Based off the French comic book “Valerian and Laureline”, the movie Valerian is a love note from director Luc Besson. It features a lot of signature special effects and incredible world settings, which recalls his work in the 5th Element.
The setting of Valerian is excellent, both in visual presentation and in concept. The movie unveils a magnificent universe, particularly the space-city of Alpha and the multi-dimensional marketplace, and utilizes it with deftness. Valerian succeeds in drawing us into a very alien but very interesting fictional future. Unfortunately, this is probably where Valerian reaches its limit.
Many storylines are not new, and I did not expect anything groundbreaking with Valerian. But alas, even with this in mind, the execution felt somewhat lackluster. I’m no film director, but I can’t help but feel that a different sequence of some of the story points could have drummed up the tension and interest better. Another weak aspect was the relationship between Valerian and Laureline. Although they were fun to observe in certain scenes, the growth of their relationship and acting dynamic didn’t feel convincing.
Ultimately, Valerian feels like a proof-of-concept film that showcases aesthetic and visual ability, rather than a whole movie with the complete components of an underlying plotline and compelling acting. Still, its visuals are such a feast that I can still support its enjoyment on the big-screen, particularly on IMAX and 3D.