Disagreeing with Ramón # 02 – Valerian and the city of a thousand planets
Valerian and the city of a thousand planets
With this post I continue with my section “Disagreeing with Ramón“, about the films that I love and he despises, or viceversa.
To check an intro to the section, here you have the pilot post.
Let’s get to the point, a dream coming true by Luc Besson, 20 years after his cornerstone on entertainment science fiction that was “The fifth element”.
Setting the context, 20 years after one of the films that marked my youth years, just before i turned 11, it blew my mind and was already a whole-life love.
With this precedent, the fact that now, with the most expensive european film production, adapting the comic that “inspired” (wink, wink) Star Wars and much of the sci-fi wave that came later, I could only expect the best.
Besides, a few months earlier I’ve bought in Angoulême the integral edition of “L’Incal”, that I’m going to have to read right away now that I’ve gotten in tune when I see this movie again about one of his “twin” comics “. Since when it was released I couldn’t see it in its 3D version, now I’ve taken the opportunity to do it thanks to my cousin’s TV set, and it is definitely the proper version to enjoy.
(Correction, this happened when I started writing this, but it’s been a while and I’ve seen it again in 2D)
I will mainly compare the film with the Star Wars saga and its predecessor “The Fifth Element”.
It has exactly the kind of magic that cast a spell on me when I was little, and filmmaking became my greatest passion. It takes us to a world from which I want to know everything about, and savour it bit by bit.
We are, like in the movies previously commented, before a movie of the Space Opera genre and follow its schemes, adventures in worlds unknown to all corners of the universe. Evil plots, good versus evil, fantastic creatures, made-up languages, and usually lots of lasers.
It sets you in context of the evolution of that particular universe, from our days to the 28th century, and we join commander Valerian and sergeant Laureline on their new mission, retrieve the last transmutator from Mül, a relic that survived the extermination of that planet, a priceless item. This will take them through various planets and space stations to hunt it down, discovering a hidden plot about the motives for the annihilation of this species.
The love story, although it ends up being a bit typical like almost all, is not as childish and forced as the ones George Lucas gave us. Although the protagonist couple does not have the charisma and screen presence of Han and Leia, at least they give us a romance with a little more depth and originality than the typical love story that was imposed in the script manuals of the classic Holywood studios.
The political theme, unlike the galaxy saga that until the new installments, it was just a pain in the ass, especially in the prequels, here it plays a much more subtle and well-brought role. Within politics, the ecological touch, portraying the struggle between sustainability and capitalist cannibalism, is very elegant and fine. Comparing it also with the crude and simple version of Pocahontas that was Avatar, trying to defend the same thesis.
What I do agree with those who criticize it is that the protagonists lack something. I do not know if it’s by writing (the character in the script), by direction or by the choice of actors. Although I like how they fit together on screen, I do see them very flat, as much as I like the most predominant role of Laureline. Cara Delevingne is the one that stands out in the couple, her male companion being a kind of attempt of Tom Hanks, and for that we already have his son Colin …
As well as the lack of a huge/great villain, such as Darth Vader, Kylo Renn or Darth Maul, or that ball of black matter that possessed Gary Oldman, so its weakest point to my liking is the construction of characters.
Here what matters to me is the story and exploring a wonderful universe, we could say that a similar experience to a video game or an amusement ride, as might be Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” remake.
Also what I like about the script is that is somekind free without being restrained with the three acts structure, and with situations that never cease to surprise us, such as world of cinema milestones like the scene of the big market, or the tour around Alpha.
The best for me, the magical moment of how the market planet is built, a whole boast of fantasy, as well as the musical number with the glamopod played by Rihanna.
Besides from the obvious link with “The Fifth Element”, sharing director and origins in the world of 60’s/80’s french Sci-Fi comics and a connection to “Ready Player One” being sister movies, for being released a few months apart and having a similar type of design.
Another thing that does not stand out to my taste is music, a soundtrack that doesn’t adds much (especially if we compare it with the wonder accompanying Besson’s previous space epic) and of which, luckily, we did not find out or looks out of place.
Some superfluous effect, such as a transition to a little insert-flashback near the end seems out of place to me, to underline if we had fallen asleep or had not found out about the evil plot.
2 or 3 specks of dust throughout the film, that only tarnish a bit what could have been a new science fiction masterpiece, things that according to each one can be attributed to 95% of the films…
It has everything you could ask to a great space adventure and entertainment movie, except maybe those charismatic protagonists a really by-the-book evil badass villain (that we have already seen millions of times with different faces)
The next installment will focus on the controversial subject of bullfighting and his influences in a couple of movies.