Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ is a dazzling, dimwitted space opera!
Luc Besson was feeling a little discombobulated.
On a recent afternoon, the French director of such films as “La Femme Nikita,” “The Fifth Element” and “Lucy” sat in a Los Angeles multiplex, where he had just introduced a preview screening of his latest movie, the gonzo space opera “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Besson himself was in the midst of hopping around the cities of this planet to promote the film, which opens Friday. Hours earlier, he’d flown in from Paris. The day before, he had been in Shanghai.
“When you’re in the rush of finishing a movie, there are so many things to do,” he said, picking at a plate of cheese and crackers for sustenance. “It’s going to open in 100 territories in the next three weeks, so you have all these things coming from everywhere — in India, the censorship [board] wants to take out one word — and you have to deal constantly.”
Besson has never been one to rest in the same place for very long, anyway. In a career stretching more than 30 years, he has kept one foot in Europe and another in Hollywood, zig-zagging unpredictably among genres, from action to sci-fi to comedy to drama to fantasy — often within the same movie. At age 58, he has racked up his share of both hits and duds. But he has never taken a swing quite as big as the one he’s taking with “Valerian.”