PG-13, release July 2017
Actually I am a bit surprised that this turned out a total flop on the US market (so far) – because the movie is not bad at all, and it should be especially appealing to a teenage audience… Admittedly, the French comic book series „Valerian“ – which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – isn’t widely known, neither are the core actors, who seem to lack a certain chemistry, and supposedly there’s an overly complicated story… Yet all reviews mentioned the stunning visuals, „LSD trip-like“. And hey, after a stressful day that’s exactly what you need… Plus, Luc Besson movies usually take some more time to sink in and become cult classics …
Although I was familiar with Valerian comic books (I had read a few as a teenager), I do not recall too much of it to spoil the story for me – which is: In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives who embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace.
The story provides a chance for Luc Besson to expand the world of comic book creators Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières with his own weird creations and creatures – and you’ll definitely chuckle several times about some insider jokes… And yes, just the story – we didn’t find too complicated at all – those indeed amazing visuals and special appearances of Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Rutger Hauer, Herbie Hancock and Rihanna are worth to give this movie a chance in 3D.
What’s spoiling the fun of a fancy SF flick a bit: the protagonists lacking the appeal to carry the movie – they look too much like teenagers to make a) high ranking special force officers b) the devoted couple thing believable. (Unless they pull an „Aragorn“ and are actually 80 years old…). Plus the somewhat „wooden“ acting – neither Dane nor Cara can channel the charisma e.g. Carrie Fisher / Harrison Ford had radiated (or Bacall / Bogart, or other legendary b/w screwball comedies). Maybe cutting the „love story“ and rather adding more of this over-the-top eccentrics that turned The Fifth Element into a classic would have been a better choice. And another thing – someone in the CGI department (Weta Digital and ILM – Industrial Light & Magic) must be a huge fan of Jessica Alba, or Avatar, or both …
Summing up – not a bull’s eye but still worth to watch.