A Thing to Behold. This film is stunning. Absolutely stunning. A visual spectacle if there ever was one. The creativity on display in the presentation of these numerous worlds and creatures and ideas is incredibly impressive. If there’s one thing this film does exceptionally it’s world building. The opening minutes are some of the most beautifully inspiring and hopeful moments put to film in years. The establishment of Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets, is awe-inspiring and exhilarating. The effects on display are as amazing as anyone can ever hope for. Everything here destroys any doubt that this production was a lifelong passion project of the director, and that it cost an immense amount of money to make.
All Good Things Come To An End. The first hour is an endless array of wide-eyed, smile inducing images and toys being unraveled before your eyes. Every new scene shows something unique and exciting, some new creature or weapon or dimension or...it’s awesome. The literal definition of the word awesome. The problem is that around its midpoint the magic and exhilaration of constantly being barraged by new things hits a startling halt. All of a sudden there’s a story that has to be focused on, and all the new and exciting tricks have been used up. There are no more goodies to be given. We’re thrown into a generic science fiction story that goes through the motions, sometimes multiple times over. It all becomes so incredibly uninteresting at an incredibly impressive speed.
Spaced Out. The actors cast are fine. Had better actors been cast, or just anyone with legitimate chemistry, so much of this film would have been elevated from any of its flaws. Not a single person in this production does anything very good, and that may be due to the writing just not being too great altogether. Creature design and visual spectacle are very different from dialogue, and Besson undoubtedly has a knack for one over the other. The main twists of the story aren’t well hidden at all, nothing comes as a surprise plot wise, and it feels like the majority of the second half is just rescue mission after rescue mission as characters keep getting put into situations that you can barely even remember how it started. “Why did she need to be rescued again? I know they’re trying to rescue her, but I don’t remember how we actually got here in the first place. Nothing happening is memorable or arousing anymore.”
Thank God For Netflix? It’s a difficult recommendation. The first hour deserves to be seen on the biggest, baddest screen you can possibly see it on; it’s incredibly impressive and shouldn’t at all be missed. The entire second half is maybe worth a Redbox rental.
Impeccable visuals and world building that must be seen
versus performances and plot that can easily be missed.
Watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets on iTunes or Amazon