Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Theaters: July 2017
Streaming: November 2017
Runtime: 137 minutes
Genre: Action – Adventure – Fantasy – Science Fiction – Space Opera
Amazon: 3.5/5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes Critics: 5.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 3.3/5
Metacritic Metascore: 51/100
Metacritic User Score: 6.4/10
Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson (screenplay), Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières (comic book)
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer
Film Locations: Studios de Paris, La Cité du Cinéma, Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, France
Worldwide Box Office: $215,116,000
For centuries the International Space Station has acquired additional modules at a consistent rate and by the 28th century its mass is too much for its low Earth orbit. Consequently the decision is made to move it out of the solar system, into the wild cosmos of open space, acquiring a new name in the process; Alpha. As it travels the galaxy it continues to grow, both in size and population. Millions of life forms from all corners of the galaxy now inhabit the station necessitating a special police force to maintain peace not only on the station but throughout the galaxy. The two protagonists: Major Valerian (DeHaan) and his side kick Sergeant Laureline (Delevingne) are members of this police force.
Flash back 30 years, Commander Arün Filitt (Owen) is in a space battle with another space faring species above the planet Mul. In order to win a decisive victory the Commander must destroy the idyllic planet, killing most of the peaceful sentient beings that occupy the surface and their priceless energy pearl replicator. Flash forward 30 years; one replicator did survive the destruction of the planet, becoming the most sought after object in the Galaxy. Valerian and Laureline are tasked with retrieving the object, initiating a grand adventure through fantastic planets and the mysterious bowels of the quirky Alpha.
The movie is based on the 1967-2010 French comic book series; Valerian and Laureline, created by Pierre Christin (story), Jean-Claude Mézières (art). The best-selling comic focuses on the pair as they traverse space and time for adventure and good.
Luc Besson, director of imaginative and idiosyncratic films, including the 2014 Lucy and the 1997 The Fifth Element, has created another highly original movie replete with a story containing unique concepts, great cinematography, exceptional special effects, and mostly superb acting. And it all fails to gel into a coherent whole. The parts are greater than their sum, great scenes producing an indifferent movie.
The movie fails because of the 2 main characters: Valerian and Laureline. Neither one has a screen presence, just reciting lines without bringing the audience along. Harrison Ford would have had you cheering and believing. DeHaan has you wondering when will he start shaving. Delevingne’s “oh please” attitude throughout the movie reminds one of a pretty high school football cheerleader being pursued by the awkward school geek. These two eventually deliver you to a mental stage of not bothering to care what they do. Unfortunately for the movie you reach that stage with these two very early on. On the flip side, Rihanna and Ethan Hawke are the movies tour de force along with the 3 goofy trumpet nosed, fuzz balls. Without their talents the whole movie would have cratered into a mess of special effects without any pretense of art or style.
I saw this in 2D so the story and acting had to carry the movie where as the 3D version likely overwhelmed the audience with inner-ear confusion and visual exhilaration. Besson personally crowd sourced and financed this big-budget extravaganza. On paper it appears to have grossed a bit more than it cost to make but with all things “Hollywood” it likely lost money. Talk of a sequel is in the air but finding the money may prove insurmountable, especially if they keep DeHaan and Delevingne in the lead roles. This is a mediocre movie at best. You will be able to carry on with your life if you miss this one.