Friday, 21 July 2017

Film Review: "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" (2017).





"From the visionary director of The Fifth Element and Lucy"
comes Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. This English-language French science fiction action film written and directed by Luc Besson. It is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. In the 28th century, Valerian and Laureline 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.

Besson first publicly announced the project in 2012 after decades of development hell. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne were announced in May 2015 to the titular roles. Besson deliberately chose to shoot the film in English with English-speaking actors in order to raise its chances of a wider audience. The film was given a budget of EUR €197.47 million (US $210 million), making the film is officially the most expensive ever made in France. It significantly exceeded the budget of the previous record holder, Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008), which cost EUR102 million (US $113 million). Twenty years earlier, The Fifth Element was the most expensive French movie of its time with a budget of EUR90 million ($100 million). Principal photography on the film began in January 2016, it was shot at Cité du cinéma, in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. For the visual effects, Weta Digital and ILM provided the film's visual effects. The film had 2734 effect shots, compared to The Fifth Element's 188 effect shots.

The film stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline, with Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu and Rutger Hauer in supporting roles. Despite the other cast members being perfectly cast and turning out great performances, sadly, the same thing can not be said for the film's two leads. DeHaan and Delevingne were unfortunately miscast. DeHaan came off too brooding, whilst Delevingne just came off wooden.

Visually inventive and gleefully over the top, Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a fantastic piece of pop sci-fi that never takes itself too seriously. The film is an elaborate, even campy sci-fi extravaganza, and one of the great popcorn movies of the year. It's a lot warmer, more fun and boasts some of the most sophisticated, witty production and costume design you could ever hope to see. However, it is a misfired European attempt to make an American-style sci-fi spectacular, the film consists of a hodgepodge of elements that don't comfortably coalesce. But I would not have missed seeing this film, and I recommend it for its richness of imagery.

Simon says Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets receives:


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