VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS — Review by Susan Granger

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From Luc Besson, the visionary French director of “Lucy” and “The Fifth Element,” comes this $200 million sci-fi fantasy, consisting of an episodic series of missions originating on Alpha, a space station in the Magellan Current that keeps expanding, adding new entities, becoming an intergalactic, multicultural hub. Continue reading
Inspired by a series of ‘60s French comic books by Jean-Claude Mezieres and Pierre Christin, the story focuses 28th century space adventurers, cocky Major Valerian (Dane De Haan) and sassy Sergeant Laureline (British fashion model Cara Delevingne). They’re military-trained operatives and long-time partners, traveling on a spacecraft called Alex, reporting to the Minister of Defense (Herbie Hancock).

After the near-eradication of a peaceful, iridescent beach species called Pearl People, they embark on a mission that takes them to The Big Market, an extra-dimensional tourist bazaar on the planet Kirian, where they retrieve a rare creature, a Mul Converter, the last of its species, that can make copies of whatever it ingests, from a Jabba the Hutt-type black marketer, Igon Sirus (voiced by John Goodman).

Another involves flamboyant Jolly the Pimp (Ethan Hawke), who has enslaved an exotic, shape-shifting “glamapod” named Bubble (Rihanna) in Paradise Alley. There’s sinister, megalomaniacal military Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) and the Doghan Daguis, a CGI trio of furry, fast-talking platypus-like critters who broker information.

Insofar as plot goes, it’s all very confusing. If you’re determined to see this, just to sit back and enjoy the dizzying visual spectacle that Besson created with Weta Digital effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk and production designer Hugues Tissandier.

Rutger Hauer does a cameo as the President of the World State Federation, while French directors Benoit Jacquot, Louis Letterier and Olivier Megaton can be glimpsed as military officers.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is a fast-paced, incomprehensibly futuristic 4, an epic indulgence.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.