There is no denying the beauty director Luc Besson presents to his audience in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The Fifth Element director shows us a world that looks like a water painting come to life and ideas concerning space colonization that is quite believable. A great deal of the action in this film revolves around a giant space station turned floating metropolis named Alpha. What started out as global space station that builds and builds like LEGOs as each nation that comes to peace with the rest of the world adds to the space station has become somewhat of a crossroads community in the universe. The station earned such a reputation for greatness that the human race makes first contact with other alien races who come to shake hands and make nice with the earthlings.
The concept of a massive colonized space station turned sprawling city in space is a fascinating vision that could be a viable option in the future. It’s too bad this city needs saving from the dullest couple in the galaxy. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne play Valerian and Laureline who are lovers/secret space agents, which is just as dumb as it sounds with the couple having absolutely zero chemistry on-screen together. Delevingne at times looks like she is reading lines off-screen from cue cards and for some reason DeHaan sounds out of breath with every word he roughly spouts out to his stone faced costar. This duo is a couple of duds that do nothing to engage the audience or make you care about what happens to them.
What compounds the bad acting and absence of chemistry even worse in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the laughable dialogue and silly plot line involving pearls and a cuddly little space creature that can poop out other pearls when he eats one. Yes, you heard me right. DeHaan and Delevingne fall flat on their face at their attempts at humor which seem so out-of-place in this film that is meant to have a serious tone at times. The problem with the comedy in Valerian isn’t just that the gags aren’t funny, but it’s unnecessary in a story like this. There was so much potential in the sprawling space epic, but we are sidetracked with morphing alien strippers called Bubble played by Rihanna and Jolly the Pimp played by Ethan Hawke. It’s a must to mention these characters’ names so you can understand just how ridiculous this film can be at times.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will remind you of so many other space odysseys seen on film, just executed to a very lesser extent in terms of quality. Besson’s futuristic galaxy that he creates from the graphic novel is a sight to behold with its grand ideas about other dimensions, but most of the time the film seems all too familiar. The alien race and their planet Mul will remind you of Pandora’s inhabitants The Na’vi from Avatar and the ship Valerian travels in is a complete ripoff of the Millennium Falcon. Plus all the outer space diplomacy has been around since the 1960s with Star Trek so this angle adds nothing fresh to the movie. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets may earn the moniker “So bad, it’s good” over time, but right now it’s just plain silly with Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as the dull leads.
Overall, I give Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 1.5 out of 4 stars.
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