Valerian: The City of a Thousand Planets

Legendary director Jean Luc Besson’s latest Sci-Fi venture graced UK cinemas this week. The film is endless eye candy.  The creator of Leon and Fifth Element hit a bit of a bad patch with his last film Lucy, despite starring Scarlett Johanssen, the film somehow failed to ignite for me but did provide record breaking financial success for the French film industry. I read it was an ongoing script nearly a decade in the making and perhaps missed its natural time in space etc . However Besson has easily made up for lost ground in this latest venture. I personally found Valerian to be a visually spectacular appealing journey from start to finish. From pans-dimensional chases to multiple planetary settings the visual continuity of the story is mind blowing in itself.

Even this small snippet shows how picturesque and complicated the sci-fi universe Besson has created. Quoting James Oster;  ” a rich and jaw-dropping world.” 

In the long list of classic futurist sci-fi/action masterpieces Besson scored highly in his film Fifth-Element, arguably ( in my opinion) borrowing from Vlade Runner and taking the crown from Ridley Scott. Earlier this year I wrote how the live feature film version of Ghost in the Shell borrowed a lot from Ridley’s 1985 classic. It seems the ball is safely back in Besson’s court now after this fantastic cinematic voyage. With Blade Runner 2049 heading to our cinema screens next month, we will have to see how this year turns out.

The Fifth Element is probably considered a sci-fi classic by most. The rich and deep artistic quality of the universe Besson created for us is reunited in many parts of the City of a Thousand Planets.

Valerian

Even the concept is great and the opening sequence leads to a utopian intergalactic idealism that can lead to helpful futuristic reflection. Besson has always been a bit of a futurist but also a humanist and I really like that Valerian in a thoughtful message of social critique along the lines of Fifth Element. The added benefit of Cara Delevingne’s presence on the screen for over 2 hours adds to the charm. The faux-American accent of both Cara and former Harry Osborn/Green-Goblin Dane Dehaan may have been unnecessary but she can act and is given a character with more space to flex her theatrical muscles after the restrictive portrayal of June Moon/Enchantress in Suicide Squad last year. If that was enough to quench your sensual appetite, halfway through the movie Rihanna arrives making the experience visually stunning in more ways than one.

Rihanna

I really cannot overemphasise the extensive and incredible beauty of the film’s scenic locations and settings. It is an ongoing creative journey that refused to slow down. I suspect the viewer is graced with a new unique and original background setting almost every 5 minutes of the film. It really is a “sci-fi treat”.

 

 

The Day I Met Pamela Anderson

Saturday 29th July 2017 will be a day that goes down forever in the blog memory archives. 2017 is the year that the teenage hormone fuel extravaganza that was the film ‘Barb Wire’ was set in.  It was also the year I got to meet my all time teenage first love; Pamela Anderson. ( Yes, I was a lonely teenager).

More importantly, she did not disappoint.

A  remarkably upbeat presence in the room (considering every Comicon guest is confined to a desk writing their name 10-12 hours a day) Pam was both warm, funny and friendly.  It even felt like she was flirting a bit. I guess we forget that she is actually Canadian. I couldn’t decide what I should get signed. I couldn’t find my old Barb Wire poster but found a couple of Maxim magazines with her on the cover ( now sadly wrinkled by over a decade of unprotected open air loft storage). There was also my ‘Baywatch Factfile’ which seemed the more hilarious option as it was the exact book Borat had in the movie.

 

I explained that I had the book since I was 15 which received an ‘Awww’ from her. When I got to her desk my mind was blurry as I was half frozen and half nervous, like first date chatty when I tried to fit in as much banter as I could.

The whole process probably lasted under 30 seconds but striding up straight away when there are normally hour long queues was a dream.During the very brief walk up to her desk I went through a quick emotional journey: Through relief, awe, euphoria, love and then shock.

I was probably chatting waffle but it was all a blur anyway. I held up the queue slightly as I turned around again after the signing, to plead for one more question about the filing of Borat movie. The strict displeased comic con staff holding up her hand like football referee was overruled by the beautiful and inviting smiling face of Pam herself. She advised me that she WAS aware of the ‘sacking ‘ moment during the filming of Borat. I had heard the opposite and was convinced she had not known, so it was a testament to her acting really.

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Pam really is such a babe but I didn’t say that as I had just seen Barb Wire the night before. A quick look of disgust came over my face as the guy next to me plonked down a Playboy poster.

Her figure is still the focus of media attention as in the last few days there, there were pics of a wardrobe malfunction during her photoshoot in Italy recently.

One thing that stands out through all of this experience is how little make up she wore. The old cliche that you sometimes don’t recognise people you think are beautiful on TV without makeup but this incorrect in this situation. Meeting her close up her face and cheekbones structure were as spectacular as you see on the big screen. Without the excessive pin-up stage make up she looked like a kind and beautiful person without her make up anyway. She is clearly confident, funny and charming. That is what a star really is in my opinion.

Pam signdesk  It is all about that smile.

Sadly I didn’t get a photograph of my experience and the Comicon organisers were pretty cagey with getting free pics but I managed to get a shoddy pap after, just before the security guard stepped into shot to protect their ‘asset’. A person should never be an ‘asset’ but there you go. Big Business.

Pam comicon

It’s important to remember people get old and the body changes but a smile and a kind impression can last forever and that is what makes a star in my eyes. Not  a bad day and it wasn’t even 2pm yet. You can read about the rest of the day here.

London Film & Comicon 2017.

After meeting Pamela Anderson in person, my head (and my heart) was in the clouds. Poignant teenage dreams aside we also had John Cleese, Kevin Smith, Dr  Who, McGyver and Natalie Dormer all under one roof. There were a plethora of stars and actors from DrWho, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Star Wars (original trilogy and Rogue One). With enough money, you would be entertained for days. There was even a stand auctioning off Back to the Future ‘Hill Valley’ merch for the Michael J Fox Foundation charity.

My first ever Dr Who, Sylvester McCoy himself was there. What was even cooler was his hat was parked in the corner. Truly, the man is still a Timelord.

Behold the 7th Doctor . ..

Dr Who

. . .and his hat. (Blurry cos of sly second snap.)

Dr

I even got to chat with Missi Pyle very briefly (from Galaxy Quest, Dodgeball and Josie & the Pussycats). She was also stunning in person.

Missi Pyle gif

My ongoing mission is to get signatures for all of the illustrations in my Star Wars ‘Art of the Galaxy’  book. Sadly this year, greeting Carrie Fisher face to face for a signing is now a much a ‘remote’ possibility as Alec Guinness.

I missed the likes of Kevin Smith and Natalie Dormer (who looked stunning in person) and most of the Rogue One actors. I choose to focus instead on signings from the original trilogy but there were plenty of options:

 

 

 

There was also the standard excellence of Cosplay outfits:

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All in all a great day, so many stars to meet if you have the money but you only pay £15-20 for entry and there’s tons of stuff to do for free. I highly recommend checking it out next time. You may remember the fun I had last year at the Star Wars celebration.

Here are samples of footage I collected of the event as the day went on.

 

 

 

Introducing Mike Brown Illustrations

OK. So it’s been a few months since I’ve posted but now is good a time as any because I get to introduce the talented illustrations of Mike Brown, all thanks to his spanking new website ( available here).

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Mike has been writing, performing and generally living music, art and culture for years. Browners has been running and playing live music events for nearly a decade now. He also does the illustrations for them, hence why he now has a website. The latest event is held weekly and you can attend here in Southampton.

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Incidentally, if you are ever looking for free live music in Southampton then please feel free to join the local community group on Facebook.

 

 

 

Ghost in the shell

I finally got to see it in awe-inspiring full 3D Xplus glory last Sunday night and it’s safe to say; I was mesmerised by every minute of it. I was hungry and had just finished work but I honestly couldn’t stop watching for one minute. Even the clips I had already seen before.

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I haven’t seen any of the previous Manga based Anime versions and I love any film with Scarlett Johansson in, so im instantly biased. BUT I was really shocked about the reported contraversy around Scarlett’s casting over an Asian actor. After seeing a comparison to the 1995 anime character I really thought it was pretty close. Even the original director Mamoru Oshii thought she was the best possible choice.

Scarlett

The opening ‘shelling’ sequence was reconstructed meticulously though with almost flawless difference. Aside from the gratuitous cartoon nipples.

The 2017 live action version on the right and the 1995 anime version on the left:

 

Both versions were much more realistic than the real life effort to make a Scarlett Johansson robot here:

 

I guess after that creepy reflection Scarlett seems even more of an obvious choice. She is awesome and sexy. I expect having not seen the manga anime made me enjoy the real time version more but at least I can go back and watch it for reference now. You can see an entire comparison of the two movies here.

The summer of 17 is coming

So I started working in a cinema this year and naturally I get free tickets.

After such a blisteringly good time for Marvel/DC comicbook film adaptions last year, 2016  was going to be a tough act to follow. However when Logan hit our cinema screens it instantly outsold everything, for weeks on end. A month later and it’s still in screens selling well.

Logan

I thought maybe that people had been getting withdrawal from the ’16 rush of Marvel/DC. Luckily we still have two excellent efforts to come :

Guardians of the Galaxy 2          

 (Wait for the end)

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And with the recent news of the Deadpool 2 trailer AND Cable/X-Force film . .. . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .. Let the good times roll . . .

The latest Deadpool 2 trailer  . . .

 

 

 

Absolutely NOBODY is watching the Watchmen

Reality is worse than the Watchmen.

Alan Moore’s legendary graphic novel turned film ‘Watchmen’ is famous for it’s dark, gritty, anti-heroic dystopian perspective.It mocks the utopian ideology of Superhero comic books and juxtaposes it against real life history. Moore cleverly used real life 20th century historic examples peppered within the storyline to give it a quasi-realistic effect however it was always meant to be regarded as a work of fiction.

Bearing that in mind . . earth’s scientists have decided (mainly because of Trump) that we are closer to midnight than in the film . . by almost halfway.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/doomsday-clock-is-bleaker-watchmen-969479

 

The Doomsday clock in the Watchmen film being set to 5 – midnight.

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The REAL Doomsday clock being set to 2.5 minutes to midnight.

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I know we’vehad months to adjust and anticipate the daunting prospect (or lack of)  a Trump presidency, but still  . .  . . there is just no expecting this.

 

If a comparison of a real life event something from one of the most depressing,apocalyptic violent, nihilistic stories ever written isn’t enough of a warning to society in these most postmodern of times. . Then perhaps we should give up!

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