Valerian and the City of a Thousand Suns – Review

Dane DeHaan as Major Valerian in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Suns – Courtesy of Entertainment One.

Flashy visuals weren’t enough to save this film from drifting into the depths of Hollywood cliché; Valerian may offer some creative ideas, but its cringe-inducing lines of dialogue and abysmal performances threw away any potential it may have had.

In a massive intergalactic city where many alien races live together in relative peace, a mystery unfolds in which Valerian (Dane DeHann) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are thrown in the middle of.

Now this film certainly had creative potential and being based off the graphic novel Valérian and Laureline one would have expected it to be coherent at the very least, and yes the story is coherent and easy to follow but that’s about where its positives end story wise. This films script is possibly the worst I’ve seen since Suicide Squad (2016), despite the sheer amount of material available, this film was without a shred of doubt one of the worst film experiences of the year. It’s as if director Luc Besson attempted to merge Avatar (2009) with The Fifth Element (1997) to create a large-scale sci-fi world, but in the process left the lead characters as one-dimensional pieces of cardboard. The dialogue and line delivery in this film made me physically cringe half a dozen times, leaving audiences dead silent in the “funny” scenes. The dialogue and story have minimal redeeming qualities, with outdated humour and story tropes; the source material has just enough interesting tidbits to keep you in the cinema, but a less patient movie-goer may up and leave. Everything good about this film goes to its production design and visuals, and even those have their faults, it’s not at all hard to see where this movie went wrong, it’s just plain old bad script writing and performances.

With possibly the worst performances of the year, both lead actors butcher their respective roles. Dane DeHann’s character is meant to portray that of a “ladies man” and commanding presence, he is the literal opposite, acting more like an edgy teen on a spaceship. Cara Delevingne made me want to gouge my own eyes out with her jaw-dropping lack of talent on screen, she would have been much safer had she stuck around in films like Paper Towns (2015); she has proven to be one of the worst “big” actresses working today.

It’s hard to believe a creative visionary like Luc Besson could produce a film like this, but over the years his slow degradation of quality has become apparent. It seems he has retained his eye for a creative art direction – as many of the creatures and visuals look unique and interesting, but not enough to prevent the film from plunging into complete disarray. The Avatar-esk aliens do look beautiful and have plenty of redeeming aspects when it comes down to the aesthetics of the film, I just can’t give it full points as there are moments where the CGI gets choppy and it becomes obvious that green screens are being used.

Valerian has become further proof that Writer/Director Luc Besson only had so much left in his arsenal. It’s about time he switches to a more simplistic genre or just stops writing altogether.

4.1/10

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