Carnival Row Trailer Flutters In…

carnival-row

Feast your eyes on the trailer for Carnival Row:

A Victorian era detective series starring Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom, featuring fairies and mythological creatures, with Bloom doing his best working class growly accent might seem designed to simply annoy a certain proportion of the viewing public just by its very existence.

But exist it does, courtesy of an eight episode series coming from Amazon at the end of August, and perhaps those viewers will be more intrigued by the presence of a serial killer, bumping off said creatures.

It certainly looks like another show that Amazon have pumped a lot of time and money into, and it has to be said the trailer has a certain charm. It’s also directed by Jon Amiel, who did the wonderful BBC series, The Singing Detective. But he also directed Copycat and Entrapment. So, y’know…

Maybe that part of the population will give this an episode or two to win them over. Or maybe they won’t. It’s a harsh world out there.

Carnival Row arrives on August 30th.

Advertisements

Valerian – The Flawed Jewel

Valerian-and-the-City-of-a-Thousand-Planets

I didn’t know exactly what Luc Besson would be giving us with his big budget adaptation of the Valerian and Laureline comic books, but a sci-fi film with a pro-EU message definitely came as a surprise.

Besson first seriously considered adapting Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin’s long-running comic book series while he was making The Fifth Element. The decision to hold off until special effects caught up with the imagination needed to fully realise the characters and the universe they inhabit was probably a wise one, and it has paid off handsomely.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets literally screams out to be experienced at the cinema, preferably on as big a screen as possible – and in 3D if your local theatre understands how to properly project that format. It is without a doubt one of the most visually luxuriant films you’ll see this year (and possibly many other years), and is a thing of pure, unadulterated beauty.

Besson’s film takes no prisoners, and with little pre-amble launches us into a fully-formed world (or rather, universe) and expects us to embrace the story in progress. It’s an exhilirating rush and one which might leave some viewers who expect to be spoon-fed information a little disoriented (don’t worry, there’ll be another Transformers film for them soon, I’m sure). Valerian is a Luc Besson joint, full of the off-centre tics expected from his work, and is draped in his wonderful Gallic sensibility like a well-cut designer outfit.

It’s decidely not a Hollywood cookie cutter film, instead it’s madly ambitious and joyfully exhuberant though I didn’t feel quite the same eccentric voice as The Fifth Element was being given full reign. Perhaps this film’s astonishing budget led to more pressure on Besson.

Even if this was the case, Besson has mangaged to present us with something wonderous and completely topical, because snuck in between all the talk of extra-dimensional shoppng centres, converters and space pearls is a message that seems to focus on the importance of unity between different races. And with much of the action taking place on Alpha, a space station where millions of creatures from different planets live peacefully and exchange their knowledge and cultures, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the current situation between the UK and the EU seeping through into the fabric of this production. It’s quite a thing to see but with its core message of space unity, Besson has seemingly given us the first “we’re better together, despite the problems”, anti-Brexit, sci-fi fantasy.

Cara Delevingne makes for a fetching and spiky Laureline, the camera loves her and the character is pretty much elevated to the lead role (something which might irritate comic book purists, but fuck them because it works), another quality which sees the film stand out from the crowd. Indeed the film might better be titled Laureline and the City of a Thousand Planets, which does lead me to the one big issue I had with Besson’s choices.

Dane DeHaan is a fine actor, but he has a dark, somewhat surly quality which I didn’t feel was right for this role. While there was certainly no need to have Valerian as a wisecracking, Peter Quill/Starlord clone, the chemistry with Delevingne feels somewhat unbalanced at times, and a lighter touch was needed to stop Valerian coming across as something of a creep towards his partner. While this moves their interplay away from cliche, it also undercuts vital empathy and an actor with a little more screen charm would have worked wonders. It’s a shame because this central dynamic is vital to the film, and that spark could have made a big difference. I’m sure he’d disagree (hey, it’s his movie) but for me it’s a rare moment of casting weakness from Besson.

But this unusual misstep shouldn’t deter you from seeing Valerian, for despite this it’s a big, glorious attempt to give cinema something different and in an age of blue and teal colour-graded action movies that’s to be cherished and celebrated. Valerian is a jewel of a film, albeit one with an unfortunate flaw at its heart.

If nothing else, Valerian is a cult film in the making, and I can pretty much guarantee that in fifteen or twenty years time enthusiasts will be singing its praises as one of those films that everyone should have gone to see at the cinema.

Vive le Besson!

Besson’s Valerian trailer is here to make your day!

valerian

Cards on the table, I out and out love Luc Besson. His work has earned so many credits in my critical bank that his occasional bum notes are more than made up for by magnificent compositions such as  Nikita, Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element.

So the arrival of the trailer for his latest work, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets fills me with unbridled joy! And it should cheer up your day too.

You want hot young leads in the shape of Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne? You got ’em. Insane looking science fiction worlds, creatures and action? In there by the bucket load. Rihanna? Got that covered too.

Valerian is based on  the classic French graphic novel series (by Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières), Valerian and Laureline- which apparently Besson is adapting for the screen as “a contemporary, unique and epic science fiction saga” (so says the press release).

Hey, it’s Besson. It’ll be bold, brash and full of that certain je ne sais quoi he brings to all his films. Even the use of The Beatles singing Because from Abbey Road in the trailer suggests this will be stuffed to the gills with Gallic gall.

Now sit back and feast your eyes on the first teaser trailer, safe in the knowledge it’s one of the prettiest looking things you’ll see today. You’re welcome.