PLOT - Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets is set over four-hundred years in the future, where a space station named Alpha has become a peaceful home for both humans and hundreds of species from around the universe. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevinge) are partners working to stop crimes on Alpha. The agents are given an assignment that reveals classified information about a mysterious planet named Mul and they quickly realize that they don't know who they can trust.
LIKE- Even though I've seen the trailer a million times (Seriously, Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets wins for being the most over-played trailer of the year), I didn't have clear expectations going into the theater. I'm a fan of Besson's other films, but I generally steer clear of science-fiction/space movies. If I had been watching this as a rental, I'm not sure that I would have kept watching. The first fifteen minutes after the opening credits are a CGI fest with iridescent creatures. My gut told me that I wasn't going to enjoy Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets. However, as soon as Valerian and Laureline were introduced, I was hooked.
DeHaan and Delevigne make this film. They have tons of chemistry and individually, they give solid performances. In addition to being work partners, there is also a romantic connection. Valerian is openly interested in Laureline, but she feels that their personalities clash and that she cannot trust him. Trust and following your instinct are two big themes of Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets.
Speaking of acting, Rihanna shines as Bubble, an exotic dancer who can morph into different people. There is a visually cool dance scene as Bubble shows off her artistic range.
I was delighted in the unexpected. While the overriding plot is fairly predictable, the smaller plot points were surprising. For example, there is a hilarious banquet scene that was completely twisted and unpredictable. As we exited the theater, my husband said he kept hearing me "Titter" and he knew that I was enjoying the movie.
Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets has a vivid story world and creative characters. One of my favorite scenes involves a planet with a virtual reality market place that exists in the middle of a barren desert. Tour groups have guides that take them shopping and then the tourists have their virtual purchases transformed into physical objects. In addition to the creativity with the concept of the market place, this part of the movie also involves an intense action/suspense scene with Laureline and Valerian, that plays on the two worlds: real and virtual. It's exciting and unique.
DISLIKE- As I mentioned, Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets gets off to a slow start. I was worried that it was going to be another Avatar or Star Wars film. Blah. The only other criticism is early in the film, there is a lot of exposition in the dialogue, especially when we first meet Valerian and Laureline. I instantly liked their characters, making me quick to forgive some of the writing flaws.
RECOMMEND- Yes! Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets is everything that a summer blockbuster should be. I was thoroughly surprised and delighted by how much I enjoyed it. We skipped seeing it in 3-D, but the beautiful visuals and intense action make this a film that you should experience on the big screen.