I recently saw the much expected movie, „Valerian and the city of a 1000 planets” and I have to say that it was quite an experience. Even before it got into theaters in my country, articles and youtube videos started to appear, saying it flopped the premier box office. I didn’t watch or read any of them since I really wanted to see the movie.
From the moment it started, I have to say, I was in awe. The images from an alien civilization took hold of my feelings and instantly teleported me into that world. I remember I started smiling. It was due to the fact that I was finally seeing the great technology of 3D put to it’s actual use. The world they were presenting was becoming more real with each new scene of a daily routine and the staggering feeling that made me think it was MY daily routine, or that it could be one day.
Before I go any further, I have to say that I am not a fan of commercial movies, and I usualy critique them very harsh. I only watch some of those movies, like the marvel ones, for the childhood memories and with the hope that one of them will at least create a mentionable fictional world in which I can go back whenever I want by dreaming. Most of them disappoint and this is why I felt the need to talk about Valerian, which was for the most part a commercial movie, but nevertheless, it really did it’s job of giving me the perfect experience of a Sci-Fi world.
The two main characters are not something completely authentic. They are the following the main model of comic book heroes but stand out by not pushing too far with the cliches and by oferring a more credible love story. From the begging we are given the sense that this is one of the adventures along a line, not the beginning, not the turning point, not the end. In the same way, the love story doesn’t start as nothing at all and by the end the two of them fall in love, but as a continuous flirtation which expands with the same intensity along the whole movie. This gives a sense of veridicity and we immediately become familiar with the protagonists.
In terms of the plot, it is not mindblowing, but not mindnumbing either. Because of the multiple elements of that world ( the city of a 1000 planets), you never know what to expect and never really know what’s going on – who is lying, who is not, what is the connection between the bits of stories. The agents go through some unique adventures in a not very large space because the city of a 1000 planets means that every place can be accessed from right around the corner.
The visuals play an important part in everything and not just because they’re spectacular but because of the diversity that each planet shows in it’s appearence and it’s citizents. Everyone looks like there are a lot of stories behind them and them alone would take a whole separated movie. There is even an episodic character, a submarine driver, whose every gesture gives you a hint about what his life has been like, and it is everything but ordinary.
Since I saw the movie, I started reading the articles and watching the videos and found out that the reason it flopped the box office was because the public wasn’t familiar with the french comic-book series that it was based on. They hope that in France it will have the success they hoped for. I also learned that the director, Luc Besson, has had the dream of making this movie for over ten years and he waited for the perfect ways to get the huge budget it needed and also for the technology to reach today’s visual capabilities.
Regarding my experience with this movie I can say that this is exactly what I saw, a dream of a wonderful mind that came true and provided my mind with the fictional world it needed to root for in a century of fakes and cliche stories and worlds. The imagery is the movie’s strongest point but only because it gives detail to a big number of different civilizations, which combined with the other elements, the plot and the characters, it makes for a perfect combination of a greatly diversed Universe.