Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017), Dir. Luc Besson

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017), Dir. Luc Besson
A soldier will always choose death over humiliation.
— Commander Arun Filitt, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Stars: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer, John Goodman, Elizabeth Debicki.
Director: Luc Besson
Screenplay: Luc Besson

The cosmic excitement of Besson has returned in a somewhat unbalanced yet incredibly entertaining cinematic experience. It's not serious yet has serious heart, it is not scientifically accurate yet holds the essence of what science can bring, it is a completely new world yet is completely familiar with the aesthetic of Besson's previous worlds. And if only it was called 'Valerian & Laureline' and had actual significant roles for people of colour it may have pushed this film into a cult love instead of a fun ride.

The film centres around the mystery of the planet Mül who's indigenous people live in harmony with the environment until one day an unseen war in orbit irresponsibly destroys the planet along with most of its people. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) wakes up with a jolt as the visions of Mül wake him from a dream and he realises that these dreams are in fact real. Along with his partner Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), they are set on a mission to track down the Mül converter which is the only one left in existence. This mission lands them at the alpha station—a.k.a the city of a thousand planets—and they are to investigate a radioactive dead zone at its centre.

The plot is rather weak but that does not at all matter. This film has been precisely made for entertainment and entertainment alone. The spectacle in its presentation is so welcoming with a fantastic use of colours and textures that simply let your eye roam throughout the ever changing environment. The use of futuristic technology that somehow feel retro in their manual use is so fun, like I am pretty sure everything will be automated by Tesla by the year 2040 let alone several hundred years into the future.

The biggest issue here though is the main love story as there is literally no chemistry between DeHaan or Delevingne. In The Fifth Element these two characters have barely spent 24 hours with each other but Bruce Willis' face tells the entire story, he is infatuated with Leelo, he has never met anyone more amazing than her in his entire life, he is the walking example of smitten. Here these two have great banter but it never feels more than a good friendship between co-workers.

Valerian can remind the world that a comic book movie does not have to be a Marvel or DC adaptation. There are so many worlds and characters that we can bring to life from the flat pages.

★ ★ ★ ★