On a whim (and due to a complete implosion of plans for D&D today), I ended up catching Valerian, which timed nicely with the fact that I borrowed Valerian, Vol 1: The New Future Trilogy from my library to read.
Right off the bat I have to say the movie is utterly gorgeous. Absolutely breathtaking, with moments of travel that I think if I watched in 3D or IMAX I'd end up trying to fall out of my chair. Some of the aesthetics and feel look like the work of the Wachowskis. Overall, a fun, consistent story, if a bit heavy on the romance. Though I'm forced to ignore the implications of all the structural damage inflicted.
I started out a bit hesitant. The trailers made me think the film was some hot new YA series, and I had stumbled across a few reviews saying the movie lacked in substance. That our first interactions with Valerian and Laureline involves heavy flirtation and a clear statement of romantic intent on Valerian's part increased my wariness. But you know what? She spends just as much time rescuing him as he does her (if not more, to be honest), and the relationship between them in the graphic novels is... odd. Constant referring to each other as "my Valerian" and "my Laureline," with an undefined relationship that reminds me of relationships in Heinlein's work. And while Laureline is certainly capable, she spends noticeably more time in the role of arm candy, supporting lady, or as a maiden in distress in the graphic novels... even if some of those times it is as part of a plan. So I'm actually happier with the on-screen characterizations.
You can very easily see how the graphic novel that this was based on inspired many of Sci-Fi icons, which will undoubtedly have many people calling it out as "derivative" wherein the accused derivations were in fact inspired by the original. Perhaps most present is the influence of Luc Besson's work on adapting Valerian from before he made The Fifth Element, in which he included specific elements seen in Valerian and in the concept art submitted by Jean-Claude Mezieres himself. If you like The Fifth Element, you will see "pieces" of it all over Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Pieces that you'll also see when reading this graphic novel from the 60's.
Highly enjoyable translation of visual elements from the comics, with various tweaking of narrative place, name, and role. Some elements are spot on, like their armor and their ship. We even see a Transmuter in Circles of Power, though it is not at all in the same role as the Mul Transmuter. Regardless, the illustrations are unmistakably the same creature. Others like their actual roles (spatio-temporal agents vs military officers), and different concepts have been more dramatically modified.
Good way to spend an afternoon.