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Valerian And the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

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One of the most influential films in my life has been The Fifth Element so of course I had been anticipating Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets for quite some time now. Along with the anticipation, I also had high expectations for what would likely be Luc Besson’s next sci-fi masterpiece. I knew Valerian would be majestic and would utilize the advances in visual effects to their fullest capabilities, and that it did. I had high hopes for that, which were met, yet I knew very little of the comics, Valérian and Laureline. I went in with a blank slate as far as plot is concerned. Unfortunately, this is one part of the film which did not meet my expectations.

The comics, which are widely adored in France and span decades, feature Valérian and Laureline, two young exceptional officers who are partners and go on mission after mission. In Besson’s adaptation, Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevigne take on the roles of the formidable pair. We meet the two after witnessing a beautiful sequence showing the progression of the ISS into Alpha, the city of a thousand planets and countless species. As we first encounter the future couple (SPOILER, but c’mon it’s bound to happen), Valerian is a twitterpatted by Laureline, and is ruthlessly pursuing her with cheesy one liners. Their missions were fun to watch, but their love story drew me out of the film.

The first mishap of the script, in my opinion, is throwing us right into Valerian’s drooling over Laureline. I would have liked to see their origin story, but I’m sure Besson had too much to explore and honed it in. However, because of where we are taken the dialogue for every scene in which he is trying to convince her is absolutely cringe worthy since we are given zero context and it just feels over the top. The actors did well with what they were given, I wish someone had told Besson how astonishingly uncomfortable the couple’s dialogue was. The rest of the film, without this, still held my interest.

For the visuals and effects, and the expansive universe, I highly praise Besson and his team. I do believe this makes the film worth seeing, and I will give it another chance but I wish there was a cut of the film without the love story. I enjoyed Alpha and the other locales, all of which have plenty to explore if any more Valerian films get made. This movie was a huge gamble for EuropaCorp but as with many large budget action films, as long as the visuals and chase sequences hit the mark, studios will expect to make their investment back with international audiences.

I’m betting since Besson was such a huge fan of the comics, that he may have held true to the dialogue of the comics and the story line. Due to this loyalty, maybe the predictability of the plot is rooted in the fact that this is the source material from which other sci-fi films have found inspiration, like John Carter. Maybe Besson made this film for fans and himself, and he didn’t pander to newcomers.

Valerian And the City of a Thousand Planets
  Director:  Luc Besson
Studio:  EuropaCorp
Genre:  Sci-Fi, Action
MPAA:  PG-13
Release Date:  July 21 2017
Author:  Roxy De La Rosa
Roxy de la Rosa Roxy and her dogs are San Diego natives all hailing from Baja. She is a graduate of SDSU with a bachelor's degree in Television, Film, and New Media Production. Roxy is a huge comedy film and sitcom fan who hopes to become a TV writer, but for now she spends her time "researching" Netflix when she should be writing.

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