Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets review; or “Ode to Glitter”

There was moment in the second half of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets when I truly lost it. Rhianna’s blue shape-shifting alien, Bubble, (a handy device enabling her to appear as a rubber-clad nurse… dominatrix, Cabaret chorus girl… you get the gist) has been mortally wounded, and uses her [SPOLER ALERT!] dying breath to muse on the hardships of being an illegal immigrant. The wooden deliver of this extraordinarily hammy script – combined with Dane DeHaan’s valiant efforts to look suitably moved – was just all too much. Suddenly I could take it no more – the script, the vast quantities of glitter, the sheer awfulness of the film got the better of me and I laughed and laughed and laughed, until I was gasping for air so badly I thought I’d had to leave the cinema.

Valerian
The glittery world of Valerian

Afterwards my companion and I concluded this might be the worst film we have ever seen – its only hope being it’s so excruciatingly bad and kitsch that it may yet take on a cultish status in years to come.

The plot – such as it is – centres around Cara Delevingne (Laureline) and Dane DeHaan (Valerian) as special operatives flying around the universe many years from now helping to maintain order. A bit like The Bill. But in space. Having completed an important mission to retrieve a teeny armadillo-like creative from a long-lost cousin of Jabba the Hutt, they arrive at Alpha – an enormous city made up of inhabitants from all around the universe. Only all is not well on Alpha – something dark lurks in its centre. OR DOES IT? Could this have anything to do with the peaceful Smurf-blue former inhabitants of a pearl-generating planet destroyed as collateral damage year ago, and recently appearing in Valerian’s dreams? Can Valerian and Laureline discover the truth? Why does Clive Owen want the Armadillo? What the hell is Ethan Hawke doing in this movie? And exactly how big was the glitter budget? Intrigued…? I wasn’t.

In theory this should work. The film is based on a highly successful comic book series – and with Luc Besson as director, on paper this has all the ingredients of a hit movie. But it just falls way short of the mark. Despite an undoubtedly large budget, the sets look cheap (did I mention the glitter?), the CGI too bright and childish, and the script just cannot be revived by anyone – despite some decent attempts by Cara and co.

It’s also long – 2.5 hours. By which point even the amusement at just how bad it is has worn a little thin.

One to avoid – watch a Rihanna video instead.

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