Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets UHD Review

Eye candy 4 Stars

Luc Besson’s movies are an acquired taste, and his most recent, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, is no exception. It’s a great looking movie with enough quirks to make it different from all the other comic book adaptations, but failed to connect with a worldwide audience, nearly bankrupting its studio, Europacorp.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
Released: 21 Jul 2017
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 137 min
Director: Luc Besson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna
Writer(s): Pierre Christin (based on the comic book series "Valerian and Laureline" by), Jean-Claude Mézières (based on the comic book series "Valerian and Laureline" by), Luc Besson (screenplay by)
Plot: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
IMDB rating: 6.6
MetaScore: 51

Disc Information
Studio: Lionsgate
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 17 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, UltraViolet
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 11/21/2017
MSRP: $42.99

The Production: 3.5/5

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne) have been tasked to retrieve a Mül converter believed to have been stolen and is about to be sold on the black market on the planet Kyrian ddep within its multi-dimensional Big Market. The Mül converter is a small animal capable of replicating virtually anything it ingests, and it the last of its kind when the planet Mül was destroyed as collateral damage in a battle that took place just outside its orbit nearly 30 years ago. After a thrilling chase through the multi-dimensional streets, Valerian and Laureline retrieve the converter and head for Alpha, a giant city in space that began hundreds of years ago as the International Space Station. It is there that they turn the converter over to Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen), who informs them that Alpha has been infected with a toxic force that has killed anyone who has tried to breach it and it is growing at an alarming rate. Filitt attends a summit to discuss the issue with representatives from the many area of Alpha, with Valerian and Laureline assigned to him as bodyguards. At the summit, Filitt is kidnapped by refugees from Mül in an effort to retrieve the converter. However, the converter was being guarded by Laureline at the time. Valerian and Lauerline are now tasked to find the Commander and free him, and find out what the toxic force is and who is behind it.

Director Luc Besson is an acquired taste, and I’ve found most of his films that I’ve seen to be, at the very least, visually interesting and often stunning, but sometimes lacking in a cohesive story. He is best known for the films Le Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, and more recently, Lucy. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is his return to science fiction since The Fifth Element twenty years ago, and has been a pet project of his since he was a young boy, reading the French comic books Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières first published in 1967. Besson’s film is visually stunning (I’ll be shocked if it does not at least garner Oscar nominations for Art Design and Visual Effects). Standouts are the opening sequence on the planet Mül, the entire Big Market sequence, and Rhianna’s dance transformation scene, to name but a few. On the surface, the story is an entertaining one. One of the biggest problems is that much of what Valerian and Lauerline uncover is almost all by coincidence or circumstance, not from any real investigative work. It also doesn’t help that Dane DeHaan is badly miscast as Valerian, who doesn’t hold much screen presence here and has very little chemistry with his co-star Cara Delevingne, who is one of the best things in this movie despite not having much to work with. She’s having fun with the role, and it shows in her performance. As does Ethan Hawke’s performance as Jolly the Pimp, a role Besson envisioned for Dennis Hopper (which was Hawke’s cue to the character). Clive Owen does nothing more than growl and bark his orders as Commander Filitt. Valerian may not be a very good movie, but at its core, it is an entertaining and at times odd movie (in a good way).

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was captured digitally on Alexa XT cameras and completed as a 2K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision high dynamic range. Lionsgate’s 2160p upscale includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 (this review is based on HDR10). There is a slight increase in fine detail when compared to the included 1080p Blu-ray, most noticeably in the textures of fabrics used in many of the uniforms and the skin of the armadillo-like Mül converter. Contrast is also improved, with deeper blacks and increased shadow detail, especially in some of the underwater sequences. The major improvement, though, is in the skins of the pearl creatures from Mül, adding a more distinct translucency in their appearance. Colors are also much more vibrant in this UHD version.

Audio: 5/5

The UHD disc contains the same Dolby Atmos mix on the included 1080p Blu-ray, and it is everything one would expect in an Atmos track for a movie of this kind. It is wide and expansive, with precision-placed sound effects in front, behind, and above you (even in a 5.1.2 configuration). LFE is strong, especially during battle sequences, without ever being too boomy. Alexandre Desplat’s score is also more immersive with the addition of the height channels. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout, never getting lost in the mix.

Special Features: 3/5

As with most Lionsgate releases, all of the Special Features content from the Blu-ray edition are also accessible on the UHD version.

Citizens of Imagination: Creating the Universe of Valerian (1080p; 59:04): A fairly extensive look at the making of the film and its origins, viewable as one long documentary or as five individual segments – Paper/Ink/Flesh/Blood: Origins, To Alpha and Beyond: Production and Stunts, It Takes Two: Valerian & Laureline’s Partnership, Denizens of the Galaxy: Humans and Aliens, and The Final Element: Visual Effects.

Enhancement Pods (1080p; 35:58): Fourteen short segments covering various aspects of the production, viewable as one long documentary, individually, or as branching featurettes when activating Enhancement Mode on the 1080p Blu-ray – Alpha Introduction, Princess Lȉho-Minaa, Empress Aloȉ, Destruction of Mül, Igon Siruss, Motion Capture Cameras, Kris Wu Set Tour, Melo the Converter, Peal Guns, Kris Wu 4D Scan, Paradise Alley, Boulan Bathor Emperor, Emperor Haban-Limaȉ, and K-Trons.

The Art of Valerian (1080p): Still gallery of concept drawings.

Teaser Trailer (1080p; 1:39)

Final Trailer (1080p; 1:51)

Digital HD Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy thru UltraViolet retail partners.

Overall: 4/5

Although Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was considered a financial failure ($180 million budget – the most expensive film from France –  and a worldwide box office take of $225 million), it still manages to entertain with its eye-popping visuals and immersive sound design.

Published by

Todd Erwin

author,editor

35 Comments

  1. One of the biggest problems is that much of what Valerian and Lauerline uncover is almost all by coincidence or circumstance, not from any real investigative work.

    Exactly how I felt about the original Blade Runner. But, after I watched it 3 more times, it grew on me.

    Maybe I'll give this movie a chance after all.

  2. I thought Todd's review was spot on. I saw VALERIAN theatrically and was thoroughly entertained despite the film's obvious flaws. I knew I would be ordering the 4K Blu-Ray once it was announced. As Todd noted in his opening comments, Luc Besson is definitely an acquired taste.

  3. RichMurphy

    For some reason, the link redirects to the 2D version. Just go to amazon.co.uk and search for Valerian 3D blu, and it should take you to the correct page.

    Did that. No luck.

    Looking for the 3D/4K combo as mentioned above.

  4. Tino

    Thanks Edwin but that link just brings me to the regular domestic blu Ray.

    Hmmm. OK, that is odd. It goes straight to the Amazon UK page when I click on it. Amazon US must have something in place that re-routes to the US site.

    TJPC

    Apparently this disc is region 2 only.

    Josh Steinberg mentioned, in another thread, that the region 2 information for this disc on Amazon UK is incorrect. The disc is region free. I didn't know that and had ordered the much more expensive steel book version. I decided to not cancel and reorder as I like the look of the steel book better than the regular. Also, the steel book version specifically mentioned being region free.

  5. George_W_K

    I searched and didn't see a 4k/3d combo either.

    I'm pretty sure that is due to it being sold out, so Amazon UK pulled the listing. I had ordered the 4K/3D combo earlier. Then I saw the listing for the 3D steel book which has the same cover as the 4k/3D steel book. I thought I had made a mistake in ordering so I canceled the order about a half and hour ago. My account status said the disc was "on the way" with a delivery date. When I canceled, it said "refund in progress" and "there is no need to return the item", so now I'm wondering if it was already shipped out before I canceled or was still processing.

    Seriously, I have been brain farting over the whole weekend. If my cancellation went through before it was shipped then I pretty well screwed myself as the 4K/3D steel book is presently unavailable with no indication if it will be restocked. 🙄 :angry::(

  6. George_W_K

    I searched and didn't see a 4k/3d combo either.

    I'm pretty sure that is due to it being sold out, so Amazon UK pulled the listing. I had ordered the 4K/3D combo earlier. Then I saw the listing for the 3D steel book which has the same cover as the 4k/3D steel book. I thought I had made a mistake in ordering so I canceled the order about a half and hour ago. My account status said the disc was "on the way" with a delivery date. When I canceled, it said "refund in progress" and "there is no need to return the item", so now I'm wondering if it was already shipped out before I canceled or was still processing.

    Seriously, I have been brain farting over the whole weekend. If my cancellation went through before it was shipped then I pretty well screwed myself as the 4K/3D steel book is presently unavailable with no indication if it will be restocked. 🙄 :angry::(

  7. This is on another thread:

    Steve ChristouLong Member

    Terry, I also have an LG multiregion blu-ray player (not 3D) and it's currently set for playing region A discs. I've popped in the Valerian 2D and 3D discs just now and a message came up saying they are the wrong region code. Not sure if that's any help to you, but who knows some blu-ray players can play all sorts of discs.

  8. As quoted by Terry, HTF member Steve Christou has confirmed that the Valerian disc shows an incompatible region error when he puts the UK disc into his region-free player when he sets it to Region A.

    So it must be locked to Region B. Disappointing. Hopefully an all-region version is released in a different country.

  9. Malcolm R

    As quoted by Terry, HTF member Steve Christou has confirmed that the Valerian disc shows an incompatible region error when he puts the UK disc into his region-free player when he sets it to Region A.

    So it must be locked to Region B. Disappointing. Hopefully an all-region version is released in a different country.

    Play-asia has the Region A Hong Kong discs for around $35 shipped as long as you don't won't the 4K or Steelbook. So far this is the best price for the HK release. Korea/Japan haven't listed an item yet.

    https://www.play-asia.com/valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets-3d2d-2-disc/13/70bpgx

    India may have a region free disc, but nobody has received/tested it yet. Usually the best way to get those are via rahul-and-i on ebay. He sells lots of India releases and ships out of Houston so it's very quick even it not esp cheap

  10. Malcolm R

    As quoted by Terry, HTF member Steve Christou has confirmed that the Valerian disc shows an incompatible region error when he puts the UK disc into his region-free player when he sets it to Region A.

    So it must be locked to Region B. Disappointing. Hopefully an all-region version is released in a different country.

    Play-asia has the Region A Hong Kong discs for around $35 shipped as long as you don't won't the 4K or Steelbook. So far this is the best price for the HK release. Korea/Japan haven't listed an item yet.

    https://www.play-asia.com/valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets-3d2d-2-disc/13/70bpgx

    India may have a region free disc, but nobody has received/tested it yet. Usually the best way to get those are via rahul-and-i on ebay. He sells lots of India releases and ships out of Houston so it's very quick even it not esp cheap

  11. Malcolm R

    As quoted by Terry, HTF member Steve Christou has confirmed that the Valerian disc shows an incompatible region error when he puts the UK disc into his region-free player when he sets it to Region A.

    So it must be locked to Region B. Disappointing. Hopefully an all-region version is released in a different country.

    Play-asia has the Region A Hong Kong discs for around $35 shipped as long as you don't won't the 4K or Steelbook. So far this is the best price for the HK release. Korea/Japan haven't listed an item yet.

    https://www.play-asia.com/valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets-3d2d-2-disc/13/70bpgx

    India may have a region free disc, but nobody has received/tested it yet. Usually the best way to get those are via rahul-and-i on ebay. He sells lots of India releases and ships out of Houston so it's very quick even it not esp cheap

  12. You know, after really wanting the 3D disc, after I see what hoops I’d have to go through to get it, the movie studio and Blu ray company can just Fuck off. I’ll try the $7.99 Walmart dump bin on 6 months for the Blu ray.

  13. I'm with Terry. There are numerous 3D releases out there that include both 3D and 2D options on the same disc. There's no reason the studios couldn't take this route for films that are released theatrically in 3D. There should be no 3D theatrical releases without a corresponding 3D blu release.

    Tens of thousands of 3D displays must have been sold over the years. I find it difficult to believe there's no demand for 3D discs to play on them.

  14. I just rented this and watched it today.

    I appreciate that some folks like this but yikes this was so friggin dull.

    Especially every single moment Valerian was on the screen.
    Who’s idea was it to have him impersonate a young Keanu Reeves as his surfer dude accent

    I’m glad I Redboxed it because I was really close to buying it during Black Friday.

  15. People keep going on about Dehann's performance, when it is perfectly obvious that he is playing the part as a burnt out, bored operative that has long gotten over the idea that anything he is doing is "heroic". Maybe a lot of the problem is that the story in this film isn't an origin story. There isn't a lot of detail about how Valerian (Dehann) came to be an agent or how he and Laureline (Delevinge) came to be partners. This story sort of starts in the middle, which a person may not notice or care about if they are French and are familiar with the comic, since that is primarily who the film was made for in the first place.

    Luc Besson took a regional film global without paying any attention to introducing regionally well known characters to audiences that had little knowledge of who they were. He got blinded by his love of this material in the same way that Jackson got blinded by his love of Middle Earth and we ended up with a turgid, bloated, three part film for a story that should have been done in one film or, at max, two films.

    Be that as it may, I still rather like this film; although, it could have been trimmed and someone should have sat and asked hard questions about whether a lot of the "humour" in the film was really working or not. Also, he shouldn't have been so obvious with his AVATAR influences.

  16. Edwin-S

    Josh Steinberg mentioned, in another thread, that the region 2 information for this disc on Amazon UK is incorrect.

    What I meant to say was that their information is not automatically correct – they will usually put Region B regardless of whether or not it is.

    Tino

    Are we sure the Valerian 3D blu is region free??

    Can someone please confirm.

    It's Region B locked.

Leave a Reply