Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets review

Luc Besson is not a filmmaker I would consider a favorite of mine. In fact, the last film I saw that he directed was The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc way back in 1999. Sure I’ve seen the films he produced and wrote such as the Transporter and Taken series, while I did enjoy some of those films, I would only consider them “guilty pleasures”. I was never fan of his cult favorite Leon: The Professional and I mildly enjoyed The Fifth Element. He’s now back with another big budget sci-fi adventure film that’s based on a supposedly popular French comic books; although I’ve never heard of these comics before.

Set in the 28th century, the film opens with a group of alien beings who looks kind of like the Navis from Avatar and skinny human super models, enjoying their peaceful lives on a distant planet when suddenly space ships started clashing into their lands. Then we’re introduced to a couple of very young looking humans named Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne). At first it looked like they’re on vacation at some remote beach but it turns out they’re special agents whose mission is to find something important and bring it back to their superiors. They met up with other agents on some planet and got in some trouble while trying to retrieve the product they were told to retrieve. Once they got what they needed, they headed to a planet that’s full of alien beings and humans living in harmony and the film spent most of its runtime on this city/planet.

If it sounds like I’m not sure what the film’s really about then you’re correct. The film has no coherent story or character development. It’s full of cool 3D effects and that’s pretty much it. Written and directed by Besson, I believe his only motivation was to make a very cool looking film and show off his 3D shooting skills. I love film that has great visual and 3D effects but I also want to see good story and interesting characters; this film contains neither. The film also lacks, of all things, good action scenes. In fact, I don’t recall any memorably action sequences at all.

I’ve never read the comic books but I assume the lead characters probably look quite different from the actors who portrayed them in the film. DeHaan and Delevingne both look like they’re 16 year olds and I find that hard to believe they’re some kind of special agents. Also, they have zero chemistry and their bantering throughout the film sounds forced. The supporting characters were also forgettable except Clive Owen, who happens to be the villain but he’s on the screen for only like 5 minutes, such a waste of his talent here.

I wanted to say something positive about this dreadful film but I couldn’t think of anything else besides the cool looking 3D effects. It’s one of the most excruciating films I’ve sat through. I would highly recommend you stay away from it.


So have you seen Valerian? Well, what did you think?

24 thoughts on “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets review

  1. “Set in the 28th century, the film opens with a group of alien beings who looks kind of like the Navis from Avatar and skinny human super models, enjoying their peaceful lives on a distant planet when suddenly space ships started clashing into their lands.”


    Thanks for the heads up, Ted. 🙂

  2. That was absolutely predictable just from the trailer and now you confirmed it… I wrote a post before about the horrible costumes for women in this movie. It’s quiet a shame for Besson to spend almost $200 mln like this. And how could he cast Cara Delevingne? Gosh…

    The Grand Bleu. 1988. Do you know this movie? It has nothing to do with whatever Besson did later (even Leon). It’s a touching movie, almost a masterpiece. I still rerember it well… I can never understand how a person can do film like The Grand Bleu and the stuff he did later. But watch it, for sure it will change your opinion about him. Once upon a time he was a great filmaker.

    1. Fabrice Nozier

      I’ve read up on this a bit. I really want to give this a watch! It can’t be as bad as Lucy or what this turned out to be…

    2. I’ve never seen The Grand Bleu, might have to seek it out. The first film I saw from Besson was La Femme Nikita, which I thought was very good. It’s the reason why I was so excited to see Leon: The Professional, I still remember like it’s yesterday that I saw it at a theater on opening weekend and walked out very disappointed. I know I’m one of the few people who didn’t like it.

      I know I thought for sure Besson would be in the same class as Fincher or Tarantino since his career took off around same time as those directors. But he never fully became a great director, just a competent one.

      1. At that point… most people thought so. And he had guts to do that at that point. But he preferred to commercial stuff and producing rather than concentrating on artistry.

  3. Fabrice Nozier

    I was a fan of Lucy for about 1 minute and completely forgot about it! I’m not a Besson fan at but I couldn’t help but be intrigued with the film because, YES, the special effects! It didn’t really seem like much substance was there based on the trailer so I’m not surprised. Thanks for the heads up on this film or else I seriously would’ve waisted money on this!

    1. I skipped Lucy after I heard some not so great things about it. The effects looked great in this film, it better be considering they spent over $200mil on it but great effects should enhances the story, not depends on it.

  4. I am also not a Besson fan. Leon was good, but ever since I have either disliked the films of his I’ve seen, or been completely disinterested in seeing them in the first place. Thanks for the warning away from this one.

  5. From the trailers I knew this would either be the surprise hit of 2017, or a pile of garbage. As much as I’d have liked the former, I was definitely expecting the latter. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

    1. When I saw the first trailer a while back, I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t think it’s going to be this bad, for sure I thought it’s going to be entertaining like The Fifth Element. Well I was wrong, the whole film’s just about cool visual and 3D effects.

  6. I find it so weird that so many people hated the movie — I really liked it! It is a little too long and the acting is a mess at times, but those visuals are insanely amazing. I normally hate 3D but I paid the upcharge to see it in 3D and it was worth every cent. I’m glad I saw it on a huge screen because it was truly eye-popping. Then again, I love Besson and sci-fi, and this movie was crazy inventive. So count me in the camp of critics who really did like the movie. There aren’t too many of us!

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