With a budget coming in at around $200 million, 'Valerian' is one of the most expensive films of the summer despite being mainly independently produced. Director Luc Besson has had the thought to adapt the comic book series for years, trying to find a way to make this adaptation possible ever since 'The Fifth Element'. Unfortunately, this project will go down as one of the biggest flops in summer movie history.
What doesn't help the film in any way is the script written by Luc Besson. The script is a tonal mess as it switches from serious to cheesy to comical before it establishes any form of identity or tone. Besson seems to have looked at the most recent sci-fi hits like 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and even 'The Force Awakens' and looked to use the quippy dialogue that will help build character whilst making interesting and fun conversations. To the dismay of the film, this does not work at all as the jokes and quips fall flat and when the story gets serious, it is tediously dull. There are some decent interactions between characters in the film but really nothing to get overly excited about. Again, the sub plots do not help this at all as we jump back and forth between many different situations and none are that exciting to demand your attention. Ideally, the film could've focused on fewer sub plots and dedicated the time to make them worthwhile rather than fitting as much in as possible.
'Valerian' is led by the duo of talented actor Dane De Haan and model-come-actress Cara Delevingne who seem to be horribly miscast. I believe that De Haan is a great talent, having loved his performance in 'Chronicle' as well as other serious roles in 'A Cure For Wellness' and 'Kill Your Darlings'. However, his character is meant to be a badass, cocky playboy which he is not believable as. De Haan isn't awful but he doesn't possess that wit or seem like a womanizer which are main traits of this character. Delevingne isn't terrible as Laureline but the character is much more level headed than Valerian. The two actually seem better suited for each others roles in terms of the characters traits which do not receive much development throughout the story. Rihanna also makes a brief appearance in what seems to be no more than a publicity stunt as her weak acting ability takes away from a moment that could've been more powerful.
If you have seen the trailer, you will know that this is a truly beautiful looking film, with a wide palette of colours providing stunning settings. The huge budget has been put to good use in this aspect as the world is incredibly detailed, with the use of different elements creating many interesting locations. With this aspect being handled so well, it makes you want to really explore this world and get to know the different species and the many stories that go along with it. It doesn't look like this will happen due to this film bombing which in itself is a real missed opportunity. The opportunities with this world are endless and make it even more frustrating that the filmmakers were unable to capitalise and start the building blocks for a new world we haven't seen on the big screen.
Time will look back at 'Valerian' as being a huge missed opportunity to create something truly special. The film isn't that bad to be known as one of the biggest failures of all time, it's just unmemorable and lackluster. There are many worse films out there but when you spend around $200 million, you expose yourself to heavy criticism. 'Valerian' could have done with a whole lot more care and with a better focus on the story and characters, this could've easily succeeded. It wasn't meant to be this time for Luc Besson as 'Valerian' is one of the most underwhelming films of the year.
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