Never judge a movie by its name. Though how cool it might sound, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is nothing like it. Although it tries to be on numerous occasions, it doesn’t even come close. From the guy who brought you the likes of Lucy, this wasn’t expected. I was really looking forward to getting blown away like a death star; the good news is I am still alive. The trailer obviously sold a lie.
On the good side though, we have stunning visuals where you can see all the hard work that has gone in. As far as the acting department is concerned Dane DeHaan and Clive Owen seem quite convincing. The rest are not even trying. Rihanna is probably one of the worst additions to the tale. I mean whatever she performed and expected Major Valerian to like her for, I mean what was that all about? Her Bubble bit seemed like an unintelligent layering that was an outright drag and I remember myself shaking my head more than once.
Humour of Valerian and the City of a Thousand planets isn’t up to the mark either. There are some cool stunts but that too aren’t many. You would have turned all your attention to the screenplay but there is nothing out of the ordinary either except some one or two one liners that are good.
I’m afraid of a kiss, like a kiss from a bee.
Plot of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Spoilers)
On the plot front, the story of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is actually good, but unfortunately isn’t presented so. The real thrill isn’t there and you know for sure there’s something trying to suck out all the mojo from it. Maybe the absence of some real tension, I surmise.
We have a space station Alpha formed around the planet Earth that has come to become a singular abode of thousands of planets living under one roof. We have special agents Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) in the police force, with the former awkwardly hitting on the latter all the time.
Valerian dreams about an idyll dream about a utopian place that fishes for energy pearls. The people living there would duplicate them using an animal (converter). Valerian wakes up when he sees some spaceship debris crashing into that perfect place.
Valerian and Laureline go on a mission to retrieve the same converter from his dream secretly interrupting a meeting that is going on between the dealer and two customers. He also steals the pearl that was supposed to serve as a payment to retrieve the animal.
Commander Arun Filitt
Back in Alpha, Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) is briefing everyone about an infection in the station. Valerian and Laureline show up with the converter with the latter refusing to give the converter to Commander for security reasons. Same humanoids from Valerian’s dream barge in the station taking Filitt captive. They head towards the same infected area Commander was talking about.
While trying to save Filitt, Valerian goes MIA. Then Laureline tracks Valerian using some weird techniques only to end up getting caught herself by a dumb species. Valerian infiltrates their location with the help of Bubble (Rihanna) and rescues Laureline. They both end up in the infected area where they come to realize that the infected area is, in fact, a stronghold of the humanoids who had kidnapped Filitt.
The friendly humanoids then fill them in about Valerian’s dream about their perfect Utopian planet Mul which was destroyed by a space battle happening just over their planet. We come to realize that it was Filitt who had ordered a destructive doomsday weapon to be fired that destroyed Mul as well, despite being confronted by his crew. He had then eliminated all evidence even though it came haunting him in the form of Mul survivors.
The survivors from the planet then took resort in a crashed spaceship thereby learning all about technology from scratch. They eventually came to Alpha where they assimilated ideas of building a planet out of a spaceship. All they were missing was their pearl and the converter that could duplicate it to generate lots of energy.
Valerian and Laureline do the right thing by handing over the pearl and the converter but the robotic soldiers of Filitt end up attacking them. They are then stopped by Valerian and the government as Filitt is taken in.
Big Market Technology
The most genius thing in the entire Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets movie is the Big Market. The inventive thought makes you wonder about such a place in the near future and the insane possibility of it actually metamorphosing. There is ample focus given to that bit for us to sieve in a world driven by interdimensional travel with a snap of a finger. It is beautifully depicted and holds probably a vision to our futuristic arrangements.
Another bizarre stuff worth remembering is Doghan-Dagui, three duck-billed platypus like aliens, that talk by finishing each other’s sentences off. Just watch out the visual effects on them and you will know these have been created with some real painstaking diligence.
The Lack of Chemistry
There’s an absolute lack of chemistry between Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline which makes you want to hate them as a couple. The way things even start between the two makes you want to abhor them.
There is no real spark between the two. You can’t feel any vibes whatsoever. Plus what Cara puts on with her act is just not worth loving. You can’t blame Dehaan for that.
Ethan Hawke’s part as Jolly the Pimp might have been small but was performed nicely. Even though his role was actually dispensable. Seemed like oddly put like a cliched move that Hollywood often resorts to.
The Final Verdict
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets sometimes becomes too smug to be taken seriously. With Cara Delevingne playing hard to get with that cozy grin slapped on her face at all times, it becomes hard to fathom if she is for real.
Visuals are great to witness and probably amongst those few good things about the flick. The movie misses out on gravitas and profundity. You can’t take a lot of things seriously. Luc Besson disappoints.
The love angle is just the worst. But it is a good one time watch nevertheless.
Check out the trailer of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets here: