Every so often a rare film will emerge that shatters your expectations of what the medium is capable of. On multiple fronts, it'll make you want to re-imagine the way that you look at, and rate movies going forward. The moments in which Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets achieves any of that—are non existent.
Wait, what? Let's take it from the top.
We start with an introduction that (quite literally) introduces audiences to some of the various species that the universe has to offer—some humanoid, some alien-like, and most of which have intricate details that really bring them to life.
Immediately afterwards, we jump to a paradise of sorts; less utopia, and more sandy shores. We're then introduced to the denizens of the land who seem to spend most of their time frolicking, or smiling. (Buddy the Elf probably would've felt right at home. Smiling's his favorite.)
From here, things get rough.
Not in the way that a conflict in the movie arises, no—rough as in, falling-down-a-trash-chute, rough. And the trash chute happens to be coated in sandpaper. (Funny thing is, there is definitely a trash chute in the movie. How appropriate.)
There are a plethora of issues that plague the movie, and really inhibit it from forming any semblance of a cohesive storytelling device. Everything from the excruciatingly direct dialogue, to Valerian sounding like he's doing a Keanu Reeves impression for 120 minutes, made for an exceptionally bad experience. For an apparent attempt at a fantastical, futuristic depiction of life ahead, our main heroes are all too often indulged in modern-day squabbles, book-ended by Mr. Freeze-like quips.
While those main flaws echo throughout, it's also littered with questionable decisions. For starters, why does the main theme sound like Jurassic Park? As it initially comes on, it pans across a wide shot of a beach—and I could've sworn that dinosaurs were going to show up in the background. There's also another segment in which Valerian almost, word for word, recites the line that Liam Neesan says when he's explaining what he'll do to his daughter's kidnappers with his particular set of skills.
Not long into the movie, it became bafflingly apparent at how juvenile the script was. Jokes fail to hit their mark, and instead of moving on to the next piece of dialogue, the movie more often than not decides to stick with it—almost as if to explain why something is funny. It wouldn't be too farfetched to think they just went with the first draft of the script, being that lines come off as dry, characters blurt out what they feel, and are quick to ask questions when any hint of confusion arises.
(I will admit, however, that a couple of times I found myself laughing. I laughed during a character's death, and I laughed at a slapstick sound effect.)
I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton that once famously said, "For every Baby Driver, there is an equal and opposite awful movie." Years from now, your (somewhat strange) child will ask, "Where were you during the week that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets launched?" And to that, you won't say anything. As should anyone else. Never speak of this movie, and do not subject yourself to this atrocity. No amount of special effects could save this lifeless, 2 hour joke, but luckily—there's still time for you to save yourself.
1-2: Horrendous, wouldn’t recommend watching even if free of charge.
3-4: Potentially has some good ideas, but overall still lackluster.
5-6: Average, a decently good time; go see it if it's free.
7-8: A solid recommendation, and well-rounded film; warrants a purchase after home release.
9: No glaring flaws; deserves to be watched multiple times.
10: Masterful, must-see; filmmaking at its finest.