Valerian deserves an award for Worst Miscast Lead Ever. Much has been said about the total lack of chemistry between the protagonists, but it simply boggles the mind that director Luc Besson would cast Dane DeHaan as Valerian.
DeHaan may be a fine actor, but he was simply not right for the lead role in Valerian. The flirtatious banter between him and Cara Delevingne's Laureline seems ridiculously fake. DeHaan would be great in the role of a high school nerd, but nobody buys him as a battle hardened special agent in the tradition of James Bond, or a Han Solo-type character who makes the ladies swoon. And so casting him as Valerian may be the single greatest mistake in movie casting history.
Maybe Besson was trying to give his movie a Young Adult vibe. And it does feel a lot like Ender's Game, which is not a good thing. DeHaan seems like a barely pubescent teen, not a man. The romantic sub-plot feels totally out of place. It's just not believable that a blond bombshell like Delevingne would be into an anemic, introverted little dork like DeHaan.
Valerian fizzled at the box office, but it had the potential to be a blockbuster franchise, along the lines of Star Wars or Star Trek. The CGI special effects are spectacular and reminiscent of Avatar. The plot may be a little thin, but let's be honest, Avatar wasn't exactly Shakespeare either.
Valerian is based on a namesake comic book that is wildly popular in France and Belgium. Sadly most American comic book fans don't know what they're missing when it comes to Franco-Belgian comics. French-speaking Europe has a huge and very unique comic book industry all its own, with a very distinct style that, in my opinion, is superior to American superhero comics and Japanese Anime. If you're ever in Brussels, the Franco-Belgian comic strip museum is well worth a visit.
Casting someone like Ryan Reynolds, who proved in Deadpool that he has everything you could ever hope for in a comic book hero, would have made Valerian an infinitely better movie. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt would have made a far more believable Valerian than DeHaan.
Score: 6 out of 10