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Quick Take: Dunkirk of a Thousand Planets

Look. Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite directors working today (if not my favorite and most trusted.) I've loved pretty much everything he's done (though I did feel a tinge of disappointment with The Dark Knight Rises that I did feel better after a second viewing.) When I heard he was doing a World War II film I was really excited to see what he brought to the table. So excited that I even went to a preview screening of this film the day before my wedding. Perhaps this viewing circumstance was a mistake as the film had to compete with a million other things going on in my head, as well as with incredibly high expectations. With that in mind, I couldn't help but leave Dunkirk feeling pretty disappointed and having expected more from my favorite filmmaker. Dunkirk is an amazing visual experience and a film that puts you in the place of these men. It's a tale of survival first and foremost, and in that avenue it's told well. I just wanted a little more heart and some characters I could love and cling to. That's not what Christopher Nolan was envisioning in the way he told his story and I get that, but I still felt like something was missing. RATING: 8/10

Unlike Dunkirk, I didn't have any expectations as to the quality of Valerian other than that the film probably contained impressive visuals. The film got incredibly mixed reviews, and so I went into it pretty open minded. I discovered that the film it's easiest to compare to is Avatar, a film I passionately hate (before it was cool to hate I might add.) So it might be a surprise to reveal that I actually quite enjoyed watching Valerian (though admittedly I fell asleep a couple times, but that was due to a late night showing coupled with comfy recliner seats.) This film really shows me that expectations and hype really are everything. Unlike Avatar, I didn't have a bunch of people hyping up this film and selling it as the next end all be all, though I did see a select few praise it. Like Avatar, it does a fantastic job of world building: the movie presents us with a galaxy that is incredibly creative and the kind you delight in visiting. Also similar to Avatar, the detail in world building comes at the cost of the story, characters, and plot structure. In this case I was bothered much less, mostly because no one was acting like this film was perfect. RATING: 7/10

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