Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Movie Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) - Written and Directed by Luc Besson; Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Rutger Hauer.

By Kenny Howell

A wonderfully creative world is marred by two miscast leads in this return to sci-fi for Director Luc Besson.

Besson made a little sci-fi gem back in the mid 1990s, The Fifth Element, but really hasn't stepped back into true sci-fi since that time. So when this was announced, and then beautiful worlds appeared in the first trailer, anticipation was high.

And there is all that inventiveness and attempt at fun that made The Fifth Element such a blast. But the leads in the film, a very talented actor in Dane DeHaan (Kill Your Darlings), and kind of new starlet Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad) are not Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich. DeHaan has made his career on playing troubled young men, so the leap from that to action star in a rollicking space adventure is probably not the smoothest move. And Delevingne is still fairly new to acting, and really hasn't made the full transition from successful model to an actress that can carry a film.


In Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, they play the titular Valerian and Laureline, agents that are trying to keep the peace across space. At the beginning, a peaceful planet is destroyed by neighboring warfare, and that hostility threatens Alpha, a city where creatures from a thousand different planets call home.

Following just what is happening in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets can be a bit much at times, but it really doesn't matter. This is about the worlds Besson has built, and they are magical. I felt how many people felt about Avatar, a film I never really connected with or understood the praise. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets isn't an amazing film by any means, but it does create a sense of wonder.

And then DeHaan and Delevingne zap all of that out of every scene. DeHaan has always been good at playing characters that you want to keep at a distance because they could be combustible. But that is not good for an action star who should be magnetic. Like Willis in The Fifth Element. Same for Delevingne. She tries, but like I said, she's a young actress, and just isn't quite there to take on such a task.

It's a shame because I think that Besson has really created a feast for the eyes. Even if he doesn't really know what to do inside of it.

Rating: ***

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