Movie Review: STX Entertainment's Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets
Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Clive Owen, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer
Directed by Luc Besson
Written by Luc Besson (screenplay), Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières (comics)
In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

I packed a bag and traveled to another galaxy, or another dimension, or a series of dimensions, and definitely a lot of planets, etc. It’s possible that I get all the specifics of the journey, but I knew the guides, Valerian and Laureline, and the trip was fun.  I checked reality at the door and watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, now playing.  It was a blast.  Valerian is a fun space saga for a new generation. 

Valerian isn’t perfect.  I would say far from it.  Let’s get the criticism out of the way. Dane DeHaan (as Valerian) and Cara Delevingne (as Laureline) have zero chemistry.  I wasn’t buying that either one of them cared for the other.  So, some of the intended romantic scenes fall flat, and others are cringe-worthy.  Thankfully, this isn’t a romance film.

Also, some of the dialogue was awkward.  For a movie that takes place in the future, the writers should be able to muster more than clichés from 1995. The writing seemed sloppy.  It was especially awkward when Valerian and Laureline converse with each other. But, there weren’t many dialogue heavy moments.   This is a sci-fi action flick.

As an action flick, it was a ton of fun.  There are spaceship battles, gun battles, knife fights, hand-to-hand combat and beast versus man fights.  The action certainly kept the plot moving along.  It made it so that the entire audience stayed in their seat, waiting for the next battle to break-out. There are a lot of original locations, and different atmospheres and wild scenery at which to gaze. I loved the gadgets and the weapons.  It felt very original.  There is a scene in an intergalactic shopping mall that was a feast for the eyes. 

Visually, Valerian is a grand spectacle. Even with its flaws, the film kept me very interested. Put simply, I wanted to see what was next.  I wanted to meet the residents of the City of a Thousand Planets. I was blown away by the originality and the creativity.  In an entertainment field of re-hashed and re-booted genre, Valerian is an original.  The aliens were something to behold.  The shapes, colors and comic relief provided by the many life-forms were appreciated.

I commend Luc Benson, the writer and director, for daring to have a vision of his own and creating something other than an ordinary caper.  With a rating of PG-13, it was perfect for my tweens, who loved it.  I recommend watching Valerian’s splendor in a theater, in order to appreciate all the creative nuances. I bet it looks great on a premium screen.  Don’t get bogged down in the details.  Enjoy the ride. See Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets playing everywhere now.     

1 comment:

  1. I was super excited for this movie, but the negative reviews kind of put me off. I was excited to see Cara in a movie, but I've heard the chemistry is a problem from a lot of people. Glad you enjoyed it overall, and I'm still looking forward to seeing this one!


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