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

An Empty Spectacle


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has some beautiful visuals and there is some tremendous imagination on display; sadly, the budget was spent on the effects rather than creating interesting characters, so it’s a fun one-time watch but not something I would sit through again.

Plot: In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the universe.

Review: I held off watching Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets for the longest time as I’d heard so many bad things about it; it popped up on Amazon Prime the other day, so I figured I would finally check it out. Although not a great film by any stretch of the imagination Valerian is helped by its spectacular visuals which are more imaginative than anything in the Star Wars sequels.

The main problem with the film is the bland characters with the two leads Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne barely making an impression aside from Cara’s distracting eyebrows. Valerian himself is just cocky and has little else in the way of a personality. Delevingne does the best she can as Laureline who really is the brains of the outfit but they just aren’t characters to get invested in. The script is also quite bland although there is a nice reference to Taken at one point.

Clive Owen makes for a relatively decent villain but he isn’t in it enough to feel anything for him either way which is how I felt about the entire movie. I didn’t care about anyone nor were the stakes especially interesting; it’s all about the visuals which are gorgeous and what make the film watchable.

The music score isn’t memorable either with no main theme tune (like most movies these days), so it’s not a score I would listen to outside of the film.

In terms of action we get a few shoot-outs and explosions with a couple of fight scenes too but nothing that makes me want to sit through the film again.

Overall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a visual feast but the characters make little impression and the story lacks excitement making it a movie that’s worth maybe watching once, but it’s not something I would revisit any time soon.