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Movie Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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valarianThis is a hard one to rate. It was super duper amazingly gorgeous. A+ visuals, almost Avatar-levels of creative beauty…it was definitely above the best of Guardians of the Galaxy’s fantastical “Knowwhere” and “Ego” scenes (stuff I generally tout as the prettiest sci-fi scenes in recent cinema).

However, Valererian had a boring, predictable, throwaway plot that I could not WAIT to see die. And it was a lingering death indeed, with endless blah blah blah.

The plot wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good. There was nothing charming, original, or engaging in 2 hours and 17 minutes (the opening “paradise” planet scenes and the character “Bubble” were about as interesting as things ever got).

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The attractive leads had zero chemistry, and were distractingly young for being “Majors”; their flat interactions left me cold. Tepid humor. Sophomoric military intolerance we’ve seen before. Non-stop pacing that never gave the viewer a chance to breathe. I could go on, but I don’t want to give the impression this is a unwatchable film. If you let your expectations go, and just enjoy the scenery, it’s good enough.

It’s too bad, because Luc Bessons’s Fifth Element is one of my favorite films, making me laugh and smile, while taking a lot of story risks – I cared about Leeloo and Corben Dallas. And I still repeat many of the great one-liners.

In Valerian, the director focused entirely on outstanding visuals, full stop, to the detriment of the characters and the story.

The soundtrack was actually awful. Truly. WHY? How does this happen?

I saw this in a very small cinema room, on opening night, in 2D. I am POSITIVE the experience would be better in a large theater, with better speakers, and in 3D. When you get your ticket, make sure to see this in a large theater with a great screen. Don’t waste your money, otherwise. There are better films in the theater right now.

Another note: there were cute touches homaging the Fifth Element universe. I noticed at least three obvious ones.

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To sum, this movie is really, REALLY attractive, and I guess that is reason enough to make it happen. Again, only bother with 3D.

If you don’t have an outstanding home television, it’s probably not worth seeing on DVD. This movie is about spectacularly creative visuals, large, and in your face.

So…the grade? With an A+ level of pretty, a B- plot, and C- soundtrack, I will split the difference and give Valerian a B-.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: I’m a true sci-fi fan who loves a good spectacle, but the film rests entirely on being pretty. For a 2 hour, 17 minute run time, it’s got a relentless pace, making finding a simple Peetime challenging. However, the plot is so flimsy that I saw people getting up and down constantly, and they probably were never really lost upon getting back to their seats. I gave you four Peetimes where the scenery and plot were less ‘stellar’ (ha, ha).

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

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