Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Film Review
The following actually happened. I came in to the movie theater to watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets with my boyfriend. Got there bought a ticket, and as I was about to come in, my boyfriend informed me that he’s stuck in traffic and will be late because he was coming straight from work.
-Go in honey- don’t wait for me. I’ll be late but I’ll come in as soon as I arrive and park the car.
He was about 20 minutes late. But I distinctly remember as he was sitting down in his seat with snacks in one hand and his cell phone in the other… he asked me…
What did I missed? What happened?
Honestly I have no idea… I answered slightly confused and I wasn’t exaggerating.
20 minutes in and I really had no idea what was going on in the movie. I had to watch it again (few days later) to get a better grasp of the movie, and to be honest I was disappointed for the second time in a week.
In a nutshell… The people on the planet Mül are living in peace and harmony, right up until there is a war just outside that planet. The conflict caused the planet to be exterminated and what’s left of the population to flee and to be decimated afterwards. One of the creatures from the planet will send a signal for help to space-and-time-traveling agent Valerian (Dane De Haan) and somehow Valerian and his partner Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) will try and help the civilization from total annihilation.
There is a perfectly good movie in Valerian, it’s just crippled with weak script, unnecessary scenes, corny lines, underdeveloped characters, stretched out and very confusing plot. No… Seriously there are some qualities in Valerian, but the flaws unfortunately prevail. In the spirit of being positive, the CGI, the costumes, make up are fantastic. More than that they are breathtakingly beautiful and stunning. As you might expect from a Luc Besson movie. But what he nailed in the visual presentation of the movie (including the direction from Besson himself) is suffering in the structure of the film.
You can say that the script is the weakest link in Valerian, but I’m going to say that the casting in the 2 leads and the subsequent acting from them is a tie with the bad script. Dane and Cara are terribly miss cased and not only that they don’t have any chemistry they are actually underwhelming in their performances. Besson has a thing with models, I get that but Cara in Valerian makes Milla Jovovich to feel like you were watching Meryl Streep. She is sarcastic and reserved he’s a cocky Han Solo wanna-be. The more gracious thing that can be said about them is that they are better colleagues than lovers, because their love is portrayed soooo poorly here.
Oh, there is a villain somewhere along the line (played by Clive Owen), who is actually neither menacing or present enough on screen to be noticeable. Besides the 2 leads who kind of have to be there, there is rarely a noticeable and memorable character in the entire movie. There are a lot of characters, but you probably won’t even remember their names 5 minutes after you hear them. Maybe the slight exception for that is the presence of Rihanna in the role of Buble, the shape shifting entertainer. But she goes away after 20 minutes and never comes back.
I can understand the undertones and the themes Besson wanted to explore in Valerian. The humanistic approach in presenting a galaxy migrants. Innocent people and the victims of war scattered to wonder and to try to find home in a totally different place. Far away from home. There are even similarities and drawn parallels with the current events but are so poorly and incoherently portrayed that every ounce of good will and potential for lasting impact is wasted in a confusing final product.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is visually breathtaking but structurally empty movie. Who knows, maybe like other of Besson’s movies it will age and ferment, and will find devoted audience (even appreciation) for the craftsmanship that was put into making it (and the 180 million Euros invested in it). But for now you will find mostly empty entertainment and boredom.