In 1997 Luc Besson brought us the thoroughly bizarre and truly memorable sci-fi action-adventure The Fifth Element, a film notable for (among other things) giving us the unforgettable team of Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich. In 2017 Besson is returning to sci-fi with the comic book adaptation Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and hopes are high that the director can once again deliver a stylistic masterpiece that will be talked about for years.
Those that have seen the trailer for Valerian, especially the 3D edition, are likely already at least mildly intrigued by what the movie has to offer in terms of visuals. Now we're beginning to get our first looks at the various characters set to populate the movie's colorful, over-the-top sci-fi world and things are getting even more intriguing.
Empire has given us our first glimpse of one of the movie's many alien characters (there will be 200 alien races in total according to the director). His name is Dan Makta and he is an ambassador who works at Alpha Station, the sprawling city where the movie's action takes place - Besson shared some concept images of Alpha Station at Comic-Con in July. Besson calls Makta's Alpha Station home a "city of science and culture" where "everyone is exchanging knowledge." Take a look at the image of Makta:
There isn't a whole lot more detail to relate about ambassador Makta except that he looks pretty amazing, like some sort of deep-sea creature that evolved into a man. With his pale face and deep-set, dark eyes he suggests menace, but since this is a Besson movie, we shouldn't assume that he will turn out to be a bad guy. EuropaCorp is understandably being stingy about revealing too many Valerian details too soon, hoping they can build up a lot of intrigue ahead of the reported $180 million film's July release, so don't expect to learn too much more about this or any other character for the near future. Right now they're just giving everyone a taste of the world the visionary Besson has created.
Besson's The Fifth Element may not be everyone's cup of tea but there's no question it presented a one-of-a-kind cinematic universe and plenty of memorable characters, particularly the opera singing alien Diva Plavalaguna (to whom Dan Makta bears a passing resemblance). Besson's fans are expecting him to once again create a dazzling, fully realized outer space world, and early indications are that Valerian will at least be visually very rich and imaginative.
Will the story live up to the visuals in Valerian? That could be the big question. Some would argue the story doesn't hold up that well in The Fifth Element, but the movie is saved by the images and the performances and the wild moments. Just judging by the early trailers and stills, Valerian will be heavy on memorable images and stylish action. Another big question is whether stars Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan, two relatively untested performers, can bring the same kind of magic to the screen that Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis did back in 1997. Besson set the bar pretty high with The Fifth Element and people are waiting to see if he can do it again with his latest foray into epic sci-fi territory.
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) release date: Jul 21, 2017