Valerian: Film Review

Valerian and the City of a thousand Planets has been in the hands of Luc Besson for some time now. It is also one of the most expensive independent films clocking in at a $209Million dollar budget of which he raised the capital and partially financed the film himself there will be no studio execs scrambling if this film bombs at the box office. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is based on the graphic novel of the same name and was written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mezieres. The series ran from 1967 to 2010 and have all been collected in a comic album that spans 21 volumes. So we know there is a lot of more material that can be brought to the big screen. The comics are a work of art that finally after Avatar was made did Luc Besson and company think to themselves that the technology finally caught up with them in order to make this film. We are big fans of Mr. Besson and when we heard that this movie was coming out the word excitement was an understatement, Here is our review of “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” now playing.

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There are 21 volumes of material to continue the story of Valerian and Laureline if all goes as planned. It will take some big box office numbers to ensure another film and by the looks of it, it may happen. The film starts off b giving you a clear view as to how we arrive in the 28th century to the space station Alpha that serves as a peaceful gathering place for millions of races of beings where they all live together in peace and share information and their customs in a sort of utopian society where all are welcome. From the very beginning your senses will be taken for a joy ride and will not be returned until the film is over. We meet agent Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and agent Laureline (Cara Delevinge) aboard their spaceship as they get a call about their next mission and here is where the fun starts. Sort of…

This is not your typical sci-fi adventure where it’s all action and no brains. The characters have a rich history of which we get very little, it comes in bits and pieces throughout the film. This may have been the way Besson intended the film to flow because it works for us. It is not easy to bring a property like this to life, there is a lot going on behind our characters that at times we lost ourselves just trying to take it all in. Like we said earlier, it is a feast for the senses. Luc Besson can tell. story with very little to say to the audience. His past films like “The Professional”, “The 5th Element” and “Lucy” all played well on screen and had a rock solid story to back it up. Valerian follows suit since it’s an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name. It plays on almost like a comic on screen right down to the witty banter between the two main characters. Many people had their issues with the dialogue between the two though we felt it was funny and whimsical. It added a nice twist to all that was going on screen to give the film some balance. Dane and Cara may not be household names in Hollywood but they do have some good street cred out there. Dane Dehaan has shined in some great indie films and Cara is model/actress breaking into the film industry and where many have had their issues with them we see a ton of potential and to be part of this endeavor is proof that they will continue to shine given the opportunity.

The Valerian comics are not well known here in the states but they have served as inspiration for Star Wars and other big sci-fi projects out there and it has earned its place on the big screen. We enjoyed what we saw on screen but did have our issues here and there. Where some saw that the story lagged and was slow to get going we saw good layering and it kept our minds going as the film progressed. It must have been a difficult job acting on the green screens and doing your best to imagine the area surrounding you. The effects will engulf you and you will keep asking yourself what creatures are practical effects and what are CGI. Imagine the Star Wars cantina scene and multiply it by 10000! That is a lot of aliens to see on screen during some the scenes. Could it have been scaled back a little? We think so, then you wouldn’t get the feeling that they were relying heavily on the visuals to sell the final product. A highlight to film was Rihanna’s performance, we had many laughs for her and also would have liked to see more. The characters tend to leave as quickly as they are introduced.

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Rihanna stars in Luc Besson’s ” Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”. Photo credit: Daniel Smith © 2016 VALERIAN SAS – TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION

Sci-fi is a tough sell at the summer box office especially when it is a virtually unknown property here in the states. Luc Besson took a gamble releasing this during the summer and we hope it pays off since this film asides from its flaws is a good watch on screen. It gathered weak reviews from the critics and some movie goers and honestly we don’t think it was marketed to well. It left a lot on the table in regards to the trailers. In a world where trailers at times reveal too much, Valerian’s trailers revealed too little. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has the brains behind all that beauty and should be on your watch list.

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VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is the visually spectacular new adventure film from Luc Besson, the legendary director of The Professional, The Fifth Element and Lucy, based on the ground-breaking comic book series which inspired a generation of artists, writers and filmmakers.

In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team 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.

Now Playing

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Screenplay by Luc Besson. Based on the comic book series Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, Published by Dargaud.

Producers: Virginie Besson-Silla

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