Valerian film poster

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: an empty pearl.

In / Critic by XM studio host

It took me two days to get to this review. Why have I not been more excited to share my experience watching Valerian? A combination of factors without any doubts, but which in this case lead to a slight disappointment …

Of course, I expected a lot from this film. For once, a French director can afford a space blockbuster that can compete with Avatar: how not to expect too much of it? So what expectations and what answers?

Let’s start with the simplest: the actors. No expectations, nothing to report. It must be said that any actor can give only to the extent of what the scenario and the director offers them.
Then, the image: I had to this regard a lot of expectations. The trailer promised a big team and colorful fresco. And although it is true that Luc Besson was very creative, the narrative structure serves the image in the sense that the whole seems to be de-structured. On the opposite, with a movie like Avatar, I had been bluffed by the visuals, certainly a bit revolutionary at the time but not so much, which on the other hand had a true graphic consistency, carried by narrative consistency.

So you see me coming hard on the story: 2h18 was obviously too much. Besson falls into the trap of contemplating his own universe to the point where – on several occasions – one can wonder about the interest of the scene. Without going into the considerations of the genre “Does Rihanna have its place in a space odyssey?” (Obviously not because his image carries too many connotations, unlike young and fresh actors perfect for the style), several detours that Valérian goes through doesn’t really brings new elements to the story. And here it comes back to the question of the great villain. What does the heroes has to face, what choices do they make? It is only towards the end that this kind of mechanism starts to fall in place, and this is where the story becomes catchy.

And as I write this review, I re-listen to the music of Valerian. And here as well, Alexandre Desplat did not manage to give a strong theme to the characters and Besson goes from orchestral music to Pop … making in the end the whole quite inconsistent. In my opinion, an original soundtrack was a must, as with all major space odysseys, pop being reserved for gangster movies and films that do not take themselves seriously like the Guardians of the Galaxy. There is no in between.

In the end, the portrait I make here is very pessimistic, because of a too weak narrative and a film wondering what genre to fit in. But Christin & Besson’s universe is rich and unique: nothing you will find in a consensual Hollywood … Valérian and the City of the Thousand Planets remain a good Science-Fiction movie and a good job. It deserves a 14/20! A movie to see, with detachment!

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