Valerian – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Valerian – 3/5 – Fantasy films are defined in their creative appeal.  Creating worlds beyond factual detail provides a window where you can live a whole different life.  No matter the greatness that comes in some (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter), there are others that fail (Eragon).  No matter what, it always boils down to that purity of the escape.  Valerian is another fantasy film that tries to capture that feeling.  Through its source material, this film provides an expansive visual journey within a shallow story.  For all its potential, Valerian is average at best in its imaginative tale.

Premise: As a dark force threatens Alpha, two agents must discover the truth before all comes to an end.

You can refer to the list of actors/actresses at the film’s IMDb page.  No matter if you’re referring to the main leads (Dane DeHaan or Cara Dellevingne) or any of the actors/actresses in secondary roles (Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, etc.), they all give basic portrayals of the characters written in the script.  What you have are general ‘templates’ that are splashed with unique personas.  This slight distinction comes across in the goofy, trendy or colorful interpretations by the actors/actresses.  The interactions are witty and delightful at times, but as the story moves along, they uniform into common archetypes found in the fantasy/sci-fi genre.  For a lot of the ancillary characters, they are nothing more than plot devices positioned to help the main characters move from one point to another.

The script is a rehashing of many other fantasy tales blended with the sci-fi elements from the graphic novel.  What you have is as followed:

  • Basic character introduction
  • General ‘Point of Interest’ introduced
  • Main characters must save a Place/Person/Idea
  • Puzzle Piece/Investigation/Action and Dramatic Sequence
  • Ultimate Revelation leading to ‘Happy Ever After’ Ending

With no true direction, the story evolves in a singular motion.  We are first introduced to the main characters on a mission to retrieve an object.  This object generates the ‘point of interest’ for all the characters, leading to the ‘saving the world’ scenario.  This continues into a general point A to B format; linking scenes to scenes that become very predictable.  The hollowness in the directive fragments the creative balance that comes from the amazing source material and witty dialogue.  The positive parts that the audience will be drawn too is the vividness of the visuals.  This is what brings you into the world.  On top of this, the organic interactions of all the creatures, aliens and humans with odd set pieces and amazing space/inter-dimension travels generate that true imaginative sensation.  That amazing eye to detail is why there is such disappoint in the basic draw of the storytelling.  As you journey with the main characters, you feel like you’re playing an adventure in a video game:

(Travel to point of contact > accept quest > complete quest > move to new point of contact)

That wanes on everything that has value, leading you to feel the heavy running time.  Once the climax and epilogue brings the film to its conclusion, it only adds on top of all its flaws.  When it is over, you are left with thoughts of potential that are lost in the mediocrity.

As mentioned above, the visuals are the crowning achievement of this film.  From the colorful landscape, expansive city planets, the unique creatures and vastness of the galaxy, you are completely engrossed in what you’re seeing on the big screen.  That raw escapism generates a purity in the CGI spectacle.  There is a belief in what you’re seeing, even when it is truly unbelievable.  The score is basic to any fantasy/sci-fi film.

Valerian is a fantastical experience that is hampered by a generic story.  The contrasting of the journey with the unique visual aesthetics creates an average experience.  If you’re a fan of fantasy or want to see something visually appealing, this is one for you.  See this at a matinee, it isn’t worth the full price.

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