Weekend Movies: Valerian or Dunkirk?

By Holly Hill @hollishillis

Valerian or Dunkirk? I had the opportunity to see both this week and if you’re still having trouble deciding I thought I’d give you a hand.

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I saw Dunkirk last Monday as part of an early screening group. I see a lot of movies based on Rotten Tomatoes reviews and on Monday Dunkirk had zero reviews and Valerian had 69% percent, which is still fresh. I was pretty excited to see both. I’m a big Cara Delevingne fan on and off camera, and I loved the previews for this massive sci-fi CGI film. As of Saturday, that rating dropped from 69% to 55%, but having already seen an early showing of Dunkirk I thought why not go see Valerian too, even if it’s not the best film, it should still be entertaining right?

And I was right. Valerian has its flaws but overall it entertains. The first ten minutes of the movie are weird and uninteresting, but there is a solid chunk of the movie from after that 10 minute mark and into the first hour of the film that you can see all of the potential Valerian had.

The full movie title for this film is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and it’s based off a comic book series called Valerian and Laureline. Truthfully, they should have stuck with the comic book title because the entire movie is really a backdrop for how Valerian wants Laureline to marry him and she won’t because he’s a player and can’t prove his love to her. Yawn. Parts of that story line are okay though. The two have some chemistry that flows well in the beginning but by the end of the movie it falls apart. The script is kind of a mess, but the visuals make up for it a tiny bit as does Delivine’s fantastic comedic timing. Sadly, some scenes seem to exist just so Delivine can have her hair done and an outfit change (I mean she looks great so no complaining here, but get back to the story, right?)

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The script is full of telling and not showing. It’s a MOVIE, right? So SHOW me the different parts of the City of a Thousand Planets, don’t have Alex the ships smart omniscient voice (yes Alex, I swear this movie is a giant advertisement for Amazon’s Alexa) tell me about it in a monotone fashion. SHOW me that Valerian cares about Laureline, because I just got told a bunch of times out loud by him that he cares about her. But I also got zero background on the two. How long have they been partners? what’s the backstory? Why do they care so fiercely about each other?

And at the end I’m left not even wanting the story to bother showing me because I’m over it anyway. Also, Rihanna shows up for no reason so there’s that. The theater was less than half full and besides the group of teens behind me who thought every part was hilarious and fun, no one else seemed to be that into it.

Overall it was an entertaining movie, but if I hadn’t seen Dunkirk earlier in the week I would have tossed Valerian aside for the 92% rating it pulled in by Friday.

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There hasn’t been a good war film in my mind, since Fury so I was really excited for this one to come out. Director Christopher Nolan has pulled together a great cast with some notable names such as Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy (swoon), Cillian Murphy (swoon again), and Harry Styles (swoon, if you’re into that sort of thing). The movie takes place over a series of a day or two on the shores and the channel of Dover, England and Dunkirk France. Nolan splits the film into three parts. The Mole (essentially the shore and loading dock of Dunkirk), the sea and the air.

The film has very little dialogue and a kick ass fucking score, which builds all the suspense in the world. Get ready to jump every time a bullet or torpedo is fired. You’ll be so far on the edge of your seat by the time the action gets going, you’ll forget that nearly no words have been uttered so far.

Nolan has created fictional characters for this movies so if you’re a history buff like me, you’ll be slightly appointed that you can’t Google the characters name afterwards and find out how much of that actually  happened. Honestly though the whole thing is so damn entertaining you won’t really care all that much afterwards.

Nolan has apparently been working on this script for over a decade. He insisted that a lot of the sets be built rather than CGI created (a far cry from our previous talked about film) and you can really tell the actor’s are able to get into it because the world around them feels so real.

In the end, it depends on what type of movie you like. War or Sci-Fi? Suspense or Comedy? I liked them both, but I would have probably waited for Valerian to stream rather than seeing it in theaters if I hadn’t had the early screening of Dunkirk. The biggest disappointment of Valerian is the glimpse of the potential it had being squandered and the biggest disappointment for Dunkirk is that Tom Hardy’s face is covered for nearly the entire movie. Here’s a bit where it isn’t. Enjoy.

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