Life beyond the arthouse

It’s time to venture out into the unknown – a place completely foreign to most inner west arthouse cinema-goers – into a multiplex with the largest 3D VMax screen you can find. Go on, try something new. You won’t regret it. And you may even like it…

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Brand-recognition and stellar reviews (largely undeserved) have meant that a bunch of talking gun-toting apes have scooped up most of the multiplex dollars this month, leaving Luc Besson’s (The Fifth Element, Lucy) latest epic floundering. At a reported cost of $200m and France’s most expensive film ever, that probably means ex-model Cara Delevingne won’t again be asked to flounce about in a bikini or squeeze into bulbous black intergallatic combat gear like a 29th century Barbarella. And her companion Dane DeHaan certainly won’t get to be Flash Gordon again. But then, miscast in the first place, he seems to think he’s in some sort of screwball rom-com. That’s the fault of the script and a muddled plot, which has these two, who barely look as if they’re out of school, more intent on exchanging flirtatious banter than saving the galaxy. But oh my, the spectacle! That’s where those millions went, and not a single Euro of it was wasted. Forget about a conventional narrative and characters whose fates matter and just bathe your eyeballs in the most magnificently intricate 3D fairyland and array of cleverly imagined space aliens since the planet Pandora. Some of them are quite sexy. In fact, while we wait endlessly for a sequel to Avatar (just one will do James), go along and treat yourself to this batty visual spectacle, one destined for certain cult status and long, long afterlife on the screen. A cameo from Rhianna, as a shape-shifting burlesque dancer is certifiably insane – easily alone worth the price of your ticket. M from Aug 10. ★★★1/2

Review – Russell Edwards