Dir. Luc Besson
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
Read the newspaper version of this review: BOSTON HERALD
“After centuries of peace and prosperity, an unknown force wants to destroy all we have created…”
This summer’s latest big space based adventure is brought to us by director Luc ‘The Fifth Element’ Besson, who has made some classic films like ‘Leon: The Professional’ but also some pretty terrible efforts such as ‘Lucy’.
'City of blinding lights / 1000 planets'
Based on a French comic book series set in the 28th century, the plot sees hotshot heroes Major Valerian (Dane ‘Chronicle’ DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara ‘Suicide Squad’ Delevingne) as a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories of the galaxy.
When the Galactic Minister of Defense send the two on a mission to the city (of a thousand planets) called Alpha - an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge and live together – a dangerous mystery unfolds…
If you like your sci-fi of the eye-popping, wildly creative kind then Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will blow you away. There are so many ideas hitting the screen and such a diversity of alien culture, all brought to vivid life through some of this year’s best special effect that you’ll likely be overwhelmed. Think Star Wars prequels but more exciting and richer in imagination.
'Your designated heroes'
If you like your plots ordered and your acting decent though then you may be left wanting as this is a film that rolls along on a wild rollercoaster of cool set pieces loosely tied together by some dodgy narrative. DeHaan and Delevingne look good but their banter feels a bit forced and despite rocking some kick ass space armour, they are unlikely to become cult icons.
So, Valerian and Laureline race around getting into fights and risking everything to try and identify the dark plan which threatens not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. Along the way there is mixed support from Clive Owen as ‘Commander Arun Filitt’ and Ethan Hawke as ‘Jolly the Pimp’ but the most memorable performance comes from pop star Rihanna as ‘Bubble. Yes, it seems that an alien who can transform into anything chooses to make a living as a Rihanna pole dancing tribute circa her Umbrella look – and why wouldn’t they?
'R and R in VR'
Overall Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets delivers a good time for those looking for some out of this world entertainment. And if you enjoy it there are several sequels being planned already!?
Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(4 - In space, no-one can hear your jaw drop)
Awesomeness öööö – Strong set pieces and crazy imagination at play
Laughs ööö – Some laughs and comic relief
Horror öö – Not too nasty but some violence
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Galactic heroes required