Ard's Dozen Of Musings About 2017

Contributing Editor; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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This is the fourth time I'm doing a "musings" article (after 2014, 2015 and 2016) and... well, I really like this format. rather than doing a strict top-10, this allows me to speak about anything, really... as long as it's film-related.

And boy, was 2017 a weird year. Outside of films, politics got scary in (or for) many countries, and following the news was a depressing affair. At the same time personal fortune hit my family, with both me and my wife moving on to better jobs, while nobody got into any serious medical crises. If we have a guardian angel I hope we haven't worked it to death...

And inside of films? James Marsh' excellent round-up of all our personal favorites here at Screen Anarchy was published earlier this week, and looking behind the scenes at all the Top-10 lists I was, as always, dismayed at all the titles I wanted to have seen at this point but hadn't somehow found the time for. I can't believe I still have to catch mother! and Dunkirk. Grrrr.

I didn't miss everything though, so this is my list of films and events which struck me in 2017. Browse through them (they're in no particular order...), and feel free to discuss!

After 40 years I got my Valerian movie, only without a Valerian...

You can safely state that I'm a Valerian fan, as I have been reading the graphic novels since I was eight. I grew up with Valerian, starting with the silly exciting space-time adventures as a kid, the exotic artsy philosophy as an adolescent, and the bizarre and the erotic traincrash it became as I was a student. Warts and all, the series has been a huge influence on popular science fiction worldwide, and I was delighted when Luc Besson gathered the team of the graphic novels to be designers for his Valerian-esque The Fifth Element.

So was I stoked when I heard he was going to make a true Valerian film, with a huge budget? Oh HELL yes!!

Upon arrival though, that film turned out to be a strange beast indeed. It looked sumptuous, had a kick-ass beginning, and Besson had absolutely nailed the universe. Thing is, the graphic novels were SO influential, for non-fans it made it seem as if Besson had been ripping off all sorts of films, from Star Wars to Avatar, instead of the other way round.

What was worse though was Besson's interpretation of the lead characters. An earlier animated adaptation for French television had already changed the Valerian character a bit, but the film took this a lot further, making him weirdly incompetent, juvenile and insufferable. And having an unlikable hero meant that the plot, itself an uneasy meld of several graphic novels, was hard to sit through. Pretty pictures though...

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