You may not be familiar with time-traveling future space operatives Valerian and Laureline and the massive intergalactic city of Alpha just yet, but next summer you will. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets might look familiar on the surface, but the technicolor-crazy teaser trailer just showed us that it’s so much more than a big Star Wars rip-off.
Filmmaker Luc Besson just debuted the teaser trailer to his $180 million space epic, adapted from the highly influential French comic series by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. There’s a lot going on without much explanation, and it seems like Besson jam-packed all two minutes of the teaser with as many sci-fi tropes as he could. There’s big fantastic cities, countless kinds of aliens, lasers, romance, and a ship that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Millennium Falcon.
Just in case you’re still confused as to what it’s all about, here’s the official synopsis:
Under directive from their Commander (Clive Owen), Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time, uniting their talents, technology, and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.
We definitely see some of that danger, in the form of a whole bunch of different freaky-faced alien species, as Valerian and Laureline careen around different locations flirting with one another and managing to scrape up their faces in still very aesthetic ways. There’s a dusty Tatooine-like planet and a Corsucant-ish metropolis, as well as a few of the clean, white-lit spaceship interiors that are a staple of sci-fi, but the film seems comfortable mashing up all of these different themes and aesthetics into one massive galactic romp.
Besson, who returns to the sci-fi genre after making the certifiably crazy cult classic The Fifth Element 20 years ago, looks like he’s delivered a typically weird cinematic ride that could either hit big like Avatar or bomb hard like John Carter. The original comic series is a classic in France, and Besson is hoping to bring the sci-fi adventure to a wider audience.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets hits theaters on July 21, 2017.