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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets


What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rental

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, Lucy) directs this comic book-based sci-fi adventure about special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) who must safeguard Alpha, a sprawling space-city that's home to species from a thousand planets.

That sounds like a fairly simply plot, but Besson complicates it to the point of chaos, apparently trying to one-up himself over The Fifth Element. He does not succeed.

Look, the Frenchman has made a lot of good films, a few truly excellent ones, and a lot of fun, creative, but ultimately slight flicks, which is where I'd rank Valerian. It's not terrible, it looks fantastic, and it bears Besson's deep creativity, but in addition to the overcomplicated plot and the bloated story at nearly two hours and 20 minutes, the film is seriously miscast.

DeHaan simply doesn't exude the roguish charm the Valerian character demands, and Delevingne doesn't have the toughness and feminism to embody Laureline. You know who would have made this film sing? Raiders of the Lost Ark-era Harrison Ford and Karen Allen, that's who! DeHaan and Delevingne don't have the chemistry or delivery to pull off the banter Besson has constructed for the duo.

As a visual feast, this film delivers, and if that's enough for you, pony up your ticket money and go, but in the grand scheme of Besson's frequently remarkable oeuvre, Valerian will probably remain a footnote. (137 min.)

—Glen Starkey

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