Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a movie set in the 28th century following two federal space agents: Valerian, played by Dane DeHaan, and Laureline, portrayed by Cara Delevingne. The movie is a treat to your eyes with its stunning CGI of alien worlds and characters but, that’s about it.
The two agents go on missions but as the movie goes on, we find out more about this alien civilisation that was wiped out by selfish humans. These aliens just want their planet back and blah blah then sorta happy ending. It doesn’t really matter because we’ve all heard it before and even the directors themselves didn’t seem to hope to leave an effect on us at the end.
The whole story felt lacking if not nonexistent. Most of the time, I wasn’t even sure what the real motive was to them chasing around in their futuristic suits and shooting with their high-tech gear. It all felt like a chase scene after chase scene to show off the director’s imaginative concepts and ideas of a sci-fi world. And that’s the problem.
So, as vivid and flashy the visuals were, every other aspect was just dull and lacking. Especially the characters and the relationships between them.
The movie tries to add some spice to the relationship between the two federal space agents by making Valerian, the supposed womanizer, attempt to prove his true love for Laureline, his smug nonchalant partner. But their relationship feels just as forced and hollow as their characters.
Their “relationship” wasn’t even there. The only form of interaction we really see between the two of them is just exchanges of playful sarcastic banter to seem smart. Hence, when they try to make Valerian “prove” his love for Laureline, it just feels plain unnecessary and even, annoying.
Their acting doesn’t make things any better either. Based on the comics, Valerian is supposed to be this charming nonchalant womanizer but, played by Dane DeHaan, it just doesn’t fit. DeHaan’s face would better fit a more shy odd character. Maybe then, would his character feel more likeable.
Now, Cara’s acting wasn’t terrible. In fact, I think this was the best she has acted out of all the films she has starred in. However, her major flaw was that her character was really.. characterless. Same goes for Valerian. There was just absolutely nothing going on for the both of them. No flaws and no peeks into who they were. And with Cara’s consistent eye-rolling and smug expression, that’s all we ever see of Laureline’s personality.
They do try and give her this layer of being strong and sensitive, but, it doesn’t work. They make her say cheesy things about love and try take charge but, it doesn’t create any effect. They tell us with cheesy quotes in the end, instead of showing us these qualities consistently as part of her character.
Now, don’t even get me started about Rihanna’s cameo. She played a shapeshifting alien, introduced in a little dance performance that was scarcely entertaining. Her role was aiding Valerian in saving Laureline from being eaten by an alien. Other than that, the introduction of her character was pretty useless. In fact, this whole part of the movie (similar to the other parts of the movie) was useless. It didn’t add to the progression of the story or the characters. It’s only purpose was probably to show off that they hired Rihanna for the movie.
The movie looked great but it really missed out on one of the most integral elements of a good movie—purpose. Without it, no matter how great and engaging a scene may be, if we don’t know what it was all even for, we will feel nothing. And we all watch movies to feel.
I was pretty disappointed in the film. I loved the idea of the Alpha, a giant space station where hundreds of different aliens live together and share their knowledge. And, honestly, I thought a lot of the aliens were pretty cool. Sadly, the world along with the characters, were all looks and no substance.
All in all, if you’ve been expecting Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to be like a Star Wars or anything close, you’re dead wrong. It’s a sci-fi flick with some pretty CGI and a colourful world but that’s all there is to it. Might as well save those 13 bucks to buy an avocado smoothie or something.