Reviews Have Begun To Drop For Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

Reviews have begun to drop for Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and while it’s early days yet, let’s just say they haven’t been charitable.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy was particularly tough on Besson’s latest effort, saying, ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets really is that bad, bad enough you don’t know for longest time that Valerian is one of the lead characters and not a planet or a spaceship.’

Ouch.

Steve Pond  of The Wrap was slightly more charitable, saying ‘(Luc) Besson takes all that fun and color, along with a wild array of fantastic creatures, and deploys (them) in service of a big, dopey story that remains resolutely uninvolving and quite often annoying.’

Now, as I said earlier, it’s early days yet and a few mediocre reviews aren’t likely enough to torpedo Valerian’s chances at the domestic box office (after all, it’s taken five movies before many moviegoers in the United States noticed that the Transformers movies are really, really bad).

Though I get the feeling at that we’re not going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming-type box office when the movie goes into wide release.

Sony’s Bug Problem


And while spiders are arachnids, not bugs, bear with me and all come clear.

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes its North American debut today, and some pundits believe that it will ensnare an opening somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.  If this bears out it would make the movie the fourth of 2017–joining Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman–to reach that milestone.

Though–at least at the moment–Sony only plans to work with Marvel Studios on Homecoming and its sequel, and that’s problematic not only for that reason, but because they’re also planning movies based on Venom, Silver Sable and the Black Cat, all outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known as the MCU).

This is a terrible idea because one of the reasons Spider-Man: Honecoming is projected to do as well as it is is because Spider-Man is returning to the MCU, which people are interested in seeing, while Sony’s upcoming movies will likely not have this version of Spider-Man, if any at all.

As I said, it’s a problem because you’re not only taking away the context that Venom currently exists in–which is the MCU–you’re potentially taking away the reason Venom himself exists (the symbiont originally chose to bond with Spider-Man.  Only when it was rejected by him did it turn its attentions to Eddie Brock).

So Venom (as well as Silver Sable, Black Cat and whichever other Spiderverse characters they intend to use) existing outside the MCU is problematic.

Though without Spider-Man?

That’s more than a problem; that’s a disaster for Sony.  For Marvel?

Not so much, especially when you take into account that while they never actually needed Spider-Man he’s back (albeit temporarily) and the MCU version has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming and with three movies on the way (Avengers: Infinity War, an untitled Avengers movie as well as a sequel to Homecoming).

If Sony were smart–or smarter, after all they did have the foresight to cut this deal with Marvel Studios–they would ensure that the Spiderverse remain in the MCU with a deal a similar to that that they reached with Spider-Man (which would probably have Marvel Studios getting a cut of the box office, perhaps in exchange for contributing to the costs of production).

It’s certainly worth a thought.

New Inhumans Poster

On the left is the latest poster for Marvel Television/ABC’s upcoming series The Inhumans, and it’s…okay.

It does have a sense of drama (though Medusa’s hair continues to look terrible, mainly because if lacks the voluptuousness that it typically has in the comics, rendering it flat and lifeless).

That being said, I admit that the production has me–based on the admittedly limited information I possess–a bit concerned.

First off, Scott Buck (Dexter, Iron Fist) is the showrunner and while the latter series was much better than most critics have given it credit for, it also wasn’t as engaging as any of the other Marvel/Netflix series so far introduced (and felt to me like Buck knew little about the source material).

Another potential issue is one I’ve touched on before, which is how the characters (and in particular their costumes) look.

And trust me, I get why the producers likely chose to change how Black Bolt looked from the comics: while movies lately ar making these characters more comic-accurate I am not entirely sure that it would work as he’s traditionally pictured.

After all, he’s the king of his people, though nothing about his current costume says ‘royalty’ (though that’s perhaps not not quite fair, though it would need to be relayed to the audience somehow).

In fact, it just looks like–to someone who unfamiliar with him or doesn’t follow the comics–like any other superhero.

And that’s not a good thing when you have so much running on a series.

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets – ‘Space Is MAGIC’ – Trailer

Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.

The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s  based on.

If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d  bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:

  • Spectacle

Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar.  Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.

Promise a visual experience like no other.  And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.

  • Competition

Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.

How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against.   It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).

Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.

Wonder Woman Looks to Smash Expectations   

Patty Jenkins’ upcoming Wonder Woman feature has a quality that’s shared with no other recent movie bearing the DC logo (and it’s not an opening projection that’s projected somewhere in the ballpark of $175 million worldwide).

The quality in question is its  Rotten Tomatoes score.

According to the aggregator the movie has amassed a 97 percent ‘Fresh‘ rating, which is HUGE because it tells you that the critics that have seen he movie so far like it.

And speaking of critics, keep in mind that as of the writing of this article that percentage was made up of only  66 reviews, so that number is likely to go down, though it shouldn’t be a huge percentage.

Which means that not only will Wonder Woman receive better reviews than either Man Of Steel, Suicide Squad or Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it’s quite likely that it will be the most profitable movie based on a female superhero ever.

At least till Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel arrives on he scene.

‘Guardians’’ Box Office Is Out Of This World!

Marvel Studios’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 has–so far–earned over $425 million worldwide!  The likelihood is high that the it will surpass half a billion by this week, and will more than likely finish its theatrical run over a billion dollars.

It’s worth mentioning that the first movie at the end of its run earned a bit over $773 million, though the sequel is outperforming it handily both domestically and abroad.

Though with Alien: Covenant coming out in 10 days the xenomorphs are looking to to take a bite out Guardians’ box office aspirations, which truth be told is unlikely because Alien: Covenant is R-rated, while Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 is PG-13, which means that not only are each geared to a different audience age-wise, but also viewer-wise.

Alien: Covenant will likely skew male, while Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 will not only draw males, but a greater percentage of women, and children (the latter of which should not be watching the Alien movie at all).

Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2

I caught James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 last Saturday and what I found so impressive overall was the way Gunn managed so many stories and plot threats in a way that was not only cohesive, but made sense.

Because–and trust me on this–there are so many ways Guardians  could have easily collapsed under it’s own weight.

But it never does.

What’s almost equally impressive is the way everyone gets their own arc, without the movie feeling bloated or over-stuffed.

And Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 is so gorgeous, as if it’s not only not afraid to admit that the worlds depicted first appeared in comic books, but is proud of it.

And there’s not a cynical bone in the movie’s body, which is why when you see Baby Groot and Rocket you just go with it.

Because you know–on a level conscious or not–that Gunn believes in these characters as much, if not more, than you do.