Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Valerian from here on out) is a hallucinogenic science fiction epic that, despite its many flaws, manages to be a fun excursion into outer space.
The Fifth Element is a little like if Star Wars took an acid trip, a rollicking sci-fi adventure with a sense of humor about itself. Director Luc Besson puts most of the film on the back of Bruce Willis, who proves to be a capable action lead, world weary and wry. Supporting him are Ian Holm, Milla Jovovich (giving the role of Leeloo a frenetic energy), Gary Oldman (a lovably hammy performance as the villainous industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg), and perhaps most memorably, Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod, a fast-talking talk show host with wild sex appeal and charisma (fun fact: Prince was the first choice to play Ruby Rhod – a fact which is wholly unsurprising given the performance)
The film is a unique visual experience, featuring a futuristic urban environment replete with flying cars, box-like apartments, aliens both grotesque and beautiful, and an alien opera singer whose musical performance ultimately veers into a strange techno hybrid song that has to be heard to be believed.
While some of the film is problematic (the romance between Korben Dallas and Leeloo is pretty weird and gross when you really get down to it), it’s overall a very fun film.