I made an assumption that turned out to be very wrong: that Shobhit would enjoy seeing Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets with me. It's a special effects extravaganza with clearly intentional similarities to The Fifth Element, both of which were directed by Luc Besson, exactly twenty years apart. I always loved The Fifth Element, so presumably Valerian would be fun even if it's not good, right?
Wrong. The key difference is that The Fifth Element featured actual movie stars with proven track records of attracting audiences: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, even Luke Perry. Chris Tucker was hilarious in it. Even more importantly, even though its script was just as preposterous, it still had a genuinely amusing take on how the people living in this far-future world interacted with that world. Valerian has none of these things, and cast total unknowns in the lead roles. Also, they're far too young -- or at least they look like it (the guy is actually over thirty) -- especially to be believable as a Major and a Sergeant.
The special effects are the only good thing about this movie. I won't say the movie bored me per se, although the entirety of its plot is overtly derivative and certainly a second viewing would bore me -- but it sure did Shobhit. He even leaned over less than halfway through the movie and said, "This movie is boring." That actually surprised me. He regularly watches movies at least this bad, or worse, at home. So his response, I kind of don't get. Except that he also made the point, when it was over, that it was badly cast.
I did find myself thinking that watching Valerian was in a lot of ways like watching George Lucas's Star Wars prequels: top-heavy with CGI effects and bogged down by wooden performances from largely disengaged actors, in an overall pale imitation of a world once presented by a visionary director now just recycling his own ideas. That's pretty good, actually -- I should have included that sentence in my review. Oh well.
Shobhit usually assumes I will give a movie a slightly higher grade than I actually will. This time he was lower: "C-minus, or D-plus?" I gave it a C+, because as I have stated many times, I believe in acknowledging a film's redeeming qualities, even if they are few. And this movie had very good special effects and decent editing, which raises the average. Everything else about it was definitively average or below average, but not awful, as Shobhit put it. I've seen way too any awful movies to put this in the same category. Even Luc Besson's previous film, which was worse than this (it had an unbearable amount of pretention on its concept), I gave a solid C. With Valerian, I already knew it got pretty evenly mixed reviews (its MetaScore is 51), but the critics who liked it seemed to like it a lot. I guess I should have read more of the critics who hated it.
There are plenty of much worse movies playing in theatres even right now. You don't see me writing reviews for those because why should I waste my time on movies I already know are going to be terrible, when this is a hobby and not something I get paid for? Fuck that noise! Sometimes, though, a movie is indeed worse than I expected. Valerian, which I assumed I'd be giving a B-minus at worst, is one of those movies.
It gave Shobhit and me something to do together, I guess.
Shobhit keeps wanting to bus back home after walking downtown. He doesn't get near as much exercise as I do these days, his work shifts keeping him on his feet all day notwithstanding. That doesn't exactly count as exercise, but I can grant how it can be exhausting. I had my bike with me, though, and had locked it up outside the theatre. I assumed we'd just walk home together and I'd walk alongside my bike.
He tried to convince me to ride the bus with him and just put my bike on the bus's rack. I couldn't stomach that -- I like getting the exercise from cycling, and busing a single mile when I have my bike right there with me seems genuinely stupid. A bus was coming to the stop in three minutes and I told him it was fine if he wanted to bus and I would just ride. I let him use my Orca Card so he wouldn't have to spend money on fare.
The bus didn't even overtake me until I reached 12th Avenue on my bike, two and a half blocks from home. By the time Shobhit reached the building after getting off at the stop half a block further up on Pine, I was arriving at the same time. "Clearly I wouldn't have saved any time" had I ridden the bus, I said; Shobhit agreed. He even noted that I would have delayed the bus slightly with the loading and unloading of my bike, which was true.
I ate a little bit of the quick dinner of tortillas and Indian meal packets that Shobhit made, and then wrote my review.