Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#Valerian & The City of a Thousand Planets: Pretty but Loses the Plot #review #scifi

Summary from 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."

Warning: minor spoilers included. I'm going to start with the good points because sadly those won't take long...

What I liked
As expected, the visuals were glorious and detailed, and the action fairly nonstop. The start is a little slow but soon makes up for it and the information is important. The main alien race are definitely interesting and well fleshed out but a bit too Avatar-like. The hero and heroine take turns to rescue each other. The other alien races are interesting and intriguing, and I love the idea that our current ISS could expand to be so much more. There's a huge amount of fascinating tech and ideas including a multidimensional market place.

What I didn't like
The casting is appalling. From what I read pre-release Valerian and Laureline are meant to be older characters. Rather than trying to capture/cater to the YA crowd as they appear to have tried for, I think they would have done better with older and definitely more charismatic actors. Valerian looks like a 12yo who's missed several nights sleep and with the personality of one, and amazingly klutzy for a supposedly expert and experienced soldier, while Laureline flips from coldly efficient agent to ferociously jealous girlfriend in denial with annoyingly regular bouts of teenage eye-rolling in between at Valerian's adolescent behaviour. The reveal of the villain came as zero surprise, yet the general's supposed detective work failed to lead him to the commander's crime nor take precautions at the suspicious armed robots in tactical positions that refused to deactivate. The attempts at humour fall flat. The constant unnecessary diversions from the main plot to essentially sight-see some of the thousand planets plus the waste of Rihanna's character as a deus ex machina could/should have all been cut to improve the pace and stop distracting from the main plot. The cliche of the countdown being stopped at 0.01 isn't even the final spine-shattering straw, which goes to the excruciatingly painful, awkward, and unconvincing 'romance' crowbarred into the film which made me want too slap everyone involved. I'm embarrassed to call this a SFR. And one final thing: every time someone mentioned a thousand planets, all I could hear was Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy promising Ronan she would help him destroy a thousand planets if he killed her father, Thanos. O.o

In conclusion:
Despite all my criticisms, I didn't hate this film. I didn't even want to walk out on it unlike the dire disaster of Transformers: The Last Knight. It's saved by the almost constant action and glorious visuals, plus the main plot of a hidden war crime to keep this interesting. I just think Besson did a way better job with The Fifth Element and was trying too hard to make a Cameron/Avatar type film. That said, I would probably say it is worth seeing in all its visual glory at the cinema, though I'm glad we didn't opt for 3D as I was getting a touch of eyestrain just with the 2D version.
Should you go see it? I'm not sure I want to try convincing you to do so. I went in with fairly low expectations on plot but high on the visuals even without reading reviews. I'm not even sure about buying the DVD when it releases. I think I'm going to rate this 5 out of 10 because I'm kind of undecided with The Last Knight as my official 0.

Status Update
No progress on book stuff, but I had a job interview Friday (nerves over which somewhat took the shine off my birthday last Thursday) and...I got it! I'll now be working two six hour shifts at my local grocery store, giving me a bit extra cash while still allowing me to be there for my monsters, look after my chooks, and even work on my books.

Chook Update
The chicks are now just over a month old and about four times bigger than at hatching. They've pretty much lost their chick fluff and have adult feathers. Sadly we now know that five of them are cockerels, with just Splash (now officially named Flick) probably a hen. Even if we could keep a cockerel or two, we certainly couldn't keep all five. My eldest is particularly gutted by this development, but that's the reality of keeping pets and livestock.
The good news is hubs has given his blessing on getting more hatching eggs, and they might even have arrived by the time this post goes live. Fingers crossed for another successful hatch but more biased toward female babies!
Lemon, renamed Bee

Cuckoo

Bailey (formally Mot)

Splash, now renamed Flick

Miller

Lavender, now Penguin

Mama Effie with Penguin
Events
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Writing is a lot more than just Characters + Dialogue + Action = End. For genre writers especially, worldbuilding is a critical skill that will help you create a world that jumps off the page and into your reader’s mind.
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Where do you start?
Worldbuilding is one of the most intimidating aspects of the writing process, but it doesn’t have to be. In Why Worldbuilding (is the Secret Ingredient): The Complete Beginner’s Guide, Catherine Peace, author of books like Gemini—a science fiction romance featuring a universe built around giant cats, Chuck Norris facts, and aliens galore—will guide you on the journey from creating bland settings to vibrant, believable worlds for your characters and stories to inhabit.
Starting October 16, you'll get your chance to learn about one of the hardest and most rewarding parts of the writing process: Worldbuilding. Using examples from some of science fiction and fantasy's best known worlds, you'll gain the tools and insight you need to create your own.
Once you’ve gone through the course, you should be able to:
·         Understand worldbuilding’s importance and function in your story
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Over the five-week course, we’ll explore some of storytelling’s lushest worlds—from Westeros to Hogwarts with a few unexpected stops in-between—and break them down into easily digestible concepts you can use to beef up your stories and give them the punch that will set them apart. BAM!
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Not a writer? You can still get plenty out of Why Worldbuilding! LARPers and RPG enthusiasts alike can use the course to brush up on worldbuilding skills!
Course schedule
Each class is $30, or you can complete the set for $130
Week One – Intro to Worldbuilding: What is it? And why should I do it?
o   Covers:
October 16
§  What worldbuilding is and what it isn’t
§  Worldbuilding and your setting: Houston, I think we have a                    problem.

             October 18
§  Worldbuilding and your characters: Who am I and how did I get here?
§  Worldbuilding and your plot: What does this button do?

 October 20
§  Worldbuilding and your genre: We go together like....
§  Worldbuilding and your story: A mechanic without his tools is just a tool.

Week Two – The Basics: What you need to know and why you need to know it.
o   Covers:
October 23
§  Know your genre.
o   You can mix and match in a thousand different ways, but you need to understand what makes genres, genres.
§  Know your story.
o   Plotters will likely have most everything nailed down. Pantsers need to have a working knowledge of their story - some beginning, mushy middle, vague end. Your world affects it all.
October 25
§  Know your (character's) role in your plot.
o   Basic plots & how your genre shapes them and your characters.
                       October 27
§  Know your characters.
o   Whether you know enough to fill out a dating profile or volumes of biography, you should at least know 3 things: A name, a role, and a goal

Week Three – Playing God, pt 1: The Building Blocks of Civilization
o   Covers:
October 30
§  Family
o   The Family (or lack thereof) Unit
o    What do we eat? When do we eat? …Do we eat?
o    Where do I live?
o   Gender roles & Familial bonds
§  Love and Sex
o   Sex and sexuality
o    What is Love?

        November 1
§  Science, History, Religion
o   Science and advancement—is it even allowed?
o   How is history recorded?
o   Religion, mythology, philosophy, factions, and cults
o   Doctor, Doctor: your physician and you
o   Education: Who gets to learn stuff?
                               November 3
§  Culture at Large
o   Language! (Bonus: Hilarious profanity, colloquial sayings, blasphemy)
o    Transportation: Hoof it, drive it, fly (on) it? How do you get where you need to go?
o   Authorities and vagabonds: Who's in charge here? Should they be?
o   Power dynamics: Who has it and who wants it?
o   When Harry Hates Sally: cultural clashes (Bonus: How we wage war and why it matters)
o   Fashion: You’re wearing WHAT?
o   Currency and economic system: I need stuff, you have stuff, how do we trade?
o   What do I live in?: How architecture tells its own story

Week Four – Playing God, pt. 2: Constructing Your World
o   Covers
November 6
§  History lessons: you don't have to know it all, but you have to know enough to be dangerous.
November 8
§  How boned is your world?: Man’s inhumanity to man, nature, God, and you.
o        Radioactivity, weird-ass seasons, crazy weather? WE GOT IT ALL!
§  How hard does your world bite back?: The flora and fauna and beasties that make the world an interesting and dangerous and scary.
o        Here be Dragons, Magic Zombies, Strange Fruit, and more!
                            November 10
§  What in the actual world(s): Stuff. Thangs. What’s where, why, how?
o        Where you’re from and what it says about you
o        Culture, language, and tradition
o        Technology—Regardless of genre, technology is an important aspect of any society
o        Geography—Not just a category on Jeopardy!
o        Seats of Power
Week Five – Weaving the Tapestry: How does it all come together?
o   Covers
November 13
§  Avoiding the infodump: As you know, Bob, it’s a novel, not a history lesson.
                           November 15
§  How much does your reader actually need to know?

    November 17
§  Showing vs. Telling: AKA the reason the Song of Ice and Fire books are soooooooo loooooooooooooooooooong
Clever inclusions

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, I was afraid of that re: VALERIAN. I could tell just by seeing the previews that I would HATE the protagonists for the very reasons you describe. The powers that be--whether they be in the publishing world or the cinematic one--can't seem to get it through their heads that SF/SFR is for anyone but teenagers. The visual wonders promised by this film are just not enough to make me sit through the sophomoric antics of its hero and heroine. *sigh*

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  2. So sad about Valerian. It looked like it had such potential. I echo your thoughts on Hollywood thinking SFR is just for kids though. GRR!

    CONGRATS ON THE NEW JOB! That's awesome, Pippa! And I can so relate on how a case of nerves can ruin the fun at times.

    Glad to see the chix all get their own names. Miller isn't named for the character in The Expanse by any chance? LOL We're in the same boat with our babies. We can only keep the fillies, the colts have to be sold. (At least, so far.)

    The workshop sounds great but I'm up to my eyeballs with projects right now--writing and otherwise, and seriously behind on most--so I'll have to pass. Hoping to hit the workshops hard at RWA in Denver next year and then evaluate on where I need to sharpen my skills further.

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