Valerian is at times so mind-meltingly beautiful and strange that I’m still not sure I didn’t just dream it all.
“Valerian” manages to be both cutting-edge and delightfully old-school — the kind of wild, endlessly creative thrill ride that only the director of “Lucy” and “The Fifth Element” could deliver, constructed as an episodic series of missions, scrapes and near-misses featuring a mind-blowing array of environments and stunning computer-generated alien characters.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets might well represent the apotheosis of Besson’s singularly loony brand of filmmaking. It’s bonkers and gorgeous and confusing and thrilling and tiring and overflowing with ideas.
The first 25 minutes of this movie should be mounted as an installation at the Louvre and played on an infinite loop. Only then can our planet know peace.
E. Oliver Whitney
The latest from the French filmmaker is a dazzling feast of spectacular visuals and exhilarating set pieces. It’s Besson’s most ambitious film to date, and the most original big-budget adventure you’ll see on screen this season. But such ambition doesn’t always come without flaws.
Even if the movie is based on an existing property, a beloved French graphic novel, as a producer and designer, Besson should be lauded; ‘Valerian’ is out of this world. But next time, he might want to reread the comic for its characters, checking the little word bubbles to see if there’s actually something there.
Twenty years after The Fifth Element, writer-director Luc Besson has once again delivered a widescreen, sci-fi spectacle full of rampant whimsy, lavish effects and creaky social commentary, resulting in a nervy, go-for-broke opus whose audacity is more laudable than its execution.
During the film’s intoxicating first 30 minutes, for example, I couldn’t decide whether what I was watching was brilliantly bonkers or total folly. Then, as the story went on, it came into sharper and sharper focus: Valerian is an epic mess.
New York Daily News
It never stops for a minute, yet it never goes anywhere. And much as it promises to take you to a thousand planets, it can’t find one sign of intelligent life.
The Hollywood Reporter
At no point along the way does the film provide a reason to invest your interest in any of this.