One of my favorite movies when I was in High School was The Fifth Element. Luc Besson directed a far fetched movie of the future with a distinct sense of over-the-top style and visuals where a love story was front and center. Valerian was supposed to be the spiritual follow up. The visuals were certainly there. The love story was there. The costumes looked pretty similar.
But something was missing.
I don’t know. Valerian was based on source material, but the Sci-Fi mystical mystery simply lacked charisma, weight, and a counterbalance. Simply put, it doesn’t have a crusty Bruce Willis, known for his trope roles, playing things over-the-top. It didn’t have Chris Tucker playing the second greatest role of his career. It doesn’t have Mila Jovovich with her orange hair and non-sensical dialect and, lets face it, over-the-top hotness to propel the film. In High School, I wanted to marry the girl in orange hair. That is the type of personality I had. I was so introverted and too stuck in friend-zones that Mila was the most fascinating woman I’d ever seen. I was entranced. In fact, I saw The Fifth Element twice. For a broke kid, this rarely happened. On top of this, I think The Matrix, The Phantom Menace, and *Titanic were the only movies I saw twice in the theater.
*for various reasons
Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan certainly do their best. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in the spiritual follow up to The Fifth Element? And to be frank, despite a nonsensical and uninspiring CGI opening, which made be bored and disconnected, Cara and Dane’s opening scene was actually pretty great. I dug the whole thing. The playful back and forth. The teasing and flirting while responding to the mission on hand while getting through backstory exposition as they interacted with the set and post-production CGI that needed to happen. This is complicated stuff, and the opening scene between them needed to establish the stakes. I dug it. I liked it.
But then we got back to the plot. The non-sense that nobody cared about. The gimmicks few understood or cared to understand. The mystery that nobody wanted to see. The species nobody wanted to save. The betrayal (and wasted Clive Owen role) that everyone saw coming but nobody cared because the costume was so laughably bad, it was hard to take seriously. At least Gary Oldman had a metal head, cool gun, weird creature beneath desk, and was over-the-top crazy. Clive Owen is just boring … like the entire movie.
Even really inventive speed chases with really cool visuals really don’t mean much. All I really wanted to see was Cara and Dane get together again. It’s not that I’m a damn sap for a love story (Note: Titanic was watched for various reasons, not related to the doomed romance between Leo and Kate, from two classes of society, two countries, and a doomed fate against a bittersweet James Horner soundtrack)
It really was the only interesting thing about the film. They were not as dull as other reviewers allude to. I would have rather watched them do a normal mission together. If an asteroid or say … iceberg hit their spaceship on the way, it would have made more sense than whatever the plot of Valerian was.
Movie Rating: 4/10 space station capsules
Special Guest: Sarah “Tin Foil” Zant (Went on 2.5 dates in 2004, so not quite a ex-girlfriend, but she still texts me twice a week, in fact, for 10 years I thought her last name was Zon, which really was the only reason I said yes to her as she rang me up at Blockbuster video because anyone with Zon as their surname was automatically destined to be a mastermind of some sort)
Did you know Cara and Dane are actually delivering an Oscar worthy performance? Few know the true backstory, but Cara actually began researching for this role when she played Margo in Paper Towns. Luc Besson had already secretly sent her a red envelope with an invitation to star in Valerian. You see, Margo is actually Sgt. Laureline. Hold on … take some deep breaths. If you watch carefully, there is a clear reason why the movie begins during the same time as Paper Towns. She was specially selected and pulled forward in space time to save the future. Margo was always a flirty, mysterious wanderer and there is no better job for that in the galaxy than the special police division. This is why she had to ditch High School and leave town. It was time for her time teleportation. In Paper Towns, Nate Wolff plays Quentin Jacobsen, also a boy with zero personality and appears to lack acting skills. People immediately confuse Dane DeHaan’s performance as also lacking all characteristics of quality acting, except, when you carefully consider Dane is merely replicating what Margo would want subconciously, the boy across the street who she left hanging with shitty clues, you understand the mastery at work. This is a subtle and thoughtful performance. There is deep psychology against the impact of space-time we are working with. If you watch the moment, scene, and style in which the final proposal happens, and you actually put together the clues, you’ll get it and you might shit your pants. Only charlatans would think Valerian is a spiritual sequel to The Fifth Element when its actually a sequel to Paper Towns, but Luc Besson isn’t going to dumb it down for everyone. He wants his masterwork to be watched in the year 3001.
The Zant Rating from The Zant Files: 100/100, simply a masterpiece