In the Century XXVIII, the space station Alpha is a city where beings from different planets live together exchanging their knowledge and culture. Peace is granted by a human force, including Major Valerian and his partner Sergeant Laureline. They are assigned by the Defence Minister to retrieve the last species of converter in a dangerous mission. They succeed and back to Alpha, unknown humanoids abduct Commander Arun Filitt expecting to steal the converter. They head to a forbidden area that is infected but Valerian and Laureline follow them and disclose a hidden secret about the race and the infected area.
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
User Reviews: Comic books, a lovable source of entertainment in many forms. While superheroes from the DC and Marvel universe shows take the cake, there are a few unique nuggets hidden in the colorful pages. Valerian is one such series, a sci-fi adventure that held a bounty of potential comic gold that would certainly make for a good movie. Turns out, Hollywood did its research and this weekend, the cinematic rendition of this tale hits theaters. With all the hype, I hope this film will be the movie of the summer! What is my verdict? Let’s get started with another Robbie’s movie review.
Part of the story: Science Fiction stories with fantasy can go either way in quality as seen in a wide variety of movies. Part of Valerian’s story captures a sincere element that tugs at the heart strings concerning one of the races. While not the most complex of stories, this subplot has a nice dynamic to it as you learn of the race and their fight for survival. A few other tangent tales are decent as well, primarily one concerning Rihanna character Bubble the exotic shape shifter. This tale had a little heart to it, it just needed more to be complete.
The Graphics: The trailers weren’t kidding when they hyped up the graphics of this movie. Valerian’s strongest selling point is the beautiful visuals contained in its computer-generated setting. It starts with the creatures that inhabited the galaxy and expands beyond that to bring out some truly imaginative world building that this day and age can perfect. The cities themselves are polished with each level having its own sense of style, "class" and personality that was captured in the high definition graphics. One will certainly see the budget went into the design of this movie, and many of the scenes are certainly geared towards the 3-D ride they want to take you on, especially in those chase scenes. Is it as good as Avatar’s visuals? While certainly imaginative, Valerian has some polishing to do to match the realism in that film. However, the creatures are certainly more diverse than those found in its blue cousin’s world. Of note: I would have loved to see more costumes and makeup to offset the technology and add a little more realism to the mix.
The Story Overall: While there is one component that touched my heart, Valerian has issues in the story department overall. Much of the tale is a rather rushed mess, devoid of any sustenance that the trailers promised. The dark looming threat that threatened to collapse the artificial city is nothing what I expected. Truth be told, the big revelation was kind of lame and expected (I was able to decipher much of the mystery within the first hour.) There was little suspense in the tale, and the execution didn’t add much "flare" to it. In regards to character development, that was also lacking, the two leads barely evolving past their superficial soldier roles from the beginning. The result were boring characters that I had difficulty attaching to. I can’t say the acting or chemistry between the two was not the strongest, which did not help their case any further.
Action: Or should I say lack of action. Despite the promises by the trailers, Valerian is rather lax in regards to stunning action sequences. The blaster scenes hold some potential, but are rather bland and short-lived to get hyped up for. A few chase scenes manage to inject a little speed into the pace of this movie, but unfortunately you have seen the entire scene in the trailer, leaving little more to get hyped about. The close combat scenes weren’t much improved, with many of them being overacted, forced, and somewhat sluggish. While certainly not absent, Valerian’s visual style should have had more exciting action to compliment it, but sadly that was not the case.
Under use of creatures: With all the world building and alien design, you would think they would utilize it more. Unfortunately, much of the creatures and behemoths are shown off only in passing and have little relevance to the story. Ironically, most of the extras are just humans dressed in interesting outfits, while the rest of the CGi creatures remain isolated from our heroes. The lack of integration made for an underutilized cast, and the loss of creativity was difficult to see. Hopefully this will be rectified in future installments.
Editing: Perhaps the biggest dislike for me was some of the poor editing in this movie. Valerian has two sequences that were weak integrations into the plot, feeling irrelevant in the grand scheme. One of these scenes adds nearly 30 minutes to the movie, and if deleted would do little damage other than dropping one celebrity exotic dance. Why this was the start of the rescue I don’t know, but it weakened the film by kinking up the pace of the film.
It’s true that Valerian has stunning looks, animation, and world building, but outside of that there isn’t much to say wow too. I haven’t read the comic book, but this movie did not feel as if it brought the story to life, nor the action the novel most likely held. Without these components, or better editing for that matter, the 137-minute run time is a bit of a snooze fest in regards to sci-fi operas. Still, the visual effects are certainly theater worthy, but I still heed caution in seeing this one on the silver screen.
Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 6.0 Movie Overall: 5.0