Thursday 2 December 2021

Rob's Movie Night Roundup - V (Vantage Point, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets)

At the beginning of the year, my wife and I decided that we'd like to watch more movies. There are 52 weeks in a year, 2 of us, and 26 letters in the alphabet. What better way to choose some movies than to go alphabetically? The only rule: Where possible, it should be a movie that one or more of us had never seen before. Oh, and ideally it should be part of one of the copious online streaming services we're already subscribed to, because why bother paying for a rental when we're not short of options?

Incidentally, if anyone from the big online streaming service providers is reading this (your Notfluxes or your Prims, for example), please make it easier to search for/sort movies alphabetically. Thanks.

Also, fair warning: There may well be movies that appear on this list that you'll find hard to believe I haven't seen before. It happens.

Previous letters are here: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U


Director: Pete Travis
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Matthew Fox

Synopsis via IMDB: The attempted assassination of the American President is told and re-told from several different perspectives.

A bit of Rob Wade history, before we start. Over the years, I spent a decent chunk of my early working life working for a chain of cinemas in the UK. I worked across a few different sites, and one of the perks was being able to see the movies for free. I remember Vantage Point coming out at the cinema during one of my stints there, and being properly intrigued by the premise. The idea of, essentially, a multi-cam whodunnit was an intriguing prospect and the cast was (and still is) an excellent list of names.

How did the movie stand up to 13 years of time passing, my tastes potentially changing and the possibility that I've built this film up to be something incredibly special over time?

As it turns out, not bad at all. The movie is short and sweet at just under 90 minutes, and the cast does their job really well. Forest Whitaker turns up again, having popped up in Movie Night Roundup during Panic Room, which is always a treat. It's well-executed technically, and manages to do a great job of uncovering the story over the runtime of the movie. There was one bit (which I won't spoil just in case) which I thought was pretty probable that did turn out as expected, but I sometimes have a knack for that despite being genuinely perplexed by some episodes of Scooby Doo; it's not just a gift I can switch on at will, it seems.

This movie is well worth your time if you have a short window free one evening, or you enjoy thrillers.

Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen

Synopsis via IMDB: 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.

I didn't work at a cinema when this movie came out, but I remember wanting to see it at the cinema. Luc Besson has an excellent track record when it comes to movies in my all-time favourites including Leon/The Professional, The Fifth Element and even writing Taken. What a CV, to say nothing of the stuff of his I haven't seen; I bet there are some bangers in there. Anyway, I've had a few people tell me that this movie wasn't all that great and that I should go in with expectations managed. As it happens, I did just that.

That worked out pretty well, as it goes, because I ended up quite enjoying this movie. First of all, it's visually exceptional. The spacefaring elements of it are absolutely gorgeous, the creature design is top-notch and the overall tone is just so gloriously colourful and crisp. While the pacing goes a bit Star Wars in places, that's not necessarily a bad thing as Star Wars has become iconic for a reason.

It's not all cake, praise and Subbuteo though. Some of the acting is a little stiff, particularly the romantic interplay between Laureline and Valerian (which I believe is played pretty true to the source material series, but might be wrong). The movie does feel a little long at 2 hours and 16 minutes, but then I couldn't tell you what could be cut to make room, so maybe I'm just being difficult. There is a quite obvious plot thread that isn't particularly well disguised, although that could be entirely deliberate and again it's just me.

Overall, it's not bad. I wouldn't say it'd be a film I'd be likely to watch again anytime soon, but I'm glad I saw it.

One of those rare occasions lately where I ended up being able to get 2 movies in ahead of finishing the writeup. It's worth saying that I did that as a result of a lash-up on my part forgetting what was next in the order. I'm hoping that doesn't come back to bite me at the end of the year! Still, overall I liked the two movies on this letter which is always a plus.

Did you enjoy the roundup? Let me know! If you have thoughts on the movies chosen and their respective writeups above, you know where to find me. Maybe you don't, but there are buttons everywhere to make that happen. Comments, Twitter, you name it. Moreover, if you want to make use of this movie night format, bearing in mind you're a few weeks in and might have to double up to get up to speed, feel free to do the same - I'd love to know what you chose too!

Rob Wade

Rob Wade blogs about stuff he likes. Whether it's video games or geek media for Emotionally14 or writing about speculative theories for future films on Talk Star Wars, the focus has always been on the stuff that brings the most pleasure to his life within media.

Rob is the editor of Emotionally14, and showrunner of the E14 podcasts "The Crazy Train", "The E14 Gamecast" and "Talk Star Wars", as well as the host and guest of a number of pieces on E14's Youtube channel over the years.

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