Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Review

Keeva Stratton

Film Expert

In a future where many species co-exist peacefully in space, an unknown threat is wreaking havoc. When the source of the evil becomes known, not all is as expected.

Valarianimage via pinterest

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sargent Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are sent on a retrieval mission. The animal they are sent to retrieve is the last of its species, and has a special power to replicate valuable pearls.

The mission is fraught with danger—and the pair soon find themselves amidst a host of enemies. Here, in the backwaters of the galaxy, they stumble across an alien race that’s long thought to have been extinct. What they know about their destruction may not be welcome news by the powers that be at the galaxy’s capital—Alpha.

At Alpha, they are informed that a larger threat exists. Sent to discover the source of the threat, and eliminate it, the two find themselves on a wild adventure. Like the future itself, they will need to work alongside a number of different species and cultures to ultimately survive and discover who is really causing the chaos.

Luc Besson gave us The Professional, which I loved, and The Fifth Element, which many others loved, but his work seems to be forever wilfully venturing further off course. Visually, as has been noted by many, this is a lustrous offering, but unfortunately there is no chemistry between the leads, and the script leaves so much to be desired.

Oscillating between cliché and an almost child-like aesthetic, Valerian was certainly not the film for me. I’m not familiar with the French comic on which it is based, and nor do I wish to become so, having experienced this at-times quite trying film.

Dane DeHaan has proven to be a talent on the rise, but sadly this will not be a film he’ll reflect fondly upon. While there are highlights—and Rihanna’s performance is certainly one of them—they are few and far between.

Like the vast expanses of space, this film seems to drag on forever. It’s superficial attempt to address ethnic cleansing seems a bit wrong, and the lack of chemistry between this young pair is painfully cloying.

Perhaps more of a film to sleep through, Valerian simply calls for too much staying power, to simply stay awake.


Director: Luc Besson

Stars: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevigne

Runtime: 2 hours 17 mins

Release Date: 10 August

Rating: M

Reviewer Rating: 2.5/5


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