Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Review by CJ

Luc Besson

Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen

Other notable appearances:
Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, John Goodman

Running time:
137 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, Serenity, The Fifth Element


When a space city inhabited by different species from thousands of planets is under threat, it falls to agents Valerian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevingne) to save it.

I left Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets feeling conflicted on what I had just seen. There were almost as many great things about this film as there were painfully average things. I like ending on a positive, so let’s start with what sucked.

If I were the type of person prone to walking out of films, I would have left after the first 10 minutes of stilted, awkward dialogue and actions between Valerian and Laureline. In a very short space of time, the film crams down the viewer’s throat the characters’ histories, their personalities and the “unrequited but probably secretly requited but scared so holding back” romance subplot. While the first couple of sequences in the film were by far the worst at it, there is a lot of using dialogue to tell the viewer things instead of using dialogue to show the viewer things.

As a character, Laureline is insufferable. While she is undeniably kickass, intelligent and loyal, everything is done with a petulance, snark or general disdain. It gets so old that by the time Laureline shows a glimmer of positive human emotion, the damage is done.

At nearly two and a half hours, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a very long film. Which is a fine thing for a film to be, so long as it doesn’t feel long. Unfortunately Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets drags out in many parts and does end up feeling overly long.

Now we’re in the middle ground. The plot is enjoyable but not particularly memorable. The main villain is predictable from the moment they appear on screen. The soundtrack is okay, but again not memorable or anything special.

Now, my favourite part of a “good news, bad news” review — the good news!

The special effects and world building in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is breathtaking, beautiful and well developed. The CGI creatures and aliens are fantastic in terms of both design and execution. The city itself is a sight to behold. If everything else had been half as good as the special effects, this would be a great film.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets had the potential to be a modern science fiction masterpiece, but bad dialogue, shoddy character development and poor pacing make it an average film at best. It’s worth a watch for the special effects alone, but unless you’re a big fan of young adult science fiction and don’t mind overtly descriptive melodrama, I wouldn’t go in expecting too much from the rest of the film.


“I’m fighting for a noble cause too. Mine.”

2 replies »

  1. Thanks for the great review. It’s funny — this movie kind of went under my radar. Now I can kind of see why. I look forward to seeing it when it comes to cable.


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