I find oftentimes it's good to approach new ideas and new things with a neutral perspective, but frequently that doesn't seem to help change the outcome that you had going into shall we say a particular film. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets had several fascinating and remarkable elements in it, but it wasn't really able to overcome several fatal flaws. The story follows two individuals who seem to be intergalactic FBI agents of a sort and they go on several missions, leading up to eventually going to this place where species from over a 1,000 worlds live on this space station to stop some crazed aliens from wiping out all life on that station. So think Aliens meets Avatar except not anywhere near as good as Aliens or as groundbreaking as Avatar. Dane DeHaan plays the main character Major Valerian, and he does....okay, but honestly I'm not really partial to any of his work except for what he did in the HBO series In Treatment; more often than not he comes across rather bland, which is unfortunate because I believe he has a lot of talent. Perhaps the best part of the entire film and the best character is played by Cara Delevingne, Sergeant Laureline, who brought humor and an element of seriousness to the film that for the most part didn't come off as corny or over the top unlike what Mr. DeHaan brought to the film. I think she is an up and coming talent, and hopefully this film doesn't dash any of her potential future. Clive Owen played a snake like commander of some sort of military force, but his character was bland, static, and not very interesting at all. Ethan Hawke played the owner of what I'm assuming was a whorehouse, and had a very short yet flashy role, but it was a part of the film that seemed out of place and completely irrelevant. Herbie Hancock (yes the musician) played the Defence Minister of some faction that the two main characters were employed by; it was not a very interesting role, and I'm uncertain why he was given it. Lastly, perhaps the most useless and out of place character was played by Rihanna called Bubble, who was a shape shifter of sorts. It seemed like the creators of the film put her in the film just to say that they put "Rihanna" in the film. The woman can dance, but that's about the extent of her talent. I suppose the rest of the cast was good, but nobody really stood out, or any other character really.
The director, Luc Bessson, also wrote the screenplay and he has some good screen credit to his talent (The Fifth Element) but he didn't really do himself any favors with this film. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets suffered from a number of flaws which impacted its quality, but one of the most fatal flaws was its similarity to Avatar. The story and some of the core aliens really resembled the Na' Vi and their culture from that world. Also, the screenplay was poorly written; it was kind of like a weird blend of sci-fi, suspense, who-done-it, and action-adventure. The majority of the dialogue was corny and just oddly worded creating for some awkward scenes, especially with the two main characters. Apparently the film is based off a series of comic books, which seem to be relatively good source material, but nothing was done to make it soar off the pages. There was so much potential for this film to be great, but the writing was just awful; if that would have been improved, and the story changed, then the film would have been light years better. Of course one of my least favorite film composers created the music; Alexandre Desplat. I cannot really recall anything the least bit good or remarkable about the film score, which I'm not certain if it's because the film was dreadful or he's just a mediocre film composer. The cinematography by Thierry Arbogast was okay, but considering the scope with which he had to work with, I was expecting something far better. The costume design by Olivier Beriot was pretty good; a lot of creativity, but nothing really breathless or cool that stuck out. The action for the film was kind of blah too, although there was one sequence which was absolutely breathtaking, cool and absolutely dynamic; it involved Major Valerian trying to track down the aliens abducting a hostage. Other than that though, the action was fairly mediocre....kind of like the film overall. At times the film came across as rather preachy about certain social issues in today's culture. Essentially there was a lot of potential with this film, but it really came out as flat. It was entertaining enough, and interesting; but it wouldn't bother me to never watch it ever again, and unless you really enjoy science-fiction then you might as well skip this film.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets clip
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets interview