Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets

Oftentimes when I write about substandard films, I hark on them for being heartless cash-ins, soulless pandering reboots, or simply just suffering from a chronic lack of originality. This is a first for me. This movie is original, has plenty of good ideas, and at its core is driven with a lot of heart. And guess what? It’s still terrible!

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Where to even begin? This is one of the craziest movies you will see this year. The plot follows Valerian and Laureline, played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne respectively, on an intergalactic adventure that takes them to Alpha, a space station where all species collide in a harmonious community of knowledge and commerce. Their mission is to protect the most coveted item in the universe. What is that item, you ask? It’s a uh…an armadillo that poops diamonds…so…yeah… This movie is weird, man. I have to commend them on creating a unique and creative world in a landscape dominated by so many competitors, but I would have preferred them to sort of ease us into it in a way. There is a lot of things happening in the film that are entirely foreign to us as viewers that are simply never explained. And I’m not just talking about the fact that I know virtually nothing about Valerian or the agency he works for, no, I’m talking about everything else in the movie. For example, at one point Valerian takes a stroll through a sort of space-agey red light district, and there was a woman just walking by dressed like Jessica Rabbit. The movie is filled with creative nonsense like that. And to be honest, it’s incredibly entertaining to watch in a “I can’t believe what I’m seeing” kind of way. But that’s about as far as the entertainment comes from.

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I do not believe they possibly could have picked two worst actors to helm this film. I do not like Dane DeHaan. I didn’t like him in Chronicle, I didn’t like him in The Amazing Spider-Man, and I do not like him in Valerian. He is supposed to be the most adept space agent in the galaxy, but he just comes across as some frat guy who accidentally walked into a Star Trek convention. Cara Delevigne isn’t much better, but at least when she speaks you don’t instinctively want to punch her in the face. As for Rihanna, this is a low point in her career. Keep in mind that her only other live action credit was in the movie Battleship. She plays a shape-shifting alien sex worker named Bubble. I’ll just leave it at that. This movie tries very hard to be funny, but I don’t think Luc Besson has ever heard an actually good joke in his life. You can tell that he put a lot of passion behind this project, but the final product is just a mess. I don’t know what I was expecting, as the last CGI-based passion project he created was a trilogy of Arthur and the Invisibles films. This guy made THE PROFESSIONAL. If you were to look at a frame of the professional and compared it to a frame from this movie, your mind would shut down.

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This is a very visually stimulating movie. Sometimes, to a fault, however, as many sequences can only be described as a sensory overload. There is a lot of CGI in this movie. A lot. Sometimes it looks great, sometimes it doesn’t. None of it is “bad” per se, as there is no such thing as bad CGI anymore. At least not in a film that dares to actually try. The problem is you have two distinctly uncharismatic actors left on a blue screen set reacting to things that aren’t really there. That doesn’t bode well for resonant performances. I mean, look, this movie isn’t very good, but if you go into it in a good mood, you can have a great time. When it comes to ridiculously goofy movies, my favorites are ridiculously goofy space operas. So do yourself a favor and wait until it comes out on Redbox, get a good group of friends, and sit around and witness this for yourself. Seriously, you have to see this movie. Cara Delevigne sticks her head up a jellyfish’s sphincter in order to communicate telepathically. So…yeah, you gotta see that for yourself!

D+

-Ethan Brundeen

 

All images are from Valerian and the city of a thousand planets, a film by EuropaCorp

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