Film: Valerian and the city of a thousand planets
Cast: Cara Delevigne, Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer
Director: Luc Besson
Monsieur Besson was the one who gave us the sci-fi adventure ‘The Fifth Dimension’ and his preoccupation with alternate spaces has continued with this adaptation of a French comic book series. Our hero is named Valerian (once, an Emperor in ancient Rome) though in this lovable sci-fi romance, he is an officer in Rutger Hauer’ s Earth’s World State Federation in the distant future, the 28th century to be precise when he and his partner Sgt Laureline (Cara Delevigne) have been dispatched by their boss (musician Herbie Hancock whom your reviewer interviewed in Bombay eons ago) to the desert tourist planet Kyrian in search of converter: not a gadget as you may well think, but a cute, little creature that excreted pearls. Unsurprisingly, the converter is sought for by varied intergalactic beings, including Commander Filitt (Clive Owen)
Good guy Valerian must don special glasses and a small boxy contraption that enables him to enter parallel dimensions in the immense space colony Alpha — aka the titular City of a Thousand Planets. Before they set out,
Valerian had an out of body experience involving an alien species whose native planet Mül was destroyed 30 years before. A small number survived and they also want the converter which belongs to them anyway.
Before and between the frenetic goings on, Playboy Valerian pursues the no-nonsense Laureline who tries to cool his ardour by telling him, “You don’t know what love is.” Laureline has to rescue Valerian a couple of times before he meets shapeshifting songstress Bubbles (Rihanna, ravishing) who joins him in his quest by turning her back on her “master” Jolly the pimp (Ethan Hawke) Needless to say, the action is fast and furious in the film’s run time.
There’s not enough of Rutger Hauer but plenty of humour including the black and campy sort. For e.g., Laureline is forced to take part in a parade offering food to an alien despot who tries to eat her head which is protruding through her wide-brimmed hat. Simply put, Valerian is an entertaining and visual dazzler which makes the film with its themes of love and forgiveness, worth a watch.