Movie: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
My Rating: 3 stars
I love a big, goofy, sci-fi blockbuster. I don’t care if its cheesy, or overwrought, or full of plot holes. I really enjoy a spectacle set in space. I’m also quite a fan of Luc Besson’s insane brand of filmmaking. That guy really has an eye for absurdity. And, I love the oversized scale he works on. Everything is big and bright and shiny. And, it helps that he has a bit of a sense of humor as well. With all that being said, I really enjoyed this latest film of Besson’s, flaws and all. This is not a great movie. In fact, I could really pick it to pieces if I really wanted to. But, I won’t. I prefer to look for things to like about a movie, rather than elements to dislike.
This movie is based on an old, French, sci-fi, comic book series that I was not familiar with at all. I hear it was quite successful in France, but I have no basis for judging this film against the source material. But, I was drawn in by the big, splashy trailer, like the rest of the masses. The movie has all you’d want from a trashy summer flick—spaceships, interdimensional travel, intergalactic crime, sexy protagonists, strange new aliens, a few sexy new aliens. It looked like a good time to me. And, that it was. Unfortunately, what it wasn’t was a coherent story.
Valerian and Laureline are space cops. And in this story, they’re out to recover smuggled contraband for the government. But, they appear to be teenagers for some reason. That’s really just about all the information we’re given about these sexy kids. But, we get to witness a lot of flirting and sexual tension between the two. It appears that Luc Besson was way more interested in presenting gorgeous set pieces, bizarre characters, and exploring fascinating new concepts than writing an air-tight script. And, those elements are genuinely distracting and entertaining enough to make me want to ignore the lack of a real plot. In fact, he creates the kind of world that I’d love to see other stories set in. There are endless possibilities for stories from these thousands of “planets” that are all docked together in an elaborate, multicultural space station. And, creating a world like that is a feat in itself. But there’s so much to look at, so much I’d want to explore, and the script seems really rushed, and the timetable feels drastically condensed.
I liked this movie, and I even went to see it in the theater. And, while I think a big, crazy blockbuster like this one benefits from being seen on the big screen, I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend you buy a theater ticket. The movie is visually stunning, and it’s very imaginative. And, I think you’d probably enjoy it as much as I did as long as you go into it with a generous heart. But, I think you’ll be just fine watching it at home.