“Valerian”: Spaceships, Ex-Victoria’s Secret angels, the man behind “Taken” and “Lucy,” and Rihanna


Nathan Siegel

It would be pretty rare to find a movie that includes all of these elements other than visionary Luc Besson’s newest sci-fi epic, “Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets,” a French graphic novel series-turned movie. “Valerian” is rare: it’s a blend of adventure, thriller, comedy, and romance, and while these elements click together well, it is still flawed.  


Besson took on a project with outrageous expectations, challenges, and scope. The film spans over five planets, more than ten intense action scenes, and a very quick, yet unsatisfactory, explanation of the world in which teen government Agent Valerian (“A Cure for Wellness” star Dane DeHaan) and his partner, Laureline (supermodel and “Suicide Squad” villain Cara Delevigne) live. The movie jumps right into the futuristic world, a place where many more Earth-like planets and intergalactic specieshave been discovered. Some more animalistic and some practically human, the diverse group of planets has agreed to create Alpha, a futuristic Noah’s Ark, and the only place in the universe where every species is represented. When the movie picks up, Valerian and Laureline, the universe’s top agents, are called to stop an incoming threat on the Alpha spaceship. Through their clearly made-for-3D adventure, the partners explore various planets and dimensions, many of which are left unexplained.  


The biggest problems with “Valerian” is Luc Besson’s expectation that movie-goers will not expect answers to all of their plot-related questions and confusions. The best parts is undeniably Bubble, pop star Rihanna’s sassy shape-shifting character whose twenty minutes on-screen are some of the best of the movie, followed by the entrancing worlds Valerian visits, and the fight scenes that, in 3D, are like superhero movies climaxes with alien powers sprinkled in. Delevigne and DeHaan work excellently together, making the fact that they are two of the only English-speaking humans in the movie permissible.  


If you’re looking to put on your 3D glasses and take a roller coaster of a sci-fi ride for two hours, “Valerian” is an ambitious and thrilling summer blockbuster. If you’re looking for a sci-fi movie with an intricately explained plot and character development, “Valerian” may be a better option to rent after it’s out on DVD. After all, it’s your only chance to see Rihanna as a gelatinous blue alien.


Photo courtesy of DC Filmdom