Overall: 9/20 – C
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Dane Dehaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna
First Impressions: I wanted to like this. I really did. I loved Fifth Element and I really hoped that this would turn into another cult classic. (Which reminds me, I need re-watch Fifth Element). What I got was Avatar + Fifth Element + Sky High. Not the best combination in the universe. In fact, right now I’m nursing a headache because I even dared to see it in 3D, that’s how much I wanted to like it. I can only hope that the comic is better (which I’m guessing it is – given how excited everyone was for it to be made). I’m trying to figure out what age this comic is geared toward because if it’s supposed to be relatable to adults in anyway shape or form – it fails.
The Plot: The story is centered around Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline. These two are top-notch secret agents who find themselves embroiled in a conflict they had absolutely no hand in starting. While Valerian throws around compliments and Lauraline tries to kick ass, Alpha – a conglomeration of planets and beings all in one massive hive-like space station – is facing an unknown threat. These agents must track down their missing commander, face the threat and save everyone involved so that a happy ever after can be achieved.
It is frighteningly predictable. There are no twists. No turns. No sudden insights. And absolutely no reason whatsoever to sit on the edge of your seat. The characters are extremely one-dimensional and the only interesting character that I want to learn more about is Bubble (a blue sparkling blob that can change into anyone she wants – but is usually Rihanna-shaped). The pacing is terrible and scenes are dragged on for an eternity. Despite its 2 hour, 17 minute run-time, the story could have been conceivably told well in less than 90 minutes. The market place scene, the starship chase scene, the descent into someone’s unpronounceable territory scene (of which there are many) all can be shortened drastically and have zero effect on the actual story. At least it was a followable story-line in comparison to Transformers: The Last Knight, but that’s about all it had going for it.
The Actors: As I said before, the characters were all one-dimensional. Valerian, played by Dane Dehaan, is supposed to be a fast-talking, smooth operative. What I see when I watch him is a teenager. Which for someone who is 31 years old is impressive. He seriously acts like he is 12. His lines are as wooden as his facial features. Now, I have no idea if this is the writing, the directing, or just his personality and it’s not my call to make. But he does not manage to convince me that he is anything other than a 12 year playing spy in the sandbox/cardboard box. Slightly better is his counterpart Laureline, who at least shows a modicum of grit and a hint of a personality. While fewer credits than Dehaan, Delevingne has more familiar titles to her name and at least makes you slightly more interested in her character. However, she’s not any better of a spy than Dehaan and their performance together seems forced rather than natural. Rounding out this nightmare is Clive Owen. He plays a shady general who frequently throws temper tantrums and who’s fault all of this is. Again, one-dimensional, zero interest in his character and he just makes for a horribly useless villain (I use the term loosely).
The Visuals: The one thing that this movie does have in spades are great visuals. The colors are vibrant. The creatures are varied and unique. If I’m not mistaken I saw some throwbacks to the designs from Fifth Element. The one thing that Luc Besson excels at is world-building. He is meticulous with detail right down to the languages spoken. Nothing is wasted or found lacking, other than having literally thousands of different beings so getting to know them is next to impossible. The space station design is brilliant and allows for multiple interesting settings. However, none of those settings have anything to do with the plot and are generally throw-away which is disappointing because the set-up is pretty interesting. However good the visuals might be, it’s still not a good enough reason to go and waste money on it in the theaters.
The Music: Alexandre Desplat, you have failed me. A lot of my favorite movies feature Desplat as the composer, and his themes are instantly recognizable to me. However, in Valerian, I honestly can’t tell you what the music is like. I remember vague bits of pop and retro music that didn’t enhance the action on screen at all. The music never served to further the action or heighten suspense (as if there were any to begin with). Typically main characters will have a theme associated with them, something that is supposed to be recognizable/relatable to their character and there are no such themes to be found.
Thoroughly disappointed in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Movies should not be made just to be made. I can understand wanting to bring the comic to life, but looking at whether it translates well to the big screen should factor heavily into that decision before it gets made.
Adults: Don’t bother. It’s not worth the money. Honestly, I’m not even going to tell you to buy it. If it makes it to Netflix and you are really, really, really bored one day, it might help you kill a few hours as long as you have something else to do. Don’t expect to be riveted.
Children: I don’t know. Maybe? After all the main characters do seem like they belong in Sky High or other cheesy children’s movie. So maybe?