Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

valerian and the city of a thousand planets

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Dan DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Sam Spruell, Kris Wu, John Goodman, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. – IMDB

Adapted from a French comic series titled Valerian and Laureline, Luc Besson’s latest piece takes us on a sci-fi adventure to Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets where we follow the adventures of two young agents and partners, Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline. Luc Besson heading back to a sci-fi premise and seemingly calling back to The Fifth Element days is an endearing thought. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a visually stunning adventure full of new aliens and characters to discover, perhaps more so for those that have not read the source material. While filled with great performances what does let  down the overall experience is the story itself being adventurous and fun but slightly predictable.

The performances here focus mostly on Cara Delevingne’s Laureline and Dan DeHaan’s Valerian. As a team, they work together well and while on missions, there is a friction and conflict they have as Laureline fights for her recognition and importance. While some of their dialogue feels cheesy and oddly out of place, they have a certain chemistry that helps in certain ways. It adds in some laughs here and there and their bickering while overused in movies does help ease in some relaxing moments between the action. There are some bigger names here as well such as Clive Owen as the Commander who gets taken by an alien race that was deemed to have been destroyed. While not a huge role, he excelled at commanding his scene. What is also a nice face to see here is Kris Wu, a young actor that appeared earlier this year in XXX:The Return of Xander Cage, who gives a good performance while in a supporting role as well. Aside from that, Ethan Hawke has a cameo role that draws similarities to Jack Sparrow’s free spirit and this leads to Rihanna who is really showing off as a performer more than she is an actress as she dazzles us with a beautiful on-stage transformational dance which is followed shortly after with an emotional scene that falls short from its intentions.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets does lack depth in its story. Perhaps the length of over two hours did more harm than good, as there was a certain level of suspense in the beginning however, the ending became increasingly predictable. What does make this flick worth your time is how Luc Besson brings this world to life in every single way. The City of a Thousand Planets is fascinating to discover at every corner and the effects are done incredibly well. While some may complain about the drawback of having too much CGI, this is a strength in creating this fictional fantasy world. The action and technology here makes those moments feel like we are immersed in great adventures as Valerian and Laureline go on their own mission. It almost feels like we are in a video game. The best example is when Valerian’s gun can shoot platforms as he vaults through a gap with all these fantastical creatures that are both beautiful and dangerous simultaneously.

Overall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has its flaws. It is meant to be a popcorn flick that will dazzle its audience visually with its beautiful and mesmerizing world along with its action-packed sequences. There is no doubt that this one has decent cast that delivers even with a story that lacks depth however it is a fun and entertaining flick.

10 thoughts on “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

    • Thanks Keith. Its just my type of movie also because I’ve been at Fantasia and it slotted well as a fun movie and not one where I had to think so much. Plus I felt more forgiving because I feel maybe a lot of choices here came from adapting a comic and I wonder if the storyline’s lack of depth had to do with that. Either way, I will pick up the comic to see what that looks and reads like.

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  1. It seems really difficult for movie-makers to find that balance between making a Sci-Fi look impressive, and making the story itself impressive. I haven’t seen Valerian yet but your thoughts almost mirror how I felt about Jupiter Ascending!

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    • I personally enjoyed Jupiter Ascending. Never wanted to see it again nor do I own it but then the story isn’t exactly memorable nor is the villain. Haha! Just remember Mila Kunis’s really pretty dress?
      As for Valerian, it looks impressive and while the story isn’t great, its still more substantial than Jupiter. At least I thought so but it seems I’m in the minority.

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      • I remember something about bees, and Eddie Redmayne’s raspy voice, haha!
        I haven’t read too many reviews on Valerian but the ones I have felt similar to yours, that it was an okay movie but nothing worth raving about! I might still give it a watch when it comes out on DVD 🙂

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      • I actually really liked Valerian a lot despite its flaws. Its visuals are worth the theatre visit but it all depends what you are looking for. If you’d like a better storyline, then for sure, its a DVD watch 🙂 There are definitely movies I regretted watching in theatres and this one isn’t one of them surprisingly. But then I tend to be in the minority for everything so not really a surprise. 😉

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  2. So nice to FINALLY find another critic who actually liked this movie! I thought the visuals were so outstanding that it overshadows the film’s other flaws (yeah, the acting and runtime are issues, I can’t argue with that). Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for finding me. Its nice to hear some positive. I agree completely about the visuals. I’m not a fan of Dan Dehaan and Cara Delevingne to begin with so they did fine for me. Its a fun movie and that is all what can ask for. 🙂

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