#REVIEW: “VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS”
Visionary Luc Besson worked with many great artists on groundbreaking The Fifth Element, including Jean Claude Mézières. Mézières is best known for his work on the Comic Book “Valérian.” Fast-forward twenty years. Besson has a studio (Europacorp), a Film Complex (Cité du Cinéma), and the means to extend his fantastical filmmaking even further. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the culmination of his genius.
Its story takes place in the distant future, and centers on a duo who police space and time: Valerian and Laureline. The former, a debonair yet chauvinistic space cowboy, is played by Dane DeHaan. The latter, a decisive and endearing detective, is played by Cara Delevingne. Together, they find themselves caught up in a secret war on the grandest space station ever to grace the silver screen. It’s known as “Alpha,” and it is the Film’s alternative future for Earth’s International Space Station. In the year 2748, Alpha has merged with countless alien crafts, each with its own unique ecosystem… a City of a Thousand Planets.
DeHaan’s Valerian includes the Comic Book character’s brashness, bravery and charm. However, he gives him a style not seen before. One that includes all sorts of incredible costuming. Delevingne’s Laureline steals the show. She is one of Besson’s best female characters to date, and a lot of that can be accredited to Delevingne’s performance. She balances DeHaan’s reckless abandon with sensible wit, and brings heart to his stalwart values. Together, they have a chemistry that not only makes their troubled relationship believable, it also influences the greater narrative.
Like The Fifth Element, this is a Space Opera moved by the power of love. Furthermore, it is spectacle that surpasses even the grandeur of Avatar. This is largely thanks to the titans of motion-capture filmmaking and CGI (e.g. Weta, ILM and Rodeo FX). All combined, they crafted over 2,700 special effects shots. For example, “The Pearls,” an alien species that is beyond breathtaking to behold. There’s also “Big Market,” a transdimensional shopping centre filled with villainous beasts. They even created a new Diva to help Besson introduce the Final Act. Rihanna plays Bubble, a shape-shifting creature who is raised like a geisha. She enters center stage with a memorable performance, and charms with not only her dancing, but her voice acting as well. She guides Valerian into discovering what he needs to do to be become the man he needs to be.
It’s absolutely fantastic, and if you’re looking for something fun and original, look no further. 50 years after the Comic first premiered, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is 2017’s breath of fresh air.
eOne Films release VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS Friday, July 21, 2017.