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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Luc Besson has redefined sci-fi with an epic spacegasm set in a universe bursting with extraordinary creatures, breathtaking alien vistas, no-grav chases and high-stakes laser battles.  Planets explode, entire races are extinguished and two Hollywood darlings share crazy chemistry as their characters learn that to save the day all you need is love.

It's called The Fifth Element, and it came out in 1997.  20 years of experience-garnering, money-earning and cred-amassing later, Besson returns to the stars with what should - by all rights - be the denim-drenching climax to his two decades long, blue-tentacled-chick fetish.  Instead, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets turns out to be a soggy slog less magical than a jar full of dead Sea-Monkeys.

The best bit is Bowie's "Space Oddity" playing over the top of the ISS-begat genesis of the enormous, titular space city, Alpha.  After that and a 10-second cameo by Rutger Hauer, it's all down the gravity well from there.

From then on, it's a screen full of blue, white and red French clouds, virtual shopping malls in the middle of deserts, CGI beasties, Ethan "Hudson" Hawke playing a pimp in a light-up Adam Ant jacket, Clive "Barker" Owen looking bored and Rihanna as a shape-shifting, burlesque-dancing blob creature.

The photon torpedo that really scuttles Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, though, is the casting of its two leads.  Everyone keeps saying that "Not So Great" Dane DeHaan is, in fact, great, but he ain't shown me shit so far.  He plays the same moody, whiny, not-terribly-good-looking fuckboy in every movie, and he's at least five years too young and 10 pounds of missing muscle too small to be the cocksure, tough guy, ladykiller, space cop he's supposed to be in Valerian.

As Valerian's partner and love interest, Laureline, Cara "Wreck" Delevigne is all eyebrows and scowls.  She's hot, to be sure, but she's not sexy enough to justify Valerian's protestations of eternal love nor able enough to pass for a seasoned pro, intergalactic law dog.  Honestly, Delevigne's Laureline is a bumbling, bitchy, borderline idiot.

Aside from another granite-handed Dances with Wolves, Avatar, White-man-displaces-noble-savage plot line, the only thing Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has to hang its helmet on is the Valerian-Laureline love story, and it's as believable as a ghost astrologer robocalling from card services with important information about your account.

Fuck Valerian, its city and its thousand planets.  Just watch The Fifth Element instead.

July 21,2017