Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets review by Bobby Blakey
Luc Besson has delivered some great iconic films including The Fifth Element, the Taken series, The Professional and so many more. His latest Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets features a great cast including Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Ethan Hawke, Clive Owen, Rutger Hauer, Rihanna and John Goodman, but does it live up to the epic feel it looks to offer or will it be a world not worth stepping into?
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets follows Valerian and Laureline who are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe. Valerian has more in mind than a professional relationship with his partner- blatantly chasing after her with propositions of romance, but his extensive history with women and her traditional values, drive Laureline to continuously rebuff him. Under directive from their Commander, Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha's seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger. When Luc Besson is involved with a film you know there is going to be something interesting here and this film is no different. The trailers looked amazing from the visuals alone which had me really excited to see this, but while it is good it isn’t quite what I was hoping for.
This is one of those movies that seems to focus more on bringing these aliens and worlds to life more so than a great story to accompany it. That being said it isn’t a bad movie, but I was hoping for something more epic that took us to these other worlds and fully inject you inside them, but instead it felt like a bookended story that just served as a reason to go to a lot of locales. The main story is pretty simple and is the catalyst for everything that happens and does circle back to it in the end to wrap it up, but everything in between is all over the place. Not all of this was unexpected as Besson is known for injecting a lot of excess in some films. Like the opera scene in The Fifth Element this one has a similar scene involving Rhianna and a stripper pole that is fun to watch, but honestly serves little point. She is great in the role though and her character is one of the more interesting in the entire film so despite it not being necessary it still works. The rest of the cast are fine and I normally love DeHann, but here he and Delevingne just don’t click as well as they need to. I don’t think it is performance wise, but more just due to the story they are in as it never allows them to really cement what they want to do with them.
There are some pacing issues and even some moments where the film seems to waste time, but the visuals are so amazing you may not even care. Besson has been wanting to bring this world to life for a long time and his passion for it shows. I loved every aspect of the film on this level showcasing some great aliens, creatures and worlds that is a visual overload well worth seeing the film for alone. I only wish that they had a bit of a bigger more epic story to match the worlds that he is showcasing. While there are issues I must say I still enjoyed the film and look forward to giving it another shot in hopes that maybe it was my expectations that were more the issues than the film itself.
Either way I applaud Besson for bringing something different to the big screen that while based on a popular French comic is something unlike we have seen since Avatar. I hoped it would have done well enough to warrant the next two films he is reportedly writing because I would love to revisit this world for more adventures. Hopefully with this home entertainment release it will boost the sales to make up for the lack of theatrical numbers.
In addition to the film this release also includes a photo gallery and numerous featurettes taking you deeper into the world of Valerian. Grab your copy of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets available now on Digital HD, 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.