Hello Everyone, Janet W. here…
Based on Valérian et Laureline, a French comic book spinoff series from another French comic series, Pilote, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets explodes in radiant color and abundance onto theater screens. The crime fighting agents, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), first appeared in Pilote in 1967. The creators of the Valérian et Laureline, Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières have worked closely with Luc Besson to bring this world to life.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is visually stunning. The origin of this city is explained well in the opening sequence, which spans 1975-28th century. As you can imagine, the city of a thousand planets is bursting with an abundance of culture, architecture, and beings. Viewing this film in 3D is prerequisite. The colors and textures are brilliant in the different living environments. The multitude of species (3,236) that were created for Valerian… was very imaginative and reminded me of creatures from films like Avatar, The Fifth Element, Star Wars, Splice, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (they included an alien that looked like Jessica Rabbit, Ms. Sensual Coolness herself).
The aliens were androgynous; too, to the point that I wasn’t always sure what gender they were. Some voices did not match well with their appearance. Unfortunately, the costumes were sometimes REALLY cheesy. The advanced tech was mind-blowing as well with lots of VR experiences. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets contains 2,734 special effect shots! I especially liked the defensive features of the Mul ship (you’ll see). It really wasn’t much of a surprise that this was so amazing since Besson directed and wrote The Fifth Element.
On the other hand, the acting was not very good and dialogue along with delivery jerks the audience out of the trance caused by the cinematography. I have only seen DeHaan in a few episodes of HBO’s True Blood and Chronicle. He really can sell the awkward little boy turned ravenous creature. In Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, DeHaan plays an egocentric yet strategic hero. His appearance is so youthful that it is difficult to view him as an adult. Although, I enjoyed her character, Bubble, and its introduction sequence, Rihanna needs to work on her delivery, which was hit or miss. Clive Owen, who I normally love (The Bourne Identity, Words and Pictures, and Gosford Park), is a part of the cast as well, but he just wasn’t very believable. An exception to this setback was the decent performance by Delevingne. I wondered where I had seen her. She was June Moone/Enchantress in Suicide Squad. Her performance was both believable and inspiring. Girl Power!
Overall, it was clear that the audience and I still enjoyed Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Yes, it has its issues, but you will be blown away by the production. I hope the series continues and the performances improve. The story has peaked my interest for sure. The film had a message, I think, but it was lost in the poor performances and the wow factor of the film’s presentation.
VISUALLY STUNNING AND PECULIAR!
Janet L. White
Your friendly straightforward neighborhood critic