Based on the popular French comic book series Valérian and Laureline (1967-2010), Luc Besson's long-awaited return to outer space is a madcap explosion of imagination and spectacle that serves up more weird aliens and gimmicks than all of the Star Wars films combined.
Even more so than Besson's previous foray into the genre with The Fifth Element, this vibrant sci-fi blockbuster perfectly captures that uniquely European comic book style and sensibility in a way that Hollywood frequently struggles to do with its homegrown efforts. Add to that a compellingly crazy story with an effective sting in the tail, and decent lead performances from Dane DeHaan and (especially) Cara Delevigne as cocky space agents Valerian and Laureline, and you have an enjoyably psychedelic slice of space opera that really stands apart from the competition.
Unfortunately, the film bombed at the box office, which means that we'll probably never get to see any more of the duo's Barbarella-esque adventures adapted for the bigscreen.
Picture: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets paints the screen with an explosion of bright and richly saturated primary colours. While some may decry this as looking 'fake', it reflects the look of the comic perfectly and makes a refreshing change from the duller tones that characterise the palettes of so many movies these days.
In addition to the superb 2D presentation, this UK release also includes a second Blu-ray housing the 3D version of the film. Despite being converted in post, Besson shot the film specifically with 3D in mind, and it's full of spectacular shots, such as those tracking through a market (Chapter 3), or Valerian's chase through the various areas of the Alpha station (Chapter 6), that really play to the strengths of the stereoscopic format.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: Both presentations of the film feature the same Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and the soundstage it creates is expansive and dynamic, with excellent steering and precise imaging. Our only small complaint is that while height channel effects are convincing, they aren't quite as pervasive as the film content might demand.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: Curiously, the distributor has dropped the branching 'Enhancement Mode' from this UK release, but all 14 of the 'Enhancement Pod' mini featurettes are still available to view independently of the film. Also included on the 2D platter are an hour-long, five-part behind-the-scenes documentary and a gallery of production art.
Extras rating: 3/5
We say: Let's hope that Besson's stylish and imaginative stereoscopic sci-fi flop finds the audience it deserves on Blu-ray.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 3D, Lionsgate, Region B BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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