In my last post, I briefly mentioned how I didn’t like Lucy. That movie where Scarlett Johannson “unlocks full brain potential,” as if our brains are normally just inactive heaps of jelly that slosh around in our skull. Well, that director is back. Luc Besson, whom the trailer humbly refers to as “visionary” for sticking Chris Tucker in a cheetah print dress and attaching a loofah to his head like some sort of bath time rhinoceros (i.e. the best part of The Fifth Element), is now adapting an ancient, French comic series that no American has ever heard of. He will also be selling tickets to see it on the big screen next summer. Initially, my first viewing of the Valerian trailer was one of dismissal. There’s so much cartoon CGI for the eye to feast on, replete with vivid colors and lush worlds that were likely made by a small army of artists and designers in front of computer screens. I like videogames, don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate some nice CGI, but when an entire movie looks like it was made exclusively in green and blue screen studios, it tends to trigger my flashbacks of Viet-Attack of the Clones.
I spent a little time researching into the source material, and there’s a strong foundation for science fantasy in Valerian. I couldn’t get too familiar with the series since Wikipedia had its hand out begging for money again (they must not understand that Trump is president now), but apparently the Valerian and Laureline comic series is one of the most inspirational works in the genre, even having supposedly influenced the original Star Wars. So looking at it again with this in mind… I still see an advert for 4K ultra hi-definition televisions. Really. This doesn’t scream “visionary” to me. This screams “I’m really comfortable with not having to do much in the actual creative process and still getting top billing for the work of countless others who will be packed into the credits like brown people in slums.”
I don’t hate the idea of a cartoon, because that’s what this is – a film with eye candy as its main selling point to lure kids’ butts in theater chairs. But with Disney’s move toward more practical effects and sets in Star Wars, this trailer sets a tone of consequence free adventure stuck in the computer generated ideals of the 2000’s. The giant monsters don’t pose a real threat, the characters aren’t presented with any dimension or conflict, and the laws of physics apparently don’t apply. The last shot in the trailer shows Valerian in the middle of a free fall several stories high, narrowly avoiding the CGI ships zooming around the CGI world before crashing through a tube walkway with enough force to shatter glass, landing on his knees with not a single indication that it hurt. Is he a super person? Does that space suit conveniently also protect the wearer from breaking every bone in their body? No and no, are the answers. It conveniently keeps the script on track. This is a movie about spectacle for spectacle’s sake, to say nothing about the characters or the story other than “it looks cool.”
What the plot will be about is anyone’s guess. I’m guessing intergalactic Jerry Springer Show. My original idea was that it’ll be about a terrifying, parasitic life form that attaches to the faces of Valerian and Laureline, compelling them to engage in summer blockbuster nonsense. Then I realized that was just their eyebrows. Speaking of which, the casting seems rather curious. Cara Delevingne didn’t “wow” anyone with her role in Suicide Squad. In fact, the only “wows” that film generated were followed by “Jared Leto really needs to stop talking like that,” and “Suicide by firing Squad doesn’t sound like a bad option.” I don’t know what it is with Luc Besson casting models as the lead female parts in his science fiction, nor do I understand why he loves making the most ugly aliens in science fiction. And why Rihanna is in this film at all is a big question mark that needs to be addressed. Though she could never match him, her crazy blonde hair leads me to believe that she is a callback to this fabulous creature: Luc Besson has some explaining to do. As for me, I think I’ll watch this movie if I happen to sustain some blunt force trauma to the head sometime between now and July.
Hype Rating: 2 Hypes out of 5
(end of all parts)