Saturday, July 15, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Movie Review (3.5/5 stars)

By: Hamza Shafique

During my trailer review of Valerian and the city of a thousand planets, I said ‘The trailer in first glance seems like a fusion of Star Trek, Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy’ and now I can say my assumption was right. Take all the good elements of the three add a bit of Luc Besson usual style quotient and you get yourself a visually stunning and entertaining Sci-Fi film of this summer.

What this film has beautifully mastered is how to blend CGI with reality and still keep the visuals bright and crisp. This Film is super graphic heavy, yet you will never feel even once that what you see on screen is computer generated.
This film is based on French science fiction comics, Valérian and Laureline by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières, these comics predates all the famous Sci-Fi film franchises and appears to be inspiration for most of the things we see in them especially Star Wars.
Film opens to the story of how Alpha came in to existence and takes the meaning of first handshake to another level. Alpha in the movie is the city of thousand planets, where species from across the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence, and culture.
Film is set in 28th century and is about special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who are on a mission at the center of Alpha against a mysterious dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets.
Story line is very simple but predictable, which can be considered as a tiny but only flaw in this Sci-Fi spectacular. Screenplay on the other hand is very well written and keeps the apparent simple plot interesting throughout. Though screenplay doesn’t offer a strong antagonist, which I personally prefer for this genre but this is only a wish not a complain, so no major issues. I don’t want to say much about the story but I can assure you that for the entire 137 minutes, there will not be a single dull moment.
At first I was a bit skeptical of Dane DeHaan as a crime fighting Sci-Fi agent but from the very first scene, his portrayal of Valerian is entertaining and believable. His performance makes him a perfect fit as a Valerian even though he doesn’t fit the stereotypical parameters (like Chris Prat in Guardians of Galaxy or Chris Pine in Star Trek). Cara Delevingne as Laureline is a perfect match to the flirtatiousness and quirkiness of Dane DeHaan. Their chemistry together is superb and is very easy on eyes. This film is more about their chemistry and journey together rather than mission, which gives this one an edge over the others. And Yes, Rihanna’s small role as Bubble is a delight to watch also and adds to the coolness of Valerian. Luc Besson’s brings his usual distinctive direction style, to this very imaginative subject. The multi-dimensional market scene in the beginning is the testament of his talent and unique style. Also, the dramatic moments of Valerian had a very Bollywood feel and style, which was another plus for me.

Valerian is well written, directed and performed but star of the project for me are the CGIs. As I mentioned in the start, the CGIs are done to perfection. This has to be one of the best visual and 3d experience I ever had. Even if the screenplay, direction and performances were a dud, I still would have recommended it for the amazing visual experience this has to offer.
I will deduct only 1 star for the predictability of the plot/absence of a strong antagonist here and go with 3.5 stars. I fully recommend this one in 3d on the biggest screen possible.
Thanks to Novo Cinemas for the invite to special advance press screening and making it possible for me to have this review out before the release of the film.