This one's from the extraordinary visual imagination of Luc Besson; you might remember him: the chap who brought us the brilliant Fifth Element many many years ago? So if nothing else, Valerian and the City of the Thousand Planets would be a treat for the eyes. And it was a treat for the eyes; unfortunately, it was pretty much nothing else.
Okay, in terms of scope, artwork, imagination and attention to detail, then this is something of a masterpiece, especially when you think that the movie was made outside of Hollywood. The scenery is breathtaking, the aliens are inspired (though some of them did look as if they'd been recycled from the Fifth Element). If that sort of thing floats your boat (it certainly floats mine) then it's well worth the rather drawn-out two hours and fifteen minutes you'll have to spare to sit through it. But in terms of storyline, script and performance then I'm afraid it misses its mark by a good light year.
The main problem with the film is that while it was concentrating so hard on being the movie equivalent of a catwalk model, it sort of forgot what it was trying to be; it blended action scenes, bits of history with a rambling and uninspired love story.
The plot (such as it was) follows the adventures of Valerian and Laureline, a pair of special operatives sent to save a huge space station, home to untold millions of beings from across the galaxy. The pair are quite smug, clearly in love and I had no doubt that they'd eventually get the whole sorry mess sorted out to the galaxy's satisfaction. The two leads were unbelievable as eventual love interests (and as spies, and as soldiers, and as humanitarians…), and so I lost interest in whether or not they'd eventually get their act together.
Unfortunately, the love interest side of things kept forcing its way through to the front of the screen in a rather awkard and unconvincing sort of way, made worse by some rather bad acting and some really terrible dialogue. There were points where I wished someone would just turn off the sound (and maybe the screen). And who was going to believe that this chap was an officer in some galactic army? He looked about fifteen years old!
But on the plus side, the storyline just about held itself together, with the help of some dodgy physics and alien powers that helped explain how the whole thing had kicked off in the first place. Still, at the end of it, you did have the sense that someone was trying to get you to look the other way so you wouldn't see the plot holes in front.
So did I enjoy it? From a visual perspective, then yes, very much so… but as an actual movie? No, not a lot.
A generous four out of ten. Stunning to look at; I just wish it had been better.