Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

When I saw the first trailer for Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, I was excited. I loved The Fifth Element and have watched that movie so many times its ridiculous. I was really looking forward to seeing Valerian.
All that said, when I walked out of Valerian a while ago, I was left feeling vaguely cheated.
The movie is visually stunning. The previews, amazingly enough, do NOT give away the plot. Rihanna's performance is amazing.
All that said, the movie has some things working against it: its plot, its actors and their characters.
The plot in Valerian isn't convoluted, it's barely there. A large portion of the movie is taken up by a sidequest where Valerian has to save Laureline from cannibalistic aliens.  That bit was interesting, but not really essential to the main story. It didn't really add anything, but window dressing.
As for the actors? I have no idea who Dane Dehann is or what other films he's appeared in. He seems serviceable enough in this film, as done Cara Delevigne, but neither of their performances was stellar. Clive Owens simply plays his in-stock character. At this point, you could drop the man into any film and he would be playing the exact same character. Rihanna's performance was quite nice, although her character was essentially pointless.
And that is where this movie fails so utterly. The characters of Valerian and Laureline, our protagonists, the people we're supposed to relate to and cheer for, are a couple of dicks.
Valerian comes across as a smugly arrogant little bastard while Laureline is just bitter. We're supposed to believe these people are in the military? Neither displays anything approaching military discipline or decorum.  You know you've got a problem when the most likeable characters in the film either (a) die or (b) are a cannibal-chef.
I've read that Luc Beson had been plotting to make this movie for years. Well, I hope he enjoyed what he made because I'm not sure how many other people will.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd give Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets a 2. Although its visual spectacle might shine on the big screen, the unlikability of its central characters forces me to consign this film to the on-demand queue or DVD bin.

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