A Brief History
On July 21, 2017, the major motion picture, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, makes its debut in theaters for fans of the European science fiction comic series Valerian and Laureline. Although based on the Franco-Belgian comics, the film is entertaining enough that people totally unfamiliar with the comics will quickly identify with the main characters and enjoy the movie.
The main two words you can say about the film (which we previewed on July 19, 2017) are simply “Eye Candy.” Vivid and detailed, the screen is almost always filled with an incredible array of objects and “people,” many of which are alien. Using relentless action, the audience keeps their attention raptly focused on the screen, pauses in action never lasting long enough to get boring.
Set in the distant future when humans and a wide variety of aliens have perfected space travel and are living in (sort of) harmony as an intergalactic community, Valerian and Laureline, the main characters, are a couple of youngish government (Major and Sergeant, respectively) operatives out to solve crimes and preserve order, and do so using fantastic futuristic electronic devices and at time crude weapons such as swords and spears.
The film has interconnected back stories that revolve around the destruction of an alien planet peopled with benign gentle beings (can you say “Navi?”) by callous and indifferent humans, and the attempt by the hero and heroine to save these beings from further annihilation.
Along the way are some scary and some funny aliens, think a combination of Avatar, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Fifth Element. (In fact, the creator of Valerian is Luc Bresson, the man behind The Fifth Element.) Despite lots of killing, some of it graphic, there is comedy and some light-hearted banter thrown in. (Nothing as bad as Jar Jar Binks or the Chris Tucker character from The Fifth Element!)
The main characters are a young, attractive couple with sexual tension bonding them, and an old looking Clive Owen plays a major Space General. Rutger Hauer and Ethan Hawke have smaller roles, while Herbie Hancock provides another familiar name to the cast. The ever slinky and sexy Rihanna has a larger role in the second half of the film as a shape shifting alien, and treats the audience to a PG version of a clothed pole dance routine. The title character is played by Dane DeHaan, 31 years old, but seeming younger. A 24 year old Clara Delevingne plays Laureline, though as a blonde instead of the redhead that appears in the comics.
With a budget of 197 million Euros, the film did not scrimp on special effects and spectacular vistas and it shows in the finished product. Critics have called the plot “formulaic,” but we found the plot to serve the story just fine, and highly recommend the film to adults and kids alike, especially teens.
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