Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Screen 12 articles

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Poster
  • A travesty of storytelling... Unlike so many hyperactive would-be blockbusters, Valerian is not like a visit to a theme park. It’s like gliding on a tramway through an international expo on the World of Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… The action is meant to be edge-of-your-seat, but we end up leaning back to take it all in. It’s so bereft of narrative tension and emotion and refulgent with visual invention that it functions strictly as spectacle—before it stops functioning at all.

  • The effort that went into the creation of the images is evident, from conception to realization; yet my experience of Besson’s film is that its quantity of imagination was mainly a substitute for its quality, that Besson in effect leaned outward to impress viewers rather than leaning inward to seek himself. The element of self-revelation in “Valerian” is one of hectic showmanship rather than of his own curiosity and discovery, of his own pleasure.

  • A luxurious, appealingly daffy spectacle, a true vision unchecked by the standards of good taste, and that in and of itself is a quality worth savoring. But its design is pixel-deep, without the underlying thought that makes great science fiction worth revisiting. It’ll look amazing on a TV in a Best Buy some day.

  • Besson has always had a thing for strong heroines, and while Delevingne isn’t the focus here, it’s easy to dream that she could have been. The movie offers us a world full of spectral, digital curiosities; who cares whether the dweeb gets the girl? Well, Besson does — making Valerian a little boring, at the end of the day, though not unenjoyable. It’s too much of a feast for the senses to be a bad movie, but it has too little A-game Besson to be a good one.

  • While Besson's new film isn't _good_, necessarily, it is extremely Fifth Element-like, from the filmmaker's generally Euro-flavored style to the distinctive costuming, from the wild imagination to the wildly underwhelming romance.

  • It doesn't help that all the players in the film seem bored by their roles. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne are especially wooden, failing to generate even the slightest chemistry. As a result, one appreciates Valerian for its incidental details, like the design of the alien races or the intergalactic tchotchkes that litter the various environments. These details... sustain one's interest for a while, but not enough to keep the movie from feeling like a slog at two hours and 17 minutes.

  • This phenomenon pretty much defines Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a film of overwhelming vision and silliness that Besson has apparently been wanting to make since he was ten — actually, literally ten — and first discovered Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières’s groundbreaking French comics Valerian and Laureline. I’m not versed in the source material, so I can’t speak to the movie’s fidelity, but something tells me Besson has made it very much his own.

  • It’s rare, then, to see a film this extravagant that also feels, for better or worse, like the work of a single personality. The longer action scenes may not always rank with Besson’s early ’90s highlights (Léon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita) or the mania of the more recent Lucy, but there isn’t a moment in this ludicrous, lushly self-indulgent movie that doesn’t feel like its creator is having the time of his life.

  • Director Luc Besson’s Valerian and the Planet of a Thousand Cities is an unabashed exercise in wall-to-wall eye candy, irretrievably drunk on the power of image-making. Within the first five minutes, the question is less whether Besson’s screenplay “works” and more whether the film’s clearly elephantine budget can possibly sustain itself for the next two-plus hours.

  • Besson, an industrial-strength entertainer and the reigning maximalist of the European film industry, isn’t selling originality so much as volume. He has made a madly overstuffed Mos Eisley Cantina of a movie, one that surveys its diverse alien constituencies with the wide-eyed wonderment of a small child and the attention span to boot.

  • It’s a movie that always seems to be frantically paddling to keep from being submerged by its own ambition. But what ambition... It looks arresting, an eye-searing assault of neon and overstuffed special effects. But given the sheer complexity of the worlds in which the story plays out, it’s not surprising that we lose the thread of the action once in a while. The writing simply isn’t strong enough to compete with the visual impact.

  • These subtle uses of 3D can also be seen against the backdrop of Valerian, a neo-retro homage to the sci-fi of yesteryear. A failed blockbuster that may well become a cult classic, like his 1997 The Fifth Element, Valerian is a maximalist experiment in 3D technology and a mishmash of anything and everything you can imagine in any dimension, including serving as a vehicle for star turns by likes of Rihanna as a shapeshifting alien and Ethan Hawke as a fast-talking pimp.

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