With the embargo finally lifting, I can now talk about the biggest surprise of the summer! Check out my non-spoiler review of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Directed by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, and Ethan Hawke. In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives charged with keeping order throughout the human territories. On assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two undertake a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where species from across the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence, and culture. At the center of Alpha is a mysterious dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. I was one of the people who definitely loved the trailer but I was a little worried, to be honest. Neither of the two leads seemed very compelling as actors, and the CGI looked like it could require some tremendous work but I am glad my worries were false. Let’s start with the many positives of this film.
One of the biggest surprises of the year comes from the performance of Cara Delevingne. She’s smart, she’s bold, and she is one hell of a space agent. I am glad that Cara was able to get over the ugly hot-topic bump known as Suicide Squad. Delevingne is becoming one of the more interesting young actresses in Hollywood. There’s still some flaws to her acting, something I can see her overcoming as she continues to act more and get bigger roles, but she still shines in the film, even in its duller moments. Dane DeHaan plays the bro space agent but in the most average way. He tries his best to be cool and cocky but it doesn’t come off like that. But at least, Dane and Cara are paired together really well with some good on-screen chemistry. Rihanna does a pretty good job as well, playing the shape-shifting singing alien with a tragic backstory that may have to spew some political venom at the audience. Besides the two leads, this film is beautiful to look at. Gorgeous set pieces and breathtaking CGI, the film is magical in its depiction of outer space, both in the creatures who live in it and the areas they visit. The past few years have brought multiple outer space films to the silver screen, but this is arguably the most stunning of them all.
But as gorgeous as this film is and how much I enjoyed Cara’s character, Valerian is a hassle to watch. The first act grabs you by the hand and takes you on this solid outing through space introducing these exotic creatures of sci-fantasy, But the second act stumbles in and this is where you truly feel the slow and steady pace of the film’s 2 hours and 17 minutes runtime. The story gets confusing and the film starts to drag and it starts to flat line, I even felt a bit out of it by the time the film ends.
Even if the runtime was a bit too long, I still enjoyed Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, it is the biggest surprise of the summer (so far). It gave me a craving for films based on this comic series and it even made me want to read some of the comics itself. Check it out in theaters when it comes out July 21st and make sure you watch it in 3D!
SUPERSAM RATING: ★★★½