Before you set fire to my site, just know that I recognise the title of this article are words that haven't been uttered very often (if at all) by the internet at large. You only need to check out the film's Metacritic score, which at the time of writing is sat at a brain numbing 51, to know that the critics also disagree with my statement. But, since you've come all this way, why don't you hear me out? Netflix, forever the gateway for niche films to find an audience, has today put up this specific title to its catalogue in the UK. If you haven't seen it, now would be a good time.
The film is based on a French comic series of the same name. If you are wanting me to tell you if it is a respectful re-imagining of the literature, I wouldn't know, I have zero experience with it. The story follows Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), human special agents who are tasked with keeping the peace and resolving high profile problems in a galaxy shared by thousands of competing races. Their home base is Alpha, a patchwork, mix and match, space station shared by the aforementioned cosmopolitan citizenry. That's something this film does amazingly. The world building is immense and the politics are believable. This is of course aided by the fact it is based on an already established franchise, even if the general population are unfamiliar with it. The universe the film offers promises millions of stories, just waiting to be discovered but despite this promise the core story is an engaging one with only a handful of clangers to draw the eye.
As well as the CGI, which I have a feeling will not age well in some areas (although the amount of practical effects put a smile on my face), the chemistry between the two lead actors just doesn't sit right. Cara Delevingne puts in a good performance as Laureline and Dane DeHaan has his moment but some parts fall flat. Their 'chase me' type romance seems forced and because its unbelievable, doesn't leave me as a viewer rooting for them to get together and becomes inconsequential as a result. The film also tries too hard to inject comedic snark and this also makes the film seem a tad insincere when it happens. These things will certainly affect your empathy for the lead characters but if you are a fan of homely, feel good, science fiction, akin to that of Stargate Atlantis, then this is definitely going to be worth an hour and a half of your time.
Enough of the bad, on to the good. As well as the stellar world building, the film also has some great set pieces where both Delevingne and DeHaan put in solid performances as kick ass heroes. Forget that they might not be the stereotype, muscle strapped heroines of norm, they certainly hold their own with some pretty demanding physicality. Although the premise and twists and turns of the film is not something you'll be struggling to figure out, with the main pieces in place rather early on, it's the journey that'll keep you watching. The film was directed by French Director Luc Besson and he believed in the project that much he crowd-sourced and independently funded the film himself. That makes Valerian, 'with a production budget of around $180 million, the most expensive non-American and independent film ever made.' Just like one of my idols, Kevin Smith, I have a soft spot for creatives that go all in and make the impossible happen. It's not perfect, far from it, but it's the strength of it's conviction to tell you what it wants to tell you whilst leaving you wanting more that makes it worthy of your attention.
Have you seen Valerian already, what did you think? Maybe you've read the comic, did you find it a good representation of the story? Comment below or tweet us @ghoulishent.
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