At the moment, I feel like I’m in an arranged marriage with Cara Delevingne.
I have never actually been in the same room as the model/actress/owner of the world’s most perfect eyebrows, and yet we are continually forced together.
Two of Delevingne’s biggest breakout roles, in Paper Towns and Suicide Squad respectively, were based on source material that I and thousands of other people had devoured for years and were eagerly awaiting to see adapted for the big screen.
Now, Delevingne has popped up in another potentially iconic role in the long-awaited Luc Besson offering Valerian and the City Of a Thousand Planets.
When it comes to Valerian, all the ingredients for a Hollywood hit seemed to have found their way into the mixing bowl. Director and screenwriter Besson had an in-built fan base, thanks to mega mainstream hits like The Fifth Element and Lucy. It featured a stunt casting choice in the form of Rihanna and its lush sci-fi adventure plot made it the perfect antidote to the franchise fatigue of audiences.
Yet, it didn’t set the box office on fire overseas and the majority of reviews have been a tad brutal, to say the least.
Visually, this is one of the most beautifully crafted movies I have ever seen. Besson has truly taken the fantastical galactic world growing inside his head and transferred it to film. This is one movie you definitely need to see on the big screen, and with 3D glasses affixed to your face in order to get the full experience. It’s as close as you’ll ever get to travelling through the universe on a space ship.
But as gorgeous as this film is, it still has a few flaws. Think of it as a Kim Kardashian's winged eyeliner post crying fit.
The movie focuses on Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne), two humans who are part of a special police division created to preserve peace within Alpha, an International Space Station where millions of creatures from different planets live together in harmony.
We first meet Valerian and Laureline when they are alone together on their spacecraft, preparing to set out on their next mission.
While exchanging some witty banter and lounging around on a simulated beach, Valerian decides to put the moves on Laureline. And I'm not talking about giving her a sly wink or suggesting they grab a drink together on a little hipster planet after their shift ends. I'm saying that he grabs her and pulls her down on top of him, all the while purring slyly that he's giving up his wild ways with other women and is ready to be with only her.
I think this opener was meant to be a cheeky way of introducing these two lead characters to the audience. He is the devil-may-care cad while she is a sassy space beauty, but it came off a little inappropriate. After all, Valerian is a major and Laureline is a sergeant.
This makes him her boss... so that little grab and grope scene on the fake beach was straight up workplace sexual harassment. Now, I don't know what kind of Human Resources team is currently overseeing the police department on Alpha, but I feel like they've really dropped the ball on this one.
Unfortunately, neither Valerian nor Laureline experience any real character arcs or growth beyond what we see in that first scene. Which is less about Besson's writing and direction and more about the fact that the movie's leads are not up to the task of carrying a blockbuster of this size.
DeHaan looks like he'd be more at home playing a wayward teen hiding out in his parent's dank basement, than trying to convince us he's the dashing male lead in a space opera. Cara Delevingne on the whole, does not fair a whole lot better. Instead of emitting any actual character based emotion throughout the movie, she continues to scowl into the camera like an entrant on America's Next Top Model trying to impress Tyra Banks.
All in all, Delevingne pretty much based her character on Grumpy Cat... which I don't think was the right creative choice for her to make at this time.
(Or maybe they just couldn't get the real Grumpy Cat to agree to taking this role. Say what you want about that socially anxious feline, but his appearance fee is astronomical).
The rest of the plot follows our emotionless due as they endeavour to recover their kidnapped commander and encounter a refugee alien race that was thought to be extinct.
Cara Delevingne's character also goes through a series of truly unfortunate events as the movie unfolds. At one point, she is caught by an alien fishing rod while standing on the edge of a cliff fondling an iridescent butterfly, and later on almost has her brain devoured with a side of lemon by a creature that could be mistaken for Jabba the Hutt's second cousin.
Neither of these moments are capable of eliciting any real terror or concern from the audience however, since Delevingne's face does not register any sign of emotion throughout these sequences.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the most expensive independent film ever made and when you watch it, you can see all of those dollars coming together to create visually exciting movie-going experience. Its only major flaw is the miscasting of the two lead characters (and their unfortunate workplace sexual harassment subplot...).
But still, it's worth seeing. Now I'm just holding out for a Grump Cat led sequel.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is in cinemas Australia wide today. It is rated M.
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