Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
Luc Besson is back in theatres this month with a passion project like none other. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets follows Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as Valerian and Laureline, two special operatives who work towards keeping order throughout human territories of the city of a thousand planets. The review embargo has finally been lifted and critics have released their reviews online. So, what’s the critical consensus for Luc Besson’s latest sci-fi epic? Well, it looks like Besson has another hit on his hands following the below-average Taken series.
The film has a rating of 77% online with praise going towards the overarching themes, beautiful visuals but has some criticism directed towards the story and performances. Here’s what critics are saying!
Eric Eisenberg from Cinemablend:
The summer isn’t quite over, but Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is certainly the frontrunner to be named the spectacle of the summer, and while many franchises have disappointed, this is a movie that ends with you wanting to see much more from the universe it introduces. It’s visually stunning, beautifully prescient in its humanist themes (alien-ist too, I suppose?), and while its reach doesn’t match its grasp in some respects, you’re still left respecting the hell out of the reach alone.
Erin Oliver Whitney from ScreenCrush:
With about 30 minutes shaved off the runtime, tighter editing, and a stronger lead performance, Valerian could’ve been in the running for the best movie of the summer. And yet even with all its flaws and kinks, I still admire its wacky spirit and simply awe-inspiring visuals. I’ll still take Besson at his wildest, as imperfect and messy as it may be.
Scott Mendelson from Forbes:
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets starts out so gloriously gonzo that it becomes a disappointment when it turns out to be merely pretty good. Storytelling hiccups and a surprisingly muted climax aside, as well as a latter-half tendency to give Valerian most of the big action beats, Luc Besson’s newest mega-budget science-fiction fantasy works as intended. It takes us to a whole new world, one filled with unbelievable sights and indescribable feelings. That first act is an all-time classic, and its two stars remain enjoyable goofy throughout and some of the wilder creatures inspire awe and/or laughter. In an era of recycled and/or nostalgia-driven IP, Valerian is the sort of “new to movies” franchise that deserves to live long and prosper.
David Crow from Den of Geek:
As a whole, the movie keeps these flourishes coming and builds a universe with more detail in one movie than some shared universes have in dozens of them. For those who want to get lost in a sci-fi Never Land brimming with oddities, the plot can be damned. But for those who are beholden to straightforward storytelling, this could travel just a little too far from home. Which is a shame, because that journey is the picture’s greatest asset.
Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter:
Along the way, there’s a pit-stop in a naughty district, where a guy named Jolly the Pimp (a brassy Ethan Hawke) draws back the curtain on a singer-dancer of shape-shifting talents (Rihanna) and, ultimately, a bad guy does emerge in the form of the top-dog military commander (Clive Owen). But by this time, most viewers will have long since checked out, as nothing ever seems remotely at stake due to a narrative whose navigator has lost his way and a drummer who’s dropped both sticks.
Peter Debruge from Variety:
Even Besson, who convinced the world that Milla Jovovich could act (in “The Fifth Element”), can’t salvage Rihanna’s awkward line readings — unless that’s the effect this sophisticated, Shakespeare-trained glampod is going for. But that’s a small hiccup considering what the director gets from Delevingne: She doesn’t just save Alpha; she saves the movie as well. And though audiences may not be clamoring for a “Valerian” sequel after this, another “Laureline” adventure would be most welcome.
Kyle Anderson from Nerdist:
I wish I could say that the performances didn’t detract too much, but they sadly did. Even so, the visuals, action sequences, general storyline, and immersive experience of the 3D are enough to make me recommend people go see the movie. I fully believe that Besson got exactly what he wanted from every aspect of the movie, but his idea of what makes compelling leads and mine seem to differ drastically. It’s a sci-fi world I would love to visit again, but perhaps with different tour guides.
So what do you think? Are you going to see Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets next weekend? Comment below and on social media and for all things in nerd culture and entertainment, keep it locked on Talkies Network!