Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets.

A very odd fish of a film here. But one with plenty to enjoy. If.....if.

It's the 28th century. What started as the International Space Station in orbit above Earth has become something huge called Alpha. First it was joined by spacecraft from other countries but as the centuries went by alien craft started to connect up too. It eventually gets so big that it's a danger to earth and is shunted off into space. But something dark is threatening  Alpha and two special ops soldiers must find out what.

I kind of liked it......... but more on that later.

You won't see a more imaginative film this year. It's bursting with ideas. In fact there's nearly too much going on. I'd happily watch a spin off looking at some of the things that were only brushed over. But seriously there is some whacked out stuff in here. Mind reading jellyfish for one. Fishing sumo aliens with a thing for slinky dresses for another. The alien designs are fantastic. The converter is a deadly little creation that I'd actually love to have. The depiction of a galactic market bazaar is really cleverly done too. I'm going to call bullshit on anyone saying drugs didn't play a major part in the design part of the film. There's some great fun in here as well. Exciting chase scenes and gooey sword battles. Bizarre alien technology and rituals. Big angry monsters. The red light district of the future and a cool little fenty dance routine that stops the film for a good 5 minutes.

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne play the leads and I'll come back to them. The supporting cast is an eclectic one . Ethan Hawke is a scream in a bizarre little cameo. Rihanna is good craic as a shape shifting alien called Bubble and gets a few excellent moments and lines. Herbie Hancock turns up as a grumbling politican. Clive Owen is a solid bastard and upcoming Irish actor Gavin Drea has fun in a small gun toting role.

My main issue with the film is a big one. It's hard to truly like a film if you can't connect with the main characters and I definitely couldn't here. Cara Delevingne's Laureline is the better of the two but that's kind of damning her with faint praise. She has screen presence but she just not good in this. Her performance leaves a lot to be desired. Wry smiles will only get you so far. We'll see what the future holds for her. Here her character is just blaah. Dane DeHaan's Valerian was bad though. I think he was going for a sort of a Han Solo-ish character but failed big time. He just comes across as dull, odd, smug and pretty unlikeable. If you're going to copy a character don't copy such an iconic one. You'll fall at the first hurdle there. He was great in Chronicle but this role did not suit him at all. Dull leads are a killer and here their blandness is only magnified by the multi coloured madness going on around them.

Luc Besson who directed this also made the Fifth Element. That was another wacked out Sci-Fi epic but that one had likeable (Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich) leads and a truly entertaining baddie ( Gary Oldman on fire ) and that made all the difference. Even Chris Tucker was funny. Sort of. 22 years later the Fifth Element is still remembered fondly. I've a strong feeling this one won't be remembered that long.

This is just my opinion though. Some people might love them. If you can get past the main characters ( It's a big ask ) you'll have good fun and it's definitely a feast for the eyes. It's definitely a one of a kind.

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