Valerian: An Unfinished Puzzle

BY NATHANIAL GARROD

 

In his latest Sci-Fi summer flick, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, director Luc Besson puts the “tour” in tour de force.

Valerian is less a character driven adventure and more of a journey through a trope-ridden but stunning vision of a future in space. Valerian (Dane Dehaan) is a slightly misogynistic space detective/soldier who just happens to be good at all the things – including constantly flirting with his co-worker, Laureline (Cara Delevingne). Even when he is stuck in a corner that depends on her to save his life, he is trying to convince her

The City of a Thousand Planets has three beginnings – one for backstory, one to introduce the conflict, and finally we meet the title character. The film feels like an unfinished puzzle, or the pilot of a TV show – it keeps introducing new concepts, locations and characters as if we are expecting them to return. By the time the film wraps up, it feels like we barely know Valerian and Laureline, let alone other characters or locations.

Yet instead of feeling dull and tired, instead of introducing us to each new element, Besson treats the audience like we should be used to this by now. From the film’s opening on a beautiful, tropical planet to its concluding space battles, Valerian bops around a universe

This film has the makings of a cult classic, but more like Starship Troopers than The Fifth Element.

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