Welcome to the Future!
Luc Besson’s latest, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”, takes place a few hundred years into the future where many great Worlds have grown-together and established a metropolis colony named Alpha. Alpha’s inhabitants represent over 1000 different planets, with 4 distinct regions to live in. Next we are introduced to a young pair of special operatives, Valerian and Laureline. Off on a secret mission to retrieve a priceless relic, Valerian begins to suffer painful memories that are both incredibly vivid and lifelike. After the mission goes awry, Valerian and Laureline are brought to Alpha for a debriefing on the classified material. Tasked with protecting the Commander, the two fail when the species in Valerian’s visions show-up to kidnap the Commander. With so many things not making sense, Valerian and Laureline are convinced the Commander is hiding the truth and they are determined to uncover the truth.
Dane DeHaan stars as Valerian, the cocky and arrogant agent with feelings for his partner. Cara Delevingne stars as Laureline, Valerian’s partner and fellow agent. Clive Owen plays Commander Arun Filitt, Valerian and Laureline’s commander. Rihanna has a brief role as a shapeshifting alien named Bubble. Ethan Hawke plays her holder, Jolly the Pimp. Elizabeth Debicki plays a member of an extinct species, Emperor Haban Limai. John Goodman has a brief role as the voice of an alien criminal, Igon Siruss. Herbie Hancock plays the Defense Minister. Kris Wu plays a member of the World State Federation, Sergeant Neza. Sam Spruell plays General Okto Bar.
Luc Besson does a wonderful job bringing this gigantic, beautiful Universe to life; filled with so many interesting characters, ships, and details that one can’t help but to be entertained! “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is true, cinematic immersion. Besson built (well, borrowed from the graphic novel) a universe that contains so many different species and environments, each one more interesting than the next. The film is able to show these in truly-stunning visual effects; the species look life-like and the backdrops and action sequences are breathtaking. Ranging from a trio of cheeky, con artists to various other aliens and a large hidden marketplace, adding another dimension of fun to the film; a beautiful combination of “The Fifth Element” and “Avatar”. Another fun aspect of the film is its’ characters. DeHaan and Delevingne share a strong chemistry, with Delevingne proving that she can be a leading actress. John Goodman, Rihanna, and Ethan Hawke (in a Ruby Rhod-esque role) are clearly having a blast playing some of the most outlandish characters of their career as well! “Valerian and the City of a Thousands Planets” does suffer from being too-jam-packed of story at times, as the film jumps around a bit, not fully-exploring one thread before switching to the next. There is certainly plenty of material for a sequel though, and I would definitely sign-up for another adventure through Besson’s beautiful creation. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” has a run time of 137 minutes, which maybe could have benefitted from trimming a little away from its’ bloated story. I didn’t have high hopes for Besson’s newest offering, but I must say that I was wildly-entertained by its in-depth storytelling and its diverse and visually-stunning universe; “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is a breath-of-fresh-air in the visual effects-driven genre and I can’t wait to see where it goes next!
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” follows a pairing of special operatives as they must navigate and save not only their home, but the future of the Universe. The film features visually-stunning storytelling, fun and original characters, and a multi-layered plot. If you are looking for a family-friendly adventure (well, not the little little ones) this weekend, go see “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”!!
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language, in theaters JULY 21ST!