Arts & Entertainment Editor
The latest sci-fi/adventure to hit theaters, “Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets,” is not just another action and suspense film to hit the big screen. Though the story of Valerian might seem new for American viewers, it has been a European hit since the conception of its graphic novel 50 years ago.
Hitting theatres last Friday, the new movie is based on the French comic, created by Pierre Christian and drawn by Jean-Claude Mezieres. Since the beginning the comic’s name has changed a total of three times, starting with “Valerian, Spatio-Temporal Agent,” then “Valerian and Laureline” and lastly “Valerian”.
The graphic novel was originally published in Pilote, a French comic magazine that printed other beloved European comics. After a 21-volume run, “Valerian” came to an end in 2010. Many say the series is a European milestone for graphic novels, and that it has influenced other well-known Science Fiction films, such as “Star Wars” and “The Fifth Element.”
The series mostly follows Valerian, a 28th century human-agent from the Terran Empire’s Spatio-Temporal Service, and Laureline, an 11th century peasant from France who saved Valerian during one of his missions. Laureline eventually travels to the 28th century to train as a Spatio-Temporal Agent. Afterward, both agents unite as partners – time traveling and fighting crime around the universe.
The movie, directed by Luc Besson, loosely follows the sixth volume, “Ambassador of the Shadows,” which was released in print in 1975. It was the first volume to be published in English. With this as a huge start to bring the graphic novel to the United States, it never picked up popularity, even though publishers tried numerous times.
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” takes place in Alpha, which is not a setting in the comic, but is most likely based on Point Central – a space station holding a thousand planets. Alpha is under attack by an unknown species from the planet Mul, whose planet was destroyed by the people of Earth. Valerian and Laureline go through an extreme adventure to try and make peace with the species from Mul. With this action-packed storyline, follows a sub plot showcasing the flirtatious relationship between Valerian and Laureline. Though this sub plot is not part of the sixth volume, it does put a spin on the original story line.
This movie, though decently long with a running time over two hours, is everything an audience would want to see from a movie adaption of a graphic novel. It contains action, suspense and the cliché love-interest, all while bringing in a serious and fun flare.
The main characters, Valerian played by Dane DeHaan, and Laureline played by Cara Delevigne, brings a youthfulness to the movie that both preteens and adults would enjoy. Their lines were short and punchy, making their on-screen squabbles entertaining to watch.
A third of the way through the movie, a special appearance is made by Rihanna, who plays Bubble – the shape-shifting protagonist. Though Rihanna, is not known for her acting, her seductive role in the film is sure to bring excitement to movie-goers and fans alike.
However, the most stand-out part of “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” was the extraordinary cinematography. It has the same effect one got when they watched “Avatar” for the first time. The vivid colors and constant overload of imagery could make one feel as if they are in a screen-based ride in Disney, where motion simulators make the rider feel like they are moving when they are primarily staying stationary in a seat.
Though “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” set out to be a cinematic blockbuster in its trailer, the theater lacked a huge turnout for only a day after its release. American moviegoers may just not be interested in a story they have not heard before, but watching a few scenes would clear their reservations. Watch “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” to make your own decision.