Valerian: in search of a story

Valerian, directed by Luc Besson, has incredible visuals and reminiscent of many other films of the genre as Star Wars and Avatar. At the beginning of the show, it seems that the French director manages to create a new universe as rich as any other science fiction project. But in the course of the film, his plot and characters gradually cease to be interesting until the beauty of the images are the only things left over. There are very clear reasons for the failure of critics, audiences and the box office.

Luc Besson is one of three directors, along with Jean-Jacques Beineix and Leos Carax, who are part of the Cinéma du Look movement. This philosophy, which received its name from the French film critic Raphaël Bassan, is characterized by films that give preference to wonderful images, leaving the plot aside. These characteristics fall like a glove in the director’s new movie.

Valerian, based on the Valérian and Laureline comic books by the writer Pierre Christin with illustrations by the artist Jean-Claude Méziéres, tells the story of Valerian, a police officer responsible for human security at Alpha, a space station in the 28th century that houses creatures from various planets . The character is a daring and extroverted boy, as well as being in love with Laureline, his co-worker. Everything seemed normal to Valerian until the energy of an inhabitant of the destroyed planet Mül enters his body. Valerian then goes on an adventure that promises to restore the wealth of this planet.

The plot, even if it remembers older successful films, leaves much to be desired. The inhabitants of the planet Mül appear to be Besson’s version of the Pandora inhabitants of James Cameron’s famous Avatar. Just like in Pandora, the inhabitants of Mül live in close contact with an impressively beautiful nature, which gives them what they need to be happy. However, unlike the world created by Cameron, Besson does not give Mül any internal problems, no conflicts. Thus, it is difficult to believe in the existence of this utopian planet, in which the inhabitants dress in clothes very similar to those of ancient Egypt. The result is: when the planet is destroyed, the public feels sad, but not so much as to hope for the return of the globe in the remaining two hours of film.

This focus on the beautiful to the detriment of the plot does not mean that the Cinéma du Look movement does not work. For example, the film The Fifth Element of Besson was very successful using the same strategy. But that production had quite talented and experienced actors like Bruce Willis, and comedians like Chris Tucker, who fortunately kept us from taking the film seriously.

On the other hand, the actors who play Valerian and Laureline, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne respectively, seem to suffer the same problem from the film. They are beautiful actors (Delevingne winning important prizes like model), but that can not load the film by two hours. The comical scenes, without much grace, also do not help. Thus, Valerian is a beautiful movie in search of a story.

(article translated from the original version in portuguese, by Google Translate)

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