Hypable Movie Review: ‘The Loneliest Planet’

2:00 pm EDT, November 2, 2012

There is a split second event, a single act that happens in the blink of an eye, that changes the whole dynamic of The Loneliest Planet. This moment is representative of the film as a whole: gorgeous to look at, but slow and maundering, if the gorgeous landscapes of the Caucasus Mountains doesn’t get you, the thoughtful, even powerful subtext will.

Written and directed by Julia Loktev from a short story by Tom Bissel, The Loneliest Planet struggles to reach feature length with the material. Following soon-to-be-married couple Alex (Gael García Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) on a pre-wedding backpacking trip through the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia, Loktev relies heavily on long, wondering shots within the beautiful landcapes to lengthen the film. This does grow rather tiresome, with little dialogue to be found in stretches, yet the film maintains something off-putting and chilling about the setting which manages to keep focus.

With the help of local guide Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze), the couple journey deep into the wilderness with nothing but each other and the elements for company. Director of Photography Inti Briones works wonders with the Georgian landscape, as the film often acts as a nature documentary during the film’s long stretches of silence. All three characters are likable and Dato has personality to spare, which Loktev relies on perhaps one too many times. These performances and characters are truly human, as their stories and conversation are both interesting and honest, and when the previously mentioned event occurs, the relationships between these three characters grows even more interesting.

The Loneliest Planet

While it’s a bit of a struggle to get to, the subtext of this event and really The Loneliest Planet as a whole is wonderful. While you may grow weary during, the haunting realizations these characters succumb to are staggering in retrospect. Loktev illustrates these subtexts with a quiet, yet jarring command, and the three characters buy into it fully.

While it definitely is not for everyone, The Loneliest Planet works marvelously for what it is. There is a quiet sense of power, sadness, and an eerie dread at play throughout the overly long running time. The filmmakers are asking a lot of the audience to sit through it, but the reward is an audacious, powerful film that is well worth the attention required. While it often is an exercise in patience, Loktev maintains an eerie tension to the proceedings that stays long after the credits roll.

Grade: B+

Rated: Unrated

The Loneliest Planet opens in limited release on November 2, 2012.

Veronica Roth’s upcoming science fiction novel is titled Carve the Mark, and hits store shelves on January 17, 2017.

An official website (complete with a countdown clock!) launched Thursday morning. It reveals the cover (above) and synopsis for Carve the Mark, which will apparently appeal to “fans of Star Wars and Divergent.”

The cover is interesting, as it appears to show cuts made in stone, with something like gold seeping out of the openings. “Honor has no place in survival,” the book’s tagline reads.

Here’s the full synopsis:

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive — no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Intriguing! I’m liking the sound of these currentgifts and their influence on this science fiction world.

Previous reports have described Carve the Mark as the first part in a duology, with part 2 getting a release in 2018.

This will be the first book published since Roth wrapped up the Divergent Series. Although Allegiant was released in 2013, a book with short stories about Four arrived the following summer.

You can pre-order Carve the Mark here. Do you think you’ll be reading it?

Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle may have only just crash-landed in a dumpster near you, but we’ve already got information on the second book!

According to his newly upgraded website (hey! us too!), the second book in Rick Riordan’s latest Greek mythology series will be released on May 2, 2017 and is titled The Dark Prophecy. That doesn’t sound ominous at all.

The synopsis reads, “Zeus has punished his son Apollo–god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered 16-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride.”

Riordan’s fancy new website has a cool feature where, as you scroll the page, the dotted yellow line is replaced by a solid red one, like you’re really seeing yourself exploring the world as you venture through his books. (Accurate.) The Hidden Oracle took place in New York City, but our map tells us Apollo will be venturing into the unknown for the second book. Or has that bit of information just not been set in stone yet? There was something about Indiana…and bananas.

The Trials of Apollo is already off to a fantastic start. Check back later for our review of The Hidden Oracle and other in-depth coverage.

What did you think of ‘The Hidden Oracle’?

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ originally opened with Luke Skywalker’s hand

The space ship giving the finger to the audience wasn't how The Force Awakens was meant to open at all.

8:53 am EDT, May 5, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens made us wait until the very end before they revealed Luke Skywalker. But that wasn’t always the plan, according to Mark Hamill.

The opening shot of The Force Awakens is pretty iconic, and (unintentionally?) hilarious: A giant space ship blocks out our view of a planet, and for a second, J.J. Abrams is almost definitely giving the audience the finger.

Star Wars opening

Perhaps that finger says, “Suck it nerdz, I’m gonna make you sit through this whole film before revealing Luke Skywalker!” Because, as it turns out, we almost saw a bit of him right at the very start of the film.

Mark Hamill, speaking to The Sun (via Collider), has revealed that the original opening shot was a teaser of sorts to the scene at Maz Kanata’s castle, in which Rey finds the lightsaber:

“I can tell you now that in the original opening shot of 7, the first thing that came into frame was a hand with a lightsaber, a severed hand that enters the atmosphere, and then the hand and bone burns away and goes sticking into the surface of Jakku, and this alien hand comes in, don’t know if it was Maz but it was an alien hand who takes the lightsaber way, and then the movie proceeds as you see it.”

So basically we were meant to believe that Luke’s hand fell from the Cloud City tower on Bespin in the Outer Rim Territories (where he battled Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back), into space, and somehow found its way to Jakku?

Gotta say, as cool of an image that would have been, it wouldn’t have made a lot of sense.

It does help to fill in some of the gaps about just how Luke’s original lightsaber came into Maz’s possession, however. How do you think she got her hands (too soon?) on it?

Would you have preferred ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ opening with Luke’s hand and the lightsaber?