Review: Big budget space romp Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets crash lands

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevignge in Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Picture

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevignge in Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Picture: Domitille Girard/TF1 Films - Credit: Archant

French writer-director Luc Besson created flashy sci-fi epic The Fifth Element starring Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis and has now realised his dreaming of realising Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres' comic series Valerian And Laureline on the big screen.

Dane DeHaan stars in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Picture: Vikram Gounassegarin//TF

Dane DeHaan stars in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Picture: Vikram Gounassegarin//TF1 Films - Credit: Archant

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (12A)

**

Luc Besson's latest attempt at making a big budget space romp is distinctive, startling and unique; and it doesn't have a single original idea in its head.

Rooted in the traditions of French graphic art, and based on a French comic book you've never heard of, it swans around as if it's like nothing you've seen before, while you try to remember exactly where you saw it all before. It is a donkey being passed off as a thoroughbred, simply because they put a wacky Jean-Paul Gaultier designed saddle on it.

Dane DeHaan stars in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Picture: Vikram Gounassegarin//TF

Dane DeHaan stars in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Picture: Vikram Gounassegarin//TF1 Films - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


It has a lovely dippy opening, a millennial spanning prologue about the international space centre slowly growing into a galactic space hub, a city of a thousand planets. Set to Bowie's Space Oddity it has a wide eyed naivete that is infectious and joyous and makes you want to give the film the benefit of the doubt.

I'd have been very happy to have basked in that happy wonder for the whole film but the grim mechanics of the plot – the destruction of the planet of the Avatar people, the mission to rescue something from the Ghost In The Shell virtual market – slowly suck away the enthusiasm.

Most Read

At the heart of it is the bickering romance between the pale and uninteresting couple, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne. With his deathly pallor and get-some-sleep eyes, DeHaan is like a sick note in human form. For this film he's taken possession of Keanu Reeves's voice and seems far too full of himself for a man who looks like death warmed up.

After a promising debut in Face of An Angel, Delevigne was buried alive in Suicide Squad, somehow managing to draw the shortest straw in a film comprised entirely of short straws. She is better here, but Besson's version of witty romantic repartee would test the most gifted of performers. When Clive Owen turns up to as the figure of thespian gravitas, you know you're on the wrong spaceship.

Of course it all look pretty good (though maybe not $197 million good) but always in the most obvious way possible. It's a lazy parent, always shoving some brightly coloured confectionery into our faces in the hope that this will be enough to keep us happy.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter