August 22, 2017
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is based on an iconic European comic book called Valérian and Laureline. And that book truly is iconic. So much so, that it had heavily (“to some extend” would’ve been more accurate, but not as dramatic) influenced Star Wars. You can take a closer look at the comparison of some of the panels from the graphic novel with a few stills from both of Star Wars trilogies. As you can see, the similarities are pretty uncanny.
It is obvious that Luc Besson was inspired by it when he was working on The Fifth Element. In fact, one of the authors of Valérian and Laureline helped Besson develop some concept art for the Fifth Element. My point is that this comic book was and is a big deal, Luc Besson did space movies before and is personally invested in this story – everything seems to point that it should’ve been the next Star Wars. Yet, Besson has completely botched the story and turned into the next Jupiter Ascending.
I’m not going to go through the entirety of the movie’s plot (because it’s gives me PTSD), but I’m going to highlight a few aspects of it. For example, there are cute rats that fart pearls, Rihanna performing some sort of shape-shifting pole-dance, Cara Delevingne putting a jellyfish on her head to see what that jellyfish saw. It is all very weird.
From the technical standpoint it is absolutely flawless, it’s safe to say that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is awe-inspiring, eye-candy. The sheer spectacle of it is simply mind-blowing. However, it’s horrendous in every other aspect. It is a bizarre cocktail of ridiculous plot, dialog and questionable casting choices.
Speaking of which, have you ever considered Dane DeHaan as this hotshot, Han Solo-ish, Chris Pratt-esque type of fella? Me neither. Yet, somehow, Luc Besson picked the guy who looks like he hasn’t slept since 2007 as the leading man. Don’t get me wrong, Dane is an incredible character actor, but he doesn’t strike as a summer blockbuster, superhero guy. The rest of the cre includes Clive Owen as a surprise villain, whose kind eyes give the twist away the second you see him on-screen. And lest we forget Ethan Hawke‘s Oscar-worthy (no) performance as Jolly the Pimp. Surprisingly, the only good thing about that movie was Cara Delevingne as Valerian’s long time partner and love-interest Sergeant Laureline. Cara’s acting was great, she had tons of great moments and it even seemed like she had more screen time than Dane DeHaan. Not to mention how pretty Cara is (best eyebrows in Hollywood so far). In fact, the movie should’ve been called Laureline and the City of a Thousand Planets.
At the end of the day, it’s a vivid visual adventure, but it’s a bad movie. Unfortunately, it gets a definitive score of 5.7/ 1000 planets.