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A Silly Movie with Little Real Substance
on May 4, 2018
A race of very tall, thin humanoids with high cheekbones enjoys an idyllic existence on a distant planet, living in perfect harmony with nature until wanton humans destroy their habitat, ruining the civilization of these noble savages. 2009's Avatar? No, it's 2017's Valerian, which even hired the same visual effects company that did Avatar. Yet this movie's recycling of old ideas doesn't end there; the entire thing feels like a cliche. It's amazing how a movie can copy all of the elements of classic space operas like Star Wars (a small scrappy team takes on more powerful foes in deep space, encountering various alien species, militaristic thugs, and unscrupulous black-market dealers, engaging in shootouts and vehicular chases, as two leading characters engage in a figurative romantic chase) and still fail so miserably.
The plot often gets sidetracked, like the interminable section with the Boulan Bathors, which does nothing for the movie except allow Valerian to rescue the damsel-in-distress and Rihanna (with her body double) to perform a musical / dance number. And how could you improve upon finely crafted dialogue like the romantic line that Valerian delivers when proposing to Laureline at the end of the movie: "I really care for you, you know?" Especially since the actor apparently learned delivery by studying early Keanu Reeves movies. Speaking of whom, there is actually a scene in which a bomb gets defused with 1 second remaining on the digitial timer. This movie actually rubs its lack of originality in your face.
At least the digital effects are pretty good. Visually, Valerian feels to a great extent like a snazzier, more technically sophisticated version of Besson's Fifth Element. Unfortuantely, that's not nearly enough to save it.