Sunday, 23 July 2017
#59 & 61 VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND WORLDS
It literally breaks my heart to write these words, indeed the ambulance is on its way as I type them, but this isn't the triumph I was praying for, although what it is is the most beautiful, inventive and spectacular looking science fiction film I've seen since... 5th Element. In fact, in terms of visual mastery and inventiveness this is nothing less than utterly extraordinary. And if I was scoring the film purely on creativity and its look I would have no qualms of scoring it 10/10.
Unfortunately it's like looking at the world's most fantastic supercar and lifting the lid to discover it's just a shell, that there's nothing going on under the hood. It's like a huge stick of candy floss and a box of toffee coated popcorn after the dazzling, tantalizing burst of all that sugary goodness there's nothing to fill you up.
The plot sees Valerian (Dane DeHann) and the object of his, rather creepy, love obsession Laureline (Cara Delevingne) stumble from one plot point to the next by taking turns to be captured and rescued by the other, while Valerian grooms Laureline into letting him shag her. Then it's off to the City of a Thousand Worlds in search of the big plot reveal that somehow links into the beautiful opening scene, a very angry general (Clive Owen) a cute, long-snouted pearl-shitting alien matter convertor and an insane menagerie of assorted alien lifeforms who are all after something or other, oh and Rihanna as Bubble the shape-changing cabaret singer. And at the center of all that is a tale that is nothing. The main plot device is the repetitive rescuing of each of the main characters, in turn. Besson has obviously spent all his time on the visuals and nothing on the plot, characters, script or serious lack of one or all of those parts.
Sadly there's also the lack of not one iota of chemistry between the two leads. That said, Cara Delevinge is unbelievably beautiful and both the camera and Besson clearly love her as her face dominates the screen for large portions of the film. She's an interesting actresses and once she gets past eye rolling and sneering as her default acting setting she has real potential. DeHann is way too slight and weedy to carry the lead role.
But, regardless this is still a delightful movie, it deserves to be seen up on the big screen, just not in 3D, the opening 20 minutes are genuinely wonderful as we watch the birth of the City of a Thousand Worlds, and a day-in-the-life of a strange alien race whose fate subsequently powers the plot of the whole film. And if the film had managed to sustain this early promise, I would be weeping tears of joy and proclaiming this the second coming. But it didn't and I'm not. I just wish Luc had worked with a script writer who could have knocked some sense, or story into the proceedings, because ultimately this does become somewhat tiresome.
I love the comics, which this film is based on, I love Cara Delevingne and I think Luc Besson is a visionary but alas this was was the perfect example of style over substance.
Average Score: 6/10
Cara Deleingne +1
Final score 7/10