The Plot: In the 28th Century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defence, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha - an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the centre of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets. Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe (Disc sleeve).
Based on the popular French comic book series, Valerian and Laureline (1967-2010) Luc Besson's long-awaited return to outer space is madcap explosion of imagination and spectacle that serves up more weird aliens and gimmicks than all of the Star Wars films combined.
Even more so than Besson's previous foray into the genre with The Fifth Element, this vibrant sci-fi blockbuster perfectly captures that uniquely European comic-book style and sensibility in a way that Hollywood still struggles to do with its homegrown efforts.
Add to that a compellingly crazy story with an effective sting in the tail, and decent lead performances from Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as cocky space agents Valerian and Laureline, and you have an enjoyably psychedelic slice of space opera that really stands apart from the competition (HCC 280, Xmas 2017).
The video: Valerian and the City of a thousand Planets paints the screen with an explosion of bright and richly saturated primary colours. While some may decry this for looking 'fake', it reflects the look of the comic perfectly and makes a refreshing change from the duller tones that characterise the palettes of so many movies these days.
In addition to the superb 2D presentation, this UK release also includes a second Blu-ray housing the 3D version of the film. Despite being converted in post, Besson shot the film specifically with 3D in mind, and it's full of spectacular shots, such as those tracking through the various areas of the Alpha station (Chapter 6), that really play to the strengths of the stereoscopic format (4.5).
The audio: Both presentations of the film feature the same Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and the soundstage it creates is expansive and dynamic, with excellent steering and precise imaging. Our only small complaint is that while height channel effects are convincing, they aren't quite as pervasive as the film content might demand (4.5).