Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Review

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Summary: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. 
  • Dane DeHaan as Major Valerian. He is a space/time traveling agent who works for the Alpha government. He is the “devil-may-care” type, a ladies man, he is very good at everything apparently, as he told us in the beginning but he wants to be better because he wants to be with Laureline as they’ve been partners for a long time. He is quick on his feet and the way he works with Laureline was great. I love Dane DeHaan and I really want him to be in a big movie that does well and is well received because I think he has good acting chops. I thought he was good, he kind of has this way of looking sad, tired, charming and rebellious all the same time, maybe it’s the bags under his eyes lol, I don’t know but I thought he fit well in the role. His delivery of some of his one liners was good, he had good comedic timing and his moments of doing physical action was really cool.
  • Cara Delevingne as Sergent Laureline. She is Valerian’s partner, and she is a bit more… in your face then he is, she refuses to be left behind and if she is, it irritates her. She has a lot of the humor due to her comments and reactions to things. She has great physical scenes too where she really kicks butt. I liked her and I thought she was a great match for Valerian, I thought it was easy to tell that she did have feelings for him but wanted to not dwell much on them due to his past and she was testing him. lol I think many women can relate. I think this is the best acting I’ve seen from Delevingne, it’s definitely obvious to tell that she’s a model due to her walk, and how she stands, probably can’t help it, but I thought she felt more natural here than she did in Paper Towns and Suicide Squad which is a good thing. I thought she handled her character very well and managed to stand out, I do think she was a bit better than DeHaan but I feel like the movie spent more time with her and expanding a bit more on her than it did with him.
  • Rihanna as Bubble. She isn’t in the movie long, she is a shape-shifting entertainer who gives Valerian a performance that was really cool, I would like to know how much of it Rihanna did but it was cool. I think she is an okay actress at least from the two movies I’ve seen, BUT I think she is a good voice over actress which is what she mostly does as her character is an alien. She was cute, sassy and her scenes were fun to watch.
  • Other characters. There are many other characters in this movie, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Sam Spruell, Clive Owen and they’re fine for their roles, the actors do what they’re supposed to do, Sam Spruell especially.
Valerian/Laureline. I thought they were great together, I thought they had some chemistry and seemed like they’d been working with each other for a long time. It was nice to see how much they cared for each other, even if Valerian did things that got on Laureline’s nerves. They went after each other any time the other got into some kind of trouble. It was cute.
The Visuals. This is definitely the type of movie that will mostly likely be praised for the visuals. It is very nice to look at, it’s very colorful and grand. I saw the film in 3D and it helped in showing how vast the worlds were. The different planets shown, especially the one at the beginning is very beautiful and definitely a feast for the eyes.
Major Tom. There is a scene at the beginning while “Ground Control to Major Tom” is being played where Alpha is first created and it shows how it grows as more and more alien/human representatives come to join. It was a cute and informative scene without hearing a lot of talking about what’s happening.
The Soundtrack. I really like Alexandre Desplat, I don’t think there has been a soundtrack of his that I don’t like and while it’s not grand or anything, I quite liked it. Especially during quiet moments like in the beginning, and during some of the action pieces it really comes through.
Alien/Planet Designs. The designs of the aliens is definitely unique, I haven’t seen them before. Some were also really gross but that’s a good thing. The main aliens that we see at the very beginning are beautifully designed, they all look-alike but they’re very beautiful. The other aliens, we see a lot of them at the beginning as we see the growth of Alpha, they all have different looks. The planets also had very interesting designs, of course the one at the beginning and there’s a great scene on one planet (name I don’t remember) where you have to wear a helmet with a visor and special gloves just to see the marketplace as it’s in a different dimension. Really cool.
Humorous. It has some laughs in there. It’s not constantly funny, but there are some funny one liners from Valerian and Laureline, she is especially funny, her reactions and comments to certain situations. There are a triplet of aliens that are kind of funny (they tip a bit into annoying too).
Cons:
Contradictions. It seemed they went through a lot of trouble in the beginning and certain parts to tell us that Valerian is a bit rebellious, he doesn’t mind being late, he has smart aleck comments etc. but then he’ll turn around and argue with Laureline about following rules. I just thought that was very odd with his character in particular.
Supporting Characters. A lot of the characters we meet start off interesting but either not in it very long which doesn’t allow them to have a strong impact or I didn’t really care that much about them because the movie doesn’t care that much about them.
Exposition. There is a LOOOOT of exposition. My lord, this is probably my biggest gripe with the film. When there are flashbacks, instead of just showing us the flashback, someone is talking over the flashback, sometimes that’s needed but sometimes the audience has to be trusted to deduce things on their own, it doesn’t have to be spoon fed which is what I felt this movie did. At the beginning Laureline makes a point to tell us that Valerian was a ladies man, a lady-killer etc. which is fine, but instead of saying it in five different ways, they should have shown us him flirt with other females. Yeah, he was trying to let all of that go to prove he was ready for commitment but instead of just telling us, show us or something. Perhaps what they should have done, was instead of that whole scene of talking about it, she could have said “Well what about that time…” and it shows us that time… it would help. With this film being a sci-fi film, yeah there’s gonna be a lot of mumbo jumbo but lord… so much.
Starts off slow. I understand the need for the opening scene with the aliens on their planet, it was cool but it was also really long and really slow.
Cluttered. There’s a lot going on in this movie, I kind of feel like it would be better off as a show, or they should have found a way to split this into two films. I have a feeling there might be a sequel considering the way it ended and that it’s based off a French comic book. I felt like the main story got caught up in a lot of weird other side things happening. Plus, as things are learned and revealed, it just felt cheap because I also didn’t really care that much because there was just so much going on.
The Dialogue. Sometimes the dialogue is reeeeallly lame and cheesy. There are a lot of one liners where some are funny and some are pretty terrible. I don’t think it was the delivery, I thought the actors were fine it was just the writing wasn’t always good.
Not Enough Action. There was not enough action for a movie of this scale. It comes off as a science fiction adventure type of movie and while there is action, there’s not enough. I was expecting so much more. There was a lot of downtime. I wasn’t expecting tons of non stop action but there needed to be more.
3D. I don’t know if the movie is being promoted in 3D or not but I saw it 3D and it’s definitely not worth it. I don’t know if they did that to show the vastness of the worlds and Alpha especially, if so then that’s probably about it, but the 3D is definitely not worth it, if anything see it in IMAX.
Overall, I liked Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, I think it was a fun, visually beautiful looking film. I liked the designs of the aliens, the planets and I think the two leading actors were good in their roles, I also thought Rihanna did a good job as well in her small role. The soundtrack is good and nice intrusive and fits the feel of the film. I think the potential in this film is there, especially when it comes to story, character and world building but that’s also the negative, there is so much exposition that being told about the world/character building instead of just showing it, is really irritating and the biggest con of the film. There isn’t enough action to balance out the exposition and the dialogue is really silly a lot of times, where the actors manage to say it without it being completely terrible. I also think the story is cluttered to the point where it feels like there’s a lot going on where the main focus gets forgotten at times. Also, don’t see it in 3D,  the standard viewing would be fine but IMAX might be a good experience.
Rating: 2.8 out of 5 stars.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was released today.
Do you plan on seeing the film?
What is your favorite sci-fi film?
What/Who is your favorite movie alien?
Let me know in the comments! Please like and follow this blog!
Thanks!
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