⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for violence, torture, brief sensuality and profanity. In subtitled German.
Ostensibly, the German historical drama “13 Minutes” is about an attempt to plant a bomb to kill Adolf Hitler, an effort that failed when Hitler left the building the titular 13 minutes before the bomb was set to go off. But it is less a white-knuckle drama about the nuts and bolts of a failed political assassination than it is a psychological portrait of resistance.
At the center of this case study is Georg Elser (Christian Friedel). The film burrows deeply inside his psyche, tracing his love life, his family background and his gradual conversion from an apolitical musician and carpenter to a monomaniacal would-be assassin. Friedel’s performance is top-notch, but too much of the film dwells on Elser’s relationship with Elsa (Katharina Schüttler), his former fiancée and the abused ex-wife of a drunken lout (Rüdiger Klink). These passages add emotional texture to the tale, but little suspense.
Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence, suggestive material, profanity.
Based on a long-running series of French comic books, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” begins with promise: a centuries-spanning montage and a surreal, oddly beautiful scene on the planet Mul, where an androgynous-looking species exists in loving, peaceful harmony with nature — until a nearby war literally crash-lands on the beach. But for the remaining two-plus hours, the movie is an excruciatingly repetitive, sparsely plotted, slow-witted, weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird bomb.
Dane DeHaan plays Valerian, a rebellious and reckless rogue agent with the United Human Federation (humans being just one of hundreds of species coexisting in the vast universe). Model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne is his partner, Laureline, a feisty and capable but more conventional operative. The Human Federation’s commander (Clive Owen) sends them on a vital mission involving Melo, a cute, little multicolored CGI creature that is the only surviving being from the long-extinct Planet Mul.
Not that any of that matters because the plot is paper-thin. The acting isn’t much better. DeHaan and Delevingne are wooden. And let’s not forget Rihanna, whose performance can’t be saved even when she is disguised in a variety of shape-shifting CGI personas.
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times