VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS would have been a fantastic epic sci-fi masterpiece of a movie, close to the greatness of Luc Besson’s sci-fi masterpiece classic The Fifth Element…if only the two leads were recast. Because of the terrible shitty wooden acting and chemistry between stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delenginvue, the movie is only pretty good. I am still recommending it, don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to love about this movie, but if your leads don’t work, it is going to hinder your final product. Which is a shame because Dane DeHaan is usually a really really good actor. I have never liked Cara Delenwhatsherface’s acting (she should stick to her modeling day job) so I wasn’t surprised by her lack of being believable, but DeHaan was very frustrating, but I’m going to go ahead and blame it mostly that he didn’t have a great co-star riding along with him on the adventure.
Some are also going to complain about where the plot finally takes you (with a cover up story line we’ve seen all before) but the adventure is so fantastic beyond that I think those complaints will be overlooked. Without ruining anything, the story starts where we see this alien civilization on a planet filled with beauty and these pearls that they worship, and then ships suddenly come crashing down and their whole planet is destroyed. Valerian (played by DeHaan) suddenly wakes up and we realize this his is dream, and his ship tells him that it is a memory belonging to someone else sent to him. Along with his work partner/romantic love interest Laureline (played by Cara), they are on a mission sent by their commander (played by Clive Owen), to get this certain artifact back, and of course Valerian’s dream ties into all this.
Can’t say anymore or I’ll give too much away. The first half of the movie is masterful and exquisite. It shies away from being predictable, where you have no clue what is going to happen next. I still really much enjoyed the second half even though after all that is revealed the movie becomes very formula heavy and even has some of the same beats of the Fifth Element. In the first half Valerian and Laureline go to this planet that has several dimensions within it to get back this artifact that they are looking for. The action that takes place within all these dimensions is unique, fun, and precise. Loved it. There is also a thrilling run/space chase half way thru the film after that, that was a lot of fun. And although I have many, many a complaint about Dane DeHaan and Cara, all the supporting players did fine acting jobs. Clive Owen was fine as the commander, but the two standouts had to be Ethan Hawke as a pimp, and Rihanna as Bubbles, this shape shifting type prostitute. I also really liked this other general played by Sam Spruell.
But the two leads are awful. Some of the worst acting and chemistry I’ve seen all year. And when I walked out of the theater, all I heard was the same thing from everyone’s mouth. Good movie, would’ve been great if someone else played Valerian and Laureline. So it wasn’t just me. But despite all this, I still really did like the movie. The visuals are absolutely amazing and I recommend seeing this in a theater with good 3D projection and sound. A lot of the set pieces were wonderfully beautiful and soft on the eyes. And while the second half of the film goes a little cliche, I still had a fun time at the movies.
Which isn’t that why we go in the first place? I have a feeling though this movie will do very poorly at the box office, but then might become something of a cult classic on blu-ray. If you want to compare this to something, compare it to Disney’s John Carter, a movie which no one saw, but then they saw it on video and everyone that I have talked to that has seen it has only said good things. But if they ever do make a sequel to this film, I don’t care if you have to pull a Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllenhaul, recast the two leads, other wise their acting might make you cringe like a teeth pulling sensation when you visit the dentist…