Until now, Cara Delevingne’s biggest role was as the Enchantress in “Suicide Squad.” She was, quite frankly, as awful as the rest of the movie.
She’s great, however, in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” where she and Dane DeHaan star as intergalactic government agents a few thousand years in the future. They stumble upon a criminal conspiracy that threatens to destroy a vast metropolis where every alien species lives in harmony.
It’s just as fun — and messy — as it sounds.
Why should you care: Luc Besson has a $200 million budget to make a crazy space movie.
Not every space epic can be “Star Wars.” But if there’s any reason to trust “Valerian,” it’s because it’s from director Luc Besson, – whose filmography includes fascinating, fun films like “The Fifth Element” and “Lucy.” The source material — the classic French comic “Valérian and Laureline” — is strong, and Delevingne (Laureline, two of the planets are her eyebrows) and DeHaan (Valerian, pretending he’s Keanu Reeves) bring their A-game.
What’s hot: It’s a really fun space movie.
Sci-fi movies nowadays are usually planned as series. The first entry is always bogged down with world-building and origin-explaining, so they seldom have time for a real story. “Valerian” isn’t like that. The relationship between humans and aliens, the space government and its criminals, are made pretty clear without too much exposition. That gives the movie time for amazing action set-pieces, like a crazy chase scene that takes place while the characters travel between different dimensions.
It also doesn’t take itself too seriously. DeHaan and Delevingne know their lines are often corny, but they deliver them with the confidence of movie stars. Their performances don’t get lost in the action around them.
What’s not: The movie starts falling apart in the second half and there’s a terrible Rihanna cameo.
The first half of “Valerian” is as original and fun as anything Luc Besson has ever made. The second half lurches toward self-parody with bone-headed, atonal creative decisions that I won’t spoil here. It also includes Rihanna in a clunky (and blessedly brief) role as a shape-shifting alien stripper with a heart of gold. Her dialogue is so bad that it’s like “Valerian” slips into a B-movie parody of itself.
The bottom-line: It’s fun, but have tempered expectations.
The movie is worth it alone for Delevingne and DeHaan fighting space crimes and to see Besson’s funky, imaginative sci-fi concepts and alien designs. Just be aware that the movie goes a little off the rails by the time the ride is over.
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” hits theaters on Thursday.
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