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on December 7, 2017
Man, I loved this movie. It got lots of hate when it was in theaters but I thought it was awesome. The visuals were great and it was just downright entertaining.

That's not to say it didn't have it's faults. Firstly, these two are waaaay to young to be this bad ass. Honestly, out of the entire cast of Generals and Captains and security guards and you name it, they had to be the youngest.

Also, the whole thing where Valerian was trying to convince whats-her-name that he loved her for real (despite having a reputation of "loving" many many women) got tiring fast.

But since the underlying story was pretty neat and the visuals were so awesome, I was able to get past that stuff. If you are a 5th Element lover, I would suspect you would at least sort of like this movie.
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on December 16, 2017
This is an underappreciated movie, but I think that may be due to the casting of the leads. Though Dane DeHaan, and Cara Delevingne are 20910 cute, they don't have the punch that their roles as Major Valerian and Sargent Laureline yo pull it all off, so you have to look past that a bit. Clive Owen as the bad guy is interesting, and he's got the chops for it but the movie never reaches the critical tension of 5th element, Luc Besson's other SciFi thriller. My favorite sequence was actually at the beginning, as we fast forward from today to the future through vignettes of the ISS growing to a vast city in space., thought it's just setup for the film. There are some very nice science fictional ideas in the movie, including a bazaar you can only access through augmented reality, though here presented as another dimension. Readers of serious SF will probably feel more at home in this world than the general public, but everyone should appreciate the stunning vision Besson has created for the world. Broad acceptance also probably was hurt by a lack of Amarecan familiarity with the source material, the Valerian comics. There's so much quirk and nuance there that it was inevitable that much got washed out in the script writing, but I did wish they'd made mention of Lauraline's origin...she's actually from 17th century France, and got picked up along Valerian's travels, which is very Whoian, and is somewhat more assertive in the comic. Luc Besson says that it's worth watching twice to get what you miss the first time around, and indeed, there is a lot going on, but I think I got hte gist of it once through. Also, look out for Ethan Hawk's appearance, though it's not long. It's fun, and worth watching, but lacks the chemistry that WIllis and Jovovich stirred up in their duet.
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on July 29, 2017
If you thought that "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" looked like it would be a visually stunning science fiction adventure you'd be right. Most of the film is a visual tour-de-force and at times spectacularly imaginative. There is a wealth of detail and activity in the scenes, and there is a lot to visually delight and tickle the mind with future possibilities. The IMAGINATION of the producers/ creators and director Luc Besson (director of "The Fifth Element" and "Leon: the Professional") is on full display and it's pretty cool, pretty incredible. It's similar to "Avatar" in that respect, and this movie begs you to see it on the big screen in 3-D.

Also like "Avatar" the story is pretty simple, even simplistic. The city of a thousand planets, named Alpha, is essentially a colony space station that humans originally created and came to epitomize the utopian vision of all working and living together peacefully. Alpha grew over time to include other alien races, and the physical structure grew so big that it had to move away from the earth. Alpha of course has its laws and its enforcers, and not all aliens in the galaxy are peaceful. Earth was in a war at one point, and during that war an inhabited planet was knowingly sacrificed by a person higher up in the military. That person just so happens now to be the head of Alpha, and his past has come back to haunt him. Valerian (Dane DeHann) and partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are essentially special agents (think outer space James Bonds) who are tasked with eliminating the threat to Alpha. I'll leave it at that but anyone who has seen ten or more movies will be able to easily see the pretty slim twists coming.

So the story of Valerian isn't great. It's serviceable but there are two other issues that detract from the movie and make it an ultimately thin viewing (you'll be visually dazzled, but that is going to be the main and only reason to watch this). The most important, I think, is that there is supposed to be some romantic chemistry between the Valerian and Laureline and it just doesn't manifest, like, at all. I mean, DeHaan and Delevingne look like they could be brother and sister, and they have about as much romantic chemistry as that relationship would allow. The second issue which detracts from the story is that we aren't given any backstory on these characters to draw us in and make us really care about them. That wouldn't have been too hard to put into the movie and could have kept with the imaginative tone but Besson didn't go this route so we don't have any great attachment to these characters. We do have some attachment to the aliens that were sacrificed in the war as their story is told, mostly visually, without a lot of exposition. That's the strongest point of this film.

Like "Avatar" Valerian does one other thing in similar fashion, but I think better actually. Both films show native persons as much more socially and spiritually advanced as in comparison to humans (especially the "white man"). It is both a criticism and a mirror, I think, but whereas "Avatar" was content to pretend that natives were the most fully realized forms of personhood Valerian's natives are meant to be beyond human and more utopian. Their ability to love and forgive isn't tribal but universal and I couldn't help but wonder about the influences (biblical, Huxlian, natural) that went into their presentation. The alien's forms were humanoid and they were male and female but they were not defined by their sex, they were very androgynous actually, but their physical forms also reflected a beauty of form. I think that this was included to keep or enhance their tonal idea that they were a utopian race. Even the threat that they posed to Alpha was not an existential one. Some of these elements could prompt a fun discussion with family and friends of the idea of a utopia.

So Valerian is worth a watch, at least on the big screen. People who like a healthy dose of psychological, moral, philosophical, or social thought in their sf are going to be disappointed and may feel a little empty afterward. People who care not a whit other than wanting to be visually dazzled will get all that they want. I wanted a bit of both but I was satisfied with this just being a popcorn movie.
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on December 2, 2017
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I watched it for the first time a few days ago and have already seen it thrice. The content was all new to me as I am utterly unfamiliar with the comic book (although a big fan of The Fifth Element).

I watched the movie with no prior information other than the trailer. After the fact I was shocked to see how poorly reviewed Valerian was and how poorly it performed financially. Having now read many of the rotten and 1-star reviews, I can see what they see in it ... the corny dialog, the unrealistic casting, the circuitous plot. I don't think those assessments are incorrect. The dialog is corny, the protagonists are unrealistic and the plot is byzantine. So I spent a bit of time reflecting on the seeming dissonance between the corny, unrealistic story and my love of it.

To me trashing Valerian for it's storyline flaws is a bit like expecting a poem to adhere to the structure of a proper essay ... introduction, content, conclusion, proper grammar, proper spelling, logical flow. A poem might have none of those and still be a great poem. A poem requires a little more active engagement from the heart and bypasses some of the aspects of mind. That's how I see Valerian. I think whether or not you are going to love or hate this movie will rest to a larger extent than most on how you engage with the material.

The one criticism that I reject is that this movie rests solely on the special effects. It has great special effects, no doubt. But for me some movies rely on special effects to carry the movie and the effects come front and center. I don't see Valerian like that at all. For me the effects were good enough to disappear and let me experience this highly creative world. I'm not aware of the effects as I watch the movie ... it's easy for me to lose myself in the movie, which is what I really like to do.

There are two aspects of Valerian that stand out for me: creativity and metaphors. I love the world that was created. And I see layer upon layer of really insightful metaphors and allegories behind the movie. Whether or not those layers are really there or I'm just making stuff up doesn't matter so much to me ... it was highly entertaining ... but I did read around a bit and know that one of the creators of the original comic book did try to insert social commentary into the stories.

As a simple example, the movie centers around an animal (Mül converter) which replicates whatever it eats. It's ambiguous exactly how it does this, but what I saw was an animal that poops out whatever it eats. I found the contrast between the high value nature of what it was eating with the excremental nature of the replication absolutely hysterical. And the metaphor of 'we poop what we eat' being made cinematically explicit I see as profound ... if you read junk news, you're going to generate junk thoughts, words and deeds. For me the whole movie was like this.

If you are trying to like the movie but are having trouble, this is a good candidate for some herbal assistance. It might help free the mind from the prison of mores.

I'm sad the movie did so terribly financially and hope that it will find new life in a cult following.
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on May 5, 2018
Appalling casting decisions in the lead roles ruin what is otherwise a great comic book series and reduce a very expensive film into nothing more than eye candy. Thank God James Cameron has covered most of this before and better. Almost nothing makes sense but at least special effects teams the world over have managed to pay their rent and do cool visuals but also proving once again that without the heart, special effects are little more than screen savers. I only went to the comics after seeing this film to make sure so maybe this is the one silver lining.
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on April 3, 2018
I did not go to the reviews before watching because I remember the ads for this movie before we cut the cord and went to streaming services. Boy am I happy I decided to wait until this was free to watch. Unlike previous reviewers, I made it to the end of the movie. The Rihanna scene (dance hall maybe? I wasn't paying attention) that was a cool performance in an otherwise horrible movie. I don't keep up with Hollywood actors, who's in or out, or which movies the director/producers have made before. I just don't care. That being said, both actors did maybe have a chemistry it felt more like brother/sister rather than the forced non-girlfriend/boyfriend attempting to marry one another that was going on. I can't tell if the lead girl is truly an actress? I feel maybe she started her career doing something else and was really good at it but decided to jump into the acting game. I can't take either one seriously. I would blame my "advanced age" but there are actors that are younger than these guys that are very good at what they do and have me believing an insane story line-stranger things anyone? I believe this was miscast and the story just took for-freaking-ever to unfold. The only reason this gets two stars instead of 1, the visual effects were stunning, and Rihanna was amazing.
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on January 4, 2018
I am sorry I didn't watch this movie in the theaters in 3-D when it came out. Being an avid fan of the French Valerian comics since its inception, I thought Dane DeHaan wasn't a good enough actor to portray Valerian (although Cara Delevingne is dead on as Laureline) from the posters I saw.
However, having seen the trailers, I was intrigued by the fabulous effects and decided to buy the Blu-ray. I absolutely love it! The critics who claim it's a mess apparently never read the comics and never compared the film to its inspiration, "L' Ambassadeur Des Ombres". It's essentially the story told in the comics; of course, many things had to be re-adapted for the big screen, and Laureline's role had to be transposed to Valerian (who was abducted and missing himself). The whole story is told in its wondrous grandeur. Dane DeHaan turned out to be quite up to his role, and I don't think anybody else could have done a better job, given the mood and style of the story.
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on March 25, 2018
The two lead characters lack any depth or acting... I realize that it’s a sci-fi film but it’s just so horrendous I had to stop the film a couple of times, walk away, and come back to it because it was so bad.... ugh... it’s like a car crash on a highway and you have to finish getting through it as much as you hate it.
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I hesitated to watch this film based on all of the bad reviews. I gave it a try and I have to say it was OK. It is not a great film because it tries to cover too many topics but it is also not bad. The special effects and CGI was well done. The story line and the acting of the cast was average.

The story line was OK but the main characters were to young to carry off the interacting love aspect of the film. It is hard to take them seriously as top notch military characters who are really in love. They look more like young teenagers.

Parts of the film reminded me of Avatar but the storyline is so abstract that this important aspect of the film did not really come out until the film was about ¾ over.

I liked some parts of the film and I am glad that I watched it. For me it is not a 1 Star, nor is it a 5 star film. I rated it at 3 stars. It is worth watching one time.
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on March 21, 2018
I actually yelled many times at the tv "get on with it!" This is so terrible. CGI does not make up for bad casting, bad acting, dumb story, zero chemistry, just plain awful.
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