Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Elizabeth Debicki, Sam Spruell, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman.
Synopsis: In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defence, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardises the future of the universe.
We’re living in the age of sequels, prequels, and remakes, so the emergence of a seemingly original sci-fi film was something to behold. Luc Besson’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets promised a science fiction film like no other, and in many ways, the director has fulfilled that promise. Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is a visual spectacle, with some of the most beautiful and impressive visual effects in cinema. Unfortunately, great visuals aren’t enough to excuse weak characters, cheesy dialogue, and a muddled narrative.
Luc Besson once again proves that he has a wondrous imagination. Much like his previous work, Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is a beautifully presented film, with enough attention to detail and visual charm to make this universe feel authentic and explorable. Between the interdimensional market, and the many corners of Alpha, this film is a treat for the eyes. It’s also worth noting that the many different species are incredible to see, and the amount of time Besson has put into creating a unique visual style and backstory for each race is unimaginable.
I will admit that when I saw the cast announcement, I was more than surprised. Having read a summary of Valerian as a comic-book character, Dane DeHaan isn’t who I had in mind, and the same can be said for Cara Delevingne as Laureline. Thankfully, my worries were unnecessary. Both leads offer admirable performances and do the best they could with the material they were given. If only the script and the narrative demanded more from the actors.
What Didn’t Work?
While Luc Besson brings a beautiful style to this film, it could be argued that he was relatively lazy with the script and the narrative. Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets doesn’t follow a singular story but instead attempts to juggle multiple storylines at once. In this one movie, we follow the journey to uncover a dangerous conspiracy, a jumbled love story, two rescue missions, and an enjoyable trip into another dimension. Each one of these mini-missions could have been the focus of an individual film, but instead, Besson decided to include each storyline within this one film, and the lack of development massively impacts the flow of the movie.
Similar to the narrative of the film, Besson does very little to develop the characters. While Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne try their best to carry the movie and deliver excellent performances, the dialogue in this film is some of the worst I’ve heard in a long time. The banter between DeHaan and Delevingne feels forced, and at many points throughout the movie, it seems like the actors are reading a script and the dialogue doesn’t feel natural within the film.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is a fun, exciting and intriguing film with enough visual spectacle to keep you entertained throughout. Unfortunately, Besson focused more on the style of the movie and didn’t give the characters and the script enough focus and development. If you’re looking for a creative summer blockbuster then this is absolutely the film for you, but if you’d prefer to see something with more depth and good characters, maybe give Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets a miss.