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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: All Bark No Bite for Adaptation of French Sci-Fi Comic-Book

  • Cara DelevingneClive Owen...
  • 3DAction & Adventure...
  • Luc Besson
reviewed by
Marija Djurovic
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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: All Bark No Bite for Adaptation of French Sci-Fi Comic-Book

Most celebrated for wacky 1997 fantasy epic, The Fifth Element, French writer-director Luc Besson latest endeavour sees him return to the realms of sci-fi with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Based on the 1967 French sci-fi comic book series, Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin, the film is a visual spectacle of its own kind and Besson – employing every single CGI trick available – leaves no stone undturned in terms of the futuristic aesthetic, use of colour and zany special effects. However, he seems to have forgotten about everything else.  

Taking place in the distant future – the year 2740 to be exact – the story is centered on two special operatives, Valerian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevingne), who work for the government of a large space station named Alpha, which is home to a wjole host of different alien species, all living side-by-side.

Things take a turn when they learn of a dark, mysterious force that is threatening the space station and their existence as a whole. After their commander is kidnapped in the middle of an attack by aliens, the duo reach out to Jolly the Pimp (Ethan Hawke) and his shape-shifting side kick, Bubble (Rihanna), to help save the day

The film gets off to a strong start, with Besson travelling through centuries– having opened the story in 1975 – offering up a series of sequences, portraying the interaction between the humans and species from other planets during the development of the space station, with a great sense of style and humour. However, as soon as the story settles into its own space and time and is left in the hands of its two leads, the film loses its touch and focus, with the story struggling to find its pace and structure, while especially finding it hard to juggle the many subplots and supporting characters.

However, where Valerian does manage to score big is in the technical department with Besson – along with cinematographer Thierry Arbogast – pulling out all the stops. Delivering a visually compelling spectacle, it’s hard not to get immersed in the film’s zany and colourful world.

 Nonetheless, despite the bright lights of it all, the progression of the plot fails to maintain a decent level of excitement along the way and finds itself constantly weighed down by an over-plotted script, terrible pacing and a couple of uninteresting leads whose on-screen dynamic fails to entice.  

360 Tip

There are 2734 special effects shots in this movie compared to 'only' 188 in 'The Fifth Element (1997)'

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