Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian is without a doubt a visual masterpiece. Clearly a lot of effort had been put in to making every scene look beautiful and highly detailed, and every species of alien had both distinctive inter and intra species differences. Coupled with an amazing soundtrack and score, Valerian is certainly artfully crafted. But then any film that starts with Bowie’s classic Space Oddity, is bound to gain favor with me.

It is just a shame that the script, in many places, fell a bit flat. That is not to say that the script was bad. In fact, Valerian was a great action packed story and there were many funny moments along the way. But what could have been funny sarcastic dialogue sometimes fell short. However, this was largely due to timing and execution. As a sarcastic person myself, I know that this type of humour lies greatly on perfect timing.  That being said, characters such as, what I can only describe as flying monkey ‘pigeon’ ducks, certainly got the audience to chuckle more than once, especially with their complete lack of loyalty to Laureline (Cara Delevigne).

In terms of casting, at first I was sceptical. I did not think that Dane Dehaan as ‘bad boy’ Valerian would work. And initially I did not think the chemistry between Dane and Cara was right for the roles either. Admittedly it did take a while for me to warm up to the characters and their relationship, but after about half an hour in, I became used to the way they play off each other and found myself really routing for them. I have seen many reviews that have slated the relationship between the two saying it was wooden and there was nothing between them. But what people are forgetting is unlike many action films, we are not meeting these characters as they meet each other. We know these two soldiers have been partners for years; in this case Dane and Cara do a superb job of showing characters that are used to being in each other’s company.  Rihanna, as Bubble, fares wonderfully well taking a leap into the big screen, and brings life to –for lack of a better word- a bubbly character.

The eagle eyed viewers will sure to pick up the similarities between Valerian and multiple sci-fi films of the past. Most notably Star wars, with Alex the spaceship looking remarkably like the millennium falcon. But before jumping to conclusions, it should be stated that if anything Star Wars took this from Valerian given the French comic has been around since the 1960s. It has to be appreciated on its own how Valerian as a comic series gave rise and shapes many of the specific tropes and cornerstones of the sci-fi genre. And through Luc Besson’s amazing directorial skills, all this is brought to life in the most beautiful way.

Therefore, fans of either the Star Wars or Star Trek franchises, or general sci-fi fans will love Valerian, if not for the story than the visuals alone. If you loved Avatar, then you will certainly appriciate the CGI that goes into making the creatures of the planet Mül come to life. I would recommend this film to anyone as it truly is a visual masterpiece and should not be missed.

Whilst the visual is undoubtedly breathtakingly stunning, the story is conversely very dark. It sheds light on all too familiar topics. That even on an idealised spacecraft, Alpha, where thousands of intergalactic species come together under peace and prosperity, there are still the unsightly parts of everyday life -such as prostitution rings. But even more chilling is the lengths that officials, namely Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen), will go to cover up their mistakes – such as erasing an entire species existence from the records and even taking out their own soldiers – in order to avoid humiliation. But this topic is far from science fiction, cover ups are far from nonexistent in our own world. So although Luc Besson’s Valerian is beautiful on the surface, it has a much more serious story to tell.

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