Directed by Luc Besson and based on the popular comic VALERIAN AND LAURELINE, VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017) delivers stunning visuals and some decent action, but fails to deliver likeable characters and good dialogue, making it a lackluster watch. It’s a shame, as it offered a ton of promise (particularly in its spectacular trailer), and I was hoping for another FIFTH ELEMENT, which Besson also directed.
The film starts out with a great sequence showing the International Space Station becoming a hub for human and then alien civilizations, finally launching into deep space as Alpha, the city of a thousand planets, a monstrous spaceship that is really an entire world. Humans act as police for the entire galaxy, including Major Valerian and his partner Sergeant Laureline. Their first mission is to recover a unique animal that can replicate matter, which is wanted by both Alpha’s government and a species that was nearly driven to extinction. Valerian and Laureline must track these aliens into the heart of Alpha to save the day.
What I liked: the amazing visuals and world-building, through which we’re given a roller skate tour through the movie, which moves at a nice fast pace. The film is so beautiful and idiosyncratic one can almost forgive its flaws. What I didn’t like: almost everything else, from the wooden dialogue, poor casting, and terrible chemistry between the two leads (two otherwise capable actors); the convoluted and contradictory plot; the cliched moralizing; and the clumsy directing that sapped energy even from Rihanna’s spectacular dance sequence.
Overall, I’m glad I watched it because it’s visually spectacular, but as almost all the film’s energy comes from its setting, it comes across as pretty lifeless.