Thoughts On Valerian
Valerian had a lot of potential as a movie. It was new and different. It has great special effects. Unfortunately, a combination of bad acting and bad story telling brought it down, and it turns out to be an overly long mess. The opening scene is pretty great. It shows a montage of the station becoming a place for humans to work together, then it moves out into space, then humans start to meet aliens. All of this is set to David Bowie's Space Oddity.
Then we meet the main two characters of the movie and it all goes awry. Dane DeHaan has no charisma and is not at all convincing as the roguish James Bond in space we are supposed to take him for. Cara Delevingne either has no reaction or her reactions are comically over the top, there is no middle ground. For instance, when she feeds a pearl to the McGuffin of the movie, and the creature replicates is her "Oh wow" is so flat and emotionless you wonder if she is being sarcastic.
Here are some of the random thoughts I had while watching the movie. There will of course be spoilers.
After the initial opening sequence there is another scene that sets up the story taking place on an alien planet. The alien speech is sometimes subtitles but more often not, leading to an experience like the Wookie scene from the Star Wars Holiday Special. I also couldn't help wondering how if their planet was so close to other planets that you could see them in the sky, how it wasn't being ripped apart by gravity. This whole scene looks like a video game cut scene, with the characters and their movements just being a little bit off.
The marketplace in the other dimension was kind of a neat idea, only it doesn't follow it's own rules. Valerian picks up the pearl with his hand that isn't in the other dimension for instance. Also, people are on multiple levels and jumping on top of things there, when we can see quite clearly that on this dimension they are shuffling along on a flat desert surface. So what happens to them here if they climb a staircase? Do they ascend into the air? If not, why do they not fall flat on their face as they step up onto something that isn't there?
Valerian mentions that he has been an agent for years. Both if these characters look too young to have done anything for years. They look like they are barely out of high school. Valerian is supposed to come across as a charming womanizer, nut instead he seems like a huge jerk. There is no reason for you to care about, much less cheer for, this totally emotionless romance.
Rihanna looks great in the movie, but her character is given one of the lamest death scenes ever. Besides the fact that we haven't been given enough time to care about the character to warrant the scene, and the fact that she dies from some mysterious injury she "must have" received that we never saw, it's just not played very well and comes across as super corny. It's also a shame that they killed one of the only interesting characters they introduced.
When Laureline puts on her space armor or whatever it is, for some reason it has huge boobs. We saw her wearing a bikini at the top of the film and we know she doesn't need all that chest room. What is up with that?
I don't understand why Valerian shot that cop. He wasn't being chased, he had no reason to think the cop was a danger to him, and in fact the cop had just received instructions to help Valerian. Did the guy owe him money or something?
Did no one at the station find it unsettling that the Commander had built his very own android army that answered only to him and looked like bigger more menacing versions of Trade Federation battle droids painted black? That seems like a pretty good indicator of nefarious intentions to me.
How did the people from the destroyed planet live on that wreckage for years? How did they not run out of air? I know it showed them picking tomatoes from the vine growing on the ship, but why were there tomato vines growing in a recently crashed space ship? Also, at the end they said they were going to recreate their planet, then suddenly it appears as though they were on their planet. This was really confusing. I thought, wait, did they just turn the space station into their planet?
There are thousands of species living on Alpha. But as we see when Valerian is wearing his suit and smashing through the walls going from habitat to habitat, apparently every species has to live within a few square feet. Could they not let them have more space?
The story wasn't very original, but it wasn't bad either. With a little more thought put into it, and two different lead actors, it could have been a really good movie. It's disappointing because next to Star Wars this was easily the movie I was most looking forward to this year. And trust me, the examples I gave above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems with this movie.
By the time this movie was finally winding down, you could hear people in the theater getting restless. It's not enough that the movie is bad, it's also very long. This was definitely a wasted opportunity on the part if the film makers, and I only hope this doesn't cause to studios to rethink any planned big budget sci-fi epics that might be in the works and aren't named Star Wars.