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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has debuted its first look — and it’s pretty spectacular. Heat Vision‘s Graeme McMillan and Aaron Couch are taking a closer look at the film, which is arguably the most ambitious blockbuster coming out next summer, and which also faces a packed summer full of competition.
Graeme McMillan: I saw sneak footage for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets at NYCC this year, and liked it quite a bit, but I was still surprised by how much I loved this trailer. Part of it is the music — I am a massive Beatles fan, and it uses “Because” really, really well, especially the more it plays around with it — but … it feels surprisingly like Guardians of the Galaxy in a way I wasn’t expecting. The footage I saw in New York felt much more like Star Wars, but there are parts of this — especially the more spectacular visual moments — that feel far closer to the James Gunn movie. This isn’t a bad thing (Who didn’t like Guardians, after all?), but it does makes me wonder if this trailer is intended to sell as much to the people who loved Guardians of the Galaxy as anyone else.
Aaron Couch: I actually didn’t get a Guardians vibe until you mentioned it — I just kept thinking Fifth Element. Luc Besson is one of my favorites. Sometimes you hear a beloved property is being adapted and roll your eyes, but when you hear Besson is doing it, you get excited.
McMillan: The trailer really focuses as much on the visuals than the characters, which might not be the worst idea — Cara Delevingne didn’t really shine in Suicide Squad, sadly — but I love what little we did see of Valerian and Laureline’s dynamic here. Are they lovers, or something else? She seems amusingly disinterested in him as anything other than an accomplice, but he’s unconvinced. Are you buying it? Do you want to see more of these two?
Couch: I’m absolutely intrigued. During a Facebook Live chat about the trailer today, a candid-sounding Besson mentioned that he saw Delevingne for the part after hearing she wanted to transition from modeling to acting — and he predicted that in the next decade she’ll be a top actress in the industry. This is the filmmaker who discovered Natalie Portman — so I think it was more than him just talking up his movie’s star. Suicide Squad was not kind to Delevingne, but this trailer and Besson’s endorsement has got me energized about her involvement.
McMillan: My biggest concern, I admit, is that there’s just not an audience for something like Valerian these days. Something else that the trailer reminded me of was Jupiter Ascending, and that died a death at the box office despite being directed by the women behind The Matrix; is “From the guy that did The Fifth Element” much more of a draw, or are non-franchise sci-fi movies just crowded out of a marketplace that already gets annual Star Wars, irregular Star Trek and multiple Marvel and DC movies every year?
Couch: The big difference between Besson and The Wachowskis is that (fair or not) their post-Matrix track record has people expecting their films to fail even before the first trailer is out. This is a big question mark, but so was Lucy — with people worrying a female-fronted action film couldn’t be a hit (it was). This movie opens two weeks after Spider-Man: Homecoming, one week after War for the Planet of the Apes, on the same day as Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and one week before The Dark Tower. Dear lord, summer movie season is cutthroat and this does have its work cut out for it.
Your turn … rate the trailer:
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival