Does director Luc Besson’s latest movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” live up to his sci-fi cult classic, “The Fifth Element”? Mmm, no. But the visuals and fictional tech concepts are literally out of this world, and well worth seeing.
“Valerian” has been getting decidedly mixed opening reviews – mostly due to the plodding plot and what some have called the anti-chemistry between the two lead actors, Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline. (To be fair, “The Fifth Element” got similarly mixed reviews when it premiered 20 years ago.)
The visuals are over-the-top, but the problem with “Valerian” may well be that it takes itself too seriously. The heroes and the villains are too earnest, in contrast to the cartoonish baddies in “The Fifth Element.” Ironically, a new movie based on a comic-book classic isn’t comic-bookish enough.
The best way to experience the movie is to set your expectations accordingly, and then let the computer-generated visual effects wash over you for two hours. Here are some of my favorite moments, based on the visuals as well as what they say about technologies to come.