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Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
07.11.2017
9 10

PLOT: When an alien race creates a possible threat to Alpha - a massive world inhabited by human and alien life - a pair of special operatives are hired to investigate. However, things may not always be what they seem in this visual stunning and slighly quirky sci-fi adventure.

REVIEW: VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is a very long title. This is probably why most of the press you’ll find puts emphasis on the first word. What is VALERIAN? He is a special ops agent in the future who, along with his partner Laureline, attempt to protect Alpha - a city of a thousand planets - against a seemingly menacing force. The feature film from Luc Besson also happens to be a thing of beauty. This is a truly remarkable display of imagination and may be the stand out movie of the summer simply because you won't see anything else like it. Wild and weird, it takes audiences to strange new worlds filled with monstrous creatures and even a sexy alien performer in the form of Rhianna. There is much to admire in this modern day sci-fi adventure - even if it may get a bit too cheeky for audiences looking for a more serious minded adventure.

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives charged with keeping order in the human territories of Alpha - the city of a thousand planets that continues to grow. Yet something is not right in the world. Soon, they are brought on by Minister of Defense (Clive Owen) to seek out a possible threat to their world. The assignment brings them on a strange adventure, one that may bring surprises for the couple who keep disagreeing on the prospect of marriage. Will this threat destroy the entire alien and human colonies that have gathered together in one massive and expanding city? Or will Valerian and his partner save the day? And will they ever agree to tie the not? So many questions!

2017 cara delevingne clive owen dane dehaan ethan hawke john goodman luc besson rihanna science-fiction valerian and the city of a thousand planets

The opening sequence of VALERIAN is simply incredible. We see this wonderful world of Alpha grow throughout time. It begins years before as a simple space station. Every few decades it grows and grows as it becomes its own gigantic world. We watch as it expands and David Bowie’s perfectly suited “Space Oddity” adds to the thril - hopefully the theatre you see it in will play it loud. The use of that particular song and the impressive visuals make this one of the most stunningly gorgeous opening sequences I’ve seen in years. And that is well before we see what Alpha becomes; a rich and jaw-dropping world where alien beings and humans exist in peace.

Visually speaking, VALERIAN is a sight to behold. Luc Besson has crafted what may be his most impressive work in years. The imagination on display is absolutely brilliant. The director brought together a few different artist to create something truly unique. Based on the French science fiction comics called "Valerian and Laureline"- written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières - this is a real return to form for the director. It is a beautifully realized world that is fueled by several creative visionary artists, and if you can catch it in 3D you most likely won’t be disappointed. Everything from the bizarre alien life forms to the ever expanding universe, there is something truly magnificent here.

2017 cara delevingne clive owen dane dehaan ethan hawke john goodman luc besson rihanna science-fiction valerian and the city of a thousand planets

As gorgeous as this is, one of the elements I enjoyed the most was the romantically inclined back and forth between DeHaan and Delevingne. The two actors are incredibly comfortable with the sharp dialogue. There is a ton of humor in their exchanges, much of it feels quite old-fashioned. Thankfully the two are able to embrace it. creating one of the most fun pairings this year. Delevingne is especially charming as she fights off DeHaan’s advances in clever ways. The on-screen relationship has shades of Han and Leia, mixed with the classic romantic comedies of a bygone era. It is a delight to watch.

As much as I loved the film, it may be slighly divisive for some audiences. The visual effects are stunning, but the story may not work for everyone. It is a strange mix of comedy and romance and sci-fi adventure, and frankly that was a selling point for me. The story itself - the screenplay is also by Besson - is a bit strange. It flows from the simple and comedically romantic partnership of Valerian and Laureline, to a slightly convoluted plot about an alien race who may be an enemy to the human. However, I appreciated its occasionally clumsy reveals. There is a sense of whimsy that will connect to young audiences, but may put off those looking for a more mature work off. This is the kind of flick you can just take in, laugh and enjoy.

2017 cara delevingne clive owen dane dehaan ethan hawke john goodman luc besson rihanna science-fiction valerian and the city of a thousand planets

With Delevingne and DeHaan lighting a spark, other cast members added to the entertainment of it all. Clive Owen is solid as Valerian’s commander sending him out on a dangerous mission. Rihanna may not have a ton of screen time, but she is used rather well as a sultry being who Valerian meets along the way. You really can’t take your eyes off of her. And then there is Ethan Hawke who gives one of this most bizarre, yet engaging performances to date. It’s absolutely fantastic to see Rutger Hauer back in a massive sci-fi flick, even if it's only for a brief moment.

VALERIAN is an extraordinary cinematic experience if you are willing to take the trip. If you are a fan of Besson’s THE FIFTH ELEMENT, you aren’t going to want to miss this. The world building is exceptional and he found a delightfully quirky pair of actors to lead us through it. In fact, I felt this experience was slightly reminiscent of STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE in many ways - while it is unlikely to find that kind of impossible success. The impressive visuals and the rich and imaginative alien life forms all feel like we are seeing something truly spectacular. Perhaps the story won’t necessarily connect to all audiences, yet it is something worth experiencing on the big screen - on the biggest screen possible - with a pair of 3D glasses to take it all in. Valerian is weird, wild and kind of wonderful.

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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