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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Blu-ray Review

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Movie Review

3 starsWhile director Luc Besson is often times all about the flash and dazzle of the movies, it wasn’t always that way.  Think of 1988’s The Big Blue or Léon: The Professional from 1994.  He’s kind of been all over the genre scene and usually – in spite of the critical condemnation – the dude comes out okay.  His latest passion project, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, may not win him any new fans, but it certainly is an entertaining ride through the cosmos.

Flawed in that it is simply way too long (clocking in at a whopping 2 hours and 17 minutes), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets makes for a nice companion piece to Besson’s The Fifth Element.  Not that the narratives are related in any story sense, mind you.  It’s just that they share an aesthetic that is equally charged and flashy and, if I’m being completely honest, rather kooky – with his newest film definitely pushing the limits. 

In other words, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is not your daddy’s science fiction.

Based on an old French comic series created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières, the Valerian mythos has long inspired storytellers and artists alike and, as a result, has been translated into several languages.  It just never made many waves here in America (although, it is now making its American debut in advance of the movie’s release).  This will certainly hurt ticket sales as, if you are like most of my friends, you simply have scratched your heads bewilderingly after seeing the film’s trailer. 

As the comic’s popularity grew, the material has also been the source for a television show.  It has not until now, arrived on the big screen.  And Besson, who has longed to bring the adventures of the space-and-time-traveling team of Valérian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingneand) to the big screen, does not disappoint in adapting this science fiction’s expansive and highly imaginative world to the silver screen.  He even gives us a prologue…

The thing is that with Besson back in science-fiction mode, you just have to know what you are walking into.  And to describe this movie as completely daft is a good place to start. 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is science fiction for the gonzo-loving crowd; it’s unapologetically its own movie.  There really is no basis for comparison here.  Yes, it’s obviously French – which means that while a great amount of money has been thrown at the screen, it is still freakishly surreal – and its humor is as frenetic as its whopping visuals, yet its thrilling narrative - in which our time-travelling agents take turns saving each other over the course of the movie while trying to get to the bottom of the mysterious race of bald aliens that first inhabit our lead’s dreams – is surprisingly cohesive.

Here there be monsters! There are, in fact, over 200 creatures in this movie.  Aliens of all sorts populate the community caught tangled in a space station that, as our prologue suggests, grew too big for its orbit.  Launched out into space after the weight of its population threatened to alter Earth’s orbit, this is Alpha’s story and – as it sort of lives by its own dimensional rules – the 17 million inhabitants that have come to the hub make for a pretty hypnotic good time.  I’d love it if this film – a very expensive project that Besson gave up his directing salary to help complete – actually got a sequel.  I doubt that will happen, though, so I will just be content with this tale as Valerian and Laureline work to bring order to the universe. 

Featuring solid performances from Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock (!!!!), Kris Wu and Rutger Hauer, it would be correct to assume that this is a story which is hyper-realized and all over the place.  The characters, though, are as dazzling as the glossy special effects.  But anyone looking for some seriously grounded entertainment will be disappointed.  Of course, it doesn’t help when your two leads, DeHaan (who continues to mesmerize) and Delevingneand (who as a model-turned-actress is much better used here than in Suicide Squad), play characters that enjoy fly-by-they-seat-of-their-pants heroics. 

Hang on tight, youthful flyboys!  For a ticket to ride Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and enjoy it, film curmudgeons need not stand in line. 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language.
Runtime:
137 mins
Director
: Luc Besson
Writer:
Luc Besson
Cast:
Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen
Genre
: Action | Sci-fi
Tagline:
From the visionary director of The Fifth Element and Lucy.
Memorable Movie Quote: "This mission is a simple in and out."
Theatrical Distributor:
STX Entertainment
Official Site: http://valerianmovie.com/
Release Date:
July 21, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 21, 2017.
Synopsis: Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe.

Under directive from their Commander (Clive Owen), Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray - November 21, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH; Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets looks all sorts of CGI stunning. The textures are equally sharp; making this Arri Alexas filmed movie looks all sorts of HD awesome. Sure, it nis fake as hell, but the film looks superb on HD. Colors are golden and crisp; black levels are solid. And skin tones are appropriately saturated. A Dolby Atmos track provides an engaging listen and fully supports the gee-whiz aspect of Besson’s film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

None. Lionsgate took a bath with this film. It was originally shown in 3D, but there is no plan to put it out that way.

Special Features:

With featurettes highlighting the aliens and set designs of Valerian, there’s a lot to explore. We get supplementals via the Enhancement Mode that gives a unique looks at the movie courtesy of an icon that appears as the film plays. We also get an hour-long look at the making of the movie and its many-storied production that fills in the movie nicely. There’s a still gallery and a couple of trailers to round out the supplemental items.

  • Citizens of Imagination: Creating the Universe of Valerian (60 min)
  • Enhancement Pods (36 min)
  • The Art of Valerian
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Final Trailer

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Movie Review

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