Release Date: July 21, 2017
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mezieres
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Sam Spruell, Alain Chabat, Rutger Hauer, Peter Hudson, Xavier Giannoli, Louis Leterrier, Eric Rochant, Benoit Jacquot, Olivier Megaton, Gerard Krawczyk, Pierre Cachia, David Saada, Hippolyte Burkart Uhlen, Florian Guichard, Stephane Mir, Thierry Barthe, Pier Ewudu, Andrew Tisba, Yannick Lorte, Charly Akakpo, Clement Beauruelle, Audrey Kamp, Anthony Hornez
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 137 minutes
Production Company: EuropaCorp, Fundamental Films, Grive Productions, Gulf Film, Novo Pictures, Orange Studio, River Road Entertainment, TF1 Films Production, Universum Film, STX Entertainment
Language: English, French
Budget: 197,000,000 (estimated)
All the professionals in the world have expressed how large the universe is, and I believe them. I’ve personally never been out of the planet, but maybe, I’ll make it someday. Though, with so much space to cover, what mind is required to gather the four corners of space into a film that gives a decent glimpse of what’s beyond the stars? Director Luc Besson did it once with The Fifth Element (1997), and now with his creative mind he’s back for Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets. During the marketing campaign, I was lost to the meaning of the title. I thought, “How can 1,000 planets fit in one city?” I’m glad to say this is spelled out in vivid detail early in the film, and grounds it to a potential future that could possibly turn out true. There’s so much to love in this film with the attention to detail, and the clear message that the director cared about this project. Yet there are still some things it could’ve done without. Though overall, with mediocre expectations, there’s much to enjoy, and I recommend seeing it on the largest screen possible.
World building or in this case universe building is a fun arc to explore in any film. Flipping what the audience already is accustomed to with life, and starting fresh is always a wonderful way to keep one’s attention. That was the tool use during the film to keep you attached. Spanning over hundreds of years starting from the 70’s, Besson told a story of thousands of distinct species coming together as one unit sharing all the knowledge they have to offer. By doing this everyone thrived to the next level of triumph, until this lavish reality started to shake. Though no matter how great the sets are designed or advanced the graphics are, you need characters like Major Valerian (Dane DeHann), and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne). They were a cute couple, that was perfect but showed a promising relationship to enjoy in the future. Valerian’s confidence was what tuned me in, and his lack of awareness for emotion made him human. Laureline was no damsel and stood her ground fierce when the occasion called for it. It wouldn’t be wise to say who led the other, because they both took lead at the proper times without one stepping on the other’s foot.
Visually this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite some time. Other films like Gravity or Life would scare you from space travel, but this film makes me want to soar through space like tomorrow. The designs and landscape created here was truly remarkable. Once you seen a creature of sorts interacting on screen, you’d think you’ve seen it all, then seconds later, a more peculiar fellow would pop up just as abnormal as the last if not more. This film was a true spectacle for the visuals. The future technology used in the film was another site to see as well. I was fascinated to see so much technology that would scare us today in modern times, but was so normal to a street hustler within this film. Traveling through different dimensions and time was just as normal as taking a ride to go get gas or taking a tour at a museum. There was so much thrown on screen that if you blinked for a second you would miss something magnificent.
Something that brought the whole film down was the story and how drawn out it was. This came in at 2 hours and 17 minutes and is easily 30 minutes too long. It’s clear the studio had faith in the director letting him do his thing playing around and trying to tell his story, but maybe this is a case where a little studio influence could’ve helped. One scene in particular was where Laureline needed assistance was completely unnecessary. It didn’t do anything for the film besides providing a decent side story. Everything worked within, but it was the sort of stop you’d have to make on the side or the road to go to the bathroom. Sure, you could’ve had a polite conversation with another friendly citizen inside, and bought a nice bag of chip with a drink, but when you’re already flying down the highway making record time flying like and angel, why stop on the side of the rode for cheap snacks?
Luc Besson is a very talented man and should have his reign in Hollywood last for some time. He’s able to separate himself stylistically from everyone else that makes him stand out in a world of filmmaking that sometimes I film too crowded. This film is vast with all sorts of ideas that just makes the mind pop with wonder and curiosity. This is the type of film that the movies were made for when you want something different and new. It’s not at all perfect but has something within it that reminds me of dreams I’d had in the past. There’s an underlying moral to the story that you should figure out on your own, and motivates the mind on the power of working together. It’s a fun film that’s bold in its design, and is proud to take chances.