Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Film, Action and adventure
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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

'The Fifth Element' director Luc Besson returns to visually spectacular sci-fi territory with a totally bonkers action adventure

Spiraling through the same vertiginous terrain as such nutty, chock-a-block sci-fi epics as 'Avatar' and David Lynch’s weird-on-weird 'Dune', the mega-expensive 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' flaunts a visual imagination on fire – and a human pulse that’s at best sporadic. Let’s just say it doesn’t skimp on the planets.

We’re only just beginning to take in a utopian 'Space Oddity'-scored prologue in which generations of astronauts, human and otherwise, meet peacefully at an orbiting space station when the action shifts to a gorgeous beach where an alien princess cavorts with a pet that poops pearls. Then there’s a desert world that’s home to a giant mall which you can only see with special glasses. Don’t get exhausted – we’ve got two more hours to go.

Based on a French comic-book series that dates back to 1967 and reportedly went into George Lucas’s food processor (along with much else) for 'Star Wars', 'Valerian' bears the typical weakness of having a central pair of bland human heroes, tasked with rooting out cosmic corruption that’s not worth explaining. Valerian himself (Dane DeHaan who, after his jerky turn in 'A Cure for Wellness', deserves sharper scripts) is a space jock whose every line reading makes you appreciate lesser, latter-day Han Solos like Chris Pine. Thankfully, model-turned-actor Cara Delevingne does a spunkier job with sidekick Laureline, diversifying her arsenal of expressions beyond a frowny face. Her caterpillar eyebrows and hypnotic fly-away hair qualify her as the most interesting life form onscreen, even in a film with squishy hippo-like waiters and Clive Owen.

The movie, France’s most costly to date, is written and directed by legendary crackpot Luc Besson, who, with such wonderfully silly projects as 'The Fifth Element' and 'Lucy', has made a career-long goal of steering his country’s cinema toward something glitzier than Godard. Still, it would be a mistake to dismiss Besson as someone who lacks soul: there’s a Frenchness to 'Valerian' that marks it as unlike anything Hollywood would dare.

Rihanna shows up as a shape-shifting pole dancer with a penchant for poetry, Ethan Hawke is enlisted to play a pimp, and the climax is built around a notion of intergalactic humility (toward immigrants, in fact) that feels decidedly otherworldly. For those risks alone, this is welcome summer fare. If we’re going to have space operas, let them sing in the strangest accents possible.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Wednesday August 2 2017
Duration: 137 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Luc Besson
Screenwriter: Luc Besson
Cast: Cara Delevingne
Ethan Hawke
Rutger Hauer
Clive Owen
Dane DeHaan

Average User Rating

3 / 5

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1 of 1 found helpful

The acting is wooden, the characters are one-dimensional and the story doesn't go deep enough. However, the effects were really great and the concept was an interesting one. I never actually got bored watching this film so it can't have been that bad!

1 of 1 found helpful

The Luc Besson-directed Sci-fi adventure ‘Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets’ is a film based on the French comics series “Valérian and Laureline”.

It’s hotly tipped to be one of the biggest movies of the Summer, having Rihanna featured has obviously attracted a lot more interest. Dane DeHaan plays the lead with Cara Delevigne playing his co-star and Clive Owen plays the baddie.

I just watched the movie and here is my review. 

Let me start by saying I can see where the 200 million dollars went, the effects and sets were incredible. I found it slightly too long and in parts way to busy. Don’t get me wrong I liked it but didn’t love it. Here is a movie that has elements of so many other Sci Fi classics and I found myself at times thinking about what I needed to do tomorrow, never a good thing when you are at a cinema.

I found it visually beautiful in parts this included Rihanna who commands so much attention on screen that you literally feel under her spell. Her cameo started so well but near the end I felt like we were forced to try and understand her characters struggles but literally in a few rushed minutes.

When I was at school my teacher Mr Roberts would always say ‘Max is so good at writing stories, she starts so well but then she doesn’t know when to end and tries to fit so much in’. I think the same could be said of ‘Valerian’. In the middle it dragged and so many side plots were being pushed in to make us understand what was going on. 

I will say on a plus note I loved that Lauraline the character played by Cara Delevigne was a total kick ass female who was more the hero then ‘Valerian’ played by Dane Dehaan.

I also want to mention Cara is truly starting to become more actress and less that girl that models for Chanel. The roles she is choosing are all different and not too demanding, I mean that in the best way possible. She is gradually showing her skills as an actress and in time I think she will nail it and make that transition. Imagine a few more years and one amazing role that will transcend her into the world of respected actors. I have met her a few times and always found her super smartand incredibly genuine. This lady is determined and very talented.

Overall though sorry to say it but Valerian is disappointing, but I still say check it out and make up your own mind.

Max x


There's something enchanting about Valerian that makes it a movie to watch. Absolutely.

Visually arresting, the captivating scenery and special effects truly hook you in. There's an air of Avatar in this. It's beautiful, eerie and new. The story - if not really original - still has some depth and interesting themes/ideas. I think what truly disserves this movie is the number of side quests. It seems like Besson loved this imaginary world so much he couldn't but get side-tracked to make us see more of his creation. Shame because it doesn't serve the plot and makes the movie rather lengthy at times.

Still though. Give it a try, it's charming in the end.


Adore Luc Besson... I will pretty much watch anything he is involved with but sadly I fear his best days are behind him. Sorry Delevigne is not an actor, she needs to go back to her day job. And DeHaan just does not have the screen presence to carry a leading role. The opening scene was excellent and VERY original. But it all went downhill from there.