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July 31, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) --- "A Thousand Planets Can Take You On A Long Journey Through The Galaxy."

Plot Summary
In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline 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. (1) 

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     In Luc Besson’s new movie, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017), he takes what people loved about his 1997 film The Fifth Element and the visuals of James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar, and gave us one of the most visually pleasing films since Avatar. It is obvious how much work went into bringing the world of Valerian to life. The visuals are amazing and captivating, to say the least. There is a ton of CGI that is so realistic that most of it could pass as movie makeup and it also shows how cheaply the effects are in some movies. In addition, it is impressive the creativeness of the Art Direction, Set Direction (Evelyne Tissandier), Costume Design (Olivier Bériot), and the Makeup Department (Thi Thanh Tu Nguyen), which only enhances the beauty of the world displayed; a world where well known cameos don’t feel forced or out of place.

     In regards to the story, it is both reminiscent and new. The beginning was a bit reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 1 & 2) with the music and unique characters, the visuals were Avatar (2009), the action was like the Fifth Element (1997), and the ending was suggestive to that of Ender’s Game (2013). And yet at the same time, everything had its own style and uniqueness. With every story, there is a kind of mystery that is only revealed until the height of the film. However, it is not the mystery of the film that is the biggest revelation but it is the revelation of the film’s message. The message of the film is forgiveness and love, that both are bigger than revenge and anger; they're more important than anything. This makes the story quite interesting as well as the joy that comes from the detours brought throughout the story. I commend the screenwriters Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières, and Luc Besson (mainly) for not throwing everything every idea at us at once. There is action here but it's more so a small plot with a single villain (which is an interesting change) and no actual worlds/universe is in need of saving, instead, it is simply the lives of innocent bystanders that need saving. Although, despite the good things I have to say about Valerian there were a couple of issues to be found.
     First, is the fact that a few scenes seemed a bit overdone and didn’t actually add to the story. While this did not damage the storyline or make things any less interesting, at the same time it felt a bit pointless or confusing at times. Second, is that part of the story was predictable but this largely due to how it was explained. There were times when it seemed like they didn’t believe that the audience was intelligent enough to figure everything out on their own. In other words, the phrase “Well, that was obvious,” was used a bit. Another issue I have is with the cast members. I enjoyed the chemistry between Dane DeHaan (A Cure for Wellness) and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad), and the rest of the cast delivered their parts well. However, I never cared much for Delevingne as an actress. She has potential and she is pretty good but sometimes there are moments when it feels forced. I had this same issue with her role as the Enchantress in Suicide Squad and perhaps that confuse a bit here. But otherwise, she was good here. The other character that I have a problem with is the villain. While we find out early on who that villain is, at the same time I would have expected them to be a bit more villainous, I guess. They did not feel like much of a villain but I guess they were alright, perhaps it is because they ended up being more of a minor character; very minor.

     Overall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) was not as big and amazing as the trailers made it out to be, however it was an entertaining and very visually stunning film to watch. The music was reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 1 & 2), the visuals were Avatar (2009), the action was like the Fifth Element (1997), and the ending was similar to that of Ender’s Game (2013). While at the same time everything had its own style and significance, despite the story being a bit predictable. The action scenes were great, the humor was pretty good, and the acting was solid. This film is not for those who are looking for a movie with a clever and breathtaking twist. But if you enjoyed watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 & 2, Avatar, The Fifth Element, and Ender’s Game then I can assure you that you will find Valerian entertaining too.

"Welcome to Alpha, the city of a 1,000 planets, where for hundreds of years every species has shared their knowledge and their intelligence with each other. It's paradise."
- From trailer

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  3 of 5 star
Worth Buying:  3 of 5 stars

I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).

Movies Similar 
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
After Earth (2013)
Avatar (2009)
The Fifth Element (1997)
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Interstellar (2014)
John Carter (2012)
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Lucy (2014)
Lost in Space (1998)
The Martian (2015)
Passengers (2016)
Snowpiercer (2013)
Serenity (2005)

Cast & Crew
Directed by Luc Besson  
Cinematography by Thierry Arbogast            .
Film Editing by Julien Rey.
Casting By Nathalie Cheron.
Production Design by Hugues Tissandier.
Set Decoration by Evelyne Tissandier.
Costume Design by Olivier Bériot.

Dane DeHaan                        ---     Major Valerian
Cara Delevingne                   ---     Sergeant Laureline
Clive Owen                             ---     Commander Arun Filitt
Rihanna                                  ---     Bubble
Ethan Hawke                        ---     Jolly the Pimp
Herbie Hancock                   ---     Defence Minister
Kris Wu                                   ---     Sergeant Neza
Sam Spruell                           ---     General Okto-Bar
Alain Chabat                          ---     Bob the Pirate
Rutger Hauer                        ---     President of the World State Federation
Peter Hudson                        ---     Captain Crowford
Xavier Giannoli                   ---     Captain Norton
Sasha Luss                              ---     Princess Lïhio-Minaa / Creature 'Candy Dress'
Aymeline Valade                 ---     Emperor Haban-Limaï
Elizabeth Debicki                ---     Emperor Haban-Limaï (voice)
Pauline Hoarau                   ---     Empress Aloï / Creature 'Swing Angel'
Barbare Weber Scaff          ---     Empress Aloï (voice) (as Barbara Weber Scaff)
Marilhéa Peillard                ---     Tsûuri
Lee Delong                              ---     Tsûuri / Tourist (voice)
Diva Cam                                 ---     Mâatri (Tsûuri's Friend)
Judith Brunett                      ---     Mâatri (Tsûuri's Friend) (voice)
Marie Barrouillet                ---     Tsûuri Child
Cindy Bruna                          ---     Guard
Sija Titko                                 ---     Guard
Daphnée Kbidi                     ---     Tortured Pearl
Nick Marzock                        ---     Tortured Pearl (voice)
Ola Rapace                             ---     Major Gibson
Stefan Konarske                   ---     Captain Zito

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