Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day.
A better critic would come up with a more clever opening than “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Set Pieces” but I’m a writer who shoots from the hip. I come up with a shitty pun and I commit, dammit. It’s the worse kind of trait a writer can have. The inability to let go of an idea you like regardless of whether it works or not. Oh look, a segue. Besson seems like the kinda writer who comes up with an idea and refuses to cut it even to the detriment of his film. Does anybody like Ruby Rhod? Did anybody like Lucy turning into a USB flash drive at the end of that film?
The man puts ideas into a shotgun and shoots it at the screen every five minutes to see what will stick. It reminded me of his children’s trilogy, Arthur of the Minimoys but instead of there being three films to tell the story, he decided to put all of his ideas into one film.
So many ideas. Ethan Hawke as a pimp, Rihanna as a stripper, Rutger Hauer as the president, and an alien that shits energy which I’m pretty sure was the plot to a Futurama episode. Oh and John Goodman showed up.
There’s so many set pieces and fetch quests that I’m surprised this was adapted from a comic and not a video game. Every new planet feels like a level and every new character feels like a NPC guiding you towards your objective. Nothing feels realistic. There’s no natural flow to the film, everything feels like an excuse to get to the next set piece. “Oh you wanted [Blank] well you have to talk to [Blank] on [Blank Planet].” The plot is a game of Mad Libs played by a cocaine addicted twelve year old.
And it doesn’t help that the leads of the film have negative zero chemistry. Remember Brad Pitt trying his hardest to “act” with his animated co-star in Cool World? He constantly looked confused and unsure of where to stand or where his eye line was. It was understandable considering blue screen was a new technology but Dehaan and Delevingne have the same problem just talking to each other, whether there’s a green screen or not. It’s very reminiscent of the time James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted the Academy awards. He’s trying to be “cool” by being aloof and she’s over compensating because her co-star is barely trying. Bless their hearts.
But it’s not all negative, the film is a visual masterpiece. That nobody can deny. The planets all look incredible and I read an interview where Besson said he contacted artists in different countries all over the world to design the aliens, so nothing looked the same. I admire the dedication and it paid off. The universe he created is a unique one. I just wish the story held the visuals together instead of the other way around.
At the end of the day, Valerian is eye candy and not eye protein. Just make sure to bring some insulin.