Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Review by Paul Preston
Welcome to Today I Watched…, a series of posts documenting my new challenge – watch a movie a day for the rest of my life. Keep coming back to TheMovieGuys.net to find out what I watch each day…and get my take on it.
When I see a movie that’s a new release in theaters or on demand, I’ll give it a proper review in the “Reviews” or “Home Viewing”, otherwise, I’ll write about it here.
July 10, 2017 – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson returns to science fiction, where he made what many consider his best film, The Fifth Element. I don’t agree with the “many”. Who are they, anyway? I’m down with The Professional as Besson’s best film (and that’s only because I haven’t yet seen La Femme Nikita, but hopefully this movie-a-day obsession changes that soon). The Fifth Element had too much comedy that didn’t work. I wouldn’t mind so much comedy in a sci-fi movie, but not that much that didn’t hit for me. I thought Ian Holm was Jar-Jar-esque in how obnoxious he was, and I’d love to say Chris Tucker was so over-the-top, he was in a different movie, but I can’t. ‘Cause he wasn’t. The Fifth Element wanted him to be the annoying character he was. Those two grated on my nerves so intensely I had a problem enjoying the rest of the movie, which featured great turns from Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis doin’ the cool action thing he owned twenty years ago.
But it can get worse and does with Valerian and the Very Long Title, a film riddled with overwriting, currently the most notorious fatal flaw of a Hollywood movie. For every unique story element or creative action sequence, Valerian feels the need to have its characters talk about the situation they’re in or over-explain a callback or reference of which, as a smart viewer, I’m perfectly aware.
This film does have a novel plot – It doesn’t please me to bag on something as original in conception as Valerian, but it is execution, as ever, that leaves much to be desired.
I’m also not much of a fan of leads Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. They play Valerian and Laureline as cracker-jack with the one-liners, but there’s no emotional engagement with the viewer, and that spreads throughout the film. Luke Skywalker or Neytiri in Avatar, Tom Cruise’s Bill Cage in Edge of Tomorrow or Mark Watney in The Martian – these characters drew me into what they held as important and what they risked and stood to lose. Valerian and Laureline are just having a cool adventure. I think you can have a cool adventure, but at the core have more at stake.
Directed by: Luc Besson
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Run Time: 137 Minutes
Distributor: STX Entertainment