Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a gorgeous film with incredible world-building, marvelous action sequences, and one of the best films this year. Director Luc Besson has created (or in this case, adapted) another of my favorite film universes to date (1997’s The Fifth Element being the other of his) within another stellar science-fiction action flick.
The story follows Agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne) on a mission involving a stolen artifact, a (SUPER ADORABLE) creature that’s the last of it’s kind, a forgotten planet, and some of the coolest looking aliens in film since the Mondoshawans from The Fifth Element.
DeHaan and Delevigne were awesome as the heroic duo, mainly because the chemistry between them was incredibly strong. I was able to buy into their relationship much easier than most action flick romances, but their first and final scenes bookend the love story in a way that didn’t really click for me. Aside from that, they were a great deal of fun to watch.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed both DeHaan and Delevigne, it was Rihanna’s character Bubble that stole the show. While her send-off felt a bit weak, watching Bubble interact with Valerian and Laureline ranged from hilarious to touching. I only wish she had been given a bigger role.
There are also two more actors I’d love to praise, but I don’t want to reveal their involvement, so I’ll just tell you to be on the lookout for the characters Igon Siruss and Jolly.
On Valerian and Laureline’s journey, we are treated to some of the greatest visuals I’ve ever seen. Alpha, the titular city, is the culmination of millions of different races from all over the universe, and the territories we get to see during the movie are just plain stunning. The backdrops of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets had me in awe from start to finish.
In addition to the locales, the inhabitants of Alpha are also a visual treat. Each alien race is totally unique and they never stop feeling real. Most CGI-heavy movies have at least one or two shots that I can tell are CGI, but the only way I could tell the aliens in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets weren’t real was because- Well, they were aliens.
I was also enthralled by the brilliant choreography and design of the action scenes, which were all an absolute blast. The first action sequence, which takes place in two different dimensions, is one of my favorite scenes in a movie this year, and the rest of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ action isn’t far behind. Seeing Valerian and Laureline run, shoot, crash, swim, and fly through their mission made my jaw drop multiple times.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is one of the most visually impressive films I’ve ever seen (if not the most). It’s scenery, action, and aliens are all exquisite, and it’s supported even further by a fun story, great cast, and huge world. If you’re a science fiction fan, you need to see this movie.