The final trailer for the forthcoming—and oddly named—Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has exploded onto the internet today. Whereas previous trailers focused on the film’s dripping quirkiness set to The Beatle’s music, this most recent trailer puts the story’s epic stakes front and center. There’s no flirty joking here, and the primary dialogue comes from a dramatic female voiceover highly reminiscent of Lady Galadriel’s narration in the Lord of the Rings’ opener. Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Lucy) really hopes to portray the events of the movie as having galactic importance to this 28th-century society.
Crammed with countless, colorful explosions, the movie appears to be shaping up to look like a comic book brought to life. Honestly, the CGI—while excellent—could never be mistaken for “realistic.” Every time human characters come onscreen there’s something of a disconnect, as everything else in the movie seems covered in a shiny, videogame-y sheen. Surely this won’t seem so jarring over the course of a full-length film, but when the look of the film comes across as so fantastical, it leads one to wonder why they didn’t just make the full leap into Avatar territory and make the entire thing CG. After all, Valerian is the single most expensive French film ever made, and its $180 million budget certainly approaches the cost of that other movie starring freaky, long-limbed aliens.
All that to say, the action does look incredible, and while Cara Delevingne’s recent turn in a CGI spectacle, Suicide Squad, largely involved rhythmically gyrating while channeling vague “witch powers,” Dane DeHaan’s last foray into comic book territory was the vastly underrated Chronicle, in which his exceptional acting injected real emotion into a film that otherwise divided critics.
There’s enough here to be cautiously optimistic, but until the thing actually hits theaters, we’ll have to settle for mind-melting space battles and underwater chase scenes with echoes of The Phantom Menace.
Check out the final trailer above, and throw Luc Besson a bone and check out the film on July 21.