The first two minutes of ‘s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are one of the funniest introductions that I have seen on the big screen in the last few years. After the next 15 minutes I was starting to believe that I have made a bad decision about spending the coming two hours to watch a childish and soppy comics-inspired action film. What followed developed in one of the good entertainment films of this year, but one that not everybody will like, one that you need to be in the right mood to watch and enjoy. Even the comics-inspired films fans and fans of the series may be split.





‘s source of inspiration is the comic book series “Valerian and Laureline” written by Pierre Christin and drawn artist by  (with the difference that the heroes of the comics travel in time and space, which does not happen in the film). Most of the movies Besson wrote, directed and/or produced in the last thirty years have three lead features. One is his attraction for teenage heroes (females in most cases) – this is present here as not  the lead heroes but many of the citizens of the world created by Besson seem to be hardly above today’s drinking age if at all. Maybe we are suggested that the world of the future may have found the magic elixir of youth. The other is unrestrained violence on screen, and from this point of view we are treated with a relatively soft version of Besson, with stylized fights at comics level. Last is the visual creativity. From this point of view Besson is at his best, or maybe simply reached the best until now in his career. Compare by example with War for the Planet of the Apes which I saw (and wrote about) last week. Same techniques of creating characters by computer effects enhancing actors are used, but what an explosion of fantasy we have here, conveying the idea of a infinitely diverse universe, a direct descendant from the one in the ‘Star Wars’ series (or maybe the same world of the future). This is combined with the exceptional architecture of the City of a Thousand Planets, whose areas and rooms change every few seconds into new spaces of exceptional colors and forms varieties. Cinematography, Production Design, Art Direction are all breath-taking.


(video source Movieclips Trailers)


Is the story childish? Maybe, but this is after all the screen variant of a comics series. It actually carries logic, but it’s comics logic, not philosophy. No need to talk in too many details about actor performances – young (a rising actor star whom I somehow missed until now) and do what they are supposed to do and look how they are supposed to look, and it does not matter too much that a fine actor like or a music legend like are present in roles of adults. It does matter however that pop idol joins the team and creates a stellar interstellar (!) dance and music number that is to be remembered. She is part of the fun of this summer action movie, set in a beautiful and dream-like version of the future. A film for young people of all ages.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is easy entertainment, but it is not cheap entertainment.