• Guy Jeffries

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review


Director: Luc Besson.

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer, Sasha Luss, Elizabeth Debicki, John Goodman.

Luc Besson hits the big screen, and in the biggest, most expensive way. It's the most expensive French film to date, and it does show, choosing to film in English so to reach the global audience. Though Besson hasn't had that much a of a good run lately and viewers who are familiar with the 90's Besson, might expect more, or expect less due to his most recent film, Lucy. Myself being a massive fan of the earlier Besson with films like The Big Blue, Léon and of course, The Fifth Element I was hopeful going into this.

The story is based on the French comic book series, Valérian and Laureline written by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières that was first published way back in 1967 (yup, it's the 50th anniversary) and remains to be one of the most successful comic book series in France possibly ranking next to Tin Tin and Asterix.

Besson is obviously a fan, as it was also an influence of his epic Sci-Fi, The Fifth Element. There's actually more than a few nods to Fifth Element throughout Valerian and you could be mistakenly thinking they're both share the universe as the style, fashion and setting are all very similar.

Sadly, I've never read the comics but what I've researched is that Valérian is a typical hero, daring, good and strong yet carries out the task at hand, even if he doesn't really agrees with it. Whereas Laureline, his beautiful, intelligent and stubbornness partner influences him to do what's right. I think they've captured this quite right, keeping the personalities of the key characters on point. They're both policing, peace-keeping agents of an intergalactic agency that bring justice to the galaxy, being set far into the future where countless of alien species thrive together.

The film opens so well and has a good soundtrack, though Alexandre Desplat does the score making me wonder where Besson's regular composer, Éric Serra has gone. There's a nice use of other French directors and writers, people who have worked with Besson over the years, like Transporter's director Louis Leterrier and Taken 2,3 director, Oliver Megaton. Films produced by Besson.

DeHaan might not look like you're average, classic hero but he seems to fit the bill here and Delevingne is both amazing and stunningly beautiful. She's fast becoming one of my favourite people of Hollywood and you can read more of why here.

They compliment each other very well, which makes the title possibly a little misleading, making Valerian the main character as oppose to, in truth, and honouring the source material, the pair of them are equal stars of the story. Though, thinking about it, finding an alternative title is hard. Valerian & Laureline & The City of a Thousand Planets? Valerian & Laureline? I gave up pretty quick.

A lot of people who haven't seen the film ask about Rihanna's performance. And whilst it isn't her big screen debut, she does good enough but her character isn't present enough for us to really feel anything. Owen was another actor I had been wondering about, who seemed to disappear after having a good run of films. And here he is. Though again, the rush to get everything in seems to push pass any emotional content, leaving some of the supporting cast feel like cardboard cutouts.

The famed Weta Digital and ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) produced some amazing visuals. The special effects and sceneries are amazing, imaginative but some of it does feel borrowed. Which could be a misjudgment on my part seeing as the source material originated from the late 60's. There's a controversial theory that this influenced Lucas when writing Star Wars, though he's never openly admitted it.

It could have been longer, even with a running time of 197minutes, it's too short to really give the idea of the expansive universe and instead feels like they've cramped everything into those 2hrs making the film as a whole, feel messy and disjointed. It falls flat towards the end, becoming very predictable and somewhat weak because of this. I honestly believe, that with the budget, they could have made this longer and got away with it.

Visually beautiful. The film and Delevingne. But is too much to take in which has you feeling empty instead of being blown away.

Running Time: 8

The Cast: 7

Performance: 6

Direction: 8

Story: 6

Script: 6

Creativity: 10

Soundtrack: 8

Job Description: 5

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

62% 6/10

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