Now, that's not the hugest
deal. It mostly just feels annoying within the context of all other Hollywood casts feeling dominated by white men. It happening in the film is fine, it's its place in the grand scheme of things that I take issue with.Ah. Interesting. I'm certainly not bothered, and never have been, by the 'dominance' of white men in roles for such films. First because I don't watch enough of such films, and second because I live in Europe and I'm simply used to seeing white people everywhere. I wonder how my opinion would differ if I were from somewhere else in the world where there wasn't such a white majority...?
I get where you're coming from (as I love when an organisation representing all nations has all sorts of people in it, and reminds me of a Disney film), but it feels artificial to me to 'create' an ethnic variety. I think it's just something that occurs with me when I think on a conscious level: "Oh, we have to have diversity!" is not something I think would should have to 'think' about. Frankly, I'd like it if stuff like this was something people didn't think about, but if you're going to do what feels natural, then it's natural that white males will create white characters. (depends on the person, but the familiar tends to be more natural)
And then it cycles back to the problems with over-saturation.
Quick thing, while the comic is named after BOTH protagonists, the movie's title bills only Valerian. And it's not like this movie isn't about Laureline that much; she features pretty heavily and is very arguably the more fun and interesting character.Despite this being less than comprehensive research I feel compelled to note that it's gone by many names, the majority of which do not include Laureline. I know for a fact that the Portuguese versions mention only Valerian in the title. Not particularly strange for this to be.
Further digression: while I don't know much about the original comic, I DO know that Laureline was, in that comic, a peasant from 11th century France time traveled into Valerian's time. Alas, while a fish-out-of-water subplot might've been interesting, they do away with that for the movie, or at least never mention that. But anyway.Interesting...
The trouble with Valerian as a character is that he's one of the WORST people in the entire movie. He shows little respect for his partner (and lover?) Laureline, and while he talks about how much he appreciates her, he doesn't act like it very consistently. He says he'll only work with his partner, yet so often tells her to stay behind while he goes ahead to do stuff.I don't find that to be inconsistent behaviour. I find that to be the behaviour of a guy who wants to be with someone but doesn't want that someone to get hurt.
Unfortunately, this is also highly connected to the idea that, being a man, he feels he has to protect the woman. I don't like to think about in those terms, but I can't deny that it may convey that message.
In that sense, I think it'd be interesting if those roles were reversed...
One time, they're both acting as I think bodyguards for a commander. They're just supposed to stand behind him in a meeting room, but Valerian tells Laureline to wait out in the empty hallway. For no really discernible reason. He doesn't mention her needing to stand guard, after all. And if that was important, you'd think at least ONE other person would be there too! Maybe some bodyguards for the other delegations at that meeting, representing all the species on Alpha station? Though apparently they feel safe enough without bodyguards, because the only soldiers and officers there are human ones. /shrug/ That last bit's really just an oversight in the scene, I guess.Putting aside the fact that only the commander of the whole... station(?) ended up getting such bodyguards, are you sure he didn't mention needing to stand guard? It's highly possible I have a bad (actually, it's good) habit of automatically filling in gaps with my most logical assumption, but I came off that scene believing one of them had to stay outside (due to protocol and making sure nothing suspicious happened outside the room), and it was just a case of Valerian insisting on her being the one.
Valerian does it again near the end of the movie. They're about to go through a portal with some aliens, and Valerian tells Laureline to wait outside and call backup. Laureline, in my opinion justifiably annoyed with Valerian's treatment of her, says that he should call for backup while SHE does something for once (her line is actually kind of similar to that, seriously), and goes through. Valerian... does NOT call for backup, and just goes in with her. So... they didn't really need backup after all?They're both rather gung-ho individuals most of the time, but yes, I agree that there was one logical course of action to take here and Valerian didn't want her to go in alone, ditching the logical course. Again with the whole not wanting her to be hurt but/and wanting to be with her.
And that's just ONE example of Valerian being a lousy dude. At one point, when Laureline's been kidnapped and needs rescuing, Valerian needs to recruit this shapeshifter pole dancer/stripper alien in order to infiltrate the bad guy camp. It's not important how this works. But when he goes to find this alien, she starts her dance... and he just watches
. For some FIVE MINUTES, I think, while Laureline is just kidnapped, possibly in danger, who knows how long she has to live! I guess Valerian's all "well, that can wait for now while I enjoy some pole dancing."
And when he FINALLY talks to this alien about helping him, he doesn't ask politely, but by pointing a GUN at her head and threatening
her. And this is just a civilian! Why didn't he just start
with that if this is how it was going to end anyway? But no, I guess Laureline has to wait while Valerian... does his thing, or something.Whilst I will agree that Valerian was needlessly enamoured with the pole dancing, and that the sense of urgency was killed here, I feel you may have missed something in this scene, or I may have imagined something.
The 'pimp' insists that the people who go in disarm themselves. Then, once the pole dancing is over, Bubble approaches him and goes ever closer... whilst behind Valerian she was slowly trying to touch him with her normal self. What was this?
When I consider that the 'pimp' had, right before this scene started, said something that I can only recall as "I hate this part" (or just the opposite -- something that emphasised what was about to happen), I watched the scene as Bubble being used by the 'pimp' to kill/kidnap or whatever the people who came into his shop. Hence the disarming just earlier.
Which is why Valerian ends up pulling the gun just before she touches him with her tentacle thing on the back of his head.
Or so I ended up concluding as I watched.
At the end of the movie, Valerian and Laureline are now on the side of the nearly-extinct aliens, now knowing the truth of the situation, and Laureline's about to give them this alien rat-thing that will help them recreate their world. Again, not important how it works. But Valerian stops her, pointing out that the rat-thing was confiscated by the government and is federal property. Laureline rebukes him for this, and Valerian says, "I'm a soldier. I follow the rules."Except
, at the beginning of the movie, during the mission where he confiscated this rat-thing from a crime lord, Valerian ALSO stole some magic-pearl-thing from the crime lord's client. And he just took it, it wasn't part of the mission, and he kept it a secret after that. So... so much for following the rules? Plus, that pearl-thing he stole? It actually belonged to the nearly-extinct aliens I mentioned earlier. He almost doomed their people.I understand the hypocrisy. I think of such things as a matter of "By stealing this pearl from a dirty crime lord I am in no way harming the King and country, and therefore not really violating their rules, if they even have rules for this sort of thing.".
Furthermore, I can understand your stance here, but! Before his interference, the nearly extinct alien species had just been betrayed, and were on path to their doom regardless. Not only did he give them a chance, he could not have known, at the time, of the consequences of his actions.
However, this is ultimately irrelevant. Both parties in that negotiation room were actively undermining the government Valerian works for. They stole the replicator from the government, and the government got it back. The nearly-extinct race was already doomed by the government to begin with.
I'm sorry, but there is absolutely no way in which I can be convinced that stealing a pearl he saw in his dreams from a crime lord was particularly out of line or contemptible behaviour.
In other food for thought: Let's say the trade did go off successfully. Replicator for pearl. Then... what? That was the only pearl, meaning the nearly extinct aliens can now do nothing with it! ...I'm assuming I misunderstood the trade and they actually promised the crime lord a bunch of pearls after they had gone home and replicated them.
Also, because he took extra time to steal that pearl, Valerian ends up taking too long on the mission. Because of this, the crime lord is able to mobilize fast enough to kill the mission crew
sans Valerian and Laureline. Obviously Valerian didn't mean to do this, but if he hadn't stolen the pearl, his crew might've lived.As I understood it, the problem was that his arm thing failed to change dimensions as intended, having malfunctioned, meaning he was now a susceptible floating arm which I think he didn't even realise until he was spotted.
I did not think this 'coincidence' was at all connected to the pearl.
And I know Valerian grabs the pearl because he saw it in his dream, but still, he behaved selfishly, and people DIED because of it! And he later tries to claim he can't return the rat-thing to the aliens because he "follows rules."Because it belonged to the government.
He immediately returned the pearl he had taken from the crime lord when he learnt of the circumstances.
Near the beginning of the movie, Valerian sticks some gunk to a little alien kid's face, just to amuse himself! In fairness, this alien kid got that gunk on Valerian in the first place, and intentionally, but he's young enough to only know one word, so Valerian's reaction seems a bit harsh.Eh... Let's just say I have no problem with this. At all. You got gunk on my face? Well, have a taste of your own medicine.
Age matters little here, and it should even help the kind understand why not to do that to people.
My own crazy mother used to lightly bite me as I child when I hurt my younger sister by biting her, so I'd understand what not to do.
And all of this would be fine if the movie was clear about how awful a person Valerian was. If it made Valerian look like a complicated dude; a man who would save the world, but was still messed up. But it just doesn't
. Valerian is unabashedly drawn up as a hero. He seems to be fairly well-regarded as a major, enough for the Federation minister to overlook how he's taking too long (and apparently ask NO QUESTIONS about the crew they met up with all being totally dead). He's a ladykiller, with tons of sexual conquests (enough for his "playlist" to take up a wall when displayed). And Laureline is CONSTANTLY sticking her neck out to save him and help him, and ultimately is in love with him.I see where you're coming from, or maybe not, because for me it's the opposite. Valerian is chock full of character defects. I actually appreciate how the film doesn't spend its time with a sermon on how he's got a bad personality, but neither does it go out of its way to paint such traits as a good thing. He is, for example, in constant conflict with Laureline because of these defects.
His competence as a major is well regarded, but not much else, or at least I got that impression from how people reacted to his cocky attitude.
As for the Federation Minister, I was actually more annoyed at him. "Oh, you're ten minutes late!" "Sorry, I just had to perform a top secret mission with every chance of going wrong and fight my way through hordes of criminals and guards."
It's very much a case of, from his point of view as a minister, these "on terrain" details don't really matter, and he just waits results. "Oh, they died? We'll dispatch a new team then."
(I will also take a moment to mention just how much I liked the way he went into a panic/OCD every time somebody drove a vehicle badly)
So... Valerian, who doesn't really change TOO much by the end of the movie (besides being convinced to give the rat-thing to the aliens and save their people), is considered by the movie to be a hero. Even though he's... pretty awful.Yes. People have a thing for conflicted anti-heroes and so, but I love my heroes to be complete pricks that have just enough of a sense of morals to actually be the hero.
From my point of view, his main change over the course of the film was understanding just how important his love was to him, and how to respect her more, for the sake of their relationship. (i.e., I'll take risks with the government for you)
Laureline is MUCH better and more fun and interesting, though there's also problems surrounding her. My first problem with her is how much she loves Valerian; when she's in trouble, she calls out for him, and she escapes from military custody in order to find him and rescue him early on in the movie. If she just ditched Valerian, this movie would be WAY better.Hmm...
It's at this point I realise that what 'would make the film better' is different from 'this makes no sense and has no justification', which is more or less how I've been replying to these. When you bring up this point, I can't exactly tell if it would be better, but it very well could.
Regardless, I will continue to explain why I have no issue with the developments as they took place.
Laureline being in love with Valerian is but another example of how love can try and bind you to bad people, and influence you badly, and cause you to have stupid emotions and take stupid actions you absolutely wish you hadn't on retrospect.
However, there's an issue Laureline and Valerian share. They're both REALLY violent. And I know that violence is par for the course in an action flick, but... it kind of goes pretty far. Let me put it this way: in the first action sequence, the bad guys trying to stop Valerian don't shoot to kill. They shoot magnetic spheres at him that just slow him down and incapacitate him; (some of) the bad guys are non-violent
(though other ones, like the crime lord and his thugs, are VERY violent).
Compare that to our heroes. When Valerian needs the help of that shapeshifter alien stripper, he puts a gun to her head. When Valerian needs a gun, he freeze-rays a random station police officer solid and never goes back to un-freeze him. When Laureline is buying information from three unarmed and harmless-looking civilian information brokers and they press her for more money (money which she IS capable of giving them), she shoots one of them in the shoulder and threatens to kill one.
In the finale, when Laureline and Valerian have the Big Bad captured, while Valerian fights his mooks, Laureline... punches him in the face over and over again. Completely serious
. And I have no
idea WHY. They have enough evidence to arrest him, and the general later does, so they didn't need a confession. Laureline just beats the dude up (for a second time that day) for... no real reason I can think of.I have already explained my interpretation of the Bubble scene.
Ah, that guy. It looked to me like he mistakenly thought he might be pursued by the government for heading into the forbidden zone and then coming back. Which is why he non-lethaly stopped that guard from sharing his location (he was in an urgent situation of saving Laureline and could not afford to be brought back to base/be interrogated -- later contradicted by watching the whole pole scene as if he had all the time in the world), and took the opportunity to steal a gun. (the guard spotted him first, I believe? Or maybe we don't know that)
Whether or not it really was non-lethal and whether he would come back to normal on his own is up to speculation, however.
Why do you believe she was capable of paying them at that point in time? I did not get that impression. I do agree that being violent is a character trait of hers, though, one I did not think Valerian shared. And I love Laureline for it, despite it being obviously cartoony and aggressive.
Kiiiinda undermines the whole scene about Bubble's backstory, if you ask me. With the right hand, the movie tries to show how DEEP and MEANINGFUL and CURRENT it is by being serious about prostitution and how many involved are victims of human trafficking and coercion. With the left hand, it gleefully takes your money in exchange for parading that character in front of your for five minutes (while Laureline is in danger, might I remind you!).I'll admit I don't see how.
She does her work as a prostitute, and when the pimp can no longer control her, and Valerian tries to make her trust that he means no harm in truth, she reveals the reality of the situation, a reality Valerian had already presumed.
But then again, you may have noticed by now I'm not even close to being the most sensitive of people in such matters, and could not care less about the delivery of the scene.
I so badly want to find a reason as to why Valerian watched the show, like how he initially stressed this isn't what he was there for, but I guess he got to dazzled by her moves to have an sense of urgency.