I had to etch out entertainment and urge for even a strain of thrill during the entire running time of Valerian and The City of A Thousand Planets. Based on a French comic book series, Valerian is a sci-fi/adventure movie that is way off the mark.
Oh Yeah, The Story
It's the 28th century and Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are the human police force's special agents out on a mission. They are out to retrieve a 'converter', a rare animal that duplicates energy-containing pearls. Even as the duo braves dangers to accomplish the task, a new threat lurks on their return to Space Station Alpha. Commander Filitt (Clive Owen) is to be protected from unknown forces and possible attack.
Alpha is home to millions of citizens from different planets, co-existing in peace, indulging in knowledge and culture sharing. As Valerian and Laureline dive deeper into the intrigue, nothing is what it seems.
Wanted: A Rocking Villian
Director Luc Besson gets the CGI part, his strong point, absolutely right. The art design borders on the visionary. A Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy deja vu looms here. But there is no bite, no danger, sleepwalking action and bland attempts at humor. That the lead pair's chemistry is nil further dampens proceedings. The damning part - no menacing villain.
Good Bits, Some
Popular pop singer Rihanna dazzles in a brief cameo as the shape-shifter. Clive Owen and Ethan Hawke are competent too. A monologue on love grazes the heart momentarily, and that's it for engagement. The dullest first half I have watched this year. The second is an inch better. A remote sense of danger grows and fades. Something vaguely resembling a coherent story begins to take shape. Then the end credits come up.
Redeeming Factor, Nay!
A hell lot of editing could have made Valerian a lot breezier and fun. The editing is a shocker, most scenes are lengthy, from the strange, ineffective dream sequence opening to the kid-stuff action parts. A lot needed to be trimmed for the film to have any sort of impact.
What Happened Here?
Go for the colorful art design and costumes that resemble delightful dessert dishes on 3D. There is just nothing else on offer here. It surprises me to say this, that despite the ambition, scale, and spread, Valerian and The City of A Thousand Planets is a dull, snailish movie that seems as long as reading out the film title 100 times in one breath as a school punishment.