Film Review: Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets

Earth is a distant memory, humans have joined the outer space community and along with over a million different species from across the galaxies, reside on the Alpha space station. Spoiler Alert: We’re still the most boring species. We haven’t evolved past the two arms and two legs stage and we have absolutely no superpowers to speak of. Not much to look forward to unfortunately – but at least the view’s a little more out of this world.

Valerian Planet Destroy

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevigne) have their marching orders. Retrieve a last of its kind species from the seedy underbelly of a multi-dimensional black market. Don’t be seen and don’t get caught.

Everything goes smoothly… until it doesn’t, and Valerian and Laureline are running for their lives to get the endangered animal back to HQ on the Alpha space station. They weren’t the only ones after it, and the other untraceable beings who want it have been lifted straight from Valerian’s dreams.

Nothing is adding up and with a growing highly toxic red zone in the middle of the metal metropolis, time is running out. Drawn to the beings Valerian makes it his personal mission to get to the bottom of whatever is going on, and there is no way Laureline is going to sit on the sidelines and let him do it alone.

Valerian and Lor 2

Valerian and the unnecessarily long movie title, actually had a very good storyline; a duo stumbling upon a conspiracy and working together to uncover the truth, with a number of zany interruptions along the way. The shots of Big Market, were amazing and the world of the Alpha space station was well crafted.

And yet, it was just so dull. I didn’t fall asleep but I came pretty damn close, and I wasn’t the only one. The entire movie theatre was silent throughout, no unified sense of fear, excitement, humour or even interest despite the script working overtime to give us those pleasures.

I’m going to go ahead and say editing was one of the main reasons for this. Sure the script could have been better as everything seemed to happen one after the other, but with a little editing magic, and a dash of a quality soundtrack that could have been transformed into something that allowed the jokes to hit their mark and turned the organised structure into a jumbled and exciting mess. For example; there’s a point where Valerian goes missing and Laureline goes to search for him. She completes a few tasks before she finds him…. unconscious. Anyone unconscious for that long should be dead.

Nothing else is going on while she’s on her one woman mission as if the audience are too stupid to conceive more than one thing happening at a time.

The characters themselves looked so young that I almost laughed at how accomplished Major Valerian was made out to be. There was no proof that he was so fantastic, and it just made me think that literally anyone could do his job despite them treating him as such an asset. Valerian and Laureline’s flirty banter was jarring to say the least, it was like two teenagers had been possessed by middle aged characters from a cheesy nineties rom-com – so cringing.

Although we got a pretty cool and completely inorganic overview of life on the Alpha space station – having more interaction with the world would have helped to round out a lot of the movies clearly formulaic features.

Valerian Monster

Did I mention that the movie passed the 130 minute mark? You know how I despise movies that are anywhere near 130 minutes without proper cause, and trust me there was no reason for it. Once again if the editing was a lot tighter and story arch’s worked simultaneously, they could have shaved off more than ten minutes which may have helped in making watching this movie an enjoyable experience.

As a movie. Not so much. However if they turned Valerian into a TV series, I think it would be able to find its footing. The relationship between the two main characters could grow and allow the audience to actually be invested in its outcome, and with strict running time regulations, the issue of pacing would be quickly addressed.

Valerian, at my last check is more than $100 million away from breaking even on its budget. Some may say it’s because it opened the same weekend as Dunkirk and Girls Trip, and they are probably right. I can’t image people who are on the fence about seeing Valerian deciding too unless there wasn’t anything better on.

Thankfully for their sake, there are many other options.

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4 thoughts on “Film Review: Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets

  1. Interesting to read your take on this, especially your idea that this would’ve made a great tv series or miniseries. I really liked the movie, but I agree with that point! Too bad Besson didn’t go with that venue.

    Liked by 1 person

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