Phrases like “world-building” are a dime a dozen in Hollywood nowadays, and the words “cinematic universe” seem to accompany the press release for each and every summer blockbuster. And yet, almost none of these multiplying onscreen wonderlands has displayed a fraction of the imagination and creativity that is bursting at the seams of Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a sci-fi fantasia that often exceeds our greatest flights of fancy. For a purely psychedelic space opera, Valerian is indeed hard to beat for genre fans desiring a new take on the future. Like the Devil, Valerian’s quality is in the details.
Watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 2017 Online. It’s thus a bit of a shame then that for all the demented randomness that Besson paints into the margins of this French yé-yé pop concoction, the picture is fairly bland at its center, with two barely serviceable leads in a storyline that merely holds up the tent of Besson’s visual ambitions, as opposed to filling it with anything resembling actual sincerity or a driving narrative. Even so, this is such a refreshingly daring space odyssey that it’s hard to begrudge the international production’s wish to boldly go where few franchises would ever dream about trekking toward: something weird. At times, gloriously so.