Thursday, July 27, 2017

[Review] Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Luc Besson's ambitious Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (there's a hefty title for ya) gleefully transports us to a futuristic universe that dazzles and proliferates. Unfortunately, the film's aggressively mediocre script and underwhelming leads constantly nag at the potential greatness.

After a welcoming space oddity of a prologue, we witness an oasis planet get destroyed and we learn about some vital pearls, as well as a dark anomaly that threatens the sprawling metropolis of Alpha. Special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are tasked with getting to the bottom of it in order to restore the balance. That's the gist of it, at least.

First of all - the visuals are splendid, flooding the screen with eye-popping CGI, nifty sci-fi gizmos, and imaginative art design. It's layered, it's immersive, and it's luminous. The extraterrestrial beings and creatures are familiar though--from the mystical Avatar-like humanoids, to the obnoxious Jar Jar-like wackos, to the Jabba the Hutt-like blobs of rudeness. The narrative get-go is remarkably clunky too. Amidst all the planet and vessel hopping, there's a lot of sigh-worthy exposition dumps, and somehow, it's still not clear what exactly is going on, or what the goal is. Then it basically launches into series of video game-esque action sequences that scream "generic." Speaking of generic, DeHaan and Delevingne are incredibly bland here, and they virtually have no chemistry together. It's as if the casting directors said "Get me two people who always look like they just woke up from a nap." And their romance story feels tired before it even really begins.

The second half fares much better, and that's when the film begins to gain its own identity, especially as our protagonists journey into a place called Paradise Alley--a busy, bonkers, and neon-lit avenue full of eccentric characters and a wily plethora of *ahem* ...underground businesses. This is also where we meet a kooky showman played by Ethan Hawke and take in an entrancing cabaret performance from none other than Rihanna, who plays a shapeshifting alien named Bubble. It's this very sequence that injects the film with a newfound spunk, and honestly, I couldn't help but think how cool a film about Rihanna's character would be instead.

Valerian never takes itself too seriously, and that's probably for the best, because it allows for a couple of funny one-liners and amusing streaks of delightful camp, even though it does veer too far into cheesy territory at times. But that's Valerian, I guess. A beautiful mess.

( 6.5/10 )

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1 comment:

  1. I have read many movie reviews before your but your review about valerian and the city of a thousand planets brings me a positive thought about this movie and make me want to see how Cara Delevingne acts. All most reviews which I have read recommended not to watch this movie. But your and this review at give me another choosen. Thank your review so much!