Now here’s a film that has a similar production story to Baby Driver except instead a well crafted opera of film we get a ramshackle of beautiful visuals and terrible acting. Dane Dehaan the moody little S.O.B. from Chronicle who later was the moody Harry Osborn in the crappy, I mean Amazing Spider-man 2. Here he plays the charming and suave Valerian only he has none of the charisma and charm to play such a role he instead comes across as flat and boring and as one of the films main leads he drags you through the scenes he’s in rather than leading you through them. He is more of a drag than a lead and his performance in this proves that he’s a 30 year old man that’s better at playing mopey secondary characters than strong primary ones. He is also not a believable love interest for the undeniably stunning Cara Delevingne, he has no real attractive qualities other than that the script tells you that he’s attractive, no real admirable traits other than he’s an half decent soldier. At no point does the film actually look at the relationship between the two leads and they go from flirtatious partners to deeply in love fiances by the end. So at some stage in the film they went transitioned into lovers when only the script told them to. They needed that cinematic kiss at the end I suppose.
Enough about Dane and onto Cara Delevingne, who actually surprised me in this film she has a certain charm and determination on screen that her co-star lacks, she even has more believable accent. I felt that had she been acting opposite a better, more charismatic actor their attraction to each other probably would have felt more natural. Instead we have her being cheeky and charming opposite the acting equivalent of a plank of wood, no chemistry just erect wood. I think had she someone opposite her who could have returned her wit and charming smile the movie would have benefited. Valerian cares about Laureline but it’s unclear whether his libido or the script is the reason. The movie seems intent on getting Delevingne into as many costumes as possible in order to showcase her body from revealing dresses to stylish dresses her co-star bears no similar burden but then they had less to work with in his case. The introductory swimsuit scene showcase a sexually confident Laureline and grappling Judo expert Valerian when the following dialogue suggest that both characters should be sexually confident. Valerian even brags to Laureline that he knows she’s attracted to him, both to her and the audiences bemusement.
I actually was quite shocked at Rihanna’s character Bubble’s (get it, cos she’s a liquid), introduction scene. I never expected to get a pole dance from her in my life and yet she pole danced like a pro. She should be commended on the athleticism and flexibility she displayed in her performance but the length of her performance felt unnecessary to illustrate her character’s talents and skills. Especially since all Valerian needed her for was camouflage. I did however find myself sympathising with her character as we subtly learn she is essentially a trafficked sex worker who started when she was 4. A tragic backstory and Rihanna adds a certain flavour to the character both wise and fun-loving. I actually was hoping she would have a bigger part as I got more and more attached to her character and hoped her the best. She actually would have made more sense as Valerian’s love interest as they seemed to genuinely connect and her sought her out offered her freedom and seemed to genuinely want to see her free.
Ethan Hawke had the only moment in the entire film when I laughed and that was a combination of surprise and the over the top nature of his Pimp character. He stole the whole scene until he was knocked out, and unlike most of the film he was entertaining to watch. Unfortunately he comes in nearer the end of the film so by that stage you have already settled into the mediocrity of the film and even his entertaining performance can’t safe it.
John Goodman makes an interesting cameo as the voice of Jabba the Hutt with legs and he’s very forgettable except you will be thinking all the way through it that you know his voice from somewhere, somewhere better than this.
Clive Owen, I had high hopes for him in this but his appearances are fairly brief and his last appearance he is doing his best British Nicolas Cage impression complete with unnecessary shout acting. This was a phoned in film because a lot of very talented people were in it but it seemed they were just passing go for their $200.
I have to sidebar here for a second and talk about the only part of the film that seemed .like love and care went into, the special effects. The Pearls, I think that’s what they’re called, they are Luc Besson’s Na’vi the big tall white people. They look extremely believable and the the details on them are intricate and beautiful. The killer robots look cool. They don’t do much just look cool. Each of the zones in Alpha city or station are beautifully rendered and unique both fantastical and mesmerising. They would make an excellent screensaver which is their apparent function when Valerian utilises a shortcut that takes him through each zone (including the underwater one where two man-sized holes in it made no impact on the liquid containment). The bit that personally irked me is the bit where the two high ranking federal agents ask their Siri to give them some exposition on the station so that the audience knows about all about the station and it’s zones a thing that I had already known about because the movie spends 5-10 minutes illustrating the history of the Alpha station and it was perfect it told you everything you needed to know without saying a thing and then they proceed to drag you through the exposition anyway. Subtlety would have raised this movie to new heights but instead we get dragged around the pretty setting by a plank of wood and his sassy partner. 2/10 maybe a four if I’ve had a few cans beforehand.