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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

Written by Zechs on Friday, July 21 2017 and posted in Features

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

Amazing visual effects and theatrical spectacle brought down by two horribly cast leads.

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Another movie, another somewhat disappointment. That's not to say Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a complete mess. Thankfully, it's no Transformers: The Last Knight. Hardly, the visuals in this movie are a bit awing at times. The special effects, set-pieces, costumes, and utter world building is just spot-on. What doesn't work sadly is well, there isn't a good lead to anchor this.   

The moment we meet Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and the way DeHaan performs in this movie I just couldn't help but think, "Why is this guy doing a Keanu Reeves impersonation?" Then every scene later I was just expecting a, "Whoa", or "DUDE!" I shouldn't be thinking this awkwardness at all. There also was just no presence to his character, even though he's supposed to be this talented agent. I just got that inkling only twice in this over a two-hour movie (the balls with magnets scene and the throne room fight). But that's not enough because the person he's mostly around well Care Delevigne's Laureline is far more wooden at times.  They have a really bad mix of chemistry between each other as well. Honestly, the best scenes each has is when they're not with one another (and that happens a lot in the middle of this film). Still, it just feels both these roles are just miscast. 

Which is really saying something when Rihanna as Bubble, who's only in the movie for a few minutes. Yet in those brief minutes, she outperforms Delevigne and just has so much better chemistry with DeHaan. It's at that moment is really the only real sparks ever fly in the movie and there's a mild interest with the human lead. Also, it helps that the movie plays to Rihanna's strengths and we get an absolutely stunning introduction to her character.

Still, even if the leads are awful everything else is quite good. My favorite character Sam Spruell's General Okto Bari. A man who knows something not quite right with his orders and much like our protagonists are also putting the pieces to this puzzle together. Anytime, he was on. The man just carried some weight and I kind of wanted to see more of this character, even if it was going to take away from the jaw-dropping visuals. 

There I think lies the second problem with this movie. The main characters constantly get side-tracked from the main plot. Like literally there are two points in the movie that deviate greatly and we see a seedier side to "The Thousand Planets" only ever briefly do we ever see the flip side to that all. Plus what the hell was up with Ethan Hawke's character in this movie? Like, literally he was hamming it up to a level I haven't seen done in a film in awhile.

Now maybe all that's because this is adapted from the comics it's based on. I confess sadly I haven't read any of these comics. But, I do get the passion Luc Besson is trying here. I see the world building and visuals. I see the various ways he's trying so damn hard to make us a give a care. But some of this all seems superfluous along with two very wooden leads. Well, it just doesn't work, which is a shame. 

I remember Besson saying that this movie couldn't have been done twenty years ago with the special effects at the time. Yet even with decent special effects back then, the Fifth Element was carried by its two leads (Bruce Willis and Millo Jovovich) in that movie quite well. You don't have that at all here and maybe that says something about the quality of leads in Hollywood nowadays. That the younglings aren't up to par.   

Still, this movie has just so much else going for it that it's sad that the two lead roles hold the movie down. It just feels like if it was better to cast this could have been a movie even more amazing than what we got. What we get here is just a good movie. The visuals and the performances around the two leads stand out well. It's just that the leads drag this movie down to what could have been something. That said if you want to see some amazing visuals and fantastic world building in a not-so-bleak future? This movie delivers that. I just wish it delivered two better lead actors. When the CGI aliens are out acting the actual human actors you know your movie has a big problem. This isn't a bad film. This film works very well seeing in a theater. Maybe it's best to just wait to see this in cheapy theaters and you won't feel ripped off by its problems. Two very miscast problems with it.

3 out of 5


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About the Author - Zechs

Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Moment of the Week, and Durnkin Reveewz. He's also the official whuppin boy at the Outhouse. So he'll get stuck seeing stuff that no mere mortal should ever see. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. He's also brutally honest. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.


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