In 1997, Luc Besson made an oddball sci-fi action film called The Fifth Element that attracted a strong cult following. His new effort, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, aims for similar success, but with mixed results.
Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne play space soldiers and partners in a futuristic world. A mission takes them to a giant floating spaceship that’s home to members of a thousand different civilizations. But something’s going wrong with the ship and they need to investigate before everyone's lives are in danger.
It’s an interesting setting for a sci-fi film, but it’s one the movie only sometimes takes advantage of. There are scenes of genuine imagination here and there, but they’re the detours. The main story is pretty ho-hum. The script leaves DeHaan and Delevingne’s characters out to dry. They’re given a lot of romantic banter, but it’s not funny banter. There needed to be another polish or rewrite on the relationship scenes. Lastly, the movie runs an unnecessarily long 137 minutes.
That said, the film does earn points for its moments of imagination. Whatever its flaws, Valerian does not feel like it came off an assembly line, which is more than many aspiring blockbusters can say.