Friday, July 21, 2017 marked the official US theatrical release (with its native French release set for July 26) of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the sci-fi epic from celebrated French director Luc Besson (The 5th Element, Leon the Professional) based on the comic series Valérian and Laureline. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening courtesy of STX/Eurpoa, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
Set in the 28th Century, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets takes place aboard a super-massive space station known as Alpha, which houses millions of residents from various races, species, and of course worlds who live peacefully and share knowledge with one another. The space station formerly orbited Earth until reaching a critical mass that forced it to depart for a distant galaxy. The story centers around Valerian (Dane DeHaan of A Cure for Wellness) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne of Suicide Squad) two special agents for the Human Police Forces who serve and protect the station.
The two agents are on a special mission to secure a rare creature known as a “Converter” for top-secret purposes. Along the way, the two begin to uncover various hidden truths and conspiracies revolving around a forgotten alien race and government corruption from their own people. In the interest of remaining 100% Spoiler Free no more can actually be said about this. More on that reasoning shortly.
The film employs plenty of top-notch effects, both digital and practical, and offers viewers absolutely stunning visual effects throughout. These visual effects as well as their accompanying camerawork and editing are absolutely masterful and astonding, to say nothing of being very, very likely to take home plenty of awards.
Unfortunately, that’s about all there is to this film.
The acting, while not remarkable, is perfectly acceptable, with both DeHaan and Delevingne turning in fine performances if a bit uninspired. The glaring weakness in this entire production is undoubtedly the storytelling, which is formulaic, predictable, and just all-around generic. It plays like a paint-by-numbers sci-fi film which is seemingly geared towards children with its simplicity and “safe” approach, while throwing in just enough adult tropes to knock it out of that G-Rated audience. What we’re left with is something that’s barely acceptable for either audience.
Mind you, there’s nothing really that bad about this film, there’s just nothing really that good about it. Apart from the outstanding effects, there’s just not that much to talk about, without completely spoiling the film, given its very simplistic, predictable plot. But trust me on the visual effects, because they are seriously outstanding. They’re just sadly not enough to save this one.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the perfect cinematic example of the phrase “all sizzle and no steak” given it’s beautifully masterful visuals and… well… not much else at all, really. If you’re dead set on seeing this one, you should definitely do so in 3-D for the visuals, otherwise, you might wanna just skip it. – 6.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine