Film Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Title – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Director – Luc Besson (Lucy)

Cast – Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Sam Spruell

Plot – In the distant future, space agents Major Valerian (DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Delevingne) must uncover the dark secrets that lay at the heart of the threat to space station Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets.

“I’m fighting for a noble cause, too. Mine”

Review by Eddie on 11/08/2017

In 1997 polarising French filmmaker Luc Besson unleashed his Sci-Fi oddity The Fifth Element onto an unsuspecting movie going public.

The Fifth Element was a film that divided critics and continues to divide the public today, but its unwavering ability to provide something different into the often well-worn sci-fi film cannon is undeniable, and while Besson in the years that have passed since its release has failed to live up to his early standards of Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, it hasn’t stopped the unique visionary finally realising his dream of adapting Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières famous Valerian comic-book series to the big screen in the form of this big-budgeted and in many ways highly ambitious blockbuster.

Bombing at the box office in the United States and other English-language speaking territories and failing to capture the hearts of many esteemed critics, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, it’s safe to say, is one of the season’s most talked about pictures, for many a wrong reason.

With this in mind I was highly dubious about Valerian’s prospects to succeed, it seemed like 2017’s version of Jupiter Ascending but despite the films many flaws, often cliché and daft dialogue and a plotline that you should certainly not delve too far into, Valerian is one of the year’s most purely enjoyable cinematic spectacles, that in my mind will soon be a cult favourite as it’s discovered by more and more willing watchers.

Filled to bursting point with colour and chaos, more otherworldly creatures than a planet full of Mos Eisley Cantina’s and more whimsy than a bucket full of Hollywood blockbusters, Valerian is Besson turned up to 11 and the filmmaker holds nothing back as we’re placed alongside Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne’s space spanning agents of the law Valerian and Laureline as the two get catapulted into a potentially deadly mission taking place in the heart of space station Alpha, aka The City of a Thousand Planets.

Christin and Mézières world and Besson’s adaptation of it truly does allow for some stunningly crafted eye candy that comes alive before our very eyes. It’s always palpable when you sense a director having a great time with his creation and Valerian does just that as you can’t help but enjoy what Besson has managed to conjure up for our viewing pleasure.

While it’s hard to argue against the eye watering treats on offer it’s also impossible to argue against the fact that Valerian does falter more often than not when settling down and focusing on dialogue driven scenes. Its highly possible that many who’ve reacted rather viciously towards Besson’s film in a critical sense have reacted badly towards this element of the film and if one was to take a fine tooth comb to the film, you’d find more flaws than not but you would also be missing the films point of entertainment.

With a willing cast that gets some quite-fun turns from DeHaan and Delvinge who share an easy-going chemistry, even with out of place scenes involving Rihanna as a blue alien actress called Bubble and any scene that includes a phoning-it-in Clive Owen, Valerian should be watched with your brain switched off and mindset set to “just enjoy it silly” and if you do this, its highly likely that Valerian will offer you one of the most simply enjoyable film experiences of the year.

Final Say –

While it will never be a film that can be critically lauded, this cult classic in waiting is a highly stylised and in an odd way refreshing blockbuster experience, in a marketplace that often seems to think realistic and gritty is what we always need.

Besson’s unflappable passion towards the Valerian brand comes across to make A City of a Thousand Planets a genuinely fun and often exciting adventure, in a universe we can hopefully experience on the big screen again in the future.

3 ½ oversized headpieces out of 5

13 responses to “Film Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

  1. Eddie, you’re the first person I’ve come across who had virtually the same opinion I did. I bet in 5 years, no one will remember Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but they will all say how they always liked Valerian. I love how the fact that critics hated the Fifth Element has conveniently gone down the memory hole.

    • Yeh I must agree with you mate. I think this one will be enjoyed by more and more as they come across it on home video and I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was.

  2. Totally agree! I went in with really low expectations, and while sure the plot and characterisation are… urm…, it looks *amazing*! I’d rewatch it just for that 🙂

    • My expectations were about as low as they get ha, even though I knew visually it would be a lot of fun.

      I would be very surprised if many don’t start talking about this a lot more positively in the future in the years.

  3. Cult classic in the waiting – very generous – I’d need to be stoned if I ever watch it again. The only thing that kept me from falling asleep at our viewing was fear the projectionist would drop me down his trap door at the flick of a switch.

  4. I watched this i 3d and I felt what it lacked in story it more than made up with how beautiful it was. Rhiannah’s performance was also outstanding.

  5. Pingback: Best and Worst of 2017: Eddie’s Take | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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