It's very easy to say that something is unlike anything you've ever seen before, especially since it's very rare that something (especially a major motion picture) can be all that different. But after watching the trailer for Luc Besson's upcoming sci-fi extravaganza "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," it's very clear that the movie, which opens next summer, will be unlike anything you've ever seen before.If you've never heard of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," you've still probably been exposed to it (at least tangentially) -- the French comic books that the film is based on (Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin) are said to have influenced George Lucas when he was crafting the "Star Wars" series. So, you know, there's that. Based on this teaser trailer, though, it's a lot more outrageous, wacky, and fun than anything George cooked up.
The trailer is brief and mostly dialogue-free. There's a truly incredible song backing the action that will probably blow your mind when you hear it, but Besson asked that we keep it a secret (for now). But pretty much from the very beginning your jaw will be on the floor. This movie looks like it crams an almost incalculable amount of science fiction-y stuff in it: robots, aliens (dozens of different species), monsters, glittering futuristic cities, spaceships (the main characters' signature ride was designed with the help of Lexus), characters running on beams of energy, different planets, and, of course, ray guns. There's one shot that's looking down towards the city and I swear to god there are flying carpets zooming past. (For those wondering, the majority of the visual effects were split between Weta and Industrial Light & Magic.)You get a sense of the playful, almost-romantic banter between intergalactic peace-keeping agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), without ever getting into the narrative nitty gritty. And almost as eye-popping as the various aliens, spaceships, and robots, is an appearance by a positively radiant Rihanna, who as we all know is so perfect she might as well be an android.
At the end of the tease comes a very delicious tag line: "A universe without boundaries needs heroes without limits." Aaaaaand is it Summer 2017 yet?
After watching the trailer, we mingled with Besson, who was on hand to answer any questions and also to have some wine and cheese with a small assortment of journalist (he's French, after all!) The filmmaker said of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," "It's my dream sci-fi movie." And there's a sense that he has been working towards this film his entire career -- "The Fifth Element," which will be 20 years old by the time "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" hits the big screen, felt like an initial stab at this kind of material. It, too, was inspired by French comic books (Mézières was often cited) and had a similarly decadent, larger-than-life aesthetic (those Jean Paul Gaultier costumes!)
But it's not just "The Fifth Element" that "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" calls to mind. There's also echoes of the absurdist humor that ran through things like "Angel-A" and "The Family," and the kind of harmonious one-love message of his brilliant "Lucy," which was sort of like Terrence Malick's contemplative "Tree of Life" but remade as a late-night direct-to-Cinemax action movie. And someone from Besson's EuropaCorp told us that the original comic books that inspired "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" have largely informed Besson's entire career, from the way he writes rat-a-tat dialogue between actors to his fascination with a strong female central character.When I asked Besson about Alexandre Desplat's score for the film (which, honestly, seems like an odd tonal fit considering the composer's rather somber proclivities), since it was announced that he would be handling the music shortly after leaving similar duties on "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Besson said he hadn't heard anything yet. "He starts this week," Besson explained. So while things that he had been tinkering with for "Star Wars" could end up in the mix for "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" (and given how long Desplat was a part of "Rogue One," that seems likely), Besson hasn't heard a note.
Besson has secured the rights to nine of the comic books in the series and will have a script for the second film by the time "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" hits screens next summer (a trilogy has been fully mapped out, as of now), so if the movie turns out to be as awe-inspiring as the trailer suggests, there should be a lot more from the franchise coming your way very soon.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, here; for now let's all get really excited about "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets." (Between this and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," Summer 2017 is going to be full of really crazy space operas.)
If two minutes of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" leaves you borderline speechless, imagine what the whole movie will do.