Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets: A flawed Masterpiece (No Spoilers)

It’s 13 July, 2017. and I got to see the independent giant, Valerian And the City of 1000 planets starring Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan.

And when I say Giant, I mean it.  The budget is 197 million Euros… 224 million for us

There is a lot to discuss about this movie.  So bear with me.

Things I Loved

First And Foremost, The Visuals.

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Photo courtesy of STX Films and Europacorp

Valerian is one of the most gorgeous movies to come out of this year…perhaps several years.  the color pallete is something straight out of the Salvadore Dali playbook, adding to the surrealism of the world around us.  There’s a certain whimsy built around the movie.  Not to mention plenty of “blink and you’ll miss it” omage to other movies.  The artistic aspects, the alien culture, the strange lifeforms are what make this movie a must see.  You are a fan of Farscape, Trek, Wars, Interstellar, or Space Oddessy, there is something here for you.

 

The Story Line

I feared the storyline coming in,  2 agents doing XXXX (more on that later, promise no major spoilers, and no it’s not avatar).  But it wasn’t awful.  I was engaged the entire time with the world build aspect.  This applies to the main story line only (again more on that in due time).  It’s defiantly worth a watch.  It’s predictable like any major movie is going to be, but when it comes to Luc Besson imagination, we don’t tend to care about story so much.

THE ALIENS!

And oh buddy are there a lot of them.  I would dare to say there are more creatures featured here that in any other Sci-Fi movie seen (DS9 and Farscape probably have it beat).  The very beginning will have you completely hooked (unfortunately, the set up Besson creates in the beginning sort of ends there, probably my only spoiler you’ll see here.)

Rhianna

I definitely don’t want to spoil it, but I loved her in it, and no I’m not a fan of her music.

Things That Infuriated Me

How can Luc Besson do this with a movie I really like?  Because he made the nearly perfect Sci-fi.  For years I have been waiting for a Sci-fi with creatures and design of this magnitude.  The whole world was meticulously crafted to the letter.  The problem then becomes as you craft, what do you give up?  Well…here is what needed polish.

The Script

If someone told me that the guy who directed The 5th Element and The Professional had a movie that had crap writing, I’d be like “Ya right”.  In Valerian, there is dialogue in more than one place that feels entirely out of place, blocky, or something that an emo kid might write.  Perhaps I’m a bit harsh on the wording of the movie, but I wouldn’t need to be if it wasn’t noticeable.  With Luc Besson in complete control, something is bound to fall through, which leads me to the 2nd biggest issue.

Really…Really…Reeeeealy Bad Lead Casting

Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan are terrible in their roles, no question about it.  The first thing I can’t shake is that they look way too young for the roles given.  I think more Spy Kids than human adult agents, and the chemistry between the two are awful.  I will commend them for fully committing to the physicality of the role, but they just sound like 35 year old people in 20 year old bodies.  Especially in the beginning (you’ll find out), there’s just a resounding “WTF Really?” that you can almost feel in the theater;  And with the sometimes crude writing, these characters suffer.

If you need to know, John Goodman is great, Rhianna is surprisingly good for the role provided and is sorely underutilized in the movie, and Clive Owen can do no wrong.

What’s With All This Human Stuff?

Ok I lied.  This might be spoiler-esque. Just go to the next header if it bugs you.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice is that this is a very human story.  Human leads, Human commanders, human emotions?  I sit there and I just think to myself “Who the hell cares?”  You have a city of 1000 planets, and we are focusing on the one people we already know?  This is the biggest thing that irks me.  The two main characters and the antagonist have two things on their minds:  Pride and Ego.  Valerian is basically a f***boi until he isn’t, abruptly changing his character with not much backstory to it, other than she’s attractive.  You have Lorelai, who’s trying to prove the entire time that she can keep up, with some odd moments that seem out of place with her character completely.  There is a off balance of keeping her feminine and badass that just missed the mark entirely.  Then, you have a bad guy who cares more about his ego and pride until the bitter end.  These characters for the most part are 2 dimensional and at times moving haphazardly into their scenes, which is crazy odd as Besson is known for his deep dive into character development, which is spent incredibly on surrounding characters, but not the mains.  But I’m digressing from the main point.

Why so human?  I want aliens!  Give me an alien lead, plot, emotion!  The supporting aliens in the show are great.  Take the two mains out, you might actually have a better movie here.

Final verdict – This movie is FX pr0n

The aliens are awesome, the worlds are awesome the colors are awesome.  Just don’t expect any ground breaking stories to tell your water cooler friends about.  Hopefully well get some better mains in the sequel.

 

7.0/10 – please make a movie about just the beginning space oddessy scene

 

 

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