Film Corner: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

I figured since I'm sick and readying for my husband's surgery in a few days, today would be a great day for a #Kissmatewatches! Today's flick is "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" (2017) directed by Luc Besson. I know nothing about this film. I hear it's pretty and the story isn't great. I know it flopped, but for what reason? Badly written characters? Horrible character design? Patriarchal desires to squash a positive feminist or queer film? I guess we'll see!

We start off with the late David Bowie's "Space Oddity" played over a small space station gaining more and more connections and astronauts over the decades until it's more of a space station Lego set put together in the most Frankenstein way. It goes from Americans welcoming other countries to the space station, to welcoming aliens to combine onto the station as well. We see the spreading of time with little year marks and aging/changing of captains. This is the perfect "show don't tell" opening.

After gaining so much mass, the station has to move or it would negatively affect Earth. So it's moved! With little spider boosters! 400 years later, we get a glimpse of life at a BEAUTIFUL planet called Mul. Pearlescent people, beaches, and lifestyle. So far, I love the designs of the aliens! They're colorful, creative, and unique! They're not winning any biology or sociology reports, but the designs and culture choices so far are beautiful and inspiring! Please don't make me eat my words!!!

The peaceful city is caught off guard by dozens of ships crash-landing around it. The largest ship crashes and sends out a wave of fire. The princess, realizing she's dead anyway, gives up her lifeforce to help save her people? It's not clear as next we see is: A man sits up, startled by a bad dream. A woman walks up talking about assignments. He forgot her birthday, and he can't make it up to her in 3 minutes. He goes on talking about how good girls love bad boys like him and she remains stoic the entire time.

Valerian and Laureline both look like teenage cousins being forced to get along for the WASP family reunion rather than 30 year old military officers with degrees and experience. I seriously thought this was Disney because of the main characters' youth! Valerian claims to be a "bad boy" with a highway of broken hearts. Laureline is the straight-laced Ivy League graduate who isn't to be fooled around with.

I feel like they're trying to do a Han Solo and Leia thing, but there's so many problems already. For starters, Valerian looks like a failed Jack Harkness clone sent to American bible study. He doesn't even have the slicked-back hairstyle or a cool tattoo. Just a "playlist" of girls he's played and a never-ending mouth. Laureline refuses to smile or look at anyone without contempt and condescension. The only person she smiles at is the ship's computer, and it's for the BREIFEST of moments. This feels like I'm watching Kristen Stewart being told not to emote all over again.

Back to the plot, the dream of Mul was an external memory sent to Val. But we ignore that for the agents' mission: bring a nearly extinct alien in for secret reasons. We know nothing about the converter, just that it's the only one to exist and Alpha wants it. Early in the mission, Val asks Laure to marry him. Because it'll show he's ok with commitment. She looks more exasperated with the question than royally pissed. That doesn't make it much better and was still kind of creepy? I don't like this romance at all.

We learn about "Big Market", a market in another dimension that can be only touched and seen by special means. And it occurs to me that this movie exists for the wonderful sceneries and settings and not much else. I can be okay with this. Laure takes a guard out and makes him a puppet for another soldier. That soldier had more chemistry with her than Val did.

Val meets with Cooper and gets science fiction thrown at him. I'm trying to figure out the rules here, but I'm getting lost so easily. A deal is going down with two Mul people and Jabba the Goodman. Val slips in and steals the Converter at gun point. The parallel dimension stuff is a little much to wrap one's brain around, but after seeing it in action, it's kind of cool. A guard fires at Val with a weight-increasing metal gun (which is cool). He seems stuck in both dimensions, his arm in Market but him in ours. After a few playful scenes with this idea, he gets unstuck and makes a mad dash with Laure to the "safe point".

There's honestly a LOT of cool and unique ideas that were played with here. It's kind of a shame we're attached to these main characters who are bland and lifeless. Like... This DM is REALLY good at world-building, but has boring NPCs. Can I get a better party? Val and Laure get back to the ship, where they can head to the rendezvous with the Converter. Which is the little animal from the beginning that shed a whole bunch of pearls! I don't know what it does, but it's cute and important!

We also learn that Mul was destroyed 30 years ago and made pearls with MASSIVE power storage. And then Val goes on about marrying her again. She looks disinterested again. Moving on! Now we arrive at Valerian! Sorry, we arrive at Alpha. Valerian sounds like a place, not a person. Again, the setting and aliens are super cool! (Makes me wanna play Subnautica). Wait, incoming ships are "intruders"? The fuck...?

They go in and learn that part of Alpha is becoming more and more radioactive. Because it's deemed as an attack, Val and Laure are told to watch the General. Then we see Laure get the Converter to make more diamonds. And she looks/sounds as if she found toast. If Laure turns out to be an android, I'd be very excited/annoyed. ...Turns out they're torturing the Mul people for info. Also, have military-esque EVERYTHING. Gee, is Alpha the bad guys?

While Laure sits out a meeting, she's approached by 3 alien dodos who speak after one another. They say the expert on Mul was murdered mysteriously and that there are mercenaries who want the Converter (Connie). They're little info brokers as well as translators. I just noticed something: most, if not all speaking parts are given to white people or aliens. I think I saw one or two who weren't that said a few lines maximum. This feels like a VERY white-washed movie, and I'm not happy with that.

An attack occurs, alright! Mul forces burst through the hull and nonlethally take out the whole meeting. Then they take the commander away while Val's little gizmo breaks him out. Been in a lot of nets before, Val? Would be to need laser spiders. Val breaks out Laure and pursues the "Pearls". He runs through several biomes and ends up in his ship, flying after the Commander/General. He winds up in the Dead Zone mentioned from before. Laure isn't happy about losing him so breaks away from the group.

Laure tracks down the dodos. They gets her to Bob the Pirate, who is the best character in the movie. He has more character in five minutes than I've gotten from both Val and Laure in an hour. He knows what he's doing, has done it long, and isn't used to others. Either way, Bob gets us a Jellyfish. The Jellyfish locates Val for us by Laure shoving her head up its ass. This un-tsunderes her and LITERALLY lets her hair down. When she saves him, he's unemotionally available to her. He doesn't even act happy to see her!

The general (who is not the commander, though they look similar) realizes they've been torturing a Mul alien (Mulian? Mulese? Mulur?) and arrives too late to help him. His DNA is found nowhere in the database, meaning it was deleted. How odd that is...? Laure is captured by a butterfly lure and taken to a restricted area. Val goes to "Paradise Ally" to get around the restriction. And I love it? Can the whole movie be in this BEAUTIFUL red-light district of happy queer people? Please?

Val is taken to see Bubble, an immigrant sex worker trying to make ends meet and HI RIHANNA. You were SO underused here! Bubble wraps around him and gets him through restrictions. They barely save Laure in time and even kill the emperor of the space orcs!

Bubble is the best? And she.... She dies from "no longer needed" disease. I am PISSED. Bubble wasn't a random plot tool you could throw away! She was her own person! WHAT THE FUCK?! They got a woman of color to talk up how AMAZING a white woman is and then die! Bubble wasn't just a woman of color, she was an IMMIGRANT woman of color, who was also a captive sex worker! That makes this SO Xenophobic, Classist, and Racist! BUBBLE DESERVED LIFE! Injure her, ok, but she could have LIVED dammit!!! SO PISSED.

We also learned that there's even MORE about Mul that not even the commander can learn. So much red tape that it can't be coincidence, right? The ghost of the princess from the beginning is guiding Val through, helping him find her people. Val finds the Pearls (they call themselves that!) and they tell of their history. After the destruction of Mul, they jerry-rigged a shipwreck and lived on it for years until they reached Alpha, which they lived undetected for years. All they want is a home.

Two things lie between their new home and them: Connie and a power pearl. The commander could give them both easily. One problem: he wants nothing to do with them as he was the one who commanded the destruction of his enemies, and in the crossfire was Mul. The commander erased all evidence because he didn't like genocide on his hands. Val punches him for being an asshole. Then proceeds to be an asshole to Laure for handing over Connie. "I'm a soldier." YOU PUNCHED THE COMMANDER AND BROKE EVERY RULE. NO YOU AINT.

The Pearls are ready to leave, but explosions are ready to ruin their ship. Val and Laure try to talk the general down, but the commander overrides them with the most ASSININE line. "A soldier will always chose death over humiliation." More like a toxic man will. Commander gets his K-Trons to kill all. They almost do, but Val takes most of them out while General and Kris Wu stop the explosion. The explosion is stopped, the bots shut down, and the ship sails off in a hurry. The Commander is even left behind, strung up.

We don't know what happens to the Pearls, just that they're off to the stars. Val and Laure agree to marry, I guess. And then we get a kick-ass song to send us to the credits! FIN. I'm not going to pretend this was an amazing movie. It wasn't. It was a nice collection of ideas in a wonderful world, but the story and characters are both lacking severely. 5/10, worth watching for creative ideas, but maybe watch it in a foreign language.

Seriously, though, I am PISSED Rihanna was underused! Bubble was such a sweet and playful girl, and I'm still pissed she died, but I say she'd make a WAY better Laure! And Kris Wu would've made a better Val! WE WERE ROBBED!


Post a Comment