Film Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets


Check out our HNS Film Review of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets!

Cast:                       Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, with Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, and Rutger Hauer
Director:                 Luc Besson
Writers:                  Screenplay by Luc Besson.  Based on the comic book series Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, published by Dargaud.
Producers:            Luc Besson, Virginie Besson-Silla
Release Date:      July 21st, 2017

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is the visually spectacular new adventure film from Luc Besson, the legendary director of The Professional, The Fifth Element and Lucy, based on the ground-breaking comic book series which inspired a generation of artists, writers and filmmakers.  

In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Reviewer’s Thoughts:

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is this summer’s blockbuster you don’t want to miss. The film has action, visual effects that are to die for, romance, feminism, stellar acting, and the list goes on.

The action. What I liked about Valerian is that the action felt consistent throughout the movie yet never distracted from the story itself. Often times I find that your typical action movie gets lost with the 20-30 minute action sequences that after a certain point take the audience out of the story solely for the sake of action and explosions. Valerian never did that. There was a lot of action but the story remained the focus here – just like it should be.

The visual effects. I can’t say enough great things about the visual effects here. At a press day recently, I learned from the director the long process it took to create all of the different aliens/ species you see in the film, and the hard work pays off. It was really a treat to see so many new creations and backstories of all the different species. The character played by Rihanna is particularly fascinating, and she has a big scene in the film that is among my favorites.

The romance. The romance between the two main characters – Valerian played by Dane DeHaan and Laureline played by Cara Delevigne – was fun, believable and rooted in gender role appropriation. I loved that in this film the woman stood her ground and didn’t give in easily to the man. She was very resistant initially and made him prove to her that he was serious and she wasn’t to be taken advantage of. Laureline is such a strong female character, and embodied feminism in everything she did. I also liked that their partnership was equal. He saved her. She saved him. At times he was the stronger character that got them out of tricky situations, other times it was her that saved the day. There was an easy balance that doesn’t always exist in action movies between the male/ female lead characters. I hope this can set an example for future action movies to establish that balance between the male and female leads.

The acting. I was really impressed with the acting of everyone in the film. I think a lot of it goes back to casting, and seeing that these actors would mesh so well together in the film. Cara and Dane made a perfect duo and had great, playful chemistry that served the characters very well. The action sequences and all of the stunt work they did also translated beautifully onscreen. I was equally impressed with Rihanna. Her character was a highlight of the film. I hope to see more acting from her in the future.

Visually stunning, action-packed and a top notch romance, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a film that is not to be missed!