As a writer, director, and producer, Luc Besson has dabbled in a variety of genres throughout his career, with frequently acclaimed results — but for fans of the filmmaker’s more visually striking flights of sci-fi fancy, it doesn’t get much better than 1997’s colorfully zany The Fifth Element
. He’s back in outer space this weekend with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
, the $200 million realization of Besson’s lifelong dream to adapt the French comic series Valérian and Laureline
into an eye-popping spectacle about a pair of space-time travelers (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) on a mission to secure the future of the universe. And if spectacle is all you’re looking for, this definitely delivers; critics say that whatever its flaws, Valerian
delivers on the visual front, with colorful spacescapes and countless aliens (including one played by Rihanna
, whose scene-stealing appearance left several critics lamenting its brief length). Unfortunately, reviews describe a much more muddled affair on the narrative front, further compounded by DeHaan and Delevingne’s failure to match the vividness of their eye-popping environs with their own somewhat stilted performances. There’s plenty to see here, warn the pundits, but it’s best enjoyed if you can disengage your brain.