Valerian and the city of a thousand planets (2017)

I wanted to see this movie, based on this graphic novel, because it looked like an original idea, and we usually get about one of those per year among the tide of super hero sequels, remakes, reboots, and brand name movies. It was pretty original, and had lots of elements I hadn’t seen before. It was also long, tiring, ham handed, and boring for long sections. Spoilers:

Cut the first half hour of the movie. During all the action (lots of it very interesting and creative and cool looking) I kept wondering ‘when am I going to care?’ These characters I don’t know are running around doing stuff I don’t care about, and there is no tension. There is no feeling of weight or consequence. It’s just ‘stuff happening.’ Some of it is interesting, this movie is definitely good at being creative and interesting. But… that can’t be all there is.

There problem is the characters. The movie, I think, takes for granted that I’ll like and care about them, and puts no effort into helping me do so. They are both very wooden… deadpan almost. They have no defining characteristics that I can think of. Valerian at first seems to be the one who just does whatever without any plan, while Laureline is the by the book planner. Then at the end they randomly switch roles and Valerian says ‘I’m a soldier, I obey the law, the rules’ to paraphrase. Probably this is just so the woman character can be the emotional one breaking the rules for love. Though everything leading up to that end should have had Valerian doing that. What a mess.

The Bubble character was really fun and likable, once you got past the overly drawn out, awkward and pointless pole-dance scene. Then the writers kill her off once she’s completed her job helping the characters, and Val and Laura have a very forced moment of sadness before they move on and we all conveniently forget we ever met Bubble.

At the end, I was trying to remember what other movie I’ve seen where the military destroys the planet of a primitive race of tall blue people who commune with nature. Hmm, I can’t remember.

I’m probably being too hard on this movie. It does get a lot of points for coming up with interesting ideas and having a plot that made sense and I could follow most the time. However, it was missing something. Heart and soul maybe. I just didn’t care most the time. All the bright lights and pretty colors washed over me while I waited to feel anything at all. I perked up a few times with an ‘ooh that is really neat’, but not that often.

Over all, flashing lights and loud noises, signifying nothing.

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