Now that the embargo for critics has lifted, the first reviews Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets have hit the web.
Based on Valerian and Laureline, a french comic series originally published in 1967 that mixes elements of both space opera and time travel plots, the film follows Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), two spatiotemporal agents as they embark on a mission to Alpha, an intergalactic city home to sinister forces that could threaten the future of mankind.
The spiritual successor to The Fifth Element has been met with a mixed bag of reviews with some critics regarding the film as a visually stunning and gorgeous work of science fiction while some feel the film itself is childish and stumbles after the first act, even going as far to say Valerian will win Worst Picture at the 2017 Razzie Awards.
You can check out a round-up of what the critics are saying below.
Variety’s Peter Debruge:
Valerian manages to be both cutting-edge and delightfully old-school — the kind of wild, endlessly creative thrill ride that only the director of “Lucy” and “The Fifth Element” could deliver, constructed as an episodic series of missions, scrapes and near-misses featuring a mind-blowing array of environments and stunning computer-generated alien characters.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy:
The Razzies don’t need to wait until the end of the year to anoint a winner for 2017. The Golden Turkey Awards should be republished with a new cover. Euro-trash is back, while sci-fi will need to lick its wounds for a while. Dane DeHaan, who has starred in two of the most egregiously bloated misfires of the year with A Cure for Wellness and now this, should do a couple of indie films, while Cara Delevingne needs to learn there is more to acting than smirking and eye-rolling. Rihanna should pretend this never happened.
Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson:
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a jaw-droppingly beautiful and often delightfully exciting sci-fi adventure. Taking place in the not-so-near future, it is (like The Fifth Element before it) an uncommonly optimistic portrait of the future. Sure, there are still bad folks out there, and not everyone in authority is a saint, but the future works and countless species live together in relative harmony. While the main selling point will be the 3D-friendly spectacle, Besson remembers to root his story in character.
Newark Star-Ledger’s Stephen Whitty:
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets isn’t a children’s film, exactly. But it’s certainly a childish one, full of ridiculous alien creatures, hammy human performances and characters as deep as strip of celluloid. It’s like “Barbarella” without the ’60s camp and zipless sex. And what fun is that?
CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg:
The summer isn’t quite over, but Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planetsis 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.
CraveOnline’s William Bibbiani (aka The Beast):
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is one of the most gorgeous science fiction movies ever made. Extemporaneous and unpredictable, it’s the perfect antidote to certain “other” sci-fi movies, which seem to have given up on breaking new ground, and now seem content to rely on recycling bits and pieces of themselves. Valerian is distinctive and innovative, and seemingly high on its own capacity for wonders. Don’t get hung up on a few minor malfunctions: this is profoundly exciting filmmaking, and one of the best films of the year.
ScreenCrush’s Erin Oliver Whitney:
Valerian is easily Besson at his most imaginative since The Fifth Element, creating a canvas that’s bursting with originality. This is world building at its finest, and Besson’s futuristic landscape is so richly textured that you’ll find your eyes scanning each frame to soak up all the intricacies and details. This movie is glowing with brightly-colored aliens, mouth-watering space vistas, and shiny, innovative weapons; if you’re going to fork out the extra cash to see any movie in 3D this summer, make it this one.
The Playlist’s Roridgo Perez:
The character Valerian and the actor playing him do the movie and its convoluted plot no favors. Like a doofus millennial version of Keanu Reeves, the dim “hey, dude” mien and all, Valerian is cocksure to a degree that estranges the audience and DeHaan never convinces as the hero who is also something of a chauvinist cocksman. Despite her comparable inexperience, Delevigne fares better, the emotional center of a movie without much of an emotional center, but their would-be, clashing “you should be into me,” “ew, dude, no you’re so gross ” romance is ill-conceived from the jump even as love conquers all, in space, is the movie’s groanworthy theme.
Den of Geek’s David Crow:
Phrases like “world-building” are a dime a dozen in Hollywood nowadays, and the words “cinematic universe” seem to accompany the press release for each and every summer blockbuster. And yet, almost none of these multiplying onscreen wonderlands has displayed a fraction of the imagination and creativity that is bursting at the seams of Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a sci-fi fantasia that often exceeds our greatest flights of fancy. For a purely psychedelic space opera, Valerian is indeed hard to beat for genre fans desiring a new take on the future. Like the Devil, Valerian’s quality is in the details.
Directed by Luc Besson, the film stars Dane DeHaan, Carla Delevingne, Rihanna, Clive Owen, John Goodman, Rihanna, and Ethan Hawke. Here’s the official synopsis:
In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) maintain order throughout the universe for the government of the human territories. Under orders from their commander (Clive Owen), the duo embark on a mission to Alpha, an intergalactic city where diverse species share their technology and resources for the betterment of all. The ever-expanding metropolis is also home to sinister forces that jeopardize the future of mankind.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets hits theaters July 21, 2017.