First time SDCC attendee Luc Besson previewed some early clips from his upcoming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and It. Looks Epic.
The panel, moderated by MTV’s Josh Horowitz, featured Besson, Producer Virginie Besson-Silla, and stars Cara Delevigne and Dane DeHaan.
The film is based on the comic series, Valérian and Laureline, which Besson said he has loved since he was 10 years old. Besson fell in love with Laureline, the strong, independent heroine, and he wanted to be Valérian, the skilled space soldier. Besson met the artist behind the series, Jean-Claude Mézières, and asked him to work on The Fifth Element. Since then, Besson has been toying with the idea of making a big screen adaption of Valerian but was limited by technology as the story would be 10% humans and 90% aliens. He finally came up with a script he liked and then James Cameron released Avatar, causing Besson to throw his script away and start over. Cameron actually invited Besson onto the set of Avatar and gave him some advice.
The movie begins with the creation of Alpha, the city of a thousand planets. In 1975, the American and Russian space stations linked together, and eventually, the station grew as other countries joined. In 2100, the first aliens joined the international space station. By 2300, the space station is now too close to Earth so it is sent to drift on its own in space. Current day is now 2700, and Alpha is now as big as a planet — it’s 20km long with over 20 million beings living in it, including different species from all over the universe. It has become the place to be and the center for science, finance, and politics.
Valérian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe. DeHaan calls Valérian a “space bro” who is extremely self-confident but who knows deep down he would be nothing without Laureline. Laureline is the latest in Besson’s long line of amazing heroines — she’s extremely strong, hard working, and determined, and she does a lot of the legwork/homework for Valérian’s action. Both DeHaan and Delevingne gave a shout out to comic book and sci-fi fans for being so great and passionate.
Also starring in the film are Clive Owen, as the duo’s Commander, and Rihanna in a role that has only been described as awesome and jaw-dropping.
The film wrapped five weeks ago, and Besson estimates there are at least 2,700 shots with special effects with 10 more months to go. Besson said nearly 20 years ago, he was weird, and The Fifth Element was a good success but not a huge one. Now, a year out from the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the world’s weirdness should be caught up to his, and we are ready to embrace a new sci-fi saga.
Besson-Silla previewed some design stills showing a look inside Alpha, where every piece moves independently like clockwork, and each floor has its own gravity. There are gas lands for aliens, liquid lands, and human territories. There was also a look at the various type of aliens, spaceships, and planets. Early clips also reveal sprawling space scenes, fast action, and a complex, visual, and immersive world. We would expect nothing less from Luc Besson. The film releases July 21, 2017.
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