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Valerian And The City of a Thousand Planets (movie review)

Valerian and Laureline ran in the anthology Pilote co-created by Pierre Christin & Jean Claude Mezieres.  It ran from Nov. 1967 - Jan. 2010.  It’s a French Science Fiction story that takes place in the 28th(2713) century follows Valerian who works with the Spatio-Temporal Service.


Valerian City of A Thousand Planets is an adaptation of the long running French comic book series “Valerian & Laureline”(Nov. 1967 -Jan 2010).  It takes place in the 28th century where we now possess the capability to go thru time and space.  The story follows Valerian who’s employed by the Spatio-Temporal Service(2713) whose job it is to stop and capture rogue elements across space and time.  He get’s the job done(usually) but appears unreliable at times. Ex. being drunk, knucklehead and late for work(because he’s a time traveler ha, Ha, HA!).  


Then there’s Laureline who Valerian ran across during a mission.  She’s a former redheaded peasant girl from 11th century France.  Due to unforeseen circumstances she winds up on Valerian’s ship when he goes back to the future.  With nothing else to do she’s later trained to be a Spatio-Temporal agent and becomes his partner.  


*End of prologue*


So far I’ve had a great movie going year.  “John Wick(Chapter 2)”, “Get Out” and “Logan” where great(even though I do still have 1 major issue with that film).  “Ghost In The Shell 2017” was a disappointment but I enjoyed “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2” as much as the first one.  “Wonder Woman” and “Spider-Man:Homecoming” were both a blast(even though once again I have 1 major issue with them).  7 films and only one dud?  Not bad.  So where does Valerian fall.  Right beside “Ghost in the Shell (2017)” unfortunately.


The Plot:

In the film they are already both established and are agents but no time travel.  Huh?  At the start of the film a planets inhabitants  have several ships fall on them destroying their planet.  Later on “Alpha”(an uber space station that has about 1000 different civilizations on it)a “radiation” incident occurs and…….. 

zzzzzzz…. Oh, sorry!  I was just remembering the film!  Okay I’ll start with the positive because well you’ll see. I really liked the visuals.  The creature an design of this universe looked great and well thought out.  Plus there were great splashes of color all thru the film even during dark scenes.   I really appreciated it when the camera would focus on a particular scene like the one at the beginning on the doomed world.  It had a unreal realness to it if that makes any sense. 


I also enjoyed how well thought out this universe was.   The aliens and tech.  This film was more successful with this than Jupiter Ascending was.  In JA they would try to cram a ton of exposition to explain EVERYTHING!  It looked like they were trying to put 3 films worth of continuity into one film.  Valerian didn’t do that.  The film started with a montage of the future history of space exploration with humans meeting and greeting new races and as that happens our technology advances along the way.  It was also nice that I believe “spaceship oddessy” was being played.



The acting.  The supporting characters were okay but the main leads were horrible.  I’ve only seen Dane Dehaun in 2 films: Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  I didn’t enjoy his acting in the former and his acting in the latter was…interesting.  For some reason it sounded as if he was trying to sound rough and rugged.  Perhaps like how the Valerian character from the comics could be.  The problem is their not built anything alike and he didn’t believable come off as a cocky, arrogant womanizer.


Cara Delivine isn’t a good actress.  I only know here from 2 other films Paper Towns and Suicide Squad.  In Paper Towns she was okay but she really only appeared I believe at the beginning of the film and the end.  In Suicide Squad (a film I like despite what the internet says.  $745 million.  People don’t keep going to the same movie paying for it if they hate it.) she barely says anything and when she does it’s under a paragraph(maybe 1 or 2 sentences).  It was as if the directors of those films were trying to hide her away from the movie.  She had line readings that just fell flat and when she was supposed to show some emotion I felt nothing.  Also the Cara in the film doesn’t have red hair.  Not a nitpick since this is part of the design of the character.  I assume the film-makers only cared about casting this particular actress.  I mean they could’ve have her wear a wig or dye it.  Or Heck use cgi.


Why is this called Valerian and not Valerian and Lauren.  That’s what the comic(and animated series) was named because both characters are equally as important.  Even though from what I’ve read Laureline is more dependable.  Is the reason because the laureline sounds too weird.  What more than Valerian?  It possibly has to do because Hollywood feels that there can’t be a major hollywood film based on a new property that 2 names or ones that a woman.  The public won’t see a sci/fi film co-headed by a woman.  Or if you have the name of 2 characters that head the film(men or women) the public will want to know who is the lead character.  A film can’t have 2 leads!  THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!


The costars don’t have any chemistry.  For whatever reason the film-makers decided to have the characters have romantic interest with each other.  It didn’t work.


The 3D is nonexistent.  Correction the only time it looked good was during the commercials before the movie.  Other than that nothing was enhanced.  Skip the 3D it’s pointless.


The Writing. Was horrible.  Scenes were predictable.  Also I could predict what would happen to a character first appears.  The pacing was at times too slow while at others times certain scenes go on to long.  Ex. whenever Valerian and Laureline are arguing.  Which is a lot.  If the characters has some chemistry and the writing was good then it could work.  It doesn’t here and I can’t remember in the last decade where romantic bickering was funny. What they were saying most of the time wasn’t interesting as well. 


The characters don’t resemble the source material.  “Valerian” in the comic anyway is taller and masculine.  He looks like the stereotypical hero type.  That works for the story.  Here he looks kinda like a pansy.   Also Laureline visually looks nothing like here source material.  In the comic(and hell the cartoon) she was a red headed former 11th century peasant girl.  She acts reckless and will speak her mind against her superiors.  I vaguely saw this in the film.  Also what I feared for in the trailer happened here.  Both characters have a romantic relationship. In the comics they do have a close(intimate)relationship but romantic love isn’t part of it(or at least what I’ve read so far).  Why does Hollywood always do that?  I can only think of 3 times off the top of my head when a man and woman work together in a film and there isn’t any romance between them.

1. Robocop (Murphy and Lewis)

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Cap and Black Widow)

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (Max and Furisa)



 This film reminds me of Ghost in the Shell 2017.  Both are based on comics.  Both visually and in world building are great.  However the story isn’t good and the acting of the main lead(s) is horrible.  Here’s the thing if both actors gave great performances added with the great visuals then this would’ve been a good film because then I would’ve cared about what was going on.  The music with the exception of the opening song was forgettable.  Luc Besson didn’t pay enough attention to 1. casting the right actors for the leads.  2. the script and dialogue.  


The said thing about this film is there is so much potential their.  What they took and adapted from the comics to create this universe was considerable and well thought out but the lack of attention to detail on other aspects of this film is just pitiful.  What’s worse just like with Ghost in the Shell I bet that people who saw this film and hated it or decided to skip this film will NEVER check out the source material.  Which is a shame because it’s really engaging and easy to get.  Each comic is about 50 pages long and has a beginning middle and end.  It’s available now in book stores, comic shops and online at Amazon at good prices.  Plus I just learned about a week ago that a animated series was made.  It’s 40 episodes long and is available for streaming on and has been collected in dvds and is available now.  


So basically if you like sci/fi and want to see something new, skip this film but buy the art book of the film when it comes out and try the comics(which is also available on of it as streaming for comic books)) and watch the tv series.  


Hmm once I finish the comics and tv series I might do a retrospective on it.  You know treat this property with the respect that the film didn’t.

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