Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Another film that I had high expectations for was Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets. Written and directed by Luc Besson, it has been rumored to be a sequel to The Fifth Element (which he also wrote.)

Let me first say, I am a big fan of Besson’s writing work and have been since seeing Natalie Portman‘s debut in his story Leon: The Professional. He penned those as well as the Taken series. Valerian too, is a really good story and does indeed have a similar look and feel to TFE. What could go wrong?

Only one thing – casting.

Whoever chose Dane DeHaan as the male lead, Major Valerian and Cara Delevingne as the female lead, Sergeant Laureline must have owed them money. The story had the two exchanging banter laced with sexual tension throughout and alluded to Valerian as a womanizing, cad that was ready to settle down and Laureline as a tough, no-nonsense leading lady who wasn’t buying what he was selling. That works when you have the acting chops to see it – or at least look the part.

“Major” Valerian looked like a malnourished 16 year old, not a combat veteran that could melt a girls heart with a smirk. “Sergeant” Laureline looked like a malnourished 15 year old aspiring cover girl, again, not a decorated warrior that could mix it up with grizzled veterans yet maintain a sexy allure.

Seriously, if you recast this this with Tom Hardy, Brad Pitt, Clive Owen (who did a great job as the bad guy), George Clooney or even a 75 year old Harrison Ford opposite Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Rachel Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Sandra Bullock or even a 72 year old Helen Mirren and the chemistry works. The story works. The film works.

Yes, they cost more money, but it would have taken Valerian from a blip on the entertainment scene to a cult classic quoted and replayed for generations.

Every star in this rating is for what could have been a great film – 0 stars for the leading actors. Not their fault – just not the right film for them.

by Chris Doelle

RATING 5 out of 10
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