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VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS, a new Luc Besson element

valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets-a-brand-new-element

I think it's safe to say that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the new Avatar. Luc Besson's (The Fifth Element, Arthur and the Invisibles, Leon) latest endeavor is here to massage our brains with beautiful imagery and also remind us that our humanity is as much of a gift as it is a curse. Needless to say, better to watch it in theaters. Don't be turned off by the slow pace, it's probably the best thing about it, especially in retrospect. Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan, and especially Rhianna as Bubble will certainly add some pluses to the scheme.

Valerian—which is based on an existing property, a French comic series from the 1970s —begins on Space Station Alpha. Alpha has been built to accommodate Earthlings of all races and nationalities, because Earth itself has become too crowded. And as we move into the future, Alpha opens its space doors to an entire human and alien fauna, until it gets too big and has to be cut off from Earth and sent into the darkest depths of the universe.

"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a film that refuses to let a single action sequence play out simply. Its director, Luc Besson, has long excelled at set pieces with a twist—think of the backwards car chase in his last feature, Lucy. But for his newest project, he’s painting on a far grander canvas: A tense showdown at an alien bazaar unfolds in two different dimensions that exist in the same space. In a chase scene, the movie’s hero has to blast straight through dozens of walls in a space station to have any hope of catching his quarry. A high-dive rescue mission gets complicated by the presence of aliens fishing for humans with giant poles. In an era of expensive, paint-by-numbers blockbusters, Besson’s latest, and biggest, film is a day-glo delight, a true original that deserves to be remembered despite—or perhaps partly because of—its various silly excesses." (The Atlantic)

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"To say that “Valerian” is a science-fiction epic doesn’t quite do it justice. Imagine crushing a DVD of “The Phantom Menace” into a fine powder, tossing in some Adderall and Ecstasy and a pinch of cayenne pepper and snorting the resulting mixture while wearing a virtual reality helmet in a Las Vegas karaoke bar. Actually, that sounds like too much fun, but you get the idea." (NYTimes)

In other words:

"If there’s one thing Valerian gave me, it’s a newfound appreciation for Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Avatar. Valerian may be bursting with imagination, but it has no soul. The dreadful banter between Valerian and Laureline starts out corny, and becomes downright excruciating as the story progresses.

But story is a generous word. The events of Valerian begin on the surface of a familiar-looking world of peaceful, blue, indigenous aliens. They appear heavily, heavily inspired by the Na'vi of Avatar, except with a lot more glitter and sequins. It reminded me of those fake, rip-off Disney DVD’s that grandmothers around the world innocently purchase for their grandchildren." (Forbes)

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"Taken piecemeal, Valerian is brimming with cool visuals and imaginative set pieces. The designs of the alien species are largely fantastic, but it’s in the settings where Besson really lets loose. The showstopper is the mission through Big Market, something that may have seem convoluted on paper but Besson makes it work beautifully. Essentially, Big Market is an alternate dimension, so in our dimension, it looks like a largely open desert, but if you put on special glasses and gloves, you can see and interact with the alternate dimension. In another movie, the conceit of the Big Market would be enough for the entire plot, but for Besson, it’s just another thing to make Valerian feel truly massive and diverse.

For a guy who has been making movies for a couple decades, Besson approaches Valerian like it’s his last chance to make a film, and he overstuffs it with everything he can. It’s not enough for Laureline to get a special mind jellyfish that can tell her Valerian’s location. We need a long scene where Laureline meets a submarine captain, they see a giant aquatic creature, and then they pluck the jellyfish from its back. It’s not enough for Valerian to go after Laureline by trying to find a special pod that will transform his appearance; he needs a detour where he gets a pole dance from a shapeshifting alien (Rihanna). On the one hand, these detours continually slow down the plot and remove urgency from the story, but on the other hand, I can’t deny that they lead to fun, exciting moments." (Collider)

Check out the trailer below.

Tags:   news, sci-fi, recommendation, Luc Besson, film news, Valerian, Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets

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