Monday, 7 August 2017

'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' Review

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.

In the 28th Century, Valerian (Dane De Haan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work together as special operatives who look to maintain order throughout the human territories. On a mission, the pair are assigned to Alpha, a striving community that hosts thousands of different and diverse species, each learning off of one another. As a mysterious force looks to disrupt the harmony of the community, it is up to Valerian and Laureline to stop them before it is too late.

'Valerian' looks set to join the miserable fate of films such as 'Jupiter Ascending' and 'Sucker Punch' by flopping tremendously at the box office. It is being reported that with the $200 million production budget, the film would have to make $350-400 million to make the film a success and merit further films. However, 'Valerian' doesn't deserve to be in the same category as those films in terms of quality. 'Valerian' isn't a good movie but it's nowhere near the terrible standards of those aforementioned. The biggest problem is that 'Valerian' provides an overall feeling of 'meh'.

The main story of 'Valerian' is a mystery surrounding a planet that was recorded as being uninhabited and was destroyed.  Simply enough, it is up to Valerian and Laureline to undercover what really happened and what is currently underway within 'Alpha'. Now make this makes for an easily understandable and fun adventure for the characters to go on. Unfortunately, the film is bogged down heavily by many sub plots that just weigh it down completely. The film's runtime comes in at 2 hours and 17 minutes long which feels closer to 3 hours due to its long drawn out story. There are many unmemorable sub plots that the film really could do without as the film really drags throughout each individual short story. None of these stories are enthralling or compelling at all as the film lacks that special something.

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.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Valerian'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not. Once again, thank you for taking the tme to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

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