This movie is like having a lot of sugar. It’s stimulating, fun, you enjoy it while it’s happening and by then end you feel tired.
We get two openings. Our first shows us that humans have made it into space and as generations pass more nations of the planet Earth join together above the planet. More and more joint and eventually Extra Terrestrial life. The mass of ships becomes too big and must move off further into space where it has become a manufactured planet. Following that is a scene where we are shown thin, pale aliens on a shining beach planet. They seem to have some kind of ability to transfer energy into pearls. Suddenly a great explosion strikes the planet and most of the species is wiped out. One of them closes their eyes and extends their arms and when they die a blue aura is sent out.
Both these segments are told with absolutely minimal amount of dialog. This is a good thing, it is a sign of talent when you can tell the story without words because it means that there is an understanding of visual language.
Said blue aura travels across space and wakes Valerian (Dane DeHaan) relaxing on a tropical beach, he’s joined by his partner Lauraline (Cara Delevingne). What follows is some light flirting and exposition about their relationship. They are partners that are hired to do jobs for the government and have possibly been together before but are not official, Valerian wants to marry her but she doubs his commitment (given his history).
Dane DeHaan, though has proven himself as a talented actor, is either miscast as a swashbuckling space hero that this character is meant to be or Besson didn’t do much to guide his character development. Cara Delavine plays her role better though there is a certain lack of conviction. It feels like she really needs to land a good role in a solid movie, this and Suicide Squad haven’t done her any favors.
This movie has so many visuals, it is very rich in ideas of alien designs, colors it wants to incorporate and architecture of ships and buildings. That is in no way a bad thing but sometimes it wants to use all of those elements in the same shot, sometimes while it’s flying through the scenery, which results in a cluttered image where you can barely make anything out.
The movie is certainly not guilty of incorporating many different colors into it’s images. We exists in a time where many movies use black in overabundance or take on a monochrome look, this infuses its characters in blue light with some amber for contrast. It’s fun imagery that often leaves any practicality behind, why are there clouds that are green and also red? It looks cool that’s why.
The movie also comes with a few really neat ideas for situations. There is one where people attend a market that exists in another dimension, one sequence where Valerian has to run through the walls of a city which rapidly changes the color pallet and visuals. These sometimes do feel like a video game that you’re just not allowed to play. Though even with that this movie is still trying to show and impress.
During the rest of the movie and especially at the end it tears apart all the confidence and good work in the opening sequences because there is a big exposition dump on the audience that explains things that only needed a little explanation or none at all. It is easily the worst part of the movie, dragging terribly.
Luc Besson definitely wanted to impress with this movie. He wanted to construct a movie using all the colors he could and craft an epic science fiction tale with dense politics with a love story at the center of it all. Nothing in the movie is bad and there are a few moments that are more than memorable and genuinely well crafted. Though there’s not much else for repeated viewings. Go once and don’t expect to be moved, but see an extravagant science fiction that doesn’t look like any other.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5