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So Valerian (Movie Review) July 23, 2017

Posted by geoff in News.

I’d been looking forward to Luc Besson’s new movie, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, ever since I saw the trailer. Luc Besson wrote La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, The Transporter, Taken, District B13, and Wasabi (an unsung personal favorite). He directed many of them as well.

I finally got to the theater last night, after setback after setback. Plunked my butt down in one of those modern lounge seats, and commenced to view.

Sadly, Luc let me down this time. The movie was gorgeous and detailed, but flawed in so many distracting ways that I couldn’t enjoy it. For instance:

  • The Lead Dude (Valerian): This guy was supposed to be a bad boy lady-killer Major doing special ops missions for the United Human Federation. But he looked like a choir boy whose “bad boy” persona consisted of putting firecrackers up frogs’ butts. Too young. Too innocent-looking. No personality.
  • The Lead Dudette (Laureline): She’s supposed to be the tough mission-oriented Sergeant who’s Valerian’s latest partner. Cute, but her face has no character and she looks like she’s in her late teens. Too young. Too innocent-looking. No personality.
  • Dialogue: So, so flat. Banal to the point of distraction.
  • The Stupidities:
    • The Pearl People: This Avatarian-type race (confession: I never saw Avatar) is the stuff of liberal fantasy. Completely non-violent, androgynous, low tech, and living in perfect harmony with their planet. I’m pretty sure they never poop. And of course they are used to criticize humanity and all its foibles. The thing they (liberals) don’t think through is that the Pearl folk had two major cheats: an unbelievably awesome power source provided to them by nature, and cute little critters that replicate stuff. Without those ridiculous cheats, their society turns as ugly and nasty as every other society.
    • Barbarians in Space: The hell?
    • Contrived Side Missions: Seems like they wrote in distracting side missions  just to give some room for scenes with Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, and Alain Chabat. The scenes broke the momentum of the movie, which was kind of incoherent anyway. The characters played by Hawke and Chabat were supposed to be quirky, but just seemed like failed attempts to bring a Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow vibe. And Rihanna sounded like Rihanna, not like a space alien (same complaint I had about Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy 2).

But, the movie did have Herbie Hancock, which is pretty cool.


1. Henry Chamberlain - July 23, 2017

The perfect society scenario in this movie is a classic trope that fits right in with the rest of this movie’s aesthetic. It is definitely a quirky movie that defies conventional expectations. And no gag reel at the end either! But that’s okay, really.

2. Retired Geezer - July 23, 2017

You had me at “I’m pretty sure they never poop.”

Based on your recommendation we won’t see it or else wait until it’s at the $3 theater.

3. geoff - July 23, 2017

Mr. Chamberlain has a much more favorable review at his site – you should check it out to see if I’ve been too harsh.

So far as “classic tropes” go, The FIfth Element avoided that one, so I had hopes Valerian would too.

4. veeshir - July 24, 2017

Hollywood has a real problem doing sci-fi movies anyway but when you add in social justicing the movie just gets unwatchable to me.
As aliceh once said, Avatar is basically Dances With Aliens.

5. geoff - July 24, 2017

So far as my complaints about the apparent age of Valerian go, I’d point out that Bruce Willis played essentially the same character in The Fifth Element: an irreverent Major specializing in special ops for the military. He looked like this:

whereas Valerian looks like this:

6. Retired Geezer - July 24, 2017

Valerian has a purty mouth.

7. Mrs. Peel - July 24, 2017

You’re right, that kid is way too young.

8. Retired Geezer - August 28, 2017

Took Mrs. Geezer to the $3 theater last night. She was all pumped to see Valarian because of the trailer. Her first words after leaving the theater were “I’m glad we only paid $3 to see that, it was dumb”. She said her butt-meter went off long before it was over.

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