Luc Besson’s body of work has been quite varied. His new film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is visually stunning but severely lacking in the writing of the film. It’s possible some of the issues with the script are in the casting of the leads, but it was hard to imagine anyone giving the cliche dialogue in a way that would make it superb. The movie is tolerable, but it’s two hour and seventeen minute runtime is a little long for a predictable ending.
Valerian has some cheesy story elements in some pretty packaging
Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) find themselves on Alpha, a space station home to a thousand planets, and on a mission. There is something threatening to destroy the station and every life on it if they can’t uncover the source of the trouble. Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) enlists their services, reluctantly, but with the hopes that their skills can uncover it.
The positives of this film lie solely in the visuals. The creature design, Alpha, and the costume design is all intriguing and beautiful or disgusting and creepy depending what the desired reaction is. The opening planet is the home of creatures called Pearls. Their skin shimmers like a pearl and the design of them and the whole world is unimaginable gorgeous.
Not quite Avatar 2…
The action sequences, which is primarily a couple of chase sequences and one fight scene, are done well, though the fight sequence is a little bland. The chase where Valerian is trying to find the culprits of an attack on the security council on Alpha is shot in a cool tracking shot that follows him slamming through wall after wall. It’s a cool moment, but not enough to argue that it makes the movie awesome.
The dialogue and the plot definitely are the biggest weakness of the film. Both Laureline and Valerian have to say some pretty trite and weak lines. The forced love story arc that gets crammed into scenes over and over again really never felt like it was needed. The movie probably would have been better if the two were already married and the movie could have left out the bland conversations about love. The ever shifting McGuffin’s drive the plot to its predictable conclusion.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets could have been a philosophical sci-fi adventure. It’s not. It could have been the surprise action-packed thrill ride of the summer. It isn’t. However, it’s also not the worst movie of the summer, looking at you Transformers. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets receives the Decent Watch rating.