Friday, July 28, 2017

"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" Review by Tim Hellman


A big-budget science-fiction French action movie, from writer/director Luc Besson. It's based on the French sci-fi comic book series 'Valerian and Laureline' (which debuted in 1967), from writer Pierre Christin and illustrator Jean-Claude Mezieres. The film tells the story of two special space agents, Valerian and Laureline, who must stop an unknown invading force from wiping out the planet Alpha (a home for species from a thousand different worlds). The movie stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke and Rutger Hauer. It was made on a budget of $180 million, which was all funded by Besson himself (through his own funds, and crowd-sourcing), making it the biggest budgeted indie film of all time (as well as the highest budgeted French film). It needs to make $350 million (worldwide) in order to make a profit (Besson says), and justify a sequel, and it's gotten mostly positive (to slightly above average) reviews from critics so far. I found the story, and lead characters, to be a little bit dull, but the amazing alien world created by Besson, and the visuals, are absolutely stunning!

The story takes place primarily on the planet Alpha, where species from a thousand different planets live together in peace. Special agents Valerian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevingne) are tasked with protecting Alpha, by taking down law offenders that threaten to harm the peace. At the same time Valerian professes his love for Laureline, and he desperately tries to get her to reciprocate the feeling. When an unknown alien force threatens not only Alpha, but the entire universe, Valerian and Laureline are forced into their greatest adventure together yet.

The vast fantastical world Besson has created (on screen in this movie) is as impressive as some of the best science fiction films ever made (including Besson's own 'THE FIFTH ELEMENT', if you consider that one of the best). The special effects are also at least some of this year's best. I was really into the film too, for the first half of it's running length, and then I slowly started to lose interest, until it became a bit of a bore at the end. I still have to give it a positive recommendation though, for what Besson does accomplish with the film (especially for an indie movie), and I know I would have adored it as a kid. I'm not familiar with the comic book though, so I don't have any idea what fans of it will think, but I'd still recommend seeing it on the big screen (in 3D, like I did) just for the fun of the visuals.

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