3 1/2 stars
Strap yourself in, take your protein pill and put your helmet on, you are about to be taken on a dizzying adventure unlike any other with Valerian and the city of a thousand planets.
French Director Luc Besson, best known for the classic sci-fi superlative The Fifth Element (1997) and the lesser-loved Lucy (2014) has brought to the big screen an adaptation of a French comic, and sadly many critics have chosen to punish him for his efforts.
Yes, it is a bit zany, but so was Fifth Element. And yes, you must pay attention because there is so much going on that you may miss something vital if you blink, but for a novice such as I am, I managed to keep up and thoroughly enjoy the ride.
It’s not that hard, in the beginning we are gently introduced to the idea that humankind started pooling resources, hammering together bits of space station as the world unites under the banner of science and space exploration.
Eventually a whole grab bag of aliens start dropping in to shake hands or oozing exoskeletal appendages set to the musical stylings of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.
What began as a small clump of random space junk becomes a thriving pseudo-planet of its own, with every kind of life form imaginable welded together in a semblance of harmony.
We are then introduced to a peaceful race of pearlescent blue people living a gentle life on a faraway beach who get blown away like they never existed.
A few years down the track a plucky young fellow named Valerian and his partner/soldier Laureline are given a mission to recover something valuable (and incredibly cute) from some space thugs and their lives get pulled into a gigantic web of deception and galactic intrigue.
Ethan Hawk pops his head in as a groovy space pimp, and Rihanna pole dances suggestively as an alien shapeshifter with a heart of gold.
Ok, it’s not Star Wars but it is French – they just do things a bit different, and dare I say a bit more elegantly.
This film is funny, and certainly takes itself very lightly as it flings us from one corner of the universe to the other and it ties the whole thing up with a sizable nod to humanity and injustice.
I say, give Valerian a chance. It is visually spectacular and deserves a hell of a lot more respect than it is currently receiving.