Released: July 21, 2017
Running Time: 2 hours 17 minutes
This movie is based on the French comic book that started in 1967 written by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. Making this film has been Luc Besson’s dream for a long time. I have never read the series, but I have been aware of them. I write this review without any knowledge of the source material.
It is lead by two stars Dane DeHaan as the titular character Valerian, and Cara Delevingne as his partner Laureline. The movie also features Elizabeth Debicki as the voice for Haban Limaï, Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, Clive Owen as Commander Arün Filitt, Herbie Hancock as the Defense Minister, Kris Wu as Sergeant Neza, Sam Spruell General Okto-Bar, Alain Chabat as Bob the Pirate, Xavier Giannoli as Captain Norton, Rutger Hauer as President of the World State Federation, Sasha Luss as Princess Lïhio – Minaa, Aymeline Valade as Haban Limaï, and Rihanna as Bubble.
The synopsis for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is below, summarizing the story for the film.
“In the 28th century, Valerian and Laureline are a duo of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha, an ever expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other.
There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.”
The movie was not what I was expecting going in. I had high expectations, and while they didn’t live up to those expectations, it was still a good movie. It had a lot more humour than I thought it was going to have. At first, I didn’t know how I was going to rate this movie, and I was going over it with my brother in law (who I saw the movie with), and I knew it was going to be somewhere between 7 and 7.75 out of 10, but I wasn’t sure where exactly it was going to land.
In the end, I finally decided on the rating that I gave this movie after seeing it for the first time, and thinking it over, while I was writing this review. The rating can be found at the bottom.
The music was done by Alexandre Desplat, whose work includes The Golden Compass, the last two Harry Potter films, and Godzilla (2014). I feel like the soundtrack in this movie really worked in this movie, while nothing really stands out, there was a small portion of the Bee Gees’ (my parents’ favourite group) song ‘Staying Alive’ which was nicely added to the film.
The Cinematography was done by Thierry Arbogast, who has worked with Besson on almost every movie that they’ve done. All I have to say about the look of this movie is WOW. The movie was stunningly beautiful, brighter and more colourful than Guardians of the Galaxy, and somehow felt more real.
The look and diversity of the different alien species was very interesting, creative and fantastic. They focused the movie on a certain few, I would hope that they showcase more in future films if Besson has his way (He’s already writing two more scripts in hopes of franchising this series).
The special and visual effects of the film were extremely well done. There were moments in the film where I was wondering if it was done practically or if it was CGI. The action in this movie was okay, not terrible, not great, but had its moments.
The chemistry between the two leads really came across on screen when they were together on screen. I believe that they were both at their best when they were together, however Cara Delevingne was also great in her ‘solo’ scenes, I believe that this was the best performance that I’ve seen from her. Ethan Hawke was in the movie for about 5 minutes, but was entertaining in what little screen time he had.
The movie was extremely predictable, with what was behind the event of the movie, as well as the villain. There was no real reason to get emotionally invested in the film, and the stakes of the movie was never fully explained other than a quick piece where they have to do this, or the station will be finished.
For Dane Dehaan, while his acting wasn’t necessarily a problem, he did not fit the character that they were trying to sell at all. Rihanna’s character was interesting, and you can see that they tried to add depth to the character but it wasn’t done properly in my opinion. I feel like other than one scene, Clive Owen was wasted on his character, and wasn’t utilized enough in the film for what was needed.
There was a lot of exposition – based dialogue throughout the movie, however none were as bad as the beginning of the film, where Valerian and Laureline describe each other and themselves completely, telling the audience who they are, rather than letting them find out throughout the film. This movie was a bit too long as well, I would have enjoyed this movie if it was slightly shorter, maybe cutting out 5-10 minutes.
There was a few missteps sprinkled throughout the film as well, but none that really bothered me that much, just made me question its placement in the film.
The ending also felt very rushed where they were explaining everything that just happened in the movie, and explaining the stakes, and why certain things were done, when I feel like it should’ve been explored more slowly, and throughout the movie rather than having these big scenes full of exposition at the beginning of the film, and the ending of the film.
You can scroll down to where it says “Spoilers Are Done!!” to skip the Spoiler Section, and you can come back and read the Spoiler Section once you have seen the movie.
I really enjoyed the beginning of the film, where they show the evolution of Alpha, the city of a Thousand Planets, and the growth of Human space travel.
The look of Mül, and the Pearls was beautiful and was something that I think was really well done, and we got the feel for this species without the need of the dialogue. The movie showed us what they were like, and the tragedy that befell this people. I felt more emotionally invested in them, than I did for the most of the other characters in the film.
The character of Valerian that the movie was trying to sell to the audience; handsome, brave, strong, dependable, had a string of lovers, and is one of the best agents that they have at their disposal just didn’t come across to me in Dehaan’s portrayal of those traits.
The love story angle is always prevalent when there’s a male and female lead, however this one felt very much forced in the beginning of the film, but felt more natural when the character’s bond and relationship was explored through events rather than dialogue.
The Commander’s robots were obviously bad, and was planning on killing people ‘if his plan didn’t pan out’. There was a lot of exposition thrown at the audience to explain how the Pearls came to be on Alpha, what they learned, how they learned how to forgive Humans, how they planned on rebuilding their home world. It felt rushed, and then they managed to get Valerian and Laureline on their side, but then Valerian won’t give them the Mül Converter because ‘it’s government property’, after just going through the fact that the Pearls were screwed over by the Commander.
The fact that love, and Laureline’s love to be exact is what eventually convinces him to let them have it, rather than it being the ‘right thing to do’, was a little cliché, and could’ve been done better.
Spoilers Are Done!!
Overall, I feel that this movie was entertaining and wonderful to watch. I can definitely see why some people could potentially trash the film and the characters as a whole, but I had little problems with them. This movie is one that I would definitely recommended to others to watch, as I believe that if they enjoyed the Fifth Element, or any other science fiction movie, they would enjoy this one. In the end, I would give this film a score of 7.5/10.
What did you think of the movie? Movies are very subjective, and some people will disagree with me. I would love to hear those opinion either way. Do you think that this movie will become a franchise, and what are your opinions on that?
What would you have graded it? What was your favourite part of the movie? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!!
Let me know in the comments what movie you think I should review?
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this review, I hope you enjoy (ed) the movie!