There's a seedy bar on the outskirts of town -- which, in the sci-fi movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, really means another corner of the galaxy. The club owner, played by Ethan Hawke in a garish and colorful suit, is telling a patron that he has a great show lined up. There's a dancer. She's out of this world. The dancer, facing a light to create only a silhouette, walks across the stage. She's all legs, until she puts down a chair. She straddles the chair, turns to face the camera... and we see that she's played by Rihanna!
Luc Besson brought footage from this recently-wrapped Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to San Diego Comic-Con, and invited CinemaBlend to view a series of rough scenes that gave us a better idea of his translation of Pierre Christin Jean-Claude Mézières' French comic books. The influences that the Valerian books had on everything from Star Wars and Star Trek to Besson's own The Fifth Element, were evident in every frame of footage that we saw. But the sight of Rihanna as a stripper in an alien bar was one we weren't prepared for. Everything about Valerian was eye-catching and visually stimulating. This sequence took the cake.
The reaction out of the Hall H presentation of the Valerian footage was equally intoxicating:
Not that Rihanna was the only cool thing that we witnessed in the Valerian footage Luc Besson brought to San Diego Comic-Con. In my previous write up on the footage shown, I explained how Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) -- the heroes of the piece -- are warriors, and they wear bulky body suits with bright glowing lights that have a Tron-esque effect. We saw Dane in his suit, maneuvering through hallways that looked to be reminiscent of the hallways of the Death Star, or the hallways of the new Enterprise in the rebooted Star Trek universe. We see Laureline using her fighting skills to elude two guards who had her captured, all so she could question three odd-looking alien creatures.
The footage opened up the expanse of the universe in a scene where we saw Valerian and Laureline playfully bantering while piloting a spaceship. This is clearly hard science-fiction, with beautiful galaxy sequences populated by multiple space craft, endless alien species, and creative set design. Not to keep referencing other movies, because Valerian does look very unique, but the footage seemed to rely on the best elements of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Valerian still has time to get us more excited for its movie. It doesn't open until July 2017. But as an opening salvo, San Diego Comic-Con was a great first step for Luc Besson and his next sci-fi adventure.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.