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Movie Review: "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets"

Updated on August 2, 2017
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Synopsis

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are top agents that work for the government that runs Alpha, a intergalactic space station that consists of thousands of alien species and is known as the City of a Thousand Planets. While out on a mission, Valerian has a dream that shows him a tragic planetary disaster that occured to a planet he did not recognize. Valerian wakes up from this dream and quickly realizes that this was more than a dream. While out on this mission Valerian tries to piece together what this dream sequence meant. Meanwhile, Valerian and Laureline are tasked with protecting a high ranking official while the governement at Alpha attempts to get more intel on a growing threat within the city that, if not handled, could mean certain doom for the City of a Thousand Planets. Valerian and Laureline must keep the high ranking official safe while stopping the threat to the city and learning the truth behind Valerian's visions.

Official Trailer

The Pros
The Cons
Valerian & Laureline (+5pts)
Valerian's Repercussions? (-2pts)
Alpha (+3pts)
Introducing New Aliens (-3pts)
Mul (+6pts)
The Villain (-6pts)
All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.
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Pro: Valerian & Laureline (+5pts)

These two characters worked together and complemented each other pretty well on screen. Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is a hot-headed agent who is good with a gun and seems to thrive in chaotic action environment. He is also a womanizer but seems to genuinely care for his partner, Laureline (Cara Delevingne). Laureline definitely the brains of the duo. She knows the plan, follows the plan and thinks everything through. She also seems to be able to handle a situation in which Valerian has caused things to get out of control. While they are both proficient in all areas, Laureline definitely excels through her intelligence while Valerian seems to thrive with a weapon in his hands.

As for the actors. I thought Dane DeHaan did as well as could be expected in this movie. I thought they could have gotten an actor that fit this role better but he gave a decent enough performance. I also think they could have gotten a more talented actress for this role but I thought Cara Delevingne does a decent enough job here. I do think their on screen chemistry worked, which is a pretty important element of a movie such as this.

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Con: Valerian's Repercussions? (-2pts)

Valerian seems to be a bit of a bull in a china shop. When a mission calls for control or restraint, he very quickly seems to be running around firing his gun or striking with his sword. Other characters even make a point to say that such actions could lead to diplomatic or political issues with the alien race involved. That being said, there seems to be no consequences for Valerian's actions.

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Pro: Alpha (+3pts)

One element of the plot that I did not expect to be a fan of, was the formation of Alpha. The movie opens with explaining how the City of a Thousand Planets was forned. It all began in modern day with the formation of the international space station. As time goes on, country after country slowly begin joining the space station causing it to increase in size. This continues for decades until an alien ship reaches earth. This ship then docks to the space station where this alien species becomes the first non-human race to join the space station. As decades pass, more species continue to make contact with earth and join the station. All of these species collaborate together and continue to build the space station until it is far too massive to safely remain in earths orbit. So the station (now named Alpha) leaves earth's orbit and becomes the City of a Thousand Planets.

I liked this element of the story. I liked the gradual build that began with countries in the international space station. The sequence, does three things very effectively. It appropriately shows how massive the city is. It effectively shows how much time has passed since modern day. It also makes a point of showing that humanity started it all.

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Con: Introducing New Aliens (-3pts)

This movie very naturally introduces a wide variety of alien races. It unfortubarely seems to forcefully add others to the story. Whole scenes and plot points are seemingly added with the sole purpose of showing the next bizarre looking alien and adding another action sequence to keep the audience entertained. This is fine to do once or twice but when the movie is over two hours long, some of these plot points should be cut. Especially when there are PLENTY of alien species already in the film naturally.

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Pro: Mul (+6pts)

Mul was a planet that was destroyed 30 years prior to the events of this film. The planet was inhabited by an intelligent alien race that was nearly wiped out by tragedy. As foreign spaceships crashed to earths surface, a group of Mul's population managed to find refuge in one of the crashed vessels. These were the only survivors of the incident. The movie begins with Valerian seeing all of this as a dream. He immediately realizes that it was much more than a dream, so spends the rest of the movie trying to piece together what happened. What caused the incident? What became of the survivors? How is Valerian connected to an incident that happened 30 years prior?

I really enjoyed going along for the ride and trying to determine what happened and what the Mul survivors are up to. This was an interesting plot that revolves on an interesting alien race and I thought the movie does a decent job of developing fleshing out this alien race and their storyline while maintaining an element of mystery.

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Con: The Villain (-6pts)

When/if you see how poorly the villain was developed, you might just think it is a Marvel movie. It is, in no way, a Marvel film but this was an extremely one-note and predictable villain. I will not mention who it is because the movie pretends or thinks that it is a plot twist. Most audiences will see the "twist" coming from miles away. I do not want to say too much more, but this villain was a severely one-note character. His motives were unrelatable and his actions were far too drastic. Moral of the story is that this was a very poorly written character which made the movie much less interesting than it could have been.

Source
Grade
Category
Points
A+
Amazing
95-100
A-
Amazing
90-94
B+
Good
85-89
B-
Good
80-84
C+
Average
75-79
C-
Average
70-74
D+
Bad
65-69
D-
Bad
60-64
F
Garbage
45-59

Grade: C+ (78pts)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was honestly better than I expected after having seen the trailers and a big dose of bad reviews. While I do not think Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne would have been my first choices for these roles, I think they did just fine in this movie. I thought the actors had good chemistry together and their characters complement each other well. I also enjoyed the main plot which kept a shroud of mystery as it focuses on the disaster of Mul and the fate of its few survivors. The movie was far from perfect, however, as the side missions felt forced and the villain was very poorly written. The side missions felt forced into the story for the sole purpose of adding unnecessary time and introducing new, unique aliens. The villain was an extremely one-note character whose actions seen way too drastic and severe.

This movie was not bad, but it could have been a lot better. If the writers spent less time introducing random alien species and more time developing the story's villain the movie would have been a lot better. If the casting director foubd actors who better fit these roles then the movie would have been quite a bit better. Again, this is not a bad movie, in my opinion, but I do not think it is worth rushing to theaters and spending money on tickets and concessions.

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