“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, and Rutger Hauer. Released on July 21, 2017, the film has two space agents on a mission to save a futuristic city from an unknown threat.
The film is directed by Luc Besson, who also directed films such as The Fifth Element, Arthur and the Invisibles, The Family, and Lucy. It is based on the French comic book series Valérian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. Another film I'll be looking at this weekend is yet another big-budget film. This time, from French filmmaker, Luc Besson. I only know Besson from his many works, both as a director and a producer, including the Transporter films (which were pretty entertaining, in my opinion) and the Taken films. For his next film, he’s bringing the popular French comic book series to life on the big screen. The problem is, I know absolutely nothing about the source material. Not to mention that the film has a budget of over $200 million and it’s releasing on the same weekend as Dunkirk. Something tells me that this is not going to end well for EuropaCorp and Besson. Aside from that, I couldn’t pass up on something that looks visually stunning. While it definitely delivered on its style, the same cannot be said for its substance.
One of the few things that I enjoyed out of this film was the cast. While interesting, their performances were somewhat decent enough to carry the film forward. DeHaan was very entertaining as the title character, who’s pretty cocky in some occasions, especially towards his partner, Sergeant Laureline, played by Delevingne. I happened to find Delevingne’s portrayal of that character a mixed bag. While she definitely captured Laureline as a strict and sarcastic Sergeant, her deliverance of some of her lines range from flat to mediocre like she doesn’t even care about what she saw or what’s going to happen to her, but that’s just me. As I stated before, the film definitely delivered on its visual style. The visual effects team that designed this visually beautiful world should pat themselves on the backs because they deserved it. Not only were the visuals impressive and creative, but the creatures themselves were very unique as well. Not bad for a big-budget science fiction French film. Like many other sci-fi films, there are plenty of action sequences to go around. They’re pretty entertaining to say the least and the editing during these sequences wasn’t as choppy as…Oh, I don’t know, Taken 3, but compared to the science fiction classics like Star Wars, they’re not exactly memorable or exciting. They’re just…fun entertainment. The storytelling in this film does have a lot of interesting things about the world that is built for “Valerian”, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to express a whole lot of depth to the characters. I didn’t really believe the relationship between Valerian and Laureline that much, even though the two main stars worked fine together, and it had a couple of mediocre sci-fi moments that were a bit hard to avoid. Another thing that I would like to point out is the running time. For a simple plot like this, it doesn’t need to be over two hours long. I wasn’t bored of it due to its visuals and the action. It’s just the fact that there were a couple of scenes that could’ve been a bit shorter or removed so that the concept doesn't overstay its welcome.
Overall, The visuals and its entertainment values are the main highlights of this enjoyable sci-fi experience known as “Valerian”, but its flat execution on its substance and its overlong running time kept it from becoming one of Hollywood’s most iconic science fiction gems. As usual, this is the type of film that relies more on visual wonder rather than properly developing the story and the characters to go along with that experience. It’s a sight to see on the big screen, but for those who wanted a film that relies on both style and substance, you’re better off watching Star Wars or Star Trek.