It would be easy to call Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back, but that's too much of a compliment for Star Wars. The French comic book adaption by Luc Besson creates a world that matches that of Star Wars in density while arguably exceeding it in its creativity in visuals. While almost all the effects are CG (rather than the practical effects that have been implemented in recent Star Wars films), the designs of the locations and creatures are wonderful. Besson had over forty years of source material at his disposal, and one has to assume he explored a decent chunk of it considering the awesome variety of locales and unusual charactes. The film is just intoxicating to look at, never mind that it's also an utter delight.
Valerian has already found itself on the list of outrageous sci-fi/fantasy box-office disasters to grace theaters the last few years (Jupiter Ascending, Gods of Egypt, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), which is unsurprising for many reasons, but disappointing for many more. The energy and zaniness coupled with the enormous scale of the project is totally smile-inducing, and easily outdoes budding space franchises like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy attempting largely the same thing. None of those are as positively bizarre as Valerian, though. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne share good chemistry with each other, turning in far better performances than anyone has given them credit for (the supporting cast is also terrific, including a brief vocal performance from John Goodman). And after years of dreadful performances in terrible movies, Rihanna redeems herself here in a memorable role in one of the film's most wildly ridiculous scenes.
The last 30 minutes of the film ultimately fly more conventionally, piling on the exposition and ending without a satisfying action sequence (despite the fact the film is littered with them). Still, they wrap up the story effectively without a sequel hook persay, but it would be easy to introduce another film to the franchise (although foreign box-office numbers will have to soar in order for that to happen). While movie fans everywhere are breathlessly awaiting Star Wars: The Last Jedi and a smaller but equally loyal following eagerly looking to Blade Runner 2049, the year's best sci-fi/space adventure has already debuted and no one will even see the darn thing. Such is life.
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- Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:28 pm
- Forum: Full Reviews
- Topic: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
- Replies: 0
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