It's a war in the stars for a whole new generation. The long-awaited Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets follows the adventures of a daring duo in a galaxy far, far... well, you get the picture.
Adapting the French comic series to the big screen has been a lifelong dream for director Luc Besson, who admits making this film would not have been possible 20 years ago.
But with the new moviemaking technology and a massive budget, Valerian brought the stunning landscapes and space colonies to life.
“It's 2,000 people working for 7 years,” said Besson.
A rigorous audition process secured the lead actors, Dane DaHaan and supermodel thespian Cara Delevingne.
Besson says he tortured Delevigne with acting assignments, like forcing her to pretend she was a tree.
“It was full-blown drama school stuff,” said Delevigne. “It was really, really fun, though. And it made me realize how important it is to trust a director and to really give them everything you have because you've got to put yourself in their hands.”
“I said, ‘Let's work a little bit.’ And she thought it was going to be, like, half an hour and it was six hours, in fact,” said Besson. “And I push her, push her, push her, because I need to know if I can count on her or not… The depth. Can she cry? Can she laugh? Can she switch from one to the other in ten seconds?”
And as far as DeHaan’s role went, he had to get into peak physical condition as well.
“Yeah, it's a really physically demanding role,” said DeHaan. “There were some days when the physical challenge was like running a marathon. So, it was necessary for me to show up early every day and put in a couple of hours in the gym before I headed to set.”
The film's most surprising performance comes courtesy of pop star Rihanna, who plays a morphing alien with emotional depth.
“When you met her, you know,” said Besson. “You know that you can press a couple of buttons and it's going to come.”
“Being blown away by this incredible world that he's creating out of his own brain. He's crazy,” said Rihanna.
And in a refreshing twist, the female action star does just as much butt-kicking as her male colleague.
“It reflects reality. People save each other, whether it's a man or a woman, or whatever partnership someone has. It's equal,” said Delevigne. “And that's what this movie really depicts.”
If this quirky sci-fi flick rockets to box office success, there could be many more adventures to come.
“I wouldn't mind my life being taken over by Valerian, to be honest,” said Delevigne. “I would do it again and again and again.”
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is rated PG-13 and opens July 21.
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