At its heart, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a cheesy love story wrapped up in an overly reliant on CGI action film. The kind which really makes it seem Luc Besson isn’t capable of producing another classic.
For who knows how long now, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) has been a bit of a playboy. One who would often date his co-workers until he got their heart. Afterwards, he would dump them. But there is something different about the Ivy league educated Laureline (Cara Delevingne). It isn’t exactly said what, but there is something about her.
Maybe it is the way she kicks ass, can kick his ass, or her wit? It’s all rather hard to say. What is known though is that, according to Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen), an intergalactic space station known as Alpha is under threat. Which, considering it holds 30 million beings of various species, it is not something humanity can afford to lose.
However, as Valerian and Laureline complete what seemingly was an unrelated mission, they come to learn how they were pawns in a much larger game.
Valerian and Laureline Had Some Cute Moments
Contribute this to me being a sucker for romance, but I kind of liked DeHaan and Delevingne together. There was a real chemistry there and while it didn’t make up for how they both were as pseudo-action heroes, it was something to look forward to. Compared to everything else involved.
So Many Jar-Jar Binks Types
Between these 3 platypi, anteater, and a few other animal mixed looking beings, alongside Bubble (Rihanna), I found myself wondering how this movie was made by the same man who made The Fifth Element? For with the platypi beings, you get this serious Jar-Jar Binks in the Men in Black universe kind of vibe. Then with Rihanna as Bubble, I was thinking, maybe hoping, she’d have a small but important role. Something like the diva in The Fifth Element. Alas, she is some kind of child slave, maybe sex slave, who can transform by will. And who outstays her welcome after the show we see in the trailer.
It Tries Too Hard To Be Funny
I guess Marvel has set some type of standard where people believe action films have to be funny now. The problem is, neither DeHaan or Delevingne are comedians. They aren’t Chris Tucker or even playful like a young Natalie Portman. What we get from them is sadly what we have been getting from both actors for awhile. Performances which, based on the trailer, look like they have potential, but they don’t nail it in the actual film.
Overly Reliant on Special Effects
One of the reasons I brought up Jar-Jar Binks is because the look and vibe of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is similar to the Star Wars prequels. It is all heavily CGI and green screen and has such a phony look to it. If not this vibe where, unless you see it in 3D or one of the more expensive formats, like IMAX you are just SOL.
Storyline & Characters
Outside of Marvel and DC, there aren’t a lot of action movies which you can really say have a good story. For the most part, there is just enough story and character development so that each explosion or fight scene makes sense. Valerian is no different really. Since our leads barely get developed and as much as they are touted as highly skilled or intelligent, they make some really dumb mistakes. Not the kind which shows they have flaws, but which seemingly were made to be comical and we already spoke on how neither of our leads have comic abilities.
But what makes things worse is that their co-stars are just wasted. Nevermind the humans and the villain, but all these alien races we see are mostly seen in the background. There isn’t a sort of Mass Effect vibe where you come to realize how small humanity is compared to the others who live throughout the various galaxies. This movie is very human focused and barely answers some few pertinent questions.
Perhaps the main one being, why did these aliens join us on an international space station? Much less, how are all these beings getting along and all under the umbrella of the human race? For that, to me, was a much more interesting topic than the adventures of Valerian and Laureline. Especially when you bring in the villain’s motive and how weak that situation is.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
I wanted to like this. Hell, I want to be able to call myself a fan of DeHaan and Delevingne. However, they make it so hard for both clearly should not be leads at this point of their careers. Especially if their counterpart isn’t someone clearly talented. Though I don’t just blame them but Luc Besson as well. Similar to Tim Burton, there is this vibe that when he had more limitations placed on him, that was when he thrived. I’m talking about his name not meaning funding, having to really hunt for actors who would take a chance on him, and things of that nature.
For among the many reasons why I’m marking this as something to skip, it is simply because it doesn’t meet the standard you expect. Besson presents a production which seems like the type of films Burton does when he clearly is trying to make money. So with this being a passion project for Besson, it leads me to seriously question if whether he should quit while he is ahead. If not stay away from the shininess of new toys. For what made his productions in the 90s so good was the gritty and grimness of them. Something which was swept up in Lucy and completely scrubbed away in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
So, unless you are a diehard fan who believes in supporting your fave no matter what, save your money. Don’t buy a ticket, don’t rent through whatever medium, just, like with Lucy, forget this was ever made. You’ll be better off that way.