May 11, 2023

If You Liked That, You’ll Love This: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Just like the “Because You Watched…” lane that pops up on your favorite streaming service, Now Playing Podcast wants to help you find the perfect companion flicks. Each week, contributor Chris Bravo brings you fresh recommends that tie in with one of our reviews.

Look, I loved all three Guardians of the Galaxy movies. James Gunn was able to masterfully weave together a motley crew of strange aliens, put them in colorful, unimaginable space locales, and blend them with tons of CGI monsters. And somehow, the final product was always a heartfelt, humorous, touching film. So really, this week’s article would be better titled, “If You Loved That, You Might Appreciate This.”

Because Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) is not as good as Guardians, not even this third volume. But, and this is a big but, this movie might be worth a watch if you’re into the kind of movie that the Guardians movies are. Because at their heart, the movies are space operas. Hundreds of different alien species, inexplicable technologies, grand and creative CGI, and random humorous bits that will make you laugh a bit. Sometimes I’m laughing at the movie, sometimes I’m laughing with the movie. But I’m laughing.

But what can you expect from the director of The Fifth Element? Luc Besson is known for his ludicrous designs and grandiose visions. And Valerian, perhaps best known as the most expensive European movie ever, is his most grandiose. Trippy aliens, tragically beautiful planets, Rihanna as a goo-alien, and some utterly ridiculous moments of cringe-humor. The two leads, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, suck too much joy and energy from the movie, and their romance is not enjoyable. But watch Valerian for its grand vision and its surprising humor. I think there are nuggets of sci-fi bliss to be found here.

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