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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Advanced Screening) Review

Alpha, a metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets is threatened by a dark force, and two operatives have to stop the threat before it consumes the entire universe.

Special thank you to Exclaim! magazine for providing the contest that allowed me to win tickets to this screening.

Release Date: July 21st, 2017

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi


I saw the trailer for this a while ago, I didn’t read the comic book, but I am a big fan of Luc Besson’s films and his style of filmmaking. I love The Fifth Element, Taken, Transporter, and the District B13 films. So I was gung ho for Valerian (I am not writing out the entire title of the film). The trailer looked amazing visually, it looked like a fun flick, however… thats not how it entirely turned out.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi film about a dark force that threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Valerian is directed and written by Luc Besson. His director filmography consists of Leon: The Professional (1994), and The Fifth Element (1997). His writing filmography consists of Leon: The Professional (1994), The Fifth Element (1997), The Transporter (2002), District B13 (2004), Transporter 2 (2005), Taken (2008), Transporter 3 (2008), District 13: Ultimatum (2009), Lockout (2012), Taken 2 (2012), Brick Mansions (2014), and Taken 3 (2014). I like Luc Besson’s style of film-making. His films are gorgeous to look at, and they’re usually fun written movies. Valerian is shot so beautifully, and the technology that he is able to portray on screen is really awesome. His Science Fiction films always seem extremely ahead of their time, I remember watching The Fifth Element and hoping that we’d have flying cars in the future… one can dream.

Valerian had a beautiful scenery, thats what kept me motivated to not walk out of the theatre, even though the film was free. The story was awful, there were a couple of funny lines, but very few well flowing scenes. I found a lot of the dialogue very chunky and the film slogged a lot in places. I expected more from this movie, but was I was left with was a pretty pile of sluggish cinema. Pretty to look at, not so pretty to watch. It was very much style over substance. If theres any reason to attend the cinema for the 2 hour and 17 minute run time, its the visuals and the 3D effects. Theres a lot of cool ideas in this film, the execution was poor.

Valerian stars Dane DeHann as Major Valerian, Cara Delevingne as Sergeant Laureline, Clive Owen as Commander Arun Fillitt, Rihanna as Bubble, and Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp

Dane DeHann’s filmography consists of Chronicle (2012), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), Lincoln (2012), Metallica Through The Never (2013), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), and A Cure For Wellness (2016). I usually don’t mind Dane DeHann, his first stand out film where he was the lead was A Cure For Wellness (2016), and I felt his presence didn’t work for that film or this film. I don’t think he can carry a film, I don’t think he is experienced enough to be interesting or charismatic to carry a film for 2 hours. He’s a good supplementary character, a good behind the scenes or a small villainous role. He felt too cardboard-y, he showed little to no emotion, and to be frank it was a terrible role for him.  I think he’s too inexperienced and too boring to carry a movie. He did absolutely nothing for me in this movie at all, and his “chemistry” with his co-star Cara DeLevingne felt so sluggish and sloppy, that I didn’t care or invest myself in the main characters of this film.

Cara Delevingne’s filmography consists of Suicide Squad (2016). Like DeHann, I don’t think Delevingne is leading lady material, she’s pretty, absolutely she’s pretty, but she can’t act at all in my opinion. There was no chemistry between her and Valerian, which according to the story, they were “companions” I didn’t see a relationship between the two characters. She also felt like a cardboard cut out, that could be manipulated. She showed zero emotion, and it just felt sluggish. She did absolutely nothing for me in this movie.

Clive Owen’s filmography consists of The Bourne Identity (2002), Closer (2004), Sin City (2005), Derailed (2005), Inside Man (2006), Children of Men (2006), and Shoot ‘Em Up (2007). I like Clive Owen, I’ve always been drawn to his films because I think he’s a great actor. My favourite role he’s done so far in this career is Children Of Men (2006). I thought he was okay in Valerian, it wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, it was middle of the road.

Rihanna’s filmography consists of This Is The End (2013), and Home (2015). I don’t consider Rihanna an actor really, I totally forgot she was in Home (2015) and she was maybe in This Is The End (2013) for 5 minutes total, and she played herself. But her character in Valerian was genuinely interesting. She was able to shape shift into different characters, and she had more emotion in that character the the whole rest of the film, which is saying a lot. I thought she was fun in this movie, and her dance scene was one of the stand out parts of this movie.

Ethan Hawke’s filmography consists of Dead Poets Society (1989), Gattaca (1997), Training Day (2001), Taking Lives (2004), Lord Of War (2005), Brooklyn’s Finest (2009), Daybreakers (2009), Total Recall (2012), Sinister (2012), and Maudie (2016). Ethan Hawke is superbly underrated in my opinion, I love his acting, and have loved everything that he has been in that I have seen up until now. He was fun in this movie, it wasn’t in much of it, but the parts where he was were fun and his character was fun.

This whole film felt middle of the road for me. There were parts I loved, and there were parts I hated. I loved the look, and feel of this movie. I loved the visual effects and the technology. The acting from the two leads, and the story left it feeling like a jumbled, sluggish mess.

If you’re going to go see this movie after reading this, I hope you enjoy the movie. If not, it would be a nice way to show off a 4K TV or a new LED TV, because of the bright use of colours. If not, wait until its on Netflix as you won’t be wasting your money.  But it left me frustrated because I wanted to like this movie and enjoy another Luc Besson Sci-Fi adventure movie…but that want has been left empty.

Valerian and The City Of a Thousand Planets gets a 2/5 from me. The story and the characters were too sluggish and dull, but I give it a 2 for the visuals. This marks my first big disappointment at the cinema this year, but we still have another 6 months left.

Until next time!


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