Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Film Review

All along I had thought Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets looked rubbish so my expectations were so, so low. I think this helped because it was not good, but it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and there were many redeeming factors about it.

Dane DeHaan stars as Valerian, an agent who travels space and time carrying out missions for the government with his partner and love interest Laureline (Cara Delevingne). After they stage an elaborate recovery of a coveted Mul converter, they head to Alpha (the titular city) which is under threat from a mysterious dark force which they must identify and eradicate.

The weakest part of Valerian is the script. It is so cliched, poor and at times cringeworthy that the leads can only do so much with what they are given. It is heavy on the exposition and lays their romance on too thick too soon – talk of marriage a few minutes after establishing their flirty partnership was too much and not at all believeable. There needed to be a slow build towards a romance throughout the movie not numerous chats about marriage!

It starts off strong and is entertaining and feels fun but as soon as it gets to Alpha the plot seems to disappear. Valerian gets in trouble and she has to save him, then vice versa, so we don’t actually get anywhere. Rihanna and Ethan Hawke‘s roles as a performer and her pimp weren’t technically necessary but they were attention-grabbing and I enjoyed them.

I don’t totally buy DeHaan as Valerian as he’s supposed to be this womanising maverick and he’s not quite heart throb material – I personally find him attractive but he’s definitely more of a quirky pick than say Chris Pratt. Also the playboy character seems to disappear quickly and then he’s all about wooing Laureline, who is a “tough female role” in the most generic way, though Cara did well with what she was given. They don’t have much chemistry so chat of love felt flat and their flirty banter had so much potential but the script just wasn’t light-hearted enough.

Like I said, it is visually stunning, in particular the planet Mul and its people and a sequence of Valerian running through many different ecosystems. I enjoyed bits of it, there is a good action sequence towards the beginning and there is enough to entertain throughout. It’s just a shame it gets so bogged down at Alpha and I could have done without Clive Owen hamming it up. The script REALLY needed some work.

In cinemas Wednesday 2nd August

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