Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - An Ambitious Attempt of Luc Besson to Create a New Space Adventure Movie

Again another movie that played a bit late in Indonesian theaters. It was already playing in the US almost 2 weeks ago but only premiered yesterday. I was not even aware that it had played had I not seen the tweet from Cinema XXI (the movie only played in this cinema chain). As my wife was having a function last night, she was unable to accompany and I had to watch by myself. I chose to see this one in Epicentrum mall with the aim to enjoy the better quality sound system. I will just continue to the movie now.

Brief Story Line

This movie was set in the very distant future (28th century) where Alpha, a space station originated from earth had grown into a place where many species across the galaxy lived together in harmony for many years. It would later be called a "city of a thousand planets" due to its nature. The human species was the leader of the alliance. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan - The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Life etc) and his partner/love interest Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne - Paper Towns and as the enchantress in Suicide Squad etc) were 2 special agents of the humans.

One day, Valerian and Laureline were given the mission to collect something called the converter from a flea market where they had to disguise as tourists to avoid suspicion. After having to fight off against the black market dealer led by Siruss (voiced by John Goodman - Monsters Inc, 10 Cloverfield Lane etc), Valerian and Laureline had to bring the converter to Alpha with a new task of protecting commander Filitt (Clive Owen - Closer, Sin City etc) during a diplomatic mission.

Apparently Alpha was infected with some mysterious forces which if not handled would wipe out the whole city. During this diplomatic mission with other leaders of the galaxy, Alpha was in the control of General Okto Bar (Sam Spruell - Taken 3) with Captain Neza (Kris Wu - xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back) who had to be on their full alert.

So could Valerian and Laureline complete their mission of protecting the commander? Could they find out what was infecting Alpha and save it from extinction? Find them all in this fun science fiction adventure movie.

End of Brief Story Line

Well, I got to hand it to Luc Besson for managing to complete his ambitious project of converting what could only be seen previously from French comic series titled Valérian and Laureline. Luc was famous for making successful action movies such as Nikita, The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional and Lucy. But this time around, unfortunately he was not too successful in making this movie resonate to general audience. As it turned out, till the time I write this post, the movie was only making less than half of its hefty production budget (no doubt to create the special effects).

Talking about the special effects, some of them were actually fantastic like the flea market visualization, or the creatures effects (which I thought was awesome), but not really on the planet Mül where the CGI seemed too obvious. But the rest of them, including the space ship chasing & fighting effects were lovely. Almost as nice as Star Wars or Star Trek movies. The sound effects though seemed to be a bit off. I am not too sure the reason as it should have been a very very lively sound effects. 

As I mentioned above, this movie was adapted from comic series with the main characters Valerian and Laureline. I tried to look for more info on the comic and if my views based on those information in the internet were correct, it had assured my suspicion that the lead characters should have been adult. No offence on Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne here, but they seemed more like high school students caught up in a large space opera and politics rather than the charismatic characters as they should be in the comic. I personally feel that the movie might be more convincing had Valerian and Laureline were played by more established and mature actor & actress. Because of their young appearances, Dane and Cara looked off when they were dealing with other alien species (and certainly not convincing to be such great agents and high ranked officers of human species). They seemed to be more like Frankie Muniz in Agent Cody Banks (high school student recruited as CIA Agent).

Apart from what I personally think was a "mistake" in casting, I also believed that the movie would have been much better had it been an origin story rather than a full blown >2 hours mission filled movie. Since the comic series were unknown to us in Indonesia (and perhaps most of the general audience), it was rather hard for us to be rooting for Valerian and Laureline as there were no introduction to them. We were just told to accept that they were very very good agents who were in love with each other (again the scenes of Valerian keep on proposing Laureline became odd when there was no history or background story).

Luc Besson did try his best to make this as an entertaining movie and he even added other stars such as singer Rihanna (as Bubble who was able to shapeshifting) and Ethan Hawke (Dead Poets Society, Training Day etc) as Jolly the Pimp. Rihanna's performance here though short was actually pretty amazing (her special effects were amazing!). However, in my opinion, this side story was rather out of place. It made the movie seemed out of focus and more like a distraction rather than giving us added interest. I would rather have more minutes on Valerian and Laureline's history.

In conclusion, to my personal opinion this movie which was supposed to be a wonderful space adventure film was not to my expectation due to the wrong casting and the ineffective story telling. However, the stunning visual effects and the action sequence were quite amazing to see and it did have a good intention of providing some moral message. There were also some brief funny moments. So if you are a fan of science fiction movie specialized in space adventure and want to see some major visual effects, you can give this one a try. But please do not expect this to be a classic Luc Besson action movies or those famous Star Wars movies, though it did have similarities with Star Trek (with the humans having problems with the other alien species). The choice is yours.

Happy watching!

Mike's movie moments rating: 3 out of 5 stars

PS: There was no post-credit scene for you to wait, in case you're wondering.

No comments:

Post a Comment