Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 4K Blu-ray
By Chris Heinonen on
In the 28th century, Valerian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha—an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence, and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
As someone that saw the trailers for Valerian and was hoping for a return to the Luc Besson of The Fifth Element, the film is a real let-down. Valerian is the main character, and he has nothing redeeming about him. He’s cocky, brash, arrogant, and expects to get his way all the time. He doesn’t listen to anyone else, and yet he’s supposed to be the character we support? His partner Laureline is also abrasive and brash, but not quite as arrogant as Valerian. Unlike Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element, who is a bit brash but is instantly vulnerable and charming when he meets Leeloo, you never feel that way about these characters.
The story itself doesn’t offer much to pull you in either. Most of the plot lines and twists you can see coming as it does nothing at all to disguise it. Later in the film, Rhianna appears and does a full 3-4 minute shape-changing cabaret/burlesque dance that exists for no plot purpose other than having Rhianna do it. The film is full of these set pieces that often contribute nothing to the story in the end. Unfortunately, Valerian is a let down after my expectations going in.
Valerian follows the path of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for how to make your HDR images look spectacular: aliens, space battles, dark areas with lots of neon and explosions. Shot digitally at 3.4K but with only a 2K DI, the only downside to the image with Valerian is that it could be sharper. I refuse to give a 2K DI a score of 5.0 since it could be better with the full resolution, but Valerian certainly earns a 4.5. The image is fantastic in all regards, and as soon as we can we will test the Dolby Vision layer as well.
The soundtrack has no issues getting a perfect score as it places you dead center in the action. With most of the movie taking place inside enclosed environments, you hear audio cues from all the Atmos channels. When they visit the market, you are completely immersed in the environment, and later chase sequences do it as well. Vocals are easy to understand, and it easily gets a perfect score.
- “Citizens of Imagination: Creating the Universe of Valerian” Multi-Part Documentary
- Paper, Ink, Flesh, Blood: Origins and Characters
- To Alpha and Beyond: Production and Stunts
- Denizens of the Galaxy: Humans and Aliens
- The Final Element: Visual Effects
- Wrap Up
- Enhancement Pods
- “The Art of Valerian” Photo Gallery
Sony A1E OLED, Sony UBP-X800 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, Power Sound Audio XS30se Subwoofer.
Fantastic image and audio, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for the best AV quality on 4K discs.
The film is a big let-down if you are hoping for something akin to The Fifth Element.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets isn't a great film, but it is a great looking one. If you enjoyed the movie, then the 4K Blu-ray is as good as it will look or sound.