Valerian (Dane DeHaan) himself is kind of an irredeemable shit heel. He’s like if Captain Kirk or James Bond had the charisma of Luke Skywalker in A New Hope. This is partly because while we’re told Valerian is a total poon hound he spends the entire movie convincing his partner Laureline (Cara Delevinge) to hook up with him. He’s so aggressive about it that he quickly movies to straight asking her to marry him. Ther relationship is kind of along the lines of a 90s romantic comedy (Although without any dumb misunderstanding that plague those movies) where the dude is trash but the movie has already decided these two people should be together because why not.
It’s hard for me to explain why this worked for me. I actually do like the way the movie leans into what a complete shit Valerian in, and Dane DeHaan has a great shit eating grin. Also Delevigne and him have do have some chemistry, so the fact that they make for an awful couple is just a feature of this story.
Which is that way most of this movie goes for me. There are a lot of stupid and cringeworthy things that happen in it, but none of them hampered my enjoyment really. This is a big, stupid, fun movie. That’s what I wanted.
This movie is pretty bad at tying things together. A sequence will happen but then it will be pretty unclear why the next sequence is happening as a follow up to that. There’s a sequence where they go to a giant mall in a desert that’s in another dimension that the shoppers experience through augmented reality helmets, and our heroes are there to steal a converter as the first part of a bigger top secret mission. But when we get to the next part it’s never clear why the converter was important to that part of the mission. The converter is super important for the overall story, but not in a way that makes linear sense through the plot progression of the film.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets rambles the way books often do, but movies generally don’t. It never veers so of course that it feels like a second movie has started, but it is easily distracted. The most egregious example is a narrative cul-de-sac involving Rhianna as a shapeshifting prostitute who does an entire pole dance. Then she’s in the movie for a little bit before they run out of Rhianna gas or something and she’s dying for some reason, but it’s ok because living is pain anyway. And then she’s completely forgotten.
It’s stuff like that which keeps me from saying this movie is good because it’s honestly a fucking mess. It’s just all over the place. But I had a good time and I was certainly never bored. So if you’re up for a big dumb space adventure romantic comedy messterpiece than I recommend Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. If you want a well edited tight movie then go see Dunkirk.
This is a movie where you go, who gave Luc Besson $200 million to make this mess. And then you go, oh ok, he did, he gave himself that money. That makes sense.
I really liked Valerian, just be aware this is exactly a kind of garbage I like. It was what I expected and hoped for. I really liked Valerian for similar reasons that I really liked Jupiter Ascending. I mean I liked this more than I liked Guardians of the Galaxy 2 but I don’t think that’s going to be a common opinion.
Just a guess.