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Film Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

lucasisking

Distinguished Member
I liked it more than you Cas (and the more I think about it, the more I'm warming to it), but I too had major problems including those you mention. Half an hour -we both know which half hour- could be cut out of the film without harming the narrative at all. And I also felt that the two leads had 'attitudes' rather than personalities, which compounded their miscasting (especially Dehaan). The least involving love match since Anakin and Padme...

However the visual and conceptual imagination is hard to deny (although you can spot the similarities to other films eg the Avatar people), and that opening sequence to Bowie's Space Oddity is one of the year's best moments for me.

It's a mess though isn't it.
 

Casimir Harlow

Movies Editor
I liked it more than you Cas (and the more I think about it, the more I'm warming to it), but I too had major problems including those you mention. Half an hour -we both know which half hour- could be cut out of the film without harming the narrative at all. And I also felt that the two leads had 'attitudes' rather than personalities, which compounded their miscasting (especially Dehaan). The least involving love match since Anakin and Padme...

However the visual and conceptual imagination is hard to deny (although you can spot the similarities to other films eg the Avatar people), and that opening sequence to Bowie's Space Oddity is one of the year's best moments for me.

It's a mess though isn't it.

I think, at home, with the freedom to swear at the screen, and the ability to take a break in the middle (without pausing), I would have enjoyed it more.

There are some great ideas. The marketplace, the helmet ramming sequence Juggernaut-style, the gun that shoots energy shields you can jump on - and glimpses of stuff I just wanted more of, like the portals in the space battle that allowed you to dump missiles on the other side of the field of battle, as well as Valerian's undeveloped link to Alex, the ship "give me everything you've got" before going into a gunfight.

But it's actually drowned out by the rest of it. And that dialogue just killed it for me. The two leads would have fared better just giving each other knowing looks rather than bantering on about marriage in a way that would have had Archer saying "Said No One. Ever." every five seconds.

And yes I read and was (unsurprisingly) influenced by your good points/bad points summary just as I was finishing off my review. I hope I'll warm to it more at home though because all the venom I'm spitting is leaving a bad taste.
 

lucasisking

Distinguished Member
I think, at home, with the freedom to swear at the screen, and the ability to take a break in the middle (without pausing), I would have enjoyed it more.

There are some great ideas. The marketplace, the helmet ramming sequence Juggernaut-style, the gun that shoots energy shields you can jump on - and glimpses of stuff I just wanted more of, like the portals in the space battle that allowed you to dump missiles on the other side of the field of battle, as well as Valerian's undeveloped link to Alex, the ship "give me everything you've got" before going into a gunfight.

But it's actually drowned out by the rest of it. And that dialogue just killed it for me. The two leads would have fared better just giving each other knowing looks rather than bantering on about marriage in a way that would have had Archer saying "Said No One. Ever." every five seconds.

And yes I read and was (unsurprisingly) influenced by your good points/bad points summary just as I was finishing off my review. I hope I'll warm to it more at home though because all the venom I'm spitting is leaving a bad taste.

Yeah that script was goddawful. As was Clive Owen. There's a really good movie in there somewhere, but it's buried under a lot of junk. That tech stuff was great, but as you say all the cool bits are skipped over blink-&-you'll-miss-it style to move onto Besson's next inane indulgence.
 
I probably visit the cinema two or three times a year and this won't be one of those times. I'll be picking this up in the classifieds once it hits UHD though. It'll look great if nothing else. I suspect I'll be selling it on quickly after.
 

Lusankya

Prominent Member
It is still a million miles from the drivel that was Jupiter Ascending.

I think if it had a tighter edit it would be on par with 5th Element. Which is also rubbish but very good fun.
 

Ripsnorter

Prominent Member
Apart from my now unshakeable conviction that you and I really do need that DNA test, Cas, I'm in full agreement. Visually, the film is eyeball-meltingly beautiful, but is still best watched on fast forward with the sound off. In business terms it has flopped massively in the US, as did The Fifth Element (Is anybody except Besson surprised?), is doing well in France (Is anybody surprised?) and is turning in a resounding 'meh' everywhere else. Besson claims that the budget is all but covered with presales and other commitments, which would leave little in the way of backend for him anyway. More importantly is that his company, Europacorp, is in deep financial difficulty and any hope that Valerian would rescue it is now clutching at straws. If anything, this film is more like Besson's last grab for majorly big budget, "What the hell" screen glory because nobody is going to invest in any of his big ventures anymore and certainly not where he is writer-director-producer with final cut approval. That said, I still admire the man as a filmmaker. Let us never forget what he has given us (Fifth Element, Leon, Lucy) and, by keeping it small and beautiful this time, will doubtlessly come up with again.
 
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DarkEntity

Prominent Member
While I didn't love it (like I love Fifth Element), I didn't hate it either. There are certainly aspects that could have been cut to remove needless scenes and dialogue but overall it was a visual and audio spectacle. Too much of the good stuff seemed to happen in the blink of an eye and you were left wondering what might have been...the shield gun, the multi dimension helmet/glasses, Rhainna character, the whole background to the war etc...

As for characters, not sure on the male lead, he doesn't do anything for me, no stage presence, no control etc...the female lead was far better of the two.

Rhianna scene (you will know which one when you see it) stole the show for me though, she was stunning and totally captivated me during her piece ;)
 
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Robothamster

Distinguished Member
I probably visit the cinema two or three times a year and this won't be one of those times. It'll look great if nothing else.
Same situation as me, was planning on seeing this at cinema months ago but totally gone off that idea now, I'll wait until on Sky Cinema.
 

Ripsnorter

Prominent Member
Same situation as me, was planning on seeing this at cinema months ago but totally gone off that idea now, I'll wait until on Sky Cinema.

If you do that you will miss out on the film's one saving grace: on the big screen it looks fantastic. On the small screen you will lose that but still have all its minuses. But then you can always go off and do something else whilst it's still running or just hit the stop button.
 

Robothamster

Distinguished Member
If you do that you will miss out on the film's one saving grace: on the big screen it looks fantastic. On the small screen you will lose that but still have all its minuses. But then you can always go off and do something else whilst it's still running or just hit the stop button.
I understand that, but for a mediocre film and limited opportunities to get to the cinema (family commitments) I'd rather save my trips out for films I know I'll really love.
 

Ripsnorter

Prominent Member
I understand that, but for a mediocre film and limited opportunities to get to the cinema (family commitments) I'd rather save my trips out for films I know I'll really love.

Makes perfect sense. As Cas has written, apart from the visuals there is no reason to make any effort to see this film, especially as it will come to a channel near you one day.
 

Robothamster

Distinguished Member
Makes perfect sense. As Cas has written, apart from the visuals there is no reason to make any effort to see this film, especially as it will come to a channel near you one day.
Yeah, if I still had an unlimited card, more spare time or even a cinema in my town (closest is a 30 min drive away) I'd more than likely go for the eye watering visuals, but 'twas not to be! :D
 

bootyman81

Distinguished Member
Got my 2D superscreen booked for Saturday morning, still very much looking forward to watching it despite the negative reviews.
Haven't seen the trailers or anything, just a few images here and there so at least it'll be something nice for my eyeballs to look at & Cara D is rather lovely imo
 

Kotatsu Neko

Distinguished Member
Luc Besson is I think, a spent force. I'd argue he was spent after Leon. He was always a hack, but somehow he managed to make a few genre movies which ended up being better than his talents would normally allow. (Leon an Nikita)
 

lucasisking

Distinguished Member
Luc Besson is I think, a spent force. I'd argue he was spent after Leon. He was always a hack, but somehow he managed to make a few genre movies which ended up being better than his talents would normally allow. (Leon an Nikita)

I dont agree. I think he needs help with his writing, and (like George Lucas) a few people around him to help him out and rein him in. New casting agents would be top of the list...

However he's still got some freshness and vitality that may be lacking in the Hollywood blockbuster scene.
 

Mallardo

Prominent Member
Having seen the trailer I am not surprised by this review at all. Might pick it upon blu ray when it inevitably turns up in music magpie for a quid, the kids might enjoy it by the sounds of it.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
I dont agree. I think he needs help with his writing, and (like George Lucas) a few people around him to help him out and rein him in. New casting agents would be top of the list...

However he's still got some freshness and vitality that may be lacking in the Hollywood blockbuster scene.

What was the last good Besson movie? I'd argue it was Leon, which is what...20 years old? If that's not the definition of a spent force I don't know what is!

Disappointed to hear this is a mess, but not in the least bit surprised.
 

Robothamster

Distinguished Member
What was the last good Besson movie? I'd argue it was Leon, which is what...20 years old? If that's not the definition of a spent force I don't know what is!

5th Element, (1997) was great. (that is 20 years old however, Leon is actually 23!)

Angel-A was pretty good (2005)

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (2010) was absolutely brilliant.

I also quite liked Lucy (2014) but mainly because my love for ScarJo blinds me to the movie beneath - the whole ending of that film was pretty pants.

I think he may still pull another stunner out of the bag one day.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
I've tried to like 5th Element, but it's awful really.

Lucy was dire.

Didn't realise Adele Blanc-Sec was directed by him - I quite liked it :) I hope he does pull a stunner out of the bag...
 

bootyman81

Distinguished Member
5th Element, (1997) was great. (that is 20 years old however, Leon is actually 23!)

Angel-A was pretty good (2005)

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (2010) was absolutely brilliant.

I also quite liked Lucy (2014) but mainly because my love for ScarJo blinds me to the movie beneath - the whole ending of that film was pretty pants.

I think he may still pull another stunner out of the bag one day.
Forgot about Angel-A, I adored that film!
 

rhino2k

Distinguished Member
So...is this one I don't need to get into trouble over buying with SWMBO?

Makes a change :laugh:
 

lucasisking

Distinguished Member
What was the last good Besson movie? I'd argue it was Leon, which is what...20 years old? If that's not the definition of a spent force I don't know what is!

Disappointed to hear this is a mess, but not in the least bit surprised.

Leon is a great movie, but there are a lot of great assassin movies.

In terms of sci-fi The Fifth Element and Valerian are injections of vitality, originality and spectacle even if- in the final analysis- they are nonsense.

Valerian could and should be a lot better, but I think we need what it brings to the table. It exploits utopian sci-fi better than all three recent Star Trek movies combined.
 

PierUk

Established Member
Apart from my now unshakeable conviction that you and I really do need that DNA test, Cas, I'm in full agreement. Visually, the film is eyeball-meltingly beautiful, but is still best watched on fast forward with the sound off. In business terms it has flopped massively in the US, as did The Fifth Element (Is anybody except Besson surprised?), is doing well in France (Is anybody surprised?) and is turning in a resounding 'meh' everywhere else. Besson claims that the budget is all but covered with presales and other commitments, which would leave little in the way of backend for him anyway. More importantly is that his company, Europacorp, is in deep financial difficulty and any hope that Valerian would rescue it is now clutching at straws. If anything, this film is more like Besson's last grab for majorly big budget, "What the hell" screen glory because nobody is going to invest in any of his big ventures anymore and certainly not where he is writer-director-producer with final cut approval. That said, I still admire the man as a filmmaker. Let us never forget what he has given us (Fifth Element, Leon, Lucy) and, by keeping it small and beautiful this time, will doubtlessly come up with again.
The fifth element didn't flop at all in the US, it debuted at number one during its opening weekend, but yes the film was more successful in Europe than in the US. Edit: I've just seen the numbers on IMDb, and Valerian did the same number of entries as the Fifth Element in the US, around 17 millions. So, is it really a flop or is it just that we got used to seeing film like this making huge numbers on the opening weekend?
 
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