Space travel has expanded in leaps and bounds since the first landing on the moon in 1969. Fast forward space technology 400 years from now and the results could be astounding! Based on the 1960/70s French comics Valerian and Laureline by Jean-Claude Mezieres, the imagination of director Luc Besson (The 5th Element) has brought Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to the big screen, exploring what future space may look like. This interpretation is hectic but also visually spectacular.
The city of Alpha runs smoothly with species from all over the universe using their unique intelligences to create a well-oiled metropolis for all cultures to co-habit. Young agents, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) have embarked on their new mission: to recover the stolen Mul converter and return it to Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen). But after a dream where Valerian is warned of another world in desperate danger of extinction, Valerian is soon to find that there is more to this mission than a straight-forward retrieval. As their assignment takes a turn to investigate a dark force which now threatens to destroy the existence of the future of the universe, their course takes on so much action, you’ll be flat out keeping up with it.
Transforming through simultaneous dimensions made visible through specialised helmets, attacks are difficult to manoeuvre, and Valerian and Laureline have to put aside their romantic tensions to keep each other alive. Valerian’s pursuit of Laureline is constant, but he has a lot of growing up to do before he will get a serious look in.
As the villains are pursued and the plot is developed, the story is somewhat obscure and difficult to follow in parts, but is made up for when themes of love, forgiveness and trust become apparent, and the people of Mul show that they are willing to forgive, even after losing everything. They use their time of hardship to gain as much intelligence as possible and the passing time allows them to forgive, although not forget. The wise leader of Mul puts it well when he says: “Unless you make peace with your past, you won’t have a future.”
It is important for parents to know that this movie is rated M. When Valerian finds himself in a seedy part of town, the audience endures an odd, unexpected and rather long pole dance by a character named Bubbles (Rihanna). There is low use of profanity, plenty of laser shooting but no blood.
This quirky sci-fi/action movie has obvious parallels to George Lucas’ Star Wars, who was also influenced by the French comic book series—notably the helmets, sand dunes and even a Jabba the Hutt look-alike. Cool gadgets abound and space buses that look like the magic school bus, zoom across desert lands creating a groovy touristy feel. The flight scene through the layered cities is a surreal experience and the wonderful iridescent aquatic planet of Mul is a spectacular sight.
In summing up this film, the lack of storyline is reflected in the mixed bag of audience and critic reviews, however Valerian is a visually enticing film with bountiful colour and intriguing cities that will take you on an ‘out-of-this-world experience’ (forgive the cliche).
Please note: ACCTV does not support all of the themes of this movie, and viewer discretion is advised as this movie is for a mature audience.