Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 1.0 stars

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets movie poster

Utterly unreal space story from Luc Besson (he of The Fifth Element fame), who seems to have watched James Cameron’s Avatar and decided he could make it sillier, more scattered, and less emotionally engaging. (Score one for Cameron’s brand of painfully earnest sentiment?) So once again, we are treated to a lithe race of CGI natives, living in harmony with nature and one another, whose planet is ravaged by cavalier, warmongering humanity. And once again, it’s up to a plucky, lovestruck white dude (Dane DeHaan) to save them. This time around, his sweetie is also his partner (Cara Delevingne), but the sparks between them are as artificial as the banter, the physics, the drama…you name it. The film wants to be madcap, screwball, swashbuckling, and moving. It winds up chaotic, dizzy, plodding, and hammy. But if you’re the sort who insists on looking for bright spots amid the endless blackness of space, there is, admittedly, a measure of day-glo visual razzle-dazzle, a smattering of not-terrible comic relief, and a riot of invention for its own sake. 2017.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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