Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Silly but exuberant sci-fi adventure has fantasy violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 137 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 20 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Concepts of kindness, sharing, and helping the less fortunate are celebrated (as opposed to selfishness and lying). Briefly mentions environmental concerns, specifically giving back as much as you take. Addresses the idea of trusting your instincts over your orders. Courage and teamwork are themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are rogues and rascals who often turn to violence to solve their problems. But they generally try to do the right thing. One main character must decide whether to be loyal to his organization or do the right thing. The main female character constantly challenges her position as the male's sidekick; she firmly believes that she's capable of doing all the hero stuff, too.


Plenty of fantasy violence; lots of futuristic guns (lasers, etc.) and shooting, with little real impact and virtually no blood. Fight scenes. An alien creature is questioned and tortured, tied up in chair. Digital monsters.


A character does a sexy dance involving a stripper pole. Kissing. Main characters in bathing suits. One character asks another to marry him several times. Main character enters a red-light district; other characters flirt with him. A central character is described as a lady-killer.


A use of "s--t" (partly obscured by noise). Also "pr--k," "ass," and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a sci-fi/action movie based on French comics and directed by Luc Besson. There's plenty of fantasy violence, with futuristic guns, shooting, and fighting, but virtually no blood. An alien character is strapped to a chair and questioned (possibly tortured). The main characters eventually kiss, and one spends the movie asking the other to marry him. There's a red-light district with flirty characters and a woman doing a sexy dance involving a stripper pole. Language includes one possible use of "s--t" (it's partly obscured by noise) and uses of "ass" and "damn." Though the movie is very long and quite silly, it's also bright and dazzling and fun, with messages about courage, teamwork, environmentalism, and helping the less fortunate. And the main female character (Cara Delevingne) constantly challenges her position as the male's sidekick.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byCatherine M. August 12, 2017

Rihanna's stripper dance too much

The main female character is strong, capable, and brave. She constantly challenges her partner placing her in the sidekick role. She shows fight, ingenuity,... Continue reading
Adult Written bySarah K March 26, 2018

Not appropriate for young children

The visuals were stunning and it was very well done... (barring some very shallow treatments of death and killing, as well as very old world, objectification of... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bycalla16 April 11, 2018

Deserves more credit than it's given :/

It's hard to find good films nowadays with likable characters, good humour and a fresh style. This is one of those films.

It's fantastic to see a fi... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 2, 2018

Loved it!!!!!

some people say 15+ or 16+ just because the stripper pole well i say 12+ because a 12 year old should know what a stripper pole is and it is barely stripping be... Continue reading

What's the story?

In VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS, it's the 28th century, and agent Valerian (Dane DeHaan) has a strange vision about an alien race. He and his intrepid partner, Laureline (Cara Delevingne), are sent on a mission to a huge, interdimensional black market to retrieve a miraculous little creature that can multiply matter with its body. Then, returning to Alpha (an interconnected series of ships populated by thousands of races, aka "the city of a thousand planets"), the heroes discover that it's under attack, with a strange radioactive zone spreading from its core. Eventually, Valerian and Laureline discover that there's a connection between Valerian's vision and the threat. Worse, they discover that there's a huge cover-up -- and it goes all the way to the top.

Is it any good?

Expensive and impressively, colorfully designed, this sci-fi/action movie is frequently silly and not always very smart, but it has a joyous exuberance and a sheer, dizzy love of the genre. Written and directed by Luc Besson and based on French comics by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets feels directly inspired by Star Wars, as if it were riding a wave of enthusiasm spurred by that film's 1977 release. It's an homage that might have been conceived by Roger Corman, by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus at Cannon Films, or even by a kid in the backyard. The only differences are that it has a $200 million budget, and it's way, way too long.

Some of the movie's images -- such as an immense marketplace in an alternate dimension, or the complex structure of Alpha itself -- are absolutely breathtaking. And Besson's action and chase sequences are bright and snappy, with touches of swaggering humor (helped by Alexandre Desplat's full-blooded, jaunty score). Model-turned-actress Delevingne isn't a great thespian, but her presence has a Barbarella/Galaxina quality, with a bit of Bond girl thrown in. Meanwhile, while DeHaan is fine in introspective indies, he doesn't seem quite right as a Han Solo space-cowboy type. But most quibbles of this kind are easily forgiven, thanks to the movie's overall cheery spirit and positive vibe.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets's violence. Does the fact that it's largely bloodless -- and that it uses futuristic technology -- make it less intense? Why or why not? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Did you notice any examples of kindness, sharing, and helping others in the movie? Do you think the movie promotes compassion?

  • Who are the movie's heroes? What makes them heroes? Are Valerian and Laureline role models? How do they demonstrate courage? Teamwork?

  • Laureline frequently challenges her position as Valerian's sidekick. Do you agree with her? How would you describe her role? How does she compare to other female characters you've seen in sci-fi/adventure movies?

  • How does science fiction help tell stories about who we are and what's going on now?

Movie details

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