Luc Besson’s new Sci-Fi film ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ is set in a vast space station
named Alpha. Alpha is home to various species and is being threatened by a mysterious hidden force.
The dynamic setting and promise of meeting new and interesting species on Alpha is what originally sold
me on seeing the film. What I got was a visually impressive film with oddly wooden performances and
forced storylines that felt more awkward than epic.
Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sgt. Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are the heroes of the film but
neither of them are likable at any point in the movie. At several points the film tried to establish Major
Valerian as a tough James Bond/Han Solo type hero. This never felt genuine and it only added to the
confusion of how I felt about his character. The chemistry between Valerian and Laureline was
nonexistent and it made the romance storyline feel forced. Very early in the film Valerian asks for
Laureline’s hand in marriage and I was genuinely baffled. Nothing leading up to that scene made me feel
like they had any real connection at all and I was left wondering if I had missed something.
Aside from the dull main characters the supporting cast was hit or miss. Clive Owen was fine as
Commander Arun. His story arc was somewhat predictable but he played the character well. He is very
obviously the villain of the film. I think that is supposed to be a twist but if you have ever seen a movie
this won’t surprise you. Arun’s personal robot guards looked incredibly bad ass and were my favorite
character designs of the film. Rihanna played an odd shapeshifting character named Bubble. The
character was useful to the plot but once again I felt zero connection to her at all. Her backstory was
supposed to make her a sympathetic creature but it ended up being almost comical. The native race that
the plot centers on looks great but if you have seen ‘Avatar’ you have seen most of this before. That is
probably my biggest complaint. This movie feels like mediocre Avatar 2.
‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ is not all bad. The opening scenes were exciting and the
effects were mostly impressive. The use of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in the opening montage was
brilliant and the marketplace scene was really stylish and fun. If you just want some cool visuals and
weird looking aliens you may enjoy this movie more than I did. Definitely go into this movie expecting
more ‘Avatar’ than ‘Fifth Element’.