The Valerian Verdict

I went to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I had been relatively excited and optimistic. I like Luc Besson’s work. Léon: The Professional is a phenomenal movie. The Family is one of the most underrated movies I’ve ever seen. The Fifth Element speaks for itself as a pop culture icon. The one blot on this record is Lucy. A film has never made me that angry before. It was a pile of utter rubbish.

Despite Lucy, I found myself optimistic for Valerian. If any of you have seen the trailers, you’ll know this was sold as a visual masterpiece with an intriguing sci-fi premise. I can’t say I was as disappointed as I was embarrassed.

No, the movie wasn’t so bad that it was embarrassing, rather I felt a vicarious embarrassment throughout the film during many of the on-screen interactions. This was the only thing on my mind when I walked out of the cinema.

The two leads did not work together. In fact, I found little fault with Cara Delevingne (I do not claim to be objective, she’s gorgeous). Dane DeHaan (who I have nothing against, other than his appearance in Amazing Spiderman 2) gave me the figurative collywobbles every time he came on. Any scene where he had dialogue could not end soon enough. With him being the lead, this did not bode well for the movie. There were some action scenes where he wasn’t bad, especially when he was engaging in physical acting rather than speaking.

Beside the on-screen cringe-chemistry (cringistry?), I found much of the movie to be a bit haphazard in terms of the narrative thread. At times I sat wandering what the scene in front of me had to do with anything, at other times I sat there wishing it would end. There were even some jarring moments where there seemed to be some completely out of place slap-stick kind of humour attempts. The entire “romance” thread, which intruded onto the stage from the very outset, was so out of place it distracted me throughout. Not to mention the complete lack of romantic chemistry between the leads.

Overall, I’m disappointed that this is the turn the film took. Let’s make it clear: I didn’t hate it. I don’t think it’s a bad movie. No. Those make me rant and rage. Like that abomination Lucy did.

I saw it with my dad and he seemed to enjoy it. He sat through a 2 hour 17 minute movie with nary a fidget nor a sigh of “when will this be over?”, which in itself is a ringing endorsement from him.

Personally, I just couldn’t get away from the intense cringe-worthiness of the entire thing. There was even a portion of the film where I just had to look away and shut it out, squirming like an 11 year old boy forced to watch his parents kiss at the anniversary dinner.

Overall, I rate this film just above a thumbs-down, with a palm-down wobble and a “meh”.


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