It was an honour to attend the premiere of VALERIAN at Event Cinemas George St a couple of weeks back. To be in the presence of the great Luc Besson was an experience I will cherish. He gave some of the best advice to young filmmakers “if you have nothing to say, shut your f*ck up.” Cracked the entire audience up. HIs QnA was nearly as long as his movies and I can’t thank Entertainment One enough for the invitation. VALERIAN is out tomorrow, Thursday 10th August in Australia. It runs for 137mins and is rated M. 


Valerian Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne image
Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne




In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.


Valerian Dane DeHaan image
Dane DeHaan



The opening of VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is superb. It is like STAR TREK’S FIRST CONTACT. But it repeats over and over and shows the evolution of our space travel from the ISS to thousands of years later and the meeting of thousands of species all via handshakes. That opening sequence had me on the edge of my seat expect the sublime genius of Besson to turtleneck out of his recent pile of shite. LÈON: THE PROFESSIONAL and THE FIFTH ELEMENT are still in my Top 50 Films of All time and TAKEN was a masterpiece of action. VALERIAN tries desperately to be THE FIFTH ELEMENT for a new generation but it bombs badly. I can’t actually pinpoint what it was exactly that made it suck because there was SOOOOO much wrong with it.

Firstly – what is right. The visuals for VALERIAN BLAH BLAH BLAH are sublime, one of the first reviews I read described this as AVATAR on acid. Visually that is spot on. The science fiction visuals are OUT OF THIS WORLD (see what I did there) and looked amazing in 3D on the big screen. The tech that is used is also amazing. The first scene in a desert marketplace taking place on two dimensions was new and exciting and for sci-fi geeks it’s amazing sci-fi porn. Big ticks. Then there is the nods to all the science fiction greats. There is AVATAR, STAR WARS, BLADE RUNNER and THE FIFTH ELEMENT references – if you can’t spot E.T. you’re an idiot haha.


Then there is the rest. Poor casting is probably the biggest letdown, but then there is the out of control director. It has a feel the studio gave him free reign to do whatever he wanted so he just did it all. I mean there is absolutely no restraint whatsoever in VALERIAN. The out of control narrative is basically confused and without much direction in the first half. Then by the second half it just loses its shit on a grand scale.

The sad thing is so many of the individual scenes in VALERIAN are fracking marvellous. But they are strung together by a weak screenplay that tried to do way too much with a director who over-indulged. And my good science fiction gods, it is a crime how bad it fails – the potential for greatness was everywhere you looked. Screenplay doctor, re-casting, restraint – OSCARS!!


Valerian Dane DeHaan image
Dane DeHaan



I love Dane DeHaan, not in a he-does-good-work kind of love. I am a fanatic fan. He is the kind of guy that represents what I would consider a perfect partner. I would date him and often joke he will be my future husband, I even have a framed autographed picture of him in my bedroom. I may be sharing too much information here haha. But you get my point – I am a huge supporter. That being said, his casting in this movie is one of the worst casting decisions in the last fifty years. He is so wrong for the Valerian character I was dumbfounded. He is not a mini version of Bruce Willis from THE FIFTH ELEMENT, he is a dark character actor, a guy who makes methodical speech. But in this he is being shown as a comical action hero and it fails miserably.

Cara Delevingne was actually passable as Laureline, she gives some good scenes and I was impressed. Not as impressed as Besson who described her “as good as Portman.” I nearly spat out popcorn at that comment. The movie could have worked with her and another male lead. Oddly, as much as he has done so much crap lately I think Zac Efron would have been a perfect Valerian.

Even Clive Owen looked badly out of place, I think by his last scene you can see the WTF look on his face.

I did however love the character Rhianna played, she has a great introduction scene. Ethan Hawke was likewise good onscreen but grossly under-utilised.


Valerian movie image
Valerian Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen and Kris Wu image



I could not sit through this again, even for my future husband and the sublime visuals. It is so appallingly casted with a director’s overindulgence in style over substance on full display. George Lucas would be stoked at what Luc Besson did to ruin VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. Shame shame shame.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.