I took a trip down Luc Besson’s insanely visionary mind by checking out his latest sci-fi film Valerian and The City of One Thousand Planets, and while it suffers from mediocre acting and a shifty plot, it’s still one of this year’s most magical looking cinematic spectacles. For the special effects alone it’s worth checking out in theaters even with the somewhat muddy narrative.
You can catch my full review of the film below in video or script form.
Hey now Luc Besson fans, Matt Heywood here for EntertainmentBuddha.com to review his latest out-of-this-world-flick Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets.
There will be no spoilers featured in this review.
First off, I have no prior experience with the world of Valerian, so I went into the film with a fresh canvas in my brain for it to paint on, and outside of some mediocre acting and a shifty plot, I actually quite enjoyed the painting I left with in my brain.
I’m not saying Valerian is an amazing sci-fi film that you should rush out and go see immediately, but its spectacle is one worth experiencing if anything else. It is as Besson-esque as it gets, and makes The Fifth Element seem like a basic special effects film thanks to the amazing visuals it showcases from start to finish.
If anything else Valerian is one of the most intoxicating looking films in years, and rivals, if not trumps the vibrant and trippy style of Avatar. Every world you’re taken to, or for that matter, every section of the Alpha space station you encounter, which once was our own International Space Station that has turned into a city of a thousand planets over the years, features entirely unique color palettes and species.
You start on the Planet Mul, which looks like a beach paradise with translucent humanoid aliens inhabiting it, and end on Alpha, which has an underwater level, a desert level with a hidden Virtual marketplace, and so many different types of aliens that you’ll think you’ve mistakenly made it to the Mos Eisley Cantina. The sheer variety of cultures, colors, and creatures are enough to keep your imagination on fire as you make your way through the somewhat muddy plot.
That is the one downside to Valerian, which does feature a somewhat goofy narrative that never really hits the emotional tones it aims to. I credit this to the two lead characters, who are played by Dane HeHaan and Cara Delevigne. Neither really brought their A-game to their roles of Valerian and Laureline, which helps to make the film’s plot feel a bit hollow because you never fully buy into them being who they’re pretending to be.
Dane just doesn’t come off as a leading action hero type of man, and Cara, while insanely beautiful and hard not to notice, still acts as if someone is coaching her through an ear piece. The chemistry between these two never feels genuine, which greatly affects one aspect of this film’s narrative. This in turn makes the who world of Valerian feel a bit soulless, which is a shame, because it truly is a magical looking film with some of the most insane looking visual sequences I’ve ever seen.
The mix of practical effects and costumes with the special effects are award worthy if anything else, so while the human leads never feel authentic and border on caricatures, the aliens they come across do feel real and whimsical, so you can overlook some of the acting issues.
If you’re a fan of Luc Besson, you’ll enjoy Valerian, but like his other movies, something about it just feels a bit out of place, so it lacks that special ingredient to make it a standout movie going experience. I credit this to the lead actors and the muddy plot, but even with these issues I still quite enjoyed it and would watch the movie again. Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets earns a 7 out of 10 review score from Team EB. It’s far from perfect, but the level of imagination that went into it results in one of the most fantastical films I’ve ever seen, so its spectacle is worth witnessing if anything else.
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a 3D screening of this film for the purposes of this review.