By Jose Jara
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Review by Daniel Guzman
VALERIAN OVERACHIEVES ON VISUAL EFECTS, UNDERACHIEVES EVERYWHERE ELSE.
I had the chance of catching Luc Besson’s Valerian last week and was hoping he would out due his older sci-fi film, The Fifth Element. In some way you could say he did just that, but in so many ways he missed the mark. Valerian stars Dane DeHaan as Major Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Sergeant Laureline. These two are partnered up to be intergalactic cops who are toying around with the idea of being more than partners while on a mission.
This film would be a visual moving masterpiece if you did not have to hear the sophomoric dialogue and acting that takes place from our two lead characters. I’ve been a fan of Dane DeHaan since I first saw his performance in Chronicle. In Valerian, Dane just doesn’t have the same believable action pedigree that someone like Bruce Willis is able to carry in a sci-fi action flick. Maybe it was the generic cliché romance between Valerian and Laureline that feels so useless and hard to swallow. I winced with embarrassment at the flirtatious scenes between both actors that came across as staged chemistry that was unnatural. I’ve never taken notice of Cara Delevingne as far as her acting is concerned, and my gut feeling was right. Cara is a model who looks great on screen, but loses credibility in her role as soon as she has to open her mouth and utter her lines. Her acting is on par with any CW television show character on Supergirl & Arrow, nothing noteworthy. Clive Owen who serves the role of villain of the story is tolerable, but is cut out of most of the movie.
Director Besson is great at immersing his audience into this surreal world filled with vast species of alien life of all shapes and colors.Besson goes notches above his other sci-fi world of Fifth Element in this regard, but ends up over filling the scenes with too many visual effects going on for you to appreciate his talent in creating this incredible alien world. This goes on for nearly every scene that by the climax of the film I was visually topped off and left with a depleted story that I had no interest in finishing. Valerian brings it’s comic book story out of those pages, but if the story in that comic book is this dull, it should have just stayed 2-dimensional. There are some cameo appearances by Rihanna as the alien character Bubbles and by Ethan Hawke who seems to play Bubbles’ pimp. Once again, both characters are more for viewing pleasure, especially that of Rihanna’s character, than for the storyline. Also, parent alert, Rihanna’s initial scene is not suitable for kids.
So, my overall verdict for Valerian would be to skip it for the majority of audience members, except those specific fans of sci-fi visual effects & the rarer few who are Valerian comic book aficionados. I don’t know how happy or angry those who are fans of the comic book will feel after seeing Valerian, but I as a film lover will not be seeing this confetti of visual effects twice.