Movie Review – Valerian and the city of a thousand planets (2017)
|WHAT’S THE DEAL: Filmmaker Luc Besson returns to THE FIFTH ELEMENT territory with a visually stunning Sci-Fi adventure (based on the long-running French graphic-novel series VALERIAN AND LAURELINE) that tracks a 28th-century pair of lovers/special agents who must discover the secret behind a looming menace before it’s too late.
WHY SEE IT: If you loved the fun tone and inventive production design of Luc Besson’s 1997 fan-favorite THE FIFTH ELEMENT, it’s a treat to see the veteran director return to this genre sandbox with a fresh imagination and more CGI tools at his disposal. And if ever there was an excuse to see a movie on the big screen in 3D solely for the visual splendor of it all, this is pretty much it.
THE FLICK FLACK: Alas, despite its fruitful inventiveness and vibrant color palette, VALERIAN suffers from George Lucas STAR WARS Prequel green-screen malaise; the substantive requirement of real people interacting with tangible creatures against real backgrounds to tell a convincing tale gets lost in the knowledge that we, as an audience, are watching actors who are clearly grounded on a soundstage and nowhere near the exotic locales being depicted in the final product. There are plenty of real-world props, backdrops, and set dressings in the film to play with, but they’re lost in the poly-blend of pixels and purity. Adding insult to injury, the leads of the film — Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline — sadly show little chemistry between each other, and their delivery of Besson’s stunted dialogue is surprisingly lackluster and uninspired. It really detracts from the overall experience, even if you want to check your brain at the door to witness this prime example of CGI overload.
NOTABLE NOTES: Luc Besson first entered my cinematic radar with the indie post-apocalyptic film LE DERNIER COMBAT and then secured my fandom early on with his amazing pair of underworld assassin films, LA FEMME NIKITA and LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL. VALERIAN first came to his attention as a possible film by way of the comic’s illustrator, Jean-Claude Mezieres, who was working on Besson’s THE FIFTH ELEMENT. But the technology to pull off such a visually stunning film was still years away, and it wasn’t until Besson saw James Cameron’s AVATAR that he realized anything was possible on film, with imagination the only limit.
Final Verdict: 2/6