Pete Hammond writes: Director Luc Besson has long wanted to make the 1967 French graphic serial Valerian and Laureline into a movie since the 70’s. This was even before Star Wars became such a sensation, and in fact many think the Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezeires creation perhaps inspired that landmark 1977 film. As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), it certainly inspired Besson, and now — with a reputed budget upward of $200 million — he finally has brought his own vision to the screen.
Inevitably, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will be seen by naysayers as a knockoff of the iconic George Lucas films, but I can only judge what is on the screen. Wacky as the story is, and wooden as some of the acting is, including brooding lead Dane DeHaan, the pure visual Technicolored visual wonder of Besson’s view of the 28th century, along with some way-out-there supporting characters, won me over. It is a must in 3D, where this time that format actually makes a difference.
The story starts in the year 2740 and follows the mission of Major Valerian (DeHaan) and his partner Sgt. Laureline (Cara Delevingne) as they set out on orders from the Minister of Defense (jazz great Herbie Hancock) to save Alpha, a civilized and massive space station known as “the City of a Thousand Planets.” It is there that humans and creatures of all forms — thousands of species, actually — have converged to share their intelligence, knowledge and culture. If ever there was a more diverse place, I don’t know where you would find it. First they stop on the Planet Kirian, where they hit the poor part of town in search of a tiny creature known as the Mul Converter who apparently holds the key to saving the peaceful Alpha, which is under threat from sinister forces. Once they have accomplished that, they head to Alpha to look out for Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen), who has different plans of his own.
All sorts of things happen: Laureline is kidnapped and Valerian soon finds the loony red-light district Pleasure Alley, where he encounters … (read more)