Movie review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to another birthday movie review! For the past 3 years, I have spent my birthdays at the cinema, always watching a comic book movie. In 2014, it was Guardians of the Galaxy, in 2015 – Ant-Man, and just last year – Suicide Squad. Well, this year, neither DC nor Marvel are releasing films in August, so, I’m branching out and giving a chance to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – a film, based on a French comic book Valerian and Laureline, advertised by the director Luc Besson as ‘the ‘it’ European blockbuster’, that is as good as its Hollywood counterparts.

IMDb summary: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Luc Besson

The French filmmaker, known for 1990s’ classics Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element and that Scarlett Johansson Black Widow addition film – Lucy, both wrote and directed Valerian. Besson was a fan of the comic book by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières growing up but didn’t seriously consider adapting the property until Avatar showed him what can be done with CGI. I, personally, was quite interested in the film as I love the sci-fi genre as well as the previous work of the director. However, I seemed to have been the only one, as Valerian didn’t really click with the critics, nor the audiences. To be fair, even if the audiences liked the movie, no amount of the box office money could have justified the insanely huge budget. The decision to cast financially unproven leads didn’t help the film either.

Writing and Story

The writing for the film was quite a mixed bag. The story itself was actually quite interesting, however, it was way too drawn out. A lot of the plotlines truly felt like an excuse for the CGI team and the director to showcase more of the spectacular effects. If a lot of the scenes of the characters, aimlessly wandering around, would have been cut, the final product would have had a much tighter and more exciting adventure narrative. I didn’t hate the expositional scenes, though. I actually quite liked the silent opening of the film – the establishment of Alpha – and I did appreciate that the characters spelled out the plot points to the audience during the third act because the walking (or running) around scenes made me kinda lose track of the purpose of their journey.

Thematically, the two leads weren’t bad. I enjoyed the fact that the two of them represented different ideas – Valerian was all about the rules, while Laureline was more rebellious. Nevertheless, the character of Valerian bugged me because of how inconsistent he seemed. Although all the promotional booklets that I received prior to this film (one at the cinema and one during the Free Comic Book Day) introduced Valerian as super ambitious and career-driven major, in the picture, he seemed more interested in advancing his relationship with Laureline rather than getting to a higher career level. In truth, the whole romantic aspect of the movie wasn’t fully working for me and seemed a bit pushed.

Directing and Visuals

The visuals have been the most universally praised part of the film and I feel confident in seconding those praises. Valerian looked magnificent – from the character and the location designs to the scope, the CGI was both inventive and of good quality. It didn’t look photo-realistic, but it was a brilliant realization of a vision of fantasy. The sweeping shots of the market at the begging as well as the sequence of Valerian’s chasing the intruders through the Alpha station were two of my favorite parts of the film. The scene with Rihanna – her performance – was too long. Also, I wanted it to have more of the amazing transformations and fewer elements of a strip club-like dance. Lastly, the runtime (which I already mentioned) – Valerian was way way way too long. Honestly, halfway through the film, I could already feel its self-indulgence.

Acting

However unproven this cast was as the box office draws, I still mostly enjoyed them in the roles. I’ve been a fan of Cara Delevigne (Paper Towns, Suicide Squad) before she started acting and I always believed that she had a natural kind of charisma that shines through her acting. That might be because a lot of the characters are extensions of herself (rebellious, charming, and beautiful). Even though I think she is quite charismatic on her own, her chemistry with the co-star Dane DeHaan was not to be found. On his own, DeHaan hasn’t really blown me away as of yet and I still feel the same after Valerian. He was bearable in the role and I doubt that his career will get much of a boost. More importantly, if his box office numbers don’t improve, he might not get another chance. He might actually be better off sticking with smaller dramas than big actioners. 

The involvement of more serious, indie and niche actors, like Clive OwenEthan Hawke (Boyhood), and Sam Spruell (Sand Castle) was supposed to give this movie more gravitas, but I’m not entirely sure that that plan worked. These serious actors did seem a bit like caricatures of themselves, acting with all that green screen. Rihanna (Battleship, soon Ocean’s Eight) was fine in the brief cameo performance. (Fun fact: I saw her live at a concert almost exactly a year ago). However, her appearance in the film should have been played up way more – that might have been the only saying grace of this movie’s ad campaign. Speaking about the things that still might save this film – that’s Chinese audiences and the Chinese star Kris Wu, who has a small yet stereotypically crucial (plot-wise) role in the film. He made his Hollywood debut just earlier this year, in XXX: Return of Xander Cage

In short, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a grand and gorgeous film, with a runtime (and story) that’s even longer than the film’s name.

Rate: 3/5

Trailer:  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets trailer 

valerianposter.jpg

Sightseeing: The Old Town of Warsaw

Sightseeing

Hello!

A few weeks ago, I told you about my experience attending ANTI World Tour in Warsaw. While going to Rihanna’s concert was my main reason for traveling to the capital of Poland, it was not the only thing I did there. After partying with Riri on Friday and wasting the night watching the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, I spent the whole of Saturday walking around Warsaw’s Old Town.

With the help of Google Maps, I strolled by the Presidental Palace, the Royal Castle, the Old Market Place, the St. John’s Archcathedral, the barbican of Warsaw, the St. Anne’s Church, the Grand National Opera Theatre, the Palace of Culture and Science, the University of Warsaw, the Nicolaus Copernicus Monument, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, the Carmelite Church, the Mermaid of Warsaw next to the Świętokrzyski Bridge and many other sights and buildings that I can’t name.

I also really wanted to visit the Copernicus Science Center, however, the queue was huge, I would have probably waited at least 3 or more hours just to get inside. Moreover, due to the overflow of people inside the building, they had temporarily suspended the sale of tickets, so I might have spent the whole day just waiting. Well, at least now I have a reason to come back to Warsaw.

For lunch, I went to this nice restaurant where instead of chairs they had swings next to the tables. To remember Warsaw, I bought 3 postcards to add to my collection and a few fridge magnets. One of the magnets has a picture of the stadium where the Rihanna’s concert took place.

The weather for my walk wasn’t the greatest – it rained occasionally, however, at least it wasn’t unbearably hot. I will take rain and fog instead of boiling hot sun any day.

Warsaw has almost 2 million inhabitants and it is also the capital of Poland. I could definitely tell that the city was alive and buzzing even on Saturday – while the streets were mainly filled with tourists in the early morning, after midday, the actual citizens of Warsaw started taking  to the streets. I saw some kind of protest as well as preparations for either a running or cycling marathon being carried out.

Bellow, I’ve included a few galleries with the photos from my walk. I love old European cities and I felt extremely lucky to have gotten a chance to see another one. The features of Warsaw that I especially liked were all the buildings with patterns and a few modern construction dispersed in between the old structures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

ANTI World Tour in Warsaw | Rihanna 

Music

Hello!

I haven’t written a post in a music category for quite some time, but that’s about to change because, on Friday, I went to Rihanna’s ANTI tour show in Warsaw, and really want to tell you about it!

I and a couple of my friends started our journey on an early Friday morning and took an almost 7h drive from Lithuania to the capital of Poland. The road trip was going smoothly, though I cannot say the same about the Polish roads – they are awful and constantly under construction, so we did encounter a few traffic jams.

After arriving in Warsaw and checking into our hostel, we went straight to the stadium – PGE Narodowy. We entered the queue at around 4pm and stood in an extremely hot sun (above 30 degrees Celsius) for 1,5h. At around 6pm we finally reached our ‘seats’/standing places in the first sector, called Golden Circle. We managed to get a spot around 10 meters from the stage and prepared for another 6 hours of waiting, standing and dancing. Before entering the stadium, I had a mini heart attack because my ticket wasn’t scanning properly, so I had to go the security where everyone was trying to speak Polish to me, while I was shouting ‘English, English, please’.

The temperature inside the stadium wasn’t much different from the outside heat. Plus, standing in the crowd is never a pleasant time, so by the time the concert ended and I was dehydrated to the max and really gross and sweaty.

The show started just after 7pm as it was advertised. The first part of the opening act was a 40minute set by DJ Mustard. After a short break, DJ was joined by Big Sean for another 50 minutes of craziness. I’m not even a fan of rap music but was having a time of life during this set. When the European leg of the tour was announced, The Weeknd was listed as one of the opening acts, however, he dropped out a few months prior to the show. The saddest part is that I and one of my friends bought the tickets to this show because we wanted to see The Weeknd the most. Well, at leat Rihanna didn’t drop out of her own show.

Rihanna took to the stage at around 9.30 and performed for 1,5h without stopping. She talked to the audience for a few minutes but not nearly as much as the other performers I’ve seen. She danced a lot and had like 4 or 5 outfit changes: all of her costumes were pantsuits with oversized and shapeless capes or jackets.

The decorations of the stage were minimalistic: mirrors, some lights, a see-through flying corridor and a wall of mousse and soap and bubbles. The singer was joined on stage by a live band, 3 backup singers and a bunch of dancers with no bones – they were amazing.

Rihanna performed her newest songs from the ANTI album like Work and Kiss it Better. She also sang her old hits like Umbrella, Diamonds (my fav song of her) and We Found Love. I, personally, haven’t listened to the ANTI album much so I was basically waiting for all of her old songs. However, I still enjoyed the concert and the whole experience immensely and the fact that I got to share it with two of my friends made the night even better.

I would probably rank Rihanna’s concert at no.3 on my list of live shows. Lady GaGa’s The Born This Way Ball and One Republic’s The Native Tour are still my no.1 and no.2 shows respectively. Rihanna is followed by Enrique Iglesias’s, Ed Sheeran’s, Kylie Minogue’s, Loreen’s and Lana Del Rey’s live concerts.

Bellow, you will find a gallery of photos from the events and I will also include links to a few YouTube videos I’ve uploaded from the concert. My next post will either be a review of the new Woody Allen film or a sightseeing post about Warsaw.

Have a great week!

Bitch Better Have My Money live | Diamonds live

American Music Awards 2014

Music

Hi!

I have previously covered a few award ceremonies on my blog, like EMAs, VMAs and Movie Awards, and now decided to do the same for AMAs which happened last night.

Let’s start with the host of the show – Pitbull. If I remember correctly, this isn’t a first time that Pitbull is hosting the ceremony and I got to say – he was a safe choice. He even made jokes about being here because music industry needs diversity and he is a white Latina – best of both worlds when it comes to making money. I wish they would have brought a new, fresh face to get the show going.

Back when I discussed EMAs with you, I had a huge problem that a lot of big celebrities weren’t attending that show. Well, this show was pretty start-studded event. Even One Direction finally climbed out of their cage and were attending. JB wasn’t there but that’s no surprise – is he even out of jail yet? Newcomers like Ariana, Iggy, Sam Smith, 5SOS ruled the show, however, the elite artists like Rihanna, Beyonce, Katy Perry, GaGa wasn’t there once again.

There weren’t many surprising wins, I was pleased when 5SOS took home the award for Best New but that was about it. Let’s face it – this award ceremony isn’t about the awards but about the show and the performances. Since I am a pop/rock music fan, most of the performance which I loved were performances by pop artists. (Don’t judge my mainsteam’ness).

I liked theatrical opening act by Taylor Swift because I love her new song Blank Space (video). Plus, the whole tribute to her and the award for excellence was a pretty sweet moment and I believe that she deserves everything she  has achieved.

Taylor’s friend and my other childhood favorite – Selena Gomez – performed her new song The Heart Wants What It Wants (video). She was extremely emotional, real and raw on stage and I was happy to see her back in action once again. There were rumors, or actually even facts, that after Stars Dance album she was going on a break from music and would be focusing on her acting career. But, I guess, since her acting career isn’t working out that succesfully, she decided to continue pursuing music. Actually, her greatest hits album For You which consists of a couple of new song and of a few old ones which were made new (remixed) will be released or might have already been released today (Nov 24th).

Lorde sang the theme song from Mockingjay Part 1 (review of the movie). Her performance was powerful and energetic (video). I loved the first row of girls (Lorde, Taylor, Karlie Kloss and Selena) and how supportive of each other they were. One Direction’s new song was nice but didn’t blew me away, I might have grown out of their music (video).

Jessie J, Nicki and Ariana sang BANG BANG once again (video). I still hate the message of the song but I have no other choice but to enjoy the actual song and the beat of it because you just cannot escape it. It’s everywhere!!! Sam Smith’s performance was also quite nice (video), I am not a fan of his music but I am interested to know more about him.

The artist that grew on me throughout this whole year is Iggy Azalea. I never liked rap music and rapping women seemed a bit odd to me. But I actually am starting to enjoy her music and the way she carries herself and isn’t afraid to speak her mind (I’m talking about Eminem and controversial lyrics of his song and the way Iggy handled the situation). Her style is also quite nice, loved the suit she wore while accepting the awards. I am not her fan yet but I am on a journey to becoming one.

IMG_2470.PNG Iggy performes Fancy: video

Ladies that made my Best Dressed List:

IMG_2467.PNGBecky G

IMG_2463.PNGFergie

IMG_2465.PNGKarlie Kloss and Taylor Swift

IMG_2464.PNGSelena Gomez

IMG_2468.PNG

Zendaya – I love a risk taker who has taste. Her disco style outfit with a touch of Bolivud fashion looked cool to me.

And damn those pants, Ansel Elgort?!?!

459478250

Photos: Getty Images, PopSugar, The Hollywodd Reporter, Perez Hilton

MTV European Music Awards 2014

Music

Hi!

I previously did a review of VMAs 2014 and MTV Movie Awards 2014, so, I decided to review EMAs as well. Especially, when it’s the only award’s show that happens almost in my time zone and I don’t need to get up at the middle of the night to watch it live.

This years show was the 20th anniversary of the EMAs and it was held in Glasgow, Scotland. Fun Fact: on Monday, at OneRepublic concert in Vilnius, they said that when asked what crowd was the best, they used to say that Glasgow’s crowds were always crazy. Of course, then they also praised Lithuania’s crowd as “one of the most insane ones”.

MTV EMAs started with a kick-off show in Miami with Fifth Harmony and Jake Miller. The red carpet event was also broadcast live before the actual award ceremony. Let’s talk about fashion, shall we?

Best dressed to me were:

Actress Jena Malone in a cute A-line dress, model Jourdan Dunn in a white mini dress with deep V-neckline and Ariana Grande in her stunning black gown and NO PONYTAIL. She looks amazing with her hair down.

rs_634x1024-141109111403-634.Jena-Malon-MTV-VMA.jl.110914 rs_634x1024-141109112724-634.Jourdan-Dunn-MTV-EMA.jl.110914 rs_634x1024-141109103540-634.Ariana-Grande-MTV-VMA-Awards.jl.110914

The award’s show was hosted by Nicki Minaj and I really liked almost all of her costumes. Her jokes were so-so (for my taste).

I also liked that they included social media stars like Jerome Jarre which I only recently discovered through Casey Neistat (other YouTube content creator) and Lily (Super Woman).

Plus, I enjoyed Kiesza’s and Charli XCX’s performances. The 360 shot of Charli looked cool. Nicki’s Anaconda performance was vulgar as usual. That song is catchy as hell but I still hate the message it conveys. Alicia Keys’s closing performance was powerful and brought a serious message to this ‘pure entertainment’ type of event.

Moreover, I was super excited to see Ed Sheeran and Enrique Iglesias at the event. I am going to see them both live soon! Enrique at the beginning of December and Ed on February the 15th.

The backstage footage and all the interviews were more interesting to me than the actual show. I would love to work as a backstage host one day or as a producer of this kind of show. This year’s bbackstage host Laura did a great job, I loved that she always knew what to ask and when to stop asking. 360 backstage cam was also an interesting addition to the ceremony.

I was the most happy that 5SOS won a few awards (Best New and Best Push), that 30 Seconds To Mars picked up Best Alternative and that Katy Perry got quite a few awards too.

The last point I would like to mention is that this year’s EMAs had little to no really big current celebrities.(Ozzy Osbourne isn’t a current celebrity, he is a legend). Katy wasn’t attending, Miley, Taylor, Beyonce, Rihanna wasn’t there as well. 1D never attends any shows nowadays and their thank-you video message sounded not as genuine as it used to (even Justin Bieber sounded more thankful). I know that this is European Music Awards and all of the big stars are based in the US or touring around the world, but still it would be nice to see some big names come to this side of the pond.

Photos: uk.eonline.com

See more info about the show and full list of winners here: MTV EMA

MTV Movie Awards 2014

Uncategorized

On Sunday (April 13th) MTV Movie Awards 2014 happened. I am going to do my little review of this award show. I usually watch every award show that airs on TV, starting with Academy Awards and ending with Kids’ Choice. Speaking about this year, in my opinion, MTV went all out with the scene decorations and set building. The host, Connan O’Brien wouldn’t be my first choice, but he did a pretty good job. I would rate these awards 4/5, just because there were no shocking or really memorable moments (remember Miley on last years VMAs?).

My awards to awards:

*Favorite category : Movie of the Year. I loved the fact that Hunger Games won and that I got to see Josh Hutcherson and Sam Claflin both on stage. I was surprised that Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t attending.

*Favorite Speech: Jared Leto. I loved his speech at the Academy Awards as well as this one. His quotes are really inspiring. “Love who you want to love, live how you wish to live and never let anyone ever stop you from turning your dreams into your reality.”

*Favorite moment: A tribute to Paul Walker. I still cannot believe that this actor is no longer with us. I loved him in every Fast and Furious movie. My dad and I watched every single one a million times. And his philanthropy work with Reach Out Worldwide also shows, that a world lost an amazing, kind and truthful person, which we all gonna remember with smile.

*Favorite performance : Rihanna and Eminem – Monster. I like this song, but haven’t really listened to it non-stop, so I guess I am not bored of it like everyone else. Watch that performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p1sLl5bR34

*Favorite Surprise: Orlando Bloom. He rarely attends these kind of awards shows and I was really happy to see him. He plays my favorite character of all time – Legolas –  in Lord of the rings and the Hobbit. I love elf’s, because they are smart, loyal, beautiful, great fighters and they live for a long time. Who doesn’t want a life like that?

*Best dressed – Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o (in Karl Lagerfeld).

slide_345412_3613986_free2014 MTV Movie Awards - Press Room(Getty Images)

Find me on other social media  :