There hasn’t been much hype surrounding Luc Besson’s upcoming sci-fi pic VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (formerly known as simply Valerian). But after the Lucy director shared three scenes plus a montage from the film to a jam-packed audience in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, you can expect nothing but buzz to surround this movie from now until its July 21, 2017 release date.
To be frank, I didn’t think much when Besson said he was making Valerian. Maybe it’s because my knowledge doesn’t go beyond the fact that it was based on a comic book that I know little-to-nothing about. But when you take into consideration that Besson created the outrageous space spectacle The Fifth Element, it makes sense that he would make a film like this. After his wife and producer Virginie Besson-Silla revealed some stunning concept art of the universe known as Alpha and some of the aliens that populate this realized world, I was starting to take a little more interest.
Then the eccentric Besson decided to show an eager audience a couple of clips from the sci-fi epic. Here’s the logline: Set in the 28th century, Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and his partner in crime Laureline (Cara Delevigne) work as special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe.
Apologetically, Besson prefaced the clips by saying that the special effects are still in progress and reiterated that Valerian is still an unfinished project. The film just wrapped five weeks ago and they still have 10 months of editing to do in order to make the polished project — and with over 2700 special effect shots to be cranked out, this “rough” cut was forgivable.
The first scene was pretty tame, featuring Dehaan’s titular Valeria running through a sort of alien spaceship with Laureline in his ear giving him odd instructions on where to go, but successfully conveying their snarky dynamic. This led to a second scene where we see Laureline in another spaceship in the custody of two big guards. She taunts them and asks why she isn’t handcuffed. They attempt to cuff her and she ends up taking them down Femme Nikita-style.
The third scene serves up more action and a bit of comedy as we find Valerian and Laureline out of their nifty spacesuits and in Coachella garb on a Tatooine-esque planet. They meet a gang of guards — presumably friends – and some sort of MacGuffin triggers an action-packed chase scene with aliens.
The fourth scene has Valerian in a red light district of an alien planet where everyone looks like they are either part of Cirque de Soleil or Barnum and Bailey. He runs into the owner of something called the “Glam Club” (which, side note, I first read as “Clam Club”). The flamboyantly douchey owner is played by the one and only Ethan Hawke and he sets up Val with what we presume is some sort of lap dance. He’s taken into a room with a stage. The lights shut off and a spotlight shines on a figure straddling a chair on a stage — and it’s Rihanna! And she looks like she’s about to perform her own nasty version of Cabaret.
What follows is a high-octane montage of scenes from the rest of the movie that sent chills down the collective spine of the audience. Footage included more aliens, more spaceships, more elaborate worlds and a random shot of Clive Owen. It ends with Valerian busting through the walls of the alien spaceship and we saw him in the beginning. With each room he enters it’s a different dimension and more fantastical than the next and it all ends with a audible BOOM and the title Valerian sprawled across the screen.
If you didn’t have this movie on your radar before, you should now. It’s like The Fifth Element on a narcotic cocktail of speed and steroids. Even Delevigne, who has never seen the footage before today, said that it made her “piss her pants” because it was so exciting. And if that doesn’t amp you up, I don’t know what will.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer