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VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

movie review by David Blackwell

 

137 minutes, Rated PG-13

STUDIO: EuropaCorp/ STX Entertainment/ Fundamental Films/ BNP Paribas/ Universum Film/ Gulf Film/ River Road Entertainment/ Belga Films

Theatrical RELEASE DATE: 7-21-2017

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is a visual sci-fi treat, but the story is a little lacking compared to the one of the classic films that Luc Besson directed known as THE FIFTH ELEMENT.   The characters are very thin and I really wanted to slap (or throw a punch at) Valerian more than once for his rakish behavior.   I don’t know why Laureline puts up with him as a partner and his somewhat romantic advances.    VALERIAN is a film you should see in 3D if you go see it in the theater for the depth of the visuals in the movie.  The effects work and design work are top notch and yet I hope Luc Besson has a much better script planned for VALERIAN 2 (which he has already written and he is already working on a script for the third movie).  The movie works best in the first half only to have the second half limp to the finish line with a few good sequences mixed in (and Rihanna is great as the shape shifting performer Bubbles).   The big problem with the second half is it feels too episodic and the story could have used more beef to it.

 

VALEIRAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is adapted form the Valerian and Laureline sci-fi comic series written by Pierre Christin and drawn by Jean-Claude Mezieres.   This comic series is what inspired Luc Besson to write THE FIFTH ELEMENT script and I am curious to read more of the graphic novel series (beyond the 16 page preview I read as part of Free Comic book day a couple of months ago).   Cara Delevingne is gorgeous as Laureline, but Dane DeHaan plays Valerian as a jerk and I can’t stand his character at times.  Compared to the characters in THE FIFTH ELEMENT, the characters as written in the VALERIAN movie aren’t as memorable unless they are one of the supporting characters (like the CGI alien info dealers who are like a nicer version of the Frengi crossed with a duckbill and an anteater).  

 

The movie opens up with the planet Mul mining for pearls from the ocean as they leave a peaceful life until a big space battle from above interrupts it and causes mass destruction.  Flash forward years later where Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are intergalactic agents sent on a mission to get a rare alien who is a converter which can create any type of material or mineral it ingests.  They succeed in their mission and take the converter back to Alpha (a big space station once orbiting Earth and is home to various alien races who share their knowledge) and they soon become embroiled in a mission to save the Commander (Clive Owen) from a group of unknown aliens who have taken him to a forbidden area of the station.

 

If you want to see VALERIAN in the theater, see it in 3D for the visuals and action.  If you’re expecting a story and deep characters, save it for a rental (or purchase) on blu-ray, DVD, or digital.   I just hope Besson does better with the script if there is a sequel.

 

This review is 7-23-2017 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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