July 21, 2017: Valerian, Big Screen Eye-Candy for Fans of Science Fiction Comics

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A Brief History

On July 21, 2017, the major motion picture, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, makes its debut in theaters for fans of the European science fiction comic series Valerian and Laureline.  Although based on the Franco-Belgian comics, the film is entertaining enough that people totally unfamiliar with the comics will quickly identify with the main characters and enjoy the movie.

Digging Deeper

The main two words you can say about the film (which we previewed on July 19, 2017) are simply “Eye Candy.”  Vivid and detailed, the screen is almost always filled with an incredible array of objects and “people,” many of which are alien.  Using relentless action, the audience keeps their attention raptly focused on the screen, pauses in action never lasting long enough to get boring.

Set in the distant future when humans and a wide variety of aliens have perfected space travel and are living in (sort of) harmony as an intergalactic community, Valerian and Laureline, the main characters, are a couple of youngish government (Major and Sergeant, respectively) operatives out to solve crimes and preserve order, and do so using fantastic futuristic electronic devices and at time crude weapons such as swords and spears.

The film has interconnected back stories that revolve around the destruction of an alien planet peopled with benign gentle beings (can you say “Navi?”) by callous and indifferent humans, and the attempt by the hero and heroine to save these beings from further annihilation.

Along the way are some scary and some funny aliens, think a combination of Avatar, Star WarsGuardians of the Galaxy and The Fifth Element.  (In fact, the creator of Valerian is Luc Bresson, the man behind The Fifth Element.)  Despite lots of killing, some of it graphic, there is comedy and some light-hearted banter thrown in.  (Nothing as bad as Jar Jar Binks or the Chris Tucker character from The Fifth Element!)

The main characters are a young, attractive couple with sexual tension bonding them, and an old looking Clive Owen plays a major Space General.  Rutger Hauer and Ethan Hawke have smaller roles, while Herbie Hancock provides another familiar name to the cast. The ever slinky and sexy Rihanna has a larger role in the second half of the film as a shape shifting alien, and treats the audience to a PG version of a clothed pole dance routine.  The title character is played by Dane DeHaan, 31 years old, but seeming younger. A 24 year old Clara Delevingne plays Laureline, though as a blonde instead of the redhead that appears in the comics.

With a budget of 197 million Euros, the film did not scrimp on special effects and spectacular vistas and it shows in the finished product.  Critics have called the plot “formulaic,” but we found the plot to serve the story just fine, and highly recommend the film to adults and kids alike, especially teens.

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JCU Paranormal Research Group

The John Carroll Paranormal Research Group is a student organization that seeks to find out more about the paranormal while being academically intent and focusing on establishing credibility. Founded in the Fall of 2013 by Eugene Claridge and Raymond Camma, the BooStreaks have held many informative meetings that have included guest speakers, such as Dr. Judith Cetina and Bill Kreji, who appeared on Ghost Hunters in 2009. The group has worked with the Ohio P.I.R.A.T.E.S., a paranormal team out of Akron, Ohio, to learn some of their methods and to hear about their work. The Paranormal Research Group has conducted investigations in the following locations: the Cleveland Agora Theatre, the Ohio State Reformatory, the Russell Rhodes Mansion (a.k.a. the Cuyahoga County Archives), and the Sandy Chanty Seafood Restaurant. John Carroll University has recognized the group both in the Carroll News and most importantly, as the "Outstanding Organization of the Year." Not only has the group been able to explore the paranormal subject and investigated historically important locations in Ohio, but members had the fortunate opportunity to see advance screenings of major motion pictures that feature the paranormal, particularly The Quiet Ones (2013). After one academic year, group membership has risen to about eighty members, who seek further journeys this upcoming year. Please check out our Facebook and Twitter pages!