Review of 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets'

valerian.jpg It is the far future and a race of gentle, peace loving aliens find themselves thrown into the middle of a war that is not of their doing resulting in the destruction of their planet. Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are two special operatives tasked with keeping the peace in the human territories. Defence Minister (Herbie Hancock) orders them to steal a mysterious “converter” creature, last of it's kind and native of the destroyed planet, then deliver it to “Alpha” a former satellite city of Earth now travelling across the galaxy having outgrown its birthplace. The massive Alpha is ever-expanding and is now home to many species forming a peaceful colony however it's very existence and galaxy-wide peace is threatened by the secrets their mission holds…

Yeah, the two lead characters look to be in their teens which makes their continued onscreen flirting somewhat uncomfortable and the story is a bit thin on the ground HOWEVER the effects and action is incredible with the welcome surprise of a rather unexpected dark twist in the story at the end. For much of the film it is like watching a video game with the camera angles very much reminiscent of a first-person shooter complete with a paper-thin plot. Truth be told, I can't say I am a huge fan of watching hours of this however the vibrant colours on the screen and the action, complete with its good share of bizarre technology, kept me entertained throughout with the the action slowing down considerably towards the late-middle before reaching a suitable finale.

My biggest complaint is that there seems to be little in terms of any heart or characterisation here with Valerian and Laurelline leaving me cold and even the peaceful characters shallow and one dimensional. Valerian spends the entire film trying to get Laureline into bed which is entertaining and amusing at first but gets tiresome the 30th time we listen to their banal banter (yes, complete with her repeated, haughty denials fresh from “stereotypes-R-us”). It is a bit of shame as I would have expected a bit more of director Luc Besson, being a huge fan of his seminal (BIG heart) film The Fifth Element and his highly entertaining “Taxi” series. All of these films are chock full of action but they also have characters that we are drawn too. In Valerian (the film, not the character) the action seems to get entirely out of hand and the time we spend with the characters we find they have little redeeming properties…smiling occasionally would be good too. Perhaps we can try a game? Count the number of times a character smiles (other than expressing ill-intent). I would suggest you would be hard pressed to count any more than the fingers on your hands.

Want something slightly mindless with a bunch of bizarre SF-tech in the form of watching a hyper-active vividly coloured video game complete with one-dimensional characters? This is the film for you! Looks great, less filling!

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2018-06-30

Directed by: Luc Besson

Studio: EuropaCorp

Year: 2017

Length: 137 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Luc Besson: