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City of 1,000 Planets

A movie adaptation of a French comic

Australian movie release date: 10 AUG 17.

Luc Besson, the filmmaker behind The Fifth Element, Lucy and Leon: The Professional, has been trying to make a movie adaptation of French comic Valerian and Laureline for years and after a long time in development, it has finally made it to the big screen.

In the sci-fi, Dane DeHaan plays womanising federal agent Valerian and model-turned-actress Cara is his partner Laureline, and together they travel through time and space on missions given to them by the government.

They are called to Alpha, the city of a thousand planets, to identify and eliminate the dark force growing within the metropolis - but all is not what it seems.

It takes a while to get to that central plot as we first follow the inhabitants of the planet Mul as it is hit by outside forces and destroyed, and then follow Valerian and Laureline as they recover a precious item from Mul from a marketplace in a different dimension. These sequences are entertaining and showed real promise; the problems hit once they reach Alpha.

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Once there, the plot doesn't really go anywhere and we simply follow Laureline getting Valerian out of trouble and vice versa and scenes seem to happen for the simple reason of being visually astounding, such as Rihanna's cameo as shapeshifting alien Bubble, which looks cool but is completely unnecessary.

The duo eventually turn their attention to the dark force, but by this point viewers may have forgotten what's going on or haven't become invested in the outcome.

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Besson, who has created a visually stunning world, spends far too long trying to make a romance happen between Valerian and Laureline but it feels contrived and unconvincing as their relationship is poorly written and they have barely any chemistry. Their flirty banter was quite nice in the beginning but Valerian proposes the idea of marriage early on so it's just too much; their possible romance needed developing much more first. The script really needed some work on these conversations, which had the potential to be uplifting and fun but were unbelievable and quite ridiculous.

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Clive Owen, who plays their Commander, hams it up as the stock villain, Ethan Hawke is in it for about five minutes as a pimp, and Rihanna's cameo was enjoyable but it is unlikely she did most of her acrobatic dance routine. DeHaan was supposed to be this playboy maverick but this characterisation dropped away pretty quickly and he was just a generic blockbuster pawn, just like Laureline was a stock strong female character. Despite those limitations, Delevingne delivers her most entertaining and captivating performance yet.

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