Valerian will likely appeal to fans of science fiction and space opera. In the meantime, here are some similar films to keep you occupied until the new film comes out.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ captivating trailers didn’t just captivate you; many others were as well. It is Luc Besson’s passion project to bring the celebrated French comic book to the big screen for the first time, and he has spared no expense, filling the screen with stunning views of a future galaxy.
Valerian, on the other hand, is enormously popular in Europe but virtually unknown in the United States. The film directed by Luc Besson will serve as a gateway for many people into the saga created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. As far as science fiction and space fantasy films and franchises go, this one predates most of what Western audiences have grown to know and love.
As a thank you to Valerian and its creators, we’ll be looking at some films today. They’re all influenced by Valerian and Laureline’s “spatio-temporal agents” adventures, whether directly or indirectly.
If you can’t wait to see the new movie, take in some of these timeless classics before you go.
Before seeing Valerian, make sure you see these 15 films.
15. Total Recall
Philip K. Dick is a science fiction legend for good reason. A number of his books have been made into films, and he is well-regarded for his work as a writer. Total Recall, an adaptation of his short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, was released in theaters in both the United States and the United Kingdom. We’re not including the 2012 reimagining because the 1990 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is better, in our opinion.
Featuring an unexpected twist that we won’t reveal (although most people should be aware of it by now), Arnie plays a regular guy who can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is missing from his life.. Going on a trip to a futuristic entertainment company where you can plant fantastical memories in your head (be a secret agent or be a famous actor) goes horribly wrong, and he ends up running for his life and doubting his own perception of reality.
Even if it does seem a bit dated, this is a fantastic story about the future.
14. Star Wars
The obvious choice is Star Wars, a film that left Mézières “dazzled, jealous, and furious,” as he put it. Among George Lucas’ sources of inspiration for the Star Wars saga, Valerian has never been mentioned.
It’s possible he had never heard of or seen Valerian before creating his masterpiece, despite the similarities between the two. Indeed, the inventive French duo was not the first to conjure up a vast galaxy teeming with bizarre life.
Whether or not it was influenced by Valerian, Star Wars has many similarities. Beautiful and self-reliant heroes, fascinating new worlds, a galaxy-spanning adventure… you might expect Luke and Leia to run into Valerian and Laureline when they turn a corner in the Death Star.
13. John Carter
No one in science fiction is more “old school” than John Carter when it comes to storytelling.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ celebrated Mars novels first captivated readers in the early twentieth century, and they continue to do so even today. The property has served as an inspiration for a large number of notable sci-fi authors, but there haven’t been many film adaptations of John Carter’s story.
Disney and director Andrew Stanton took a chance in 2012 with this film, which featured Taylor Kitsch as the title character. A disappointing box-office performance notwithstanding, this is a good film that does a good job of adapting the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure. It’s also chock-full of the vibrant special effects and distinctive alien races you’ll see in Valerian shortly.
It’s not an easy task to adapt a well-known work of literature. As with any other genre, science fiction seems to be no exception. As he worked on the Valerian adaptation, Besson may have looked to Dune as inspiration.
The 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic novel by David Lynch was widely panned by critics and even by fans of the source material. This is puzzling because Herbert seemed pleased with the film prior to its release. It’s important to remember what the Star Wars prequels have taught us: fans and creators often disagree.
Even so, when it comes to large-scale, epic science fiction films, Dune ranks near the top, if not quite at the top. One man’s rise to power and subsequent battle to free his world and people from the clutches of an oppressive empire are the subjects of this epic tale.
11. The Last Starfighter
A seemingly unremarkable person is enlisted to help out on an epic journey. Does this sound familiar to you? Most definitely. Countless stories have been built around it, from recent films to ancient myths. The Last Starfighterisanother example of a science fiction or fantasy film that makes use of this format.
The Last Starfighter became a cult classic after the release of the Star Wars trilogy in 1977, when special effects were still a young industry. Basically, it’s about Alex, an average high school student who also happens to be an avid video game player. To learn more about his alien heritage, the game’s creator notices his high scores on the arcade classic Starfighter. Alex is tasked with using his special Starfighter abilities to help save the planet.
It’s a gamer’s dream come true (“see, I’m not wasting my time playing games”) and a nostalgic trip back to the 1980s.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
We can safely assume that Luc Besson would be thrilled if his new film could garner half as much attention as Marvel’s highly successful Guardians of the Galaxy series has.
The Guardians of the Galaxy films have done exceptionally well at the box office, enthralling audiences with their mix of action, humor, and unforgettable characters from the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe (Groot). They also reaffirmed the popularity of an excellent space opera.
No doubt, the Guardians’ ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (even if they were minimal in the first two films) have contributed to their success. However, the ragtag band of miscreants can teach other sci-fi filmmakers a lot. When it comes to the appeal of the Guardians, Valerian should have no problem pulling it off.
Fans of Joss Whedon will follow him wherever he goes. Serenity, his film adaptation of his cancelled series Firefly, showed that. He proved it. Despite the fact that the show didn’t do well in the ratings or make a lot of money, the people who call themselves “Browncoats” are some of the most devoted fans you’ll ever meet.
In Joss Whedon’s vision of science fiction, the future isn’t all that different from the present. The universe may be vast, but people still exist in all of its diversity. Some are good, while others are bad. We all fall somewhere in the middle.
There are no aliens in Serenity/Firefly, which makes it unique among sci-fi properties. Even though this galaxy is home to only humans, the adventures they go on are just as exciting as anything the Guardians of the Galaxy has done.
Snowpiercer and Valerian appear to have nothing in common at first glance. Each takes place in the future, but one is set in a vibrant depiction of space, while the other is set on a devastated and nearly monochrome Earth.
They do, however, share some surprising similarities. For starters, Snowpiecer, like Valerian, is based on a well-known French graphic novel.
A train carries the last of humanity around a frozen Earth in Snowpiercer, with the poor and elderly being confined to the back and the rich and powerful occupying the front seats. There’s a lot of tension between the two social groups, and it comes to a head several times throughout the film. One of the most successful attempts at bringing people together has been Valerian’s Alpha (also known as “the City of a Thousand Planets”).
7. Children of Men
Science fiction isn’t always rosy and upbeat. That much is depressing, to say the least. The future depicted in some films is grim (or what little of it remains).
One of these films is called Children of Men. A disenfranchised man named Theo, played by Clive Owen (who also appears in Valerian), tries to make it in a crumbling society where no babies have been born in decades. Fate brings Theo and the woman together when she becomes pregnant for the first time in recent memory, and he must do whatever it takes to protect them both.
Children of Menout is a much more somber alternative to Valerian, which has all the color and fun you could ask for in a movie.
6. Jupiter Ascending
It’s worth noting that many good science fiction stories center on an ordinary person who learns that they are part of something bigger than themselves. One of these tales is Jupiter Ascending.
On a seemingly normal planet, Mila Kunis plays the title character, a normal woman going about her daily routine. Mila Kunis is excellent in the role. When she finds out she is galactic royalty, it comes as a bit of a shock to her. Now she has to fight to protect the resources of her home planet from powerful extraterrestrials who want to take them all! (namely people).
This film, like Valerian’s, takes place in a galaxy that’s constantly expanding and filled with amazing sights. In contrast to Valerian and Laureline, Jupiter is unprepared for the new galaxy she discovers. Laureline, a character from the comic book Laureline, is a time traveler who was born in 11th-century France and might be able to relate to Jupiter.
5. District 9
People from all over the galaxy can live in peace in the City of a Thousand Planets. There is no doubt that each of them lives in a unique environment designed to meet their individual needs, but they do occasionally come together and interact with one another.
Neill Blomkamp’s breakout filmDistrict 9 shows aliens and humans coexisting in less than ideal circumstances. There are alien refugees who come to Earth and are forced to live in squalid conditions in a government camp in this film that is both socially relevant and uncomfortable.
The aliens have to deal with poverty, starvation, and the enmity of a large portion of humanity. It’s hard to imagine how people would react if aliens really did arrive on Earth looking for a new home and were met with such hostility.
4. Star Trek
A year before the first episode of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was broadcast, Gene Roddenberry’s timeless tale of humanity’s journey through space premiered on television, so no, Star Trek wasn’t initially inspired by Valerian. Later series may have drawn inspiration from the comic, or Roddenberry’s book may have served as a springboard for the comic.
Whatever the case may be, the two properties are unquestionably alike. Both depict a galactic society in which humans and aliens coexist, sometimes in harmony and other times not. Since Valerian is based on a more recent production (the “NuTrek” films), we’re focusing on those rather than the classic “Star Trek” films. It is undeniable that modern films have an advantage in that they utilize the most up-to-date technology to create visually stunning depictions of outer space.
3. Blade Runner
We’re back to looking at Philip K. Dick’s work, or rather, at a well-known adaptation of his work. Another adaptation of a Dick novel is this time’s Blade Runner: The Saga of the Terrorists.
In the role of Rick Deckard, Harrison Ford, who had already made a name for himself as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, gained even more geek cred. His job as a blade runner entails tracking down replicants, humanoid-looking cybernetic clones.
In Blade Runner’s future, humans will have colonies on other planets where replicants will work for their human masters. However, the story takes place exclusively in a futuristic Los Angeles. This is still a well-realized world, even with the constraints that director Ridley Scott was working with at the time (1982).
There’s no doubt that Blade Runner 2049 will be an even bigger visual feast than the original.
2. The Force Awakens
To be fair, the first Star Wars movie is the oldest film included on this list, and it does show its age despite being an enduring classic. Valerian shows how far filmmaking has progressed since then.
Look no further than Star Wars: The Force Awakens for further proof.
Episode 7 of the Star Wars saga, which was released in 2015, has been panned by some for being little more than a rehash of the original 1977 film. However true it may be, the general public did not seem bothered by it (just look atits box officeprofit for proof).
TFA has the most striking visual similarities to Luc Besson’s latest film, despite being a different director (well, it and Guardians). In this galaxy-spanning adventure, you’ll meet colorful characters of all shapes and sizes, and Valerian himself would be proud of you.
1. The Fifth Element
Last but not least, let us look at the last film directed by Luc Besson: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. This story took him decades to develop and was clearly influenced by his lifelong passion for the Valerian comic books. Valerian co-creator Jean-Claude Mézières was even brought on board by Besson as a concept artist. Mézières came up with many of the concepts for the movie, such as Bruce Willis’ flying taxi cab and the Fhloston Paradise liner.
When Bruce Willis, a 23rd century cab driver, meets the mysterious Leeloo, he is thrust into a series of life-changing events (Milla Jovovich). In addition to receiving positive reviews, the movie also gained an enthusiastic following thanks to its depiction of a futuristic metropolis that was both colorful and vibrant.
Valerian looks like a worthy successor to Besson’s 1997 classic, which was clearly a test run for his eventual take on his favorite comic book.