OldKingClancy posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: about 1 month ago

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets


Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman
Studio: EuropaCorp
Genre: Science-Fiction
Official Site: EuropaCorp
Plot: And The Script Of A Thousand Cliches


I’ve seen worse films this year than Valerian & The City Of A Thousand Planets, but there’s few that waste as much potential as it, what could’ve been a colourful, fun, imaginative sci-fi flick is bogged down by bad writing, an inconsistent tone and an overuse of Rihanna.

By which I mean using Rihanna at all.

Set in the 28th Century, the space city of Alpha – formally the International Space Station that became the greeting point between humans and aliens – drifts in the cosmos housing billions of species and cultures, all living in relative harmony. To keep the peace stable a group of special agents – who all seem to be human for some reason – are put in place with Major Valerian and his partner Sergeant Laureline being two of the best. After retrieving a near-extinct creature known as a Mul Converter, Valerian and Laureline return to Alpha where Commander Arun Filitt informs them that there is a growing source of Radioactivity in the heart of Alpha that threatens to destroy the whole city and that a previously unknown species is behind it and wants the Mul Converter for themselves. After the Species attacks and kidnaps the Commander, Valerian and Laureline follow any clue they can to save the Commander, find out what this Species wants and why Valerian has been having dreams about them.

That right there has some great potential for fun sci-fi, a rescue mission at its heart with some world-building and history to beef it up, and truth be told where it goes in regards to humanity’s place in the galaxy and the cost of war is interesting... But it should not take nearly two and a half hours to tell this story, so much of this film is superfluous bullshit that I was taking note of any scene that came off like a waste of time and I honestly think this could’ve been trimmed at least a good half hour if not more, just make the film that much tighter and more enjoyable, rather than wasting five minutes of a fucking Rihanna burlesque show.

The biggest problem the film had was its characters, the supporting cast weren’t all that terrible but they weren’t all that great either, ranging from an enjoyably overacting Ethan Hawke as a piano-playing pimp to a stuck-out-like-a-sore-thumb Rihanna as a shape-shifting alien that added nothing to the story but stupid ‘bad-girl’ trash-talk. Clive Owen as Filitt was decent if only for the fact that it’s Clive Owen being the bad guy. Not a spoiler, they reveal that right out of the gate.

Where the film falls flat is sadly in it’s leads, particularly Valerian which considering his name is in the fucking title of the movie, isn’t a good sign. Both characters suffered from inconsistent writing that couldn’t decide what it wanted both character to be, either separately or together with Valerian wanting Laureline to marry him and Laureline giving no fucking hint that they are actually in a relationship, she brushes him off so many times that I spent way too long wondering if they were actually together or not... and I still don’t know.

Valerian’s main issue is sadly Dane Dehaan playing him, I like Dehaan but he’s at his best playing tortured anti-heroes or smarmy assholes, Valerian is an asshole but he’s suppose to be a charming one, a Han Solo type rogue who kills and fucks his way through the galaxy, Dehaan does not have the charisma to pull off that type of role and feels uncomfortable and kinda dickish trying to pull it off. It didn’t help that Valerian jumped between being a rule-breaking rogue and a procedure following agent with little to no build-up but by that pint I’d already tuned out from Valerian due to him being an asshole, and not the good kind.

To her credit, Cara Delevingne comes off slightly better, she’s still badly miscast with the film trying to make Laureline a by-the-books Ivy League graduate but Cara’s natural snarkiness comes shining and makes her more of the rogue that Valerian should’ve been. Still, Cara does have a more natural charisma that made Laureline a better character to watch and I found myself liking her more for Cara’s performance than as an actual character. Neither character is great but Laureline is a bit more bearable.

In all honesty it is a shame that the writing is poor because Luc Besson back in Fifth Element mode should’ve been a lot more fun, and just imagination wise this film is spectacular. I know it’s based on a comic series so Besson is just bringing page to the screen but not having read the comics, seeing the world of Alpha and just how big and expansive and unique it is with every district and species. There is a fantastic setting here and I feel almost bad that we’ll likely never see the world of Alpha again cause I think a cop show in this setting would go down quite well, allowing more of the world to shine through and expand upon what we’ve already seen. Admittedly I would’ve liked to have seen more practical effect but the cleanness of the CGI worked for selling this pristine version of the future.

As imaginative as the world is Besson does fail on the key level of making the film fun, this could be a by-product of the overlong running time or the badly written characters but for as inventive as Besson got with the action scenes I couldn’t get into them and I think he sort of let go as well. The first few as decent with a desert chase on an armoured school-bus kicking things off early followed by a run literally through the city which seamlessly goes into a space-ship chase, all within the first hour, but after that we have Valerian vs Monsters in a sword fight and Valerian vs Robots in a gun-fight, neither very interesting or even that much fun to be worth bringing up, the tone here gets way too serious for a film set in the nexus of the cultural universe.

I really don’t have a lot to offer on Valerian & The City Of A Thousand Planets, it’s world-building is most of what is has going for it and worth seeing just to have one of the best realised cinematic worlds brought to life. But it fails to engage the story but adding too much fluff and fails to invest us in the characters but making them dull, inconsistent and miscast. Probably not even worth seeing for the world building but sci-fi fans might find something on interest in seeing a new universe on screen.



Other reviews of this film: Moviefreak2010 (10/10) , MonsterZeroNJ (6/10) > Display all

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