Disclaimer: I was hosted by STX Entertainment for my honest review of this film. For more information please visit my disclaimers page.
I didn’t know what to expect when I saw Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (STX Entertainment). I had no idea it was based on a French comic book from the 1960’s and that director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element) has been working on it for nearly a decade. Unlike my husband, I don’t read spoilers about movies and like to go in with a fresh perspective and for this film and I’m glad I did.
I must have said “Wow!” at least half a dozen times in the first 30 minutes of the film. Besson, who wrote and directed this film, and his team have created a fantasy world that was so beautiful and real, you could almost believe this place exits.
The film is set in the 28th century and tells the action-adventure love story of Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne). They play special operatives charged with charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha—an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
Besson says he used a highly collaborative process with production designers to get to their most creative side and bring out those unusual ideas.
“What I did is I sent a letter to all the schools around the world, schools, creative schools, like design schools and things. And I said, “We’re going to make a film–a sci-fi.” They don’t know which one. If you want to participate, send a space ship, a world, and an alien. So, we received 2,000 submissions. And I picked up 15.” Besson explains.
The designers were from all over the world and worked directly with Besson on the visual effects to build Alpha. He says likes to use unorthodox filmmaking techniques because he doesn’t have the budget of other sci-fi juggernauts.
“When you start with this kind of film, you have to be very modest because there’s a lot of big huge sci-fi films around called Marvel, DC Comics. So, you have to be humble and say, Okay, how I can get in?” Besson said.
His methods and creativity paid off because the film is unlike any other sci-fi movie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot! They clearly spent a lot of time on the details of each alien, world, and spaceship to create that sense of adventure. And it’s that spirit of adventure that stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne say drew them to the project in the first place.
“I think that’s when I first fell in love with the film is just listening to him talk about it. I’ve never heard anyone talk about something with so much love apart from their own children, honestly.” Delevingne tells me.
Intermixed with the battle to save future society, there is a love story brewing between Valerian and Laureline. Both actors seem to be having fun with their roles and the fun action scenes that come with it. DeHaan tells me he was more than ready to take on the physically demanding role. The actor came into the project with extensive sword fighting experience and quickly impressed the crew.
He says, “The sword fighting–in the movie, I was actually pretty stoked because I went to theater school, and we did an insane amount of sword fighting. And I didn’t think it was anything I was going to actually ever get to use in the real world. So, when I found out there was a sword fight–yes–I remember them being like, You know, you have like two months to learn it. And I was like, Oh no, guys. I got this. And they totally didn’t believe me, and within like three sessions, I totally got the fight.”
One of my favorite parts of my interview with DeHaan was hearing him talk about his new baby. He and his wife just had a girl in April and his face lit up as he talked about it.
“Honestly, it’s this overwhelming like next level feeling of love that I have for this child. When Anna was pregnant, everybody said, Oh, it’s going to change your life. It’s going to be so crazy.” he said. “And I love her more than I ever thought I could love another human being in a way that I’m sure you all understand. But, you can’t understand until it happens.”
Swoon! I was a fan of his before and I am definitely a fan now. There’s nothing sweeter than hearing a man talk about his love for his kids. Besson, a father of 5, says his kids keep him grounded in the often hectic and competitive world of Hollywood. And right now, Valerian is his baby. A baby he hopes everyone will love and enjoy as much as he does.
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS – In Theaters July 21
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu
Directed By: Luc Besson
Screenplay By: Luc Besson
Produced By: Virginie Besson-Silla
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