We haven’t heard from Besson since the 2014’s Scarlett Johansson thriller, Lucy, but you may know him from La Femme Nikita, Léon: The Professional, and most notably, The Fifth Element. The Parisian filmmaker is set to blow minds next summer with Valerian, a space opera that recalls Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy and just about every other important sci-fi film of the past 40 years, partly because the source material inspired all those works.
The film is based on the French comic serial, Valerian and Laureline, a post apocalyptic time-travel fantasy from late ‘60s written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by his childhood friend Jean-Claude Mézières. Although the cult graphic novel series has gone largely overlooked, it laid the foundation for decades of science fiction to come; its influence is clear in the swashbuckling galactic adventures of Star Wars, the rain-soaked dystopia of Blade Runner, as well as the naturalist space drama of Avatar.
Besson was introduced to the comics at age 10, and eventually hired the illustrator Jean-Paul Mézières to work with him on The Fifth Element. Ultimately, more than just the look of the comics was pulled into the film: Besson’s highly stylized filmmaking mixed with the source material’s sci-fi camp melded into a film that became a cult classic in its own right, turned Milla Jovovich from a model to a movie star, and blessed us with one of Chris Tucker’s best characters ever.
With Valerian, Besson returns to that world on a massive scope and scale. The film has a $180 million budget, making it the most expensive European production ever. No expense was spared for the trailer which beautifully uses The Beatles’ “Because” to great effect. In fact, this is the first time a Beatles master recording has ever been used in a movie trailer.
The cast adds to the blockbuster ambitions and will star relative newcomers Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad), Dane Dehaan (Chronicle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as well as Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke and bad gyal RiRi. A Rutger Hauer appearance will firmly place this movie in the sci-fi canon, provided it doesn’t suffer the same fate as Jupiter Ascending.
The production studio has licensed the first 9 books in the comics series, which means if this movie is successful, we could be in for much more to come.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will hit theaters July 21, 2017. Watch the trailer here.