“Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets” I DIDN’T HATE IT!!!
By Scott Kurland
Film: Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets
Starring: Dane Dehaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, and HERBIE HANCOCK!!! (WHAT?!?!)
Director: Luc Besson
"So bad, it’s good"- I love it when a movie goes past the point of being unwatchable that it becomes, oddly enough, watchable. Its for this reason that I love “BASEketball,””Blankman,” and “The Shadow.” Trust me, those films are pure garbage, but seeing a director become so consumed with a passion project that they stop at nothing to make it come to life is something to be admired. For almost twenty years, French director Luc Besson has been trying to bring his favorite comic “Valerian & Laurline” to the silver screen. He wanted to make it 1997 with Leonardo DiCaprio & Natalie Portman, however, the studio was like “Could you do Bruce Willis and an unknown actress?” And Besson was like: "Yeah Bruce will work", and then they made “Fifth Element” instead which, truthfully, is a better story. This week’s film is indeed “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Let’s see if 207 million dollars can make a film tolerable shall we?
The film opens up with the building of the ALPHA space station. It houses over a thousand different cultures and atmospheres. The City is run by the "Federation of Space and Time-Travel". Yeah, they have a longer, more complicated name but it’s better to call them that. We could technically call it "The Federation of Exposition and Bad Plot Details" but that would be too practical. Two of the federations top agents are Major Valerian (Dane DeHane) and Sergeant Laurline (Cara Delvingne). Valerian is a hotshot shoot-first- ask-questions-later type. At least, that's him in the comic. In this movie, he’s a bit of a wuss who constantly hits on Laurline. Laurline flirts right back, and that's where the film starts to derail, because the real story is that a top ranking Commander (Clive Owen) finds a problem in the space station that could destroy everyone and everything. Now Laurline and Valerian must head to the center of the problem and find out what it truly is, or rather or who it truly is. Honestly, this film is so confusing that the plot doesn’t matter. I mean- Ethan Hawke plays a space pimp.
Shockingly, I didn’t hate this film. It was bad. I mean, it was rotten to the core, but it is so visually stunning. Not to mention Rhianna is really really good as a shape-shifting stripper named bubble…not bubbles...bubble. This film has weird and French written all over it. Besson is a great visual storyteller, but when it comes to fleshing out these characters he misses a few details. For starters, Valerian is supposed to be a bad boy space Lothario. What we get is skinny Dane DeHaan who looks more like a government sanctioned accounted. Besson mis-casted. He wanted a mumbling Bruce Willis type and he got a mumbling Dennis the Menance type. Also, when you cast two romantic leads, you need to look for chemistry. Delevinge and DeHaan have no chemistry. I would have believed they were siblings, not lovers!!! All that said, for some strange reason, I didn’t hate this movie. I thought I was going insane. The plot makes no sense, yet I found it pleasing to the eye. I thought Rhianna and Ethan Hawke were great. Shockingly, Herbie Hancock plays the defense Minister. I don’t know why the guy who wrote the music for “Fat Albert” is in this film, but I’ll go along with it. I think it was just the casting of the leads that really irked me.
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” isn’t a bad film. It’s weird and insane, but it’s not bad. What it is might shock you. This is a French film made for an American audience. Have you ever seen a French fantasy film? Man they’re weird, and that’s exactly what this is. Luc Besson took a 200+ million dollar gamble and thought we were ready all for this crazy story. We weren’t. He lost all that money, and it’s all up on the screen. Should you go see it in theaters? No. But definitely rent it or stream it because, man, you have got to see this spectacle for all it’s worth, but do it from the leisure of your own home.
REVIEW RATING: C-