Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Released on July 21, 2017 Rating:
In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the universe.
One week after seeing Valerian, and I am still trying to sort out what I think about it. I liked this movie more than I thought I would, but for none of the reasons I thought I would. And as much as I liked it, there was plenty wrong with it.
Getting the bad out of the way, this movie was way too long. I’m not sure what happened in the editing process, but it would have benefited (extremely) from a serious cut in runtime. It’s not the longest movie in the world, but there were so many lulls and self-serving scenes that did nothing for the story or the characters – it just seemed to have been kept in the film for sentimental attachment. No thanks.
Second, I know that the comic centered on the romance between Valerian and Laureline, but that is the single-most thing that should have been cut from the film or backing up a minute, done right. The romance between the two main characters is not working in this film, both from a chemistry standpoint (there just wasn’t any, so watching this forced romance actually induced physical pain) and more importantly from the writing. The lines were cheesy, and somehow our two main characters went from a non-relationship to a marriage proposal in under five minutes. What the hell? I have not read the comics the film is based on, but I have to believe that in the comic series the romance was handled right. It wasn’t all out and then all in. It wasn’t forced. It happened organically. Not in this film though.
That brings me to my last gripe: Dane DeHaan. I just didn’t think DeHaan’s performance in this film was that great. All right, I thought it was actually pretty bad. He doesn’t pull off the charisma and intrigue necessary for this role and I felt his performance was consistent in one way: it always fell flat.
After everything I just said, how can I say that Valerian is worth seeing? (And it really, really is.) Well the good far outweighed the bad, not necessarily in quantity but quality.
First off, this film is so visually stunning it takes your breath away. And it does this so many times over the course of its long runtime, you feel like you need oxygen walking out of the theater. If it doesn’t win awards for the downright gorgeous visuals there will be hell to pay. This is actually the sole reason why everyone should see this movie (though some may wish to rent it, which is understandable).
Next, aside from the shoddy writing/dialogue the story itself is rich, and different from something you’ve seen before. It certainly has its influences (Star Wars, The Fifth Element) but is original and unique. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like seeing something “new” and it is getting harder and harder to have an epic sci-fi film do just that.
Lastly, there is Cara Delevingne. This isn’t Delevingne’s first film, but it’s the first time I’ve seen her in a main role (I haven’t seen Paper Towns) and she really holds her own. Actually, she outshines the actual star (DeHaan). I found Delevingne charming and fun. She balanced being badass, funny and vulnerable at the same time. After seeing her in this movie, I just want to see more of her work. She is definitely one to watch!
There are more reasons to see Valerian than there aren’t, and while the writing is not great and self-serving, and it has a long runtime, seeing those incredibly visuals on the big screen make it worth it (unless you have an enviable home theater system, then by all means wait it out).