Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was billed as a visual spectacle from the trailers, and in that respect it delivers completely. The environments are spectacular in a way that is rare in sci-fi, combining a warm feeling with a level of super high tech that seems more like magic than technology.
Special agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are tasked with retrieving stolen property, and when they succeed and return to Alpha space station, the titular “city of a thousand planets”, they discover that their mission isn’t as simple as they thought.
They soon find out there is a conspiracy on Alpha. An enemy has taken over the centre of the space station and will soon control it completely, posing a grave danger to the millions of different aliens onboard. But the plot is serviceable at best, and there is more than one moment where the viewer’s suspension of disbelief is sorely tested, such as the usual “main character runs though a hail of bullets without being shot” action sequence.
While the story is simple, it and the characters have a certain charm to them. The opening sequence, where humans from different nations welcome each other and eventually aliens onto the space station that will become Alpha sets the tone for the movie: one of peace and unity.
Overall, Valerian is entertaining. While there are certain moments of dialogue that might cause a few eyerolls, and it won’t be winning any Oscars that aren’t in the visual effects category, director Luc Besson has done well in crafting an intriguing setting that I'd like to see more of.
Edited by Pete Spurrier