Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

valerian and the city of a thousand planets poster 2017 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 8/10

Lots of big visuals, story of forgiveness

Paper-thin plot and characters

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Studio:  EuropaCorp

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  July 17, 2017 (Premiere)/July 21, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

valerian and the city of a thousand planets dane dehaan space suit

I’m going to put on this suit and run through stuff…just like in that bad G.I. Joe movie

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are members of United Human Federation and have been sent to retrieve the last known Mül converter, the last known surviving animal from the planet Mül which converts and reproduces anything it eats.  When the galactic peace city known as Alpha is attacked by unknown aliens and Commander Arün Filitt is kidnapped, Valerian and Laureline find themselves going deep into Alpha on a rescue mission.

Directed by Luc Besson, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Valérian et la Cité des mille planets) is an English-French sci-fi, fantasy collaboration.  The film adapts the long-running Valérian and Laureline created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières which first premiered in Pilote magazine in November 1967.  The expensive film was released to mixed reviews and underperformed at the box-office.

I honestly am not that big of fan of Luc Besson’s other big sci-fi extravaganza The Fifth Element.  That film was inspired by the stories of Valérian and Laureline and he felt that he couldn’t bring the comic to reality until recently.  I had hoped that the film would be a fun sci-fi adventure, but it unfortunately felt like a large, bland trip into a very generic sci-fi world.

valerian and the city of a thousand planets bubbles cabaret rihanna

Wait…Rihanna is doing Cabaret?

The story for Valerian is very typical sci-fi.  The idea of a world where peace has essentially spread across the universe and exploration and science rule is kind of the Star Trek view.  Even within the peaceful world of Alpha there are groups that don’t get along, but for the most part, peace is found.  This aspect is both the interesting aspect of the movie and the downfall.  In situations like this, “mankind” is generally the enemy and there is no suspense built around the fact that Clive Owen’s character is evil…it is presented that way almost immediately.  I kept waiting for some sort of twist, but there was none.  Everything almost presented itself as expected.

The second problem is the cast.  Both Valerian and Laureline are so un-dynamic that they could have been played by anyone.  Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne might capture the spirit of the original characters, but they feel flat and paper-thin.  They are joined by tons of stock characters like Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp and small roles by Herbie Hancock, Rutger Hauer, and John Goodman.  Clive Owen’s general likewise has no dimensions to him, and Rihanna just feels like she’s been dropped in because of her name…her character comes and goes with little emotion.

valerian and the city of a thousand planets dane dehaan cara delevigne pearls

Hey, aliens…can you give us personalities?

The movie visually excels but that is it.  Like The Fifth Element, it feels like the visuals are thrown up on the screen in the hopes you can ignore the lack of story or the acting and dialogue.  While there is a lot of glitz and glamour to the film, it also doesn’t feel entirely different than a Star Wars or one of the new Star Trek films…there is just a lot more special effects at once.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is not a very provoking film.  The movie has spirit but it just feels like a generic space opera (and less of a sci-fi film).  The fantasy just can’t survive without a strong story though I do like the Pearls’ general message of forgiveness (the only redeeming part of the story).  Besson has expressed doing a sequel to the film despite the reception so it is unclear if Valerian will return…but there is certainly enough source material to make a better script.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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