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Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Cinema Review: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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If you agree that the next war being arranged for us by the man-baby presidents of the US and North Korea will result in such annihilation that the following one will be waged with sticks and stones, then you might be surprised by the ‘sophistication’ of the weaponry envisioned for the future by director Luc Besson. But what’s a sci-fi blockbuster without awesome firepower? More to the point, has there ever been one in which peace is at large in the universe? Hundreds of years from now, Müll is a planet populated by skinny bald people with who look like pale-blue Masai with the heads of Egyptian pharaohs.

Their surroundings resemble a beach in the Bahamas and their bountiful existence is supported by cute little scaly creatures that defecate the pearls that renew and regenerate the environment. They are living the life of Riley, until burning spacecraft fall into their atmosphere and crash to earth. Soon after most of them are wiped out, whereupon we meet Major Valerian (Dan DeHaan) and his beautiful sidekick, Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevigne), both of them troubleshooters for an alliance of good planets. She’s okay, but he is a right royal pain in the arse, and neither of them seems old enough to be doing anything more demanding than singing out of tune in a garage band.

The villain in the intergalactic brouhaha is obvious from the minute he appears onscreen, but apart from that I did not have the foggiest idea of what was going on. The weird creatures are impressive, especially the ones encountered in Paradise Alley, where Rihanna does a pretty decent poledance but a lot of the costumes have an offputting retro cut about them, as though they are seconds from early TV episodes of Star Trek. Unarguably, the film is a visual feast, but it differs not one iota from all the other bellicose space ‘epics’ that are being churned out by an endless production line of CGI-driven dross. Boring, repetitive and mindless.

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