‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ review: All sizzle but no steak

Replete with eye-popping visual effects which only amplifies the viewing experience when watched in 3D, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets sadly offers little else. French Director Luc Besson returns to his resplendently grandiose graphical representation roots here but is let down by a wafer-thin plot and an uncompelling performance by the cast. Based on the novel Valerian and Laureline, the movie is an outer space adventure that is aimed to tug at your ocular nerves with visual effects of the highest order. It gets to feel a tad overdone as it limps towards the finale and your eyes start to ache. Although the film opens to the spellbinding landscape of Alpha, a spacial metropolis is soon invaded by the dark forces. The unpretentious way in which our lead pair – Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are introduced, tells us where this is heading. Not soon after they are sent on a mission to retrieve a diamond-pooping reptile “the convertor”, Valerian pops the question to his partner, to which she prevaricates for now. The rest of the movie revolves around all the crests and troughs that our space agents have to surmount to save the planet of Alpha from disintegrating. It is an adventure that is largely underwhelming given the scatterbrained plot that it is woven on. To bring out an effective outer world feeling, Valerian is bustling with a multitude of extra-terrestrial creatures, so much that there are times when you feel like watching an animated movie based on aliens. Some of the creatures shown do not even contribute an iota, but are regardlessly stuffed into the frame to add more gloss. Among the lead pair, Cara carries most of the burden as she makes a good case for herself with a decent show, also occasionally flaunting her slim, sultry body clad in bikini and also in alluring gown. Dane on the other hand, cuts a forlorn figure as if he’s just woken up from a long coma and asked to head down to the studios right away. The less we speak about the supporting cast the better because their exploits are almost trivial. With a whooping $250 million invested in his most ambitious project, Besson manages to manufacture a product that looks attractive by appearance but offers far little else. Its like eating a junk food; it may titillate your taste buds but brings no nutritive value with it. As for the man who has delivered gems like The Fifth Element in the past, Valerian pales in comparison and how. At two hours and twenty minutes, it’s excruciatingly long and harrowing. The stunning visual effects are sadly the only saving grace of this inter galaxy shamble.
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