Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Sam Spruell
Plot: Space agents Valerian and Laureline find themselves embroiled in a plot by one of their superiors to cover up the accidental destruction of a planet and its inhabitants.
Review: This movie is based on the French comic series Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres. After seeing it, one can't help but compare it to director Luc Besson's sci-fi spectacle The Fifth Element.
The story focuses on two space agents, Valerian and Laureline, who are assigned to retrieve a tiny animal called a converter, but soon they find themselves in a middle of a plot that involves a cover up of a planet's destruction. At the same time, Valerian is trying very hard to propose to Laureline, who refuses, knowing that he has trouble committing to a relationship.
It is said that this is the most expensive independent film ever made, as Besson crowd sourced and funded the film himself. Visually, the film looks fantastic. It feels like Star Wars meets The Fifth Element, with a buddy cop element thrown in. Besson has certainly gone out of his way to create outstanding visual effects, which I'm certain involves lots of green screen and motion capture technology. It all looks incredible, and I'd be surprised if this film isn't up for the Visual Effects Oscar next year.
Besson also deserves credit for his slick direction, especially in the action sequences. It's reminiscent of the work James Cameron did for Avatar, where actors and motion capture actors have to seamlessly work together, and Besson pulls it off well. Save for a slow second act, Besson keeps things running smoothly for the most part.
Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne play off well against each other as Valerian and Laureline respectively. Their chemistry is convincing enough as they bicker and fight, all the while trying to finish their mission. Clive Owen is slightly wasted as their superior while Ethan Hawke attempts to be flamboyant as a pimp here, but doesn't quite hit the mark though. Rihanna tries to be serious as a shapeshifting performer, but her poor acting skills are still quite obvious. In fact, I'd say Besson hired her so that she can pull off this flashy shape changing performance on screen in the second act, which was a waste of time in my opinion.
The romance between Valerian and Laureline also feels rather hollow since we're never told why he loves her, or how they were made partners in the first place. I would have also preferred a proper prologue for the story instead of a sequence backed by David Bowie's Space Oddity, followed by a pointless cameo by Rutger Hauer.
In the end, Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is a solid summer action sci-fi spectacle which is bound to entertain you, but not much else. (7/10)