Opening to disappointing box office numbers in the states, Luc Besson’s latest project ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ had a lot of ground to make up with it’s release this side of the pond. Just because a film is labelled a flop though doesn’t mean it’s a bad film, some of the most loved films of all time were ‘flops’ upon release. However, with further negative reviews surfacing things were looking bleak at best for Besson.
The film stars Dane DeHaan & Cara Delevingne in the leading roles. Both performers do well and they have an amusing chemistry. I felt that they were actually maybe better suited to play each others characters though. DeHaan doesn’t scream the intergalactic ‘bad boy’ vibe that the film portrays his character to have, whereas I could totally have seen Delevingne rocking this type of role. Some further character inconsistencies aside I largely enjoyed their work here and thought they anchored the film well. ‘Valerian’ also stars singer Rhianna, who has been a central part of the marketing campaign for the film. Her previous performances didn’t inspire much hope within me for her appearance here however much to my surprise she isn’t actually awful. She’s naturally suited to, Bubble, the character she portrays here and she actually adds a lot to the film with her performance. Ethan Hawke also has a small supporting role, he’s good fun but is ultimately underused. The last of the big names to feature is Clive Owen. At first I found his presence to be a little jarring but as the film progressed and he settled into his role I found him similarly watchable like the rest of the cast.
The narrative is very intriguing as it’s so refreshing to have something new and original for the big screen. We’ve new worlds, characters and rules to learn about and the unpredictability of it all was fantastic. Now it does very much take it’s time in introducing us to this new universe and as a result has quite a substantial running time. I didn’t mind this at all as I was quite content to take in my new cinematic surroundings however I could completely understand how this might be an issue for audiences. Thankfully there is plenty of action included in this running time. I found these sequences were always creative and imaginative, incorporating the fantastic world around them. They do have a similar pace to the overall movie and maybe lack some degree of suspense but they’re executed well and should hold your attention. No doubt the most impressive aspect of the film though has to be the visuals. Whether it’s character design, planetary landscapes or intergalactic battlefields ‘Valerian’ is stunning to look at.
So whilst there is some issues with writing & pace and some more humour wouldn’t have gone a miss ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ is some seriously solid sci-fi. The cast work well together in delivering enjoyable performances, the new worlds audiences get to witness are fascinating to explore and your eyes are constantly being treated to outstanding visuals. I haven’t seen all of Luc Besson’s filmography but ‘Léon: The Professional’ aside this is easily my favourite of his work.
Rating – 7.5/10
Question: What is your favourite Luc Besson film?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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