Intergalactic disappointment

Story by Margaret Debenport, staff writer

As David Bowie’s 1969 hit “Space Oddity” rang out during the opening scene, I firmly buckled my emotional seatbelt in preparation for the intergalactic roller coaster I had been promised. However, the only time I was thrown around was while zooming in and out of strange atmospheres while watching the movie “Valerian.”

In 2020, The Alpha Space Station was launched into Earth’s orbit. Over the years, new creatures ventured to the station and made peace with humans as they built onto it. Eventually, the station was threatening to crash into our home planet and had to be shot out into the galaxy with all of our extraterrestrial friends aboard.

International space agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are tasked with the mission of saving the Alpha space station from a growing menace, while Valerian had recurring dreams of the destroyed and very top secret planet Mul and their inhabitants, the ‘pearl’ people. In the midst of their messy adventures, cosmic bad boy Valerian was vying for the heart of the kind rule follower, Laureline. Their love story was tiresome, erratic and something the world has watched play out in a movie theatre too many times. The ending could be predicted from the beginning, and the only suspense created was by the colorful universe that surrounded the ultramodern couple.

The highly anticipated film was star studded with huge names like Cara Delevigne and Rihanna, and while their individual on screen performances weren’t lacking anything, the mixed signals sent out from each actor watered down the adventure I had expected.

The French comic was originally written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières in 1967. Director, Luc Besson (“Taken,” “The Fifth Element”), explained at last year’s San Diego Comic Con how he was a fan of the comics as a child and dreamt of creating the movie at 10-years-old when he fell in love with Valerian’s partner, Laureline, and the exquisite worlds they travelled together.

With a budget of $180 million, “Valerian” is the most expensive independent movie ever made, with a huge chunk of it being spent on virtual effects. Although the exquisitely realistic looking creatures partly made up for the weak storyline, the 2,734 visual effects scenes were wonderfully overwhelming but gave me a headache afterwards.

In the end, Besson’s fan creation flopped. The colorful worlds were not heavy enough to level out the wandering story. Although I did enjoy scenes filled with beautiful aliens, I will not be spending two hours numbing my mind on this “adventure” ever again.