It's a space adventure movie that pushes the boundaries of what can be realised onscreen, and is impressive as a piece of world-building. Not for Besson the sniffy CGI-shunning of Dunkirk: Valerian employs every digital crayon on the tin with endearing glee. The problem is that Valerian isn't a crayon mural. It's a 137-minute movie that requires things like plot and character, and it seems that Besson mère didn't educate her son on the basic necessities of narrative while giving him a pat on the head.
The city of a thousand planets is 'Alpha', an enormous space station populated by a diverse population of peaceful intergalactic species; Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is a dashing special agent who, along with love interest and forces partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne), is tasked by the Alpha government with retrieving a McGuffin of great importance to the universe. Rihanna turns up for a few minutes. There's plenty of chasing and fighting and quipping. It's all rather convoluted and, eventually, unengaging.
A lot of this is down to some spectacular miscasting; DeHaan swashes few bucklers as the titular Valerian; model-turned-actress Delevingne is fine but not quite ready to helm a blockbuster; and it's strange that anyone ever looked at the near-morose Ethan Hawke and said 'he should be cast as Jolly the Pimp.' Then there's the problem of the leaden dialogue, an extra handicap for actors already weighed down by the wrong roles.
At least it's not bland. At least it's not a sequel. That said, War for the Planet of the Apes is the second sequel to a franchise reboot prequel, and a film rife with old genre tropes, yet it's still an incredible bit of storytelling. Originality, creativity, imagination: these aren't only expressed by the brightness of your crayons or the inventiveness of your doodling.
|What||Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
04 Aug 17 – 30 Sep 17, 9:00 AM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|