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Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets also known as “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” “Valérian et la Cité des Mille Planètes,” “Valerian y la ciudad de los mil planetas,” “Valerian e a Cidade dos Mil Planetas,” “Valerian - Die Stadt der tausend Planeten,” “Valerian e la città dei mille pianeti,” “Valerian i grad tisuću planeta,” “Valerian i miasto tysiaca planet,” “Valerian ja tuhande planeedi linn,” “Valerian si Orasul celor o mie de planete,” “Valerian ve Bin Gezegen Imparatorlugu,” “Valerian és az ezer bolygó városa,” “Valerianas ir tukstancio planetu miestas”

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Sci-Fi Action Adventure Adaptation
2 hr. 17 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 21, 2017 (wide—3,400+ theaters)
DVD: November 21, 2017
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Relevant Issues
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a population ripe for revolution

mysterious “wise” men who discreetly pull the strings of society from behind the scenes

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Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer

Are we alone in the universe? Answer

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Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer

questions and answers about the origin of life

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Featuring: Dane DeHaan … Major Valerian
Cara Delevingne … Sergeant Laureline
Clive OwenCommander Arün Filitt
Ethan HawkeJolly the Pimp
John Goodman(voice)
Rihanna … Bubble
Rutger HauerPresident of the World State Federation
Herbie Hancock … Defence Minister
Elizabeth Debicki … Emperor Haban-Limaï (voice)
Kris Wu … Sergeant Neza
See all »
Director: Luc Besson—“The Fifth Element” (1997), “Léon: The Professional” (1994), “Taken 2” (2012)
Producer: Luc Besson
Virginie Besson-Silla
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Distributor: Distributor: STX Entertainment. Trademark logo.
STX Entertainment

Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline are partners whose roles are to maintain peace and order throughout many galaxies. More specifically, Valerian and Laureline work for the human federation that is part of the larger intergalactic community.

During one of their assignments, Laureline and Valerian are instructed by the Commander (Clive Owen) to retrieve, from an invisible world (that can only be seen with special glasses), a strange creature known only as a Converter—a small creature that can swallow anything and, eh, produce copies of the object (such as diamonds), as well as a rare pearl from an extinct planet called Planet Mül. The events behind the planet’s extinction are at this point unknown.

After successfully retrieving both items, Laureline and Valerian make their way to the city, Alpha. Alpha, you see, is home to millions of creatures from a variety of different planets and galaxies that coexist peacefully with one another. While guarding the Commander during a meeting with the Grand Council (consisting of representatives from each of the races that live in the city), the briefing room is attacked by survivors from the extinct Planet Mül (who somehow have been able to keep themselves hidden in the city of Alpha). The Commander is kidnapped. It’s up to Laureline and Valerian to find the him and protect the galaxy—all while unraveling the mystery of the incident that led to Planet Mül’s destruction.

“Valerian…” tries to be a lot of things—an action, drama and romance film, all is one. As such, I found myself getting frustrated as I tried to follow the plot. Yes, the special effects are incredible, and the performances are pretty good (except for Rhianna’s performance—I really wasn’t impressed). But, as I’ve stated in past reviews, a film with a plot that is either confusing or too thin, irregardless of its use of effects—apparently over 2700 special effects were used—will likely leave the viewer wanting more and elicit heavy criticism from both movie critics and viewers alike. Granted, there are times when you can go to a film and simply go immerse in the special effects and CGI (e.g., the “Transformers” movies), but then there are also times when you go to the theater wanting something more.

Objectionable Material

Nudity and Sexual Content: One scene involves prostitution, and many prostitutes are seen in “Paradise Alley.” The couple converses with a pimp (Ethan Hawke). There is an uncomfortable, unnecessary scene, where Valerian enters a strip club and watches an exotic dancer alien-creature, known as Bubbles (who shape shifts into a human female), pole dances and morphs in and out of other sexually-suggestive outfits. The Pearls (male and female) wear very little more than loincloths, and their clothing is very revealing. Laureline wears revealing outfits for most of the film, including a bikini. The design of her armored suit emphasizes her breasts. Valerian frequently flirts with Laureline, and they kiss at various times. A computer monitor displays pictures of Valerian’s many past sexual partners. There are many sexual references and comments.

Violence: Very Heavy—pushing the limits for a PG-13 film. Most of the violence consists of Laureline and Valerian shooting aliens and robots. Soldiers are shot and killed in extensive action sequences throughout the film (one at the film’s end has an especially high body count, and the audience sees numerous dead bodies). Another scene involves a Pearl being tortured by the Commander during an interrogation (we don’t see the torture take place, just the resulting marks on the Pearl). There are also some lengthy space battles, one that leads to the destruction of an entire planet.

Language: Moderate—h*ll (3), d*mn, a** (2), sh*t, pr*ck, a** (2)

I walked into the theater full of optimism about “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Sadly, it wasn’t the film I thought it would be. As I said, it lacked something, whether it was a coherent and well-structured plot or perhaps a need for some improved performances. I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that the film is NOT for kids, but probably relatively safe for teens and adults (please use discernment). Due to the content concerns, and general filmmaking quality, this film does not warrant my recommendation.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—The sexual tone of this film took me by surprise. I guess I thought it was geared more for the teenage crowd, but the content was decidedly more adult. I heard a comment made about this movie that it would have been better if the two main characters had been taken out completely, and I can’t say I disagree. Interesting film, impressive visuals, but mostly passable.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Jonathan Rodriguez, age 33 (USA)
Negative—Interesting movie, interesting concept, and entertaining enough to watch through. I agree with the main reviewers morally objectionable observations, but one important thing was not mentioned, transgenderism is being normalized/promoted in this movie, though in a subtle way. The chief of The Pearl’s is a male sex but they gave him a female voice. Also, the spirit of the chief’s daughter being in a male character’s body is yet another subtle transgender promotion. Also, Bubbles is almost a personification of the whole transfluid concept. I am quite surprised this is not pointed out or was overlooked.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Daniel, age 31 (USA)

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Movie Critics
…a mangled quest… When Besson's strenuous diversion calms down long enough to let the audience enjoy the good stuff and the bad stuff equally, then “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” plays like jolly, overstuffed camp. …The story is wanting. …
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…a dazzling spectacle… nothing special in the plot department. Think of it like a dinner banquet where the host serves dessert first and keeps on serving it… [3/4]
Peter Howell, Toronto Star Newspapers
…“Valerian” is a rave in space (but not much fun)… greater emphasis on visual panache than on feeling or coherence…
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…looks great, but that’s about it…
John Serba, MLive Media Group
…a beautiful bore…
Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington post
…a fan project, in the best and worst ways… Luc Besson is in love with the world of Valerian—but not the characters…
Adi Robertson, The Verge
…Too bad Valerian himself is such a dud. Written as a kind of cocky intergalactic lothario, Valerian ought to be as sexy and charismatic as a young Han Solo… seems incapable of playing the kind of aloof insouciance that made Harrison Ford so irresistible. Despite holding the rank of major, Valerian looks like an overgrown kid…
Peter Debruge, Variety
…“Valerian” may be bursting with imagination, but it has no soul. The dreadful banter between Valerian and Laureline starts out corny, and becomes downright excruciating as the story progresses. …
Dani Di Placido, Forbes magazine
…Rihanna is the only good part of “Valerian”… Valerian is weak sauce. And so is this movie. …[1/4]
Sara Stewart, New York Post
Comments from non-viewers
Neutral—Thank you for your review. This movie looked good to me and my kids, but I was wary of the rating. We will pass on it. Thanks.
Andrea, age 44 (USA)