I’ll defend Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to the end of my days, which isn’t hard because nobody actually saw the movie to be able to criticize it.
The movie has some of the most inventive and visually interesting action sequences this side of Mad Max Fury Road, and the art direction is something else. Also, while everyone thinks Dane Dehaan was a poor choice for a leading man, that’s just because they wanted Valerian to be some generic Han Solo ripoff instead of accepting him for the skeevy scummy horndog he was meant to be. The second half is a lot quieter and maybe less interesting than the first half, but it’s got a fantastic not-actually-action-packed climax and a resolution that’s shockingly heartfelt as much as its political undertones are bitingly cynical.
But I’m not here to talk about the movie as a whole, except that oops I already did. I’m here to talk about the opening.
The Nice Guys is one of my all-time favorite movies. As of this writing, I’ve seen the movie ten times, and it’s #9 in my Favorite Movies ranking. Shane Black’s absolutely superb screenplay that matches a convoluted detective conspiracy with meditations on masculinity and loneliness is a thing of wonders, inspiring me enough with my web novel ATL: Stories from the Retrofuture that I just had to insert a couple of sly homages here and there.
But my secret dishonor in all of this is that I did not see the movie in theaters in its original release.
Today is my birthday, so I wanted to reflect on a movie that is so dear to me that I watch it almost every year on my birthday to celebrate.
My seventh-favorite movie, as of this writing, is none other than 2013’s Pacific Rim. I first learned about it when making this article for my high school blog, only knowing that it was some strange new movie by the director of Pan’s Labyrinth about mechas fighting kaijus. I was instantly sold by that alone, and set my calendar to watch.
Then, seven months later I saw it in IMAX and it became an instant classic. Save for the fact that I have loved Star Wars since before I could form complete sentences, Pacific Rim in every way is “my” Star Wars, the movie that captured my heart and imagination in a way almost no movie before or sense has managed to do. I saw this four times in theaters, which is more than any other recent movie in an age where ticket prices are so high.
It’s a pretty lofty claim to say that any movie is so good that it’s on the same inspiration level as Star Wars. Why the heck did this move me so much?