www.magnetmagazine.com/2011/12/30/best-of-2011-guest-editors-of-montreal-on-the-extraordinary-adventures-of-adele-blanc-sec-by-jacques-tardi/

 

I think that I know the reason because of which I enjoy more the films inspired by French comics than the American ones, and feel more comfortable in the company of Asterix than in the one of Superman, Batman, or Spiderman. Unlike many of my American (and not only American) friends I grew on the French comics journals, especially Vaillant (later named Pif gadget). Second to Vaillant was Pilote and this is where the character of Adele Blanc-Sec created by Jacques Tardi comes from.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179025/

 

Adele is a French newspaper journalist in the years before the First World War. She is beutiful, she travels, she never seems to lose energy. Well, she’s a cartoon character. She also has a fantastic sense of humor, and ridicules her enemies with the same easiness she beats them with various weapons or tricks. The first sequences that see her travel to Egypt in order to find, bring to France and bring back to life a physician of the Pharaohs who is of course the only person dead or alive who can save the life of her sister are both well filmed (as is the full movie), funny and a reverence to Indiana Jones.

 

(video source EUROPACORP)

 

Certainly script author and director Luc Besson wrote and directed more ‘important’ and ‘serious’ films. Here and in other films made lately he seems to enjoy himself with making easier stories, and targeting all audiences. While I miss films like the original La Femme Nikita, Leon or The Fifth Element, I cannot deny that I enjoyed this film at many moments, including the thick comical parodies of the characters at the start of the 20th century (policemen, scientists, and even le president de la Republique) or of the ancient Egyptians on a walk to know Paris, a Paris emptied by heavy traffic but already with most landmarks in place. Louise Bourgoin as Adele Blanc-Sec is sexy and funny, and as the last scene shows her boarding the Titanic I am wondering whether Besson intents to locate there her next adventure. Ah, a parody of Cameron‘s movie, what a sweet revenge it could be!