Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets : Only Entertaining?

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

For connoisseurs of the sci-fi genre, Luc Besson’s name can’t be dissociated from the Fifth Element. But it’s not his only noticeable work. Besson also directed The Big Blue, Nikita, Leon, but also Lucy. In other words, I expected a lot from his latest film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The trailer promised action and impressive visuals.


The film takes place in the 28th century and is based on the French comics series Valérian and Laureline that Besson used to read during his childhood.

The visual creativity of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

It is undeniable that Besson’s expertise and touch is very much present in this movie. He is able to capture and transmit the wonder he surely felt while reading the comics.  My eyes were wide open discovering the visual effects and the species created for the movie. And Alpha, the city of the thousand planets, what a city! All these creatures of different species living together in peace and thriving in a world where everything is mastered. Everything seems well thought out, well imagined and well drawn.

I wanted to live in Alpha, I wanted to drive a spaceship too!
I truly felt like a kid, amazed by all these images and colours.

What disappointed me

I was disappointed by the performance of the actors and some star actors who made surprise appearances but did not add a real weight to the plot. I didn’t feel that the actors carried the weight that their characters have on the screen. Dane DeHaan (Valerian) is a special government agent who must maintain order in the universe. In spite of this role, Valerian is a young man who has just emerged from puberty, and who only laughs and flirts with his partner (Cara Delevingne). He becomes a bit more serious when things get tough, and probably when a stuntman takes his place on the screen. Maybe choice-wise, and as a main character, the cast could have matched the supposed weight of the character.

Loreline, Valerian’s partner, is better. She’s pleasant to look at, and yes, I’m not going to deny it, she has character. The character pushes Valerian at times. She knows how to impose herself. But sometimes it’s through her smirks and self-sufficient looks. Is it enough though?  I don’t think so.

Let’s talk about Rihanna’s performance. It was certainly gorgeous. Her performance as an artist/dancer/shape shifting creature added an aesthetic distraction that brought life to the movie, except that the character is incidental.

With a movie lasting 137 minutes, at times, I felt the length and found some parts kind of useless.

Rihanna stars in Luc Besson’s ” Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”. Photo credit: Daniel Smith © 2016 VALERIAN SAS – TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION

But all this is superficial and doesn’t dig deeper. We can’t get attached to the characters. Their development is limited. They do not touch us. We don’t feel close and can’t relate to them. Emotion is almost absent. We are rather served with easy and cheap cheesy emotions.

Dane DeHaan, and Cara Delevingne star in EuropaCorp’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Photo credit: Vikram Gounassegarin © 2016 VALERIAN SAS – TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION

So, I felt a bit disappointed. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is entertaining and aesthetically speaking, a success. But in terms of intrigue and character building, it’s not Luc Besson’s finest work.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has been in theatres since July 21st.