VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS – A Review by John Strange
When you think about Director Luc Besson, you most likely think of his most famous film, The Fifth Element (1997). That's fair. That film was an eye opener in so many ways. The characters and the visuals were unlike anything we had seen a studio film produce. Interesting fact, Luc wrote an early draft of The Fifth Element while still in school!
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has many similarities to the previous film. Its visuals are the biggest connection but there are threads throughout that connect the two. As you watch this film you'll find yourself thinking about this over and over again.
Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is a character who has a lot in common with Bruce Willis' Korben Dallas (OK, pretty much any of Bruce's characters). His wisecracking partner, Laureline (Cara Delevingne), also comes from a long line of famous film sidekicks. Their chemistry grows on you as they bull their way through the mission.
That mission is to recover a replicator from a shady dealer in a multi-dimensional market. The market is an eye-opener, one of those visuals that we are coming to expect in Luc Besson films. As expected with a character like Valerian, the mission doesn't quite go off as it was planned. They escape in a rush, dodging guards and a really big "guard dog"!
The backstory on the creature that they "rescue". It is a small creature from a planet that was destroyed years earlier, capable of replicating anything it ingests. The government, in the person of Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen), wants the creature regardless of the cost (or damage) required.
That backstory expands as Valerian and Laureline return to Station Alpha. Their eyes get opened to the true story behind the small creature and the civilization that it came from. They do what they need to do with plenty of banter.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a simple tale of good and evil though our heroes are heroic and the bad guys are defeated. This is a story of what mankind may become. Station Alpha, as described at the beginning of the film, starts as a space station that the various nations of the world add modules to. As each alien species makes contact with us, they also add modules. Eventually, Station Alpha gets so huge it becomes a danger to the planet. The station is pushed away from Earth and begins a slow trip to another galaxy.
The station has become the heart of a federation of species, home of the government as well as home to millions of sentient beings of hundreds of species. It has also become the heart of a terrible injustice that only an act of honor can correct.
Taken from the comic book series Valérian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, this story was adapted for the screen by Luc Besson. He hesitated to write it because this story is not just complex but the special effects and CGI requirements were daunting. When James Cameron did Avatar, Luc realized that the technology to bring the film to life was finally available. Luc reworked his script to make it worthy of that technology and the result is opening on the screens of the nation tonight.
Luc did an excellent job with the story and the cinematography. You will be immersed in a story that will make you laugh, make you angry, and in a word, entertain you. I recommend this film unreservedly!
Directed by: Luc Besson
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Clive Owen, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language)
Selig Rating: A
Runtime: 137 Min.
Movie Site: http://valerianmovie.com/
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.