Let's start this one off with a bit of history. This film is based on a French comic book series known as 'Valerian and Laureline', otherwise known as 'Valerian: Spatio-Temporal Agent'. It was first published in 1967, ran until 2010, and actually consist of quite a collection that includes the comic books, a short story collection and even it's own encyclopedia. By all accounts, this movie sincerely should have been better than it turned out to be.
Director Luc Besson, the man who brought us geekdom megahit 'The Fifth Element', gave an audience quite a ray of hope by taking on this project. We already knew him to be a rather brilliant creator of otherworldly... worlds, and this really was no exception. But the film is not without it's balance of negatives, which I'll get to in a moment.
The film opens with the interesting idea of "Alpha"; a massive colony that has been built to house the species of a thousand planets, and have them coexist in peace. When a disturbance happens, involving a race we see to be very peaceful, attacking Alpha, Special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Lauraline (Cara Delevigne) are called in to identify the attackers, and protect Alpha. However, Valerian and Lauraline discover that there's more to the case than meets the eye, and have to wonder if they are fighting for the right side.
The best part of this whole movie was, probably as expected, the visual effects. The way I see it, it's already a front-runner for 2018's "Best Visual Effects" Oscar. The worlds and environments are pretty breathtaking, and quite honestly, probably the best I've seen since 'Avatar'. It's the film's only real saving grace, in my humble opinion.
As far as the story goes, along with the characters, everything is "passable" at best. Dane DeHaan is a bit of an enigma to me. I loved him in 'Chronicle', but he's only just been okay in everything since, including this. Cara Delevigne, on the other hand, was almost too stiff for my liking. It was probably how she was directed, to be fair, but she came across as very one-note in this.
One of the biggest problems I had with this, is a bit unfair for me to bring up. I don't know that it was a part of the original stories or not, but even if it was, I find the concept extremely silly all the same. They have these special glasses you can wear that allow you to go shopping in another dimension while still being in the same spot. So imagine, sitting at your computer, putting on glasses, and suddenly having access to another dimension you can fully see. You'll be able to bring stuff back from this dimension by running it through a special scanner, but it still begs the question how the hell does that even work? I can understand maybe SEEING the other dimension, but if you're not physically there, how do you take something off a shelf? Are there just weird ghosts running around this other dimension scarng the crap out of the inhabitants? Does it transport your soul somehow? I just didn't get it. It's a neat idea on paper, but with no explainations on how it worked. Yet, it appears to be a big part of this universe.
If you want a visual treat, it may be worth your time just for that, but I'd implore you to get cheap tickets at least. It's a tough one, as it's well worth admission for the way it looks, but the story and acting is fairly weak. If you do decide to go, however, do it quickly. It opened all the way down at #5. With a budget of $180 Million, it bombed hard as in it's opening weekend, it only made a mere $17 Million back. It may go to show that perhaps the world isn't quite ready for stories taking place in space that aren't 'Star Wars' or 'Star Trek'.