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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: all the trailers and commentary from Luc Besson’s sci-fi flick

Luc Besson’s latest science fiction film is an adaptation of the classic French comic book Valérian and Laureline. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets follows the titular Valerian and his partner Laureline as they race to protect an interstellar city known as Alpha, which is home to thousands of aliens from across the galaxy.

Follow along for all the trailers, news, and commentary for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

  • Aug 1, 2017

    Andrew Liptak and Shannon Liao

    The French comics behind Luc Besson’s Valerian imagine a messy, exciting future

    Image: Cinebook

    Luc Besson’s latest film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, is clearly the culmination of a long-simmering passion. Besson has talked at length about how the comics that served as his source material were among his only avenues of entertainment in childhood, and how he became addicted to them, even though they were only released at the rate of two pages a week. While his movie adaptation stumbles over characters and plot, it does excel at capturing the look and feel of the world created in those French comics.

    Valérian et Laureline was created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. The pair grew up together, and they began creating comics in the mid-1960s. Christin says he and Mézières steered toward science fiction because there weren’t many such comics in France, and the genre was extremely popular overseas. The pair also wanted to write about an unconventional character, and they wanted an outlet to comment on French politics of the time. “I despised all those things and I yearned,” Christin recounted, “like so many people from my generation, for change.”

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  • Jul 27, 2017

    Megan Farokhmanesh

    Before Valerian was an outrageous movie, it was an odd, ambitious anime

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the latest sci-fi epic from Luc Besson, had far more humble beginnings than the silver screen. It started out as a series of French comics called Valérian and Laureline that launched in 1967 and wrapped in 2010.

    Besson has talked at length about his love for the series, especially its heroine Laureline, and it inspired some of his 1990s hit The Fifth Element. In the comics, Valerian and Laureline are “spatio-temporal” agents who travel through time and space solving problems, like the title character on Doctor Who. Unlike her Cara Delevingne live-action counterpart, the comic version of Laureline is a peasant from 11th century France who winds up becoming Valerian’s partner after saving him.

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  • Jul 27, 2017

    Megan Farokhmanesh

    Valerian is The Fifth Element’s perfect spiritual successor

    Valerian still
    Image: Europa Corp

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ arrival in theaters, the same year as The Fifth Element’s 20th anniversary, feels like cosmic karma. Luc Besson directed both films, and his late-1990s cult classic has a lot in common with the new celebration of his favorite childhood comic. Both are colorful takes on a science fiction future filled with fantastical creatures and brawling heroes.

    Besson has said he will never make a Fifth Element sequel, and there’s a lot to be grateful for there. It’s hard to imagine that the original film’s charming kitsch would translate well on modern screens. Bruce Willis plays a retired special forces soldier, now stuck working as a taxi driver with a flying cab. After Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich with Cheeto-orange hair, plummets into his ride in the greatest wedgie-suit of all time, the two embark on a quest to save their world.

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  • Jul 26, 2017

    Charles Bramesco

    Valerian is the ultimate argument in favor of CGI

    Image: Universal Pictures

    The most thrilling scene in Luc Besson’s stupefyingly ambitious new science fiction opus Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets takes place inside a giant metaphor. Protagonists Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) have been tasked with retrieving a McGuffin from an alien junk dealer whose storefront happens to be located in an alternate dimension. Through the use of virtual reality-style gear and miniportals resembling old-school boomboxes, they’re able to reach through the membrane of reality and into the world layered on top of their own. The ensuing chase straddles the line between thrilling and silly, cross-cutting between Valerian hustling through a bustling marketplace in the mirror-plane, and dodging invisible bullets through a vast desert back in his own dimension. 

    It’s easy to imagine Besson staging this sequence as an analogue in defense of Valerian’s CGI-heavy digital filmmaking. At the interdimensional bazaar, Laureline and Valerian move just like actors in a greenscreened world, physically existing in a real space while simultaneously projected into a manufactured one. And while Besson good-naturedly jokes about the limits of the mediating equipment — wondrous as these portals are, they’re still prone to go on the fritz like any other gizmo — he reinforces its awe-inspiring potential over everything else. Like his characters, Besson was on a mission that couldn’t be accomplished without leaving the physical world. Inside and outside the movie, the transportive magic of technology makes previously impossible things possible.

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  • Jul 26, 2017

    Tasha Robinson, Natt Garun and 1 more

    How close are we to building Valerian’s virtual Big Market?

    In Luc Besson’s science-fiction fantasy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, one of the major action sequences takes place in a space called the Big Market. It’s a sort of hyperdimensional mall where tourists show up in busses to strap on VR gear and wander around in a desert, while virtually experiencing a promised 1 million shops. Valerian’s Big Market has some technology that we aren’t likely to achieve anytime soon. It isn’t just virtual reality: the stores exist in a different dimension, and shoppers can access their purchases instantly by yanking them through a dimensional portal at the checkout stand. But apart from instant delivery, most of the market could be adapted to real-world virtual reality technology, and in that sense, it has some interesting potential.

    The Big Market is essentially an Amazon-style one-stop space that brings everything together for consumer convenience. But unlike Amazon, it could potentially let shoppers see the actual size, shape, colors, and quality of the things they’re buying, and could let them browse more efficiently in product-filled spaces, instead of clicking from page to page. That seems like something sellers might want — the chance to turn the dying American mall into a tech-enhanced purchasing paradise. But would buyers want access to a Big Market? Can we make one, and should we?

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jul 20, 2017

    Bryan Bishop

    Director Luc Besson on designing his wild space opera Valerian, and why he’s tired of superhero movies

    Universal Pictures

    Luc Besson is in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, looking at pictures of frogs, and he can’t stop giggling.

    The French filmmaker behind movies like The Professional and The Fifth Element is explaining the creative process behind his new film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It’s a visually stunning space opera that brings the classic French graphic novel Valérian and Laureline to life with Besson’s usual stylistic flair. And when it comes to some of the movie’s dozens of creatures and alien races, the inspiration lies in the photos he’s scrolling through on his iPhone, including a bird with a rainbow spray of plumage, and a frog with eerie translucent skin.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Jul 20, 2017

    Adi Robertson

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a fan project, in the best and worst ways

    Europa Corp

    Writer-director Luc Besson encapsulates the soul of his latest movie, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, in its first three scenes. The film opens on a sweeping, centuries-long history of Alpha, a space station that’s grown from a near-present-day base into a chaotic floating city. Then the story jumps to an extensive sequence on a bright paradise planet of willowy, iridescent humanoids, about to suffer a cataclysmic fate. The forgettable title character only comes in after all this is over, and he’s introduced almost grudgingly. From the start, Besson’s priorities are clear: he loves this vast, complicated future world much more than he loves the man who’s supposed to be its hero.

    Valerian is based on the long-running Franco-Belgian comic Valérian et Laureline, which chronicles the exploits of two time-traveling “spatio-temporal agents” and freelance adventurers. In Besson’s film, Major Valerian (played by The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Suicide Squad’s Cara Delevingne) are a pair of non-time-traveling special agents in the 28th century, protecting the interests of humanity and order. When they’re sent to retrieve a rare animal with remarkable powers, they start a chain of events that unravels a political cover-up, revealing old sins that threaten the future of Alpha.

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  • Jun 1, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    39 science fiction, fantasy, and horror books to read this June

    I have a confession to make: I like books. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s followed this monthly list, but I don’t mean just reading them. I’m fascinated by the form of a book, the book as a technology, and an object that’s changed how we transmit information from one person to another.

    Recently, I came across a really interesting book put out by the Library of Congress: The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. It’s a history of the card catalog, and it proves to be a really interesting look at not only the system itself, but also the history of public libraries in America. Plus, there are lots of really gorgeous pictures of catalog cards, which makes this book a delight to flip through if reading about the history isn’t your thing.

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  • Watch the new trailer for Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

    Europa has released the first full trailer for Luc Besson’s upcoming science fiction film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, showing off more of the movie’s wild sci-fi world.

    We got our first look at the film back in November with a dazzling teaser trailer that introduces the two main characters, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne). This new trailer shows off more of the story, revealing that the duo is sent to Alpha — the titular “City of a Thousand Planets” — to help save the city from an unknown threat that could destroy it.

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  • Nov 10, 2016

    Andrew Liptak

    The first trailer for Luc Besson’s Valerian promises a dazzling space opera romp

    A teaser trailer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has arrived, and it looks as though it’ll be 2017’s most amazing-looking thrill ride through space.

    Based on a series of French graphic novels Valérian and Laureline, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the latest film from Luc Besson, who’s best known for The Fifth Element and Lucy. The film will follow Valerian and Laureline, a pair of government operatives who are sent to the city of Alpha on a mission that will help save the human race.

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  • Jacob Kastrenakes

    May 12, 2015

    Jacob Kastrenakes

    Luc Besson’s next movie is his biggest sci-fi film since The Fifth Element

    Luc Besson started dabbling in sci-fi once again with last year's Lucy, but his next film will really be his big return to the genre. Besson announced on Twitter this morning that he's started work on an adaptation of Valerian, a French comic series that's supposed to be a mixture of space opera, adventure, and time travel. It focuses on a man and woman who are able to warp through space and time, doing so as part of a group that's meant to protect Earth and other planets.

    The full title of Besson's film is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It'll star Cara Delevingne, who'll soon be appearing in the film adaptation of John Green's Paper Towns, and Dane DeHaan, who played the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Besson is aiming for a 2017 release, with work beginning at the end of this year.

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