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Luc Besson
Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevigne, Clive Owen
Writing Credits:
Luc Besson

Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify a marauding menace and safeguard the future of the universe.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 137 min.
Price: $42.99
Release Date: 11/21/2017

• “Citizens of Imagination” Documentary
• “Enhancement Pods” Featurettes
• Still Gallery
• Trailers
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets [4K UHD] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 20, 2022)

20 years after he produced the cult hit The Fifth Element, director Luc Besson created a spiritual sequel. While not a direct continuation of the 1997 film, 2017’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets feels like a flick in the same sci-fi vein.

Set in the 28th century, Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work as part of a team that helps keep intergalactic order. For their newest assignment, they go to Alpha, a massive city that expanded from a space station to become home to thousands of alien species.

In this setting, a mysterious force threatens havoc that could damage not only Alpha but also the whole universe. Valerian and Laureline need to get to the bottom of this menace before immense damage occurs.

While it doesn’t compare to Fifth Element, Valerian manages to work – sort of. While I think it feels like a mess, it presents a mostly entertaining mess.

I admire the visual ambition of the film and Besson often creates intriguing alien worlds, but the visual effects for these lifeforms tend to look terrible. I never vaguely believe any of them actually exist, as they all feel like the computer creations they are.

DeHaan and Delavingne seem competent in their roles but they share little chemistry and never elevate the thin parts that exist on the page. While they don't hurt the film, they don't help it either.

Much of the time it feels like Besson made a vague reworking of Fifth Element. As mentioned at the start, Valerian really comes across like a strong cousin to the 1997 movie, and they share more than a few plot elements too.

I wouldn't call Valerian an actual remake of Fifth Element. However, they're too close for comfort.

The story really is a mess, though. Valerian needs a long scene toward the end to explain everything to us, and that's a major flaw.

I can accept "wrap-up" sequences like that in mysteries because it's part of the fun for the viewer to try to piece out the elements as they appear. That shouldn't have been the case with Valerian, where it often seems awfully unclear who's doing what to who and why.

The movie comes across largely as a nearly random collection of sequences that kinda sorta point in a particular direction but it's unclear what that direction is until they explain everything at the end.

All that and a ridiculously pointless appearance from Rihanna!

Even with all those problems, I find some entertainment here - more entertainment than such a flawed movie had a right to deliver, indeed. It's a movie that fails to live up to its ample potential but it's still a solid "C+".

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The Dolby Vision image appeared pretty great.

Sharpness seemed excellent. At no point did any issues with softness materialize. Instead, the movie looked nicely detailed and concise.

I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed absent. Print flaws also never reared their ugly head, as the movie seemed clean at all times.

Like most modern movies, a sense of teal and amber dominated. However, all the alien settings allowed for a broader selection, so expect a good variety.

Whatever the palette at the time, the movie demonstrated tones that looked lively and rich. HDR added dimensionality and impact to the hues.

Blacks seemed dense and firm, while shadows felt clear and smooth. HDR brought range and depth to whites and contrast. This became a terrific presentation.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Valerian also worked well, as the movie presented a engaging soundfield. Not surprisingly, its best moments related to the mix of action scenes, as these helped open up the spectrum pretty nicely.

Otherwise, we got good stereo impressions from the music along with solid environmental material. The latter reverberated in the rear speakers to positive effect, and some unique action material popped up there as well.

No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was always concise and natural, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed bright and lively.

Effects showed good distinctiveness, and they offered nice low-end when appropriate. All of this created a strong sonic impression that made the movie more involving.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the ? Both offered the same Dolby Atmos audio.

The 4K’s Dolby Vision picture provided the expected upgrades, as it seemed tighter and more vivid than the Blu-ray. Expect a solid step up in quality.

As we head to extras, we find Citizens of Imagination, a 59-minute, four-second documentary. It includes comments from writer/director Luc Besson, producer Virginie Besson-Silla, comics creators Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, VFX producers Ben Pickering and Sophie Leclerc, VFX supervisors Francois Dumoulin, Philippe Rebours, Wayne Stables, Martin Hill and Scott Stokdyk, senior VFX supervisor Joe Letteri, animation supervisor Paul Story, production coordinator Paul Cheyne, on set layout supervisor Duncan Blackman, art director/concept artist Olivier Martin, associate VFX supervisor Peter Nofz, and actors Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Tonio Descanvelle, Laurent Ferraro, Doug Rand, Alain Chabat, and Clive Owen.

“Citizens” discusses the source comic and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, various visual design choices, sets, effects and stunts.

I wouldn’t call “Citizens” an exhaustive view of the film, as it leaves out a mix of domains. Nonetheless, it brings a nice overview of the production and gives us a good mix of insights.

14 Enhancement Pods featurettes appear, and these fill a total of 35 minutes, 58 seconds. Across these, we hear from Story, Besson, Hill, Pickering, Rebours, Blackman, Stables, Owen, 4D Max’s Louise Brand, costume designer Olivier Beriot, and actors Louis Leterrier, Rutger Hauer, Sasha Luss, Pauline Hoarau, John Goodman, Kris Wu, Aymeline Valade, and Aguendia Fotabong.

The “Pods” get into cast and performances, various effects, sets, creature design, and costumes.

Given the format, one shouldn’t expect the “Pods” to bring a coherent look at the flick. Nonetheless, they flesh out various topics well and add to our understanding of the production.

In addition to two trailers, the disc includes a Photo Gallery called “The Art of Valerian”. It shows 48 concept paintings for the film and offers a nice compilation.

The package also provides a Blu-ray Disc with the same extras. That disc opens with an ad for The Circle. The BD also allows you to watch the “Pods” as a branching feature during the film.

With Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Luc Besson bites off an ambitious sci-fi action flick in the style of his earlier Fifth Element. While Valerian manages some entertainment value, it lacks coherence and becomes too much of a mess to really succeed. The 4K UHD boasts excellent picture and audio as well as a few informative bonus features. Valerian does enough to merit a look, but don’t expect greatness.

To rate this film visit the prior review of VALERIAN

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