Acclaimed director Luc Besson’s latest opus was inspired by the French comic series, Valerian and Laureline, created by Pierre Christian and Jean-Claude Métiers.
The film takes place in the 28th century and centers around Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), a pair of special operatives fighting crime across the universe. In the City of a Thousand Planets, our heroes must stop a mysterious power source from destroying Alpha, a massive floating city. Alpha began centuries earlier as the International Space Station that has expanded over the years and serves as a home away from home for aliens from across the universe who live together in harmony.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is one the most visually stunning films that I have ever seen. Every single frame is amazing to look at, and you can see that every penny in the film’s 200 plus million dollar budget was used to create this breath taking universe. Luc Besson has truly outdone himself. You really owe it to yourself to see it in IMAX 3D.
Unfortunately, Besson’s attention to the mind boggling scenery and action sequences cannot save the film from its biggest flaws, its cheesy dialogue and the miscasting of its lead actors, most notably Valerian. I thought DeHaan was bland and thoroughly unconvincing as the hero. I felt no connection and saw no chemistry between he and Delevingne. Even the dialogue between the two leads came across as left over material from George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels.
Still, the film does offer a refreshing, positive future for mankind; instead of the usual bleak or apocalyptic future we normally see.
Unfortunately the film’s aspirations fall a little fiat due the inability of its leads to carry film. They essentially fade in the background of all the special effects. Now, if you can get over the flaws in Valerian, it’s still an incredibly good looking movie, and should really be seen in IMAX 3D.
Should Besson decide to return to the realm of Sci-Fi, hopefully he takes as much time to develop the film’s leads as he does in creating the universe they play in.