Movie ReviewsValerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – A Pretty, Shallow Sci-Fi Film (Early Review)

Keith NoakesJuly 20, 2017

For those who didn’t know, myself included, this film was based on Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières long-running French sci-fi comics series Valérian And Laureline. From the trailers, this looked like a very ambitious sci-fi film visually but we all know that this isn’t always enough.

Synopsis: In the 28th century, Valerian and Laureline are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.  (eOne Films)

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, and Clive Owen

Writer: Luc Besson

Director: Luc Besson

Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 137mins


For showtimes and more, check out Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets on movietimes.com.

Big, ambitious sci-fi films can often go either way in that those who like it, really like it, and those who hate it, really hate it, leaving no real middle ground. In terms of this film, the later was the case. The story is about a pair of agents named Valerian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevingne) tasked to protect Alpha, a massive city where species from all over the universe have come together over centuries to share their knowledge, intelligence and cultures with one another.

The first thing you’ll notice while watching the film is its impressive visuals. The city of Alpha was a big, ambitious world with considerable scope and detail but it was unfortunate that we didn’t get to see enough of it. They may not have been the most impressive but were still better than most with plenty of well done CGI. We’ll still get plenty of chances to see more in the future, as this film unsurprisingly tries to set up this film universe for potential future films. This presents its own series of pitfalls as this entry seems more focused on setting up the universe than its story or characters.

This is a long film, clocking in at just over 2 hours, so the fact that it mostly meanders for the majority of its running time makes it mostly a boring watch. The story was hard to follow at times and nothing of substance happening until the end. Valerian and Laureline weren’t the most compelling characters to watch for several reasons. Their chemistry, for the most part, felt forced at times. The dialogue ranged from mediocre to terrible, with some lines getting unintentional laughs from the audience. The story is also incredibly cheesy which probably won’t come as much of a surprise so suffice it to say, to truly enjoy the film, one must buy into the story but that may be asking too much of certain people.

The acting was not the greatest either, however, this was more due to the script and direction than anything else. DeHaan was definitely committed to the role despite being let down by the mediocre script. Valerian was a very unlikable character whose dialogue was mostly cringe-worthy. Delevingne fared slightly better as Laureline despite not having the most chemistry with DeHaan. This was only emphasized by the badly written Valerian undermining her as a character throughout. The two were simply incompatible. The film could have gone without Rihanna as a dancing, shape-shifting alien named Bubble but she was still okay in what little time she was on screen.

Overall, this was an ambitious sci-fi film, boasting impressive visuals but is let down in every other aspect with a cheesy, convoluted story, bad pacing, terrible dialogue, and unlikable characters thanks to a mediocre script and performances by DeHaan and Delevingne.

Score: 5/10

*Valerian and the city of a Thousand Planets will be released this Friday*

If you liked this, please read my other reviews here and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, follow me on Instagram, and also like me on Facebook.




  • screenzealots

    July 20, 2017 at 1:00 PM

    Bummer to hear this, I’m screening it tonight. Should I bother seeing it in 3D? Sounds like the visuals are pretty great.

    • Keith Noakes

      July 20, 2017 at 1:05 PM

      They’re great but everything else doesn’t quite come up to their level.

      • screenzealots

        July 26, 2017 at 6:38 PM

        Saw it and I agree, but overall I loved the movie. I thought it was fun and the 3D was incredible.

      • Keith Noakes

        July 26, 2017 at 9:09 PM

        It was good but I didn’t think it was incredible.

  • Jason

    July 20, 2017 at 1:49 PM

    Awww….man. And I was hoping that this movie was gonna be good….

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