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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

A universe without boundaries needs heroes without limits.Jul. 20, 2017France136 Min.PG-13
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Synopsis & Review

In a distant future, in which everything is technically possible and thousands of species live together, people are needed who can still ensure a little law and order. People like Valerian ( Dane DeHaan ) and Laureline ( Cara Delevingne ). The well-rehearsed team is quite successful in stopping criminals – mostly at least – and they cannot complain about a lack of orders. But the newest one also poses major challenges. Commander Arun Filitt ( Clive Owen) reports that radioactive contamination is spreading in the center of the intergalactic city of Alpha. Various teams have already tried to get the riddle on the track – none came back alive. Now Valerian and Laureline should fix it: not an easy task, as they soon discover.

It is a popular annual game in the internet community: When a new year comes, there is oracle and discussion about which film will be the biggest flop in the next 365 days. The big winner – or loser – in 2017: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. On the one hand that is surprising, but at the same time it is not. Surprising because it is Luc Besson’s favorite project . And he had landed a big hit with Lucy’s last sci-fi excursion . However, despite the well-known cast ( Scarlett Johansson , Morgan Freeman ) with a budget of 40 million dollars, it was a real bargain. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is said to have cost $ 180 million. And that although the underlying comic series by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières from the 1960s is not necessarily part of the current mainstream.

The film doesn’t either. In fact, Besson’s spectacle has little to do with what we have otherwise been allowed to see on screen – or anywhere else – in recent years. Whether they are pensive ( Arrival ), action-heavy ( Star Trek Beyond ) or as a horror hermaphrodite ( Alien: Covenant ), science fiction usually means dark worlds. If anything, there is a comparison with Guardians of the Galaxy who took the endless expanses with a lot of humor. And even they don’t prepare much for what to look for here. 

The real highlight is the many strange creatures that keep appearing in the film. Some flit through the picture, others play a bigger role, seldom like never before does one get the feeling of really seeing other worlds. In the first few minutes alone, more bizarre beasts are found than in all the last Star Wars films combined. And the overwhelming creativity does not stop at the point: The scenes in the said bazaar are among the best that the genre has recently produced: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a trip to the stars that lives up to this term in all respects.

Every trip has an end. And that takes place here long before the opening credits. While one crazy idea chases the other in the first half and you can’t shut your mouth out of sheer amazement, it becomes much more conventional afterwards. And therefore also more boring. Sure, the story doesn’t reveal a lot from the start. But that only really becomes apparent over time, when the focus shifts. A few socially relevant approaches can be found, some future actions seem frighteningly topical. But there are no real surprises.

And then there are the two main characters, who will not meet with approval from everyone. Because here, too, Besson goes his own way: If the two protagonists in the original were still typical heroes – he a real guy, she a nice eye candy – the film version is cast against the grain. Dane DeHaan ( A Cure for Wellness ), who in his early 30s still looks like he’s going to school, model Cara Delevingne ( Suicide Squad) in turn, pleases itself in its androgyny. The result is a bit ambiguous. On the one hand, it fits wonderfully into a film that adapts remarkably little to what Hollywood chews. Everything here is crazy, eccentric, different. So why show a 08/15 team? But if at the same time it is supposed to turn into a romance, including kitschy vows of love, then it is a little strange with a couple who never seem like one. Despite these shortcomings, it would be a shame if the predicted flop occurred. The foundation for exciting adventures has been laid, the decidedly comic film has so many interesting approaches and unusual characters – Ethan Hawke and Rihanna have, for example, fantastic mini-appearances – that one would have liked to have seen a lot more of them.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Original title Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
IMDb Rating 6.5 156,575 votes
TMDb Rating 6.6 5,179 votes


Luc Besson


Dane DeHaan isValerian
Clive Owen isCommander Arün Filitt
Commander Arün Filitt
Rihanna isBubble
Ethan Hawke isJolly the Pimp
Jolly the Pimp
Herbie Hancock isDefence Minister
Defence Minister
Kris Wu isSergeant Neza
Sergeant Neza
Rutger Hauer isPresident of the World State Federation
President of the World State Federation
John Goodman isIgon Siruss (voice)
Igon Siruss (voice)
Elizabeth Debicki isEmperor Haban-Limaï (voice)
Emperor Haban-Limaï (voice)

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