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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 5 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Valerian's stunning visuals shine in 4K, but its narrative and dialog falter.

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Valerian's UHD presents stunning visuals, rich colors, and deep blacks, with Dolby Vision enhancing its spectral beauty despite its 2K DI limitations.

  • Audio
  • Valerian enchants with stellar visuals, immersive Dolby Atmos & TrueHD 7.1 audio, enriching an aural dreamscape but lacks overhead action, excelling in clarity & engaging soundstage.

  • Extra
  • Lionsgate's release impresses with its extras, featuring an Enhancement Mode on UHD and Blu-ray, over a dozen mini-Featurettes, a comprehensive hour-long documentary, still galleries, and trailers, despite some content variations between formats.

  • Movie
  • Luc Besson's Valerian fails to match The Fifth Element’s charm, suffering from weak storytelling and flat characters despite its stunning visuals and potential cult following.

    Video: 86

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' debut on 4K UHD Blu-ray showcases the film in a visually stunning manner, despite being sourced from a 2K digital intermediate. Its presentation, at 3840 x 2160p resolution and using the HEVC (H.265) codec, is supported by 10-bit video depth, a wider color gamut (WCG), and high dynamic range (HDR), including enhancements from Dolby Vision. This brings a considerable upgrade over its Blu-ray counterpart, particularly noteworthy in its HDR and WCG implementation. The film's dazzling array of colors, from neon butterflies to the richly detailed environments of Alpha, showcases a brilliantly vibrant palette that significantly enhances the visual spectacle. Blacks are deeper, offering greater depth and texture to the myriad of space scenes and alien designs, while ensuring fine details in costumes and character features remain crisp.

    However, this UHD presentation is not without its shortcomings. While it stands out in displaying CGI environments with enhanced clarity and adding dimensionality to scenes that felt flat in 1080p, it reveals a limitation in capturing the finest details compared to native 4K captures. The slightly softer image quality and occasional digital noise do detract from the overall sharpness expected from a UHD release. Furthermore, certain scenes exhibit a lack of fidelity, with holographic interfaces and plasma guns sometimes losing their distinct textures and turning into undefined shapes due to uneven contrast levels and brightness, making the presentation appear somewhat dull in comparison to more vibrant scenes.

    Notably, the Dolby Vision HDR version presents a noticeable improvement over its HDR10 counterpart, delivering brighter and more vivid contrast along with sparkling highlights that don't compromise detail. The color palette is also richer, providing the film with more nuanced shades and enhancing its visual allure. Scenes like Paradise Alley come alive with an electrifying vibrancy that arguably compensates for some of the disc's weaknesses in detail and texture fidelity. While certain elements reflect the limitations from its original 2K source material, resulting in a mixed but predominantly favorable impression, the leap to UHD with HDR - especially Dolby Vision - offers a compelling reason to experience Valerian’s vivid universe in this format, granting it an animated feel that may well befit its comic book origins.

    Audio: 88

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" features an audio presentation that is both visually and aurally stunning, thanks to its Dolby Atmos track that builds upon an already near-perfect Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core. Dialogue emerges with crystal clarity and precision across the front channels, while a plethora of effects from energy weapons fire to the roar of alien beasts are rendered with an impressive level of discrete detail. This aural landscape ensures a demo-worthy reference audio experience that sci-fi enthusiasts will relish. The presence of the LFE channel enhances explosions and adds depth to the sounds of giant beasts and vehicles, ensuring a dynamic and immersive listening environment.

    The soundstage is expansive, taking full advantage of precise imaging and smooth panning to create a lively and engaging experience. Noteworthy is the "Big Market" sequence, which showcases lively object placement and movement, along with atmospheric cues and vertical channel activity, offering a rich aural tapestry that complements the on-screen visuals. The mix delicately balances Alexandre Desplat’s score with sound effects and dialogue, ensuring none overwhelms the other. Additional audio options and subtitles are provided for a wide range of listening preferences, catering to various audience needs.

    Despite the excellence of the Dolby Atmos track, there are moments when the overhead channels see limited use, which might underwhelm expectations considering the film's genre and action-packed nature. Nonetheless, the side and rear surrounds are utilized effectively, creating an immersive soundfield that enhances the cinematic experience. Engaging imaging across the front channels and robust low-end performance add further depth, even if the bass doesn't dive into the deepest frequencies. Overall, while there may be occasional underutilization of certain elements, the audio experience remains top-tier, ensuring that "Valerian's" aural presentation is nearly as captivating as its visuals.

    Extra: 77

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" excels not only in visual and audio quality but also in its compilation of extras, despite most being housed on the accompanying Blu-ray disc. The standout feature is the Enhancement Mode made accessible on the Ultra HD Blu-ray itself, allowing viewers to explore over a dozen mini-featurettes during movie playback, offering a deep dive into technical facets and movie-making magic. Additionally, the package includes an insightful hour-long documentary on the standard Blu-ray, "Citizens of Imagination: Creating the Universe of Valerian," which extensively covers the production process, from its origins to the final product, enriched with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Other notable extras include a collection of standalone Enhancement Pods, a visually striking Art of Valerian stills gallery showcasing concept art in HDR on the UHD disc, and a selection of movie trailers, ensuring a comprehensive and rewarding experience for fans and cinephiles alike.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Citizens of Imagination: Creating the Universe: An expansive documentary delving into the production.
    • Enhancement Mode: An interactive feature allowing access to mini-featurettes during the film.
    • Enhancement Pods: Standalone viewing of featurettes included in Enhancement Mode.
    • The Art of Valerian: A still gallery featuring concept art.
    • Trailers: A selection of movie trailers.

    Movie: 72

    Based on the revered French science fiction comic series by Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières, "Valerian" as realized by Luc Besson, presents an intriguing vision within the genre despite not reaching the lofty heights of his prior successes. While the narrative endeavors to fuse whimsical futurism with the action-packed escapades of Major Valerian (played by Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), it stumbles over its own ambitions, resulting in a medley of eye-popping visuals and undercooked story elements. Entrusted with the mission to retrieve and safeguard a celestial artifact, our protagonists navigate the endlessly complex social and political tapestry of Alpha—a space metropolis pulsating with life forms from across the universe. The pair's venture rapidly evolves into a rescue operation teeming with exotic locales and breathtaking special effects. However, their chemistry barely simmers on-screen, undermining the narrative's romantic undertones and diluting the urgency of their mission.

    Lionsgate's transition of "Valerian" to 4K UHD Blu-ray epitomizes the studio's commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technology for an enhanced viewer experience. The movie dazzles with its meticulous sound design and visually arresting sequences, notably the Big Market heist and the enchanting visuals of otherworldly realms. But despite these technical accomplishments, the film grapples with Luc Besson's indulgent narrative choices and an overreliance on CGI spectacle over character development and coherent storytelling. The depiction leans heavily into a pastiche of genre conventions, echoing echoes of "Star Wars," "Avatar," and even Besson's own "The Fifth Element," without fully capturing the essence that made those films resonate.

    In summation, "Valerian" stands as a testament to Luc Besson's undiminished flair for crafting visually sumptuous cinematic worlds, albeit overshadowed by its narrative inconsistencies and the lackluster rapport between its leads. The film might very well cultivate a cult following, appreciated for its audacity to dream in bold chromatic strokes and its contributions to the lineage of space opera spectacles. While its immediate reception ranges from lukewarm to critical, "Valerian's" journey through the cosmos of public opinion is far from concluding, possibly destined for reevaluation as a curious artifact of visual excess and storytelling ambition in years to come.

    Total: 74

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" in 4K UHD Blu-ray presents an audiovisual experience that significantly elevates the movie beyond its storytelling shortcomings. Despite originating from a 2K digital intermediate (DI), the film showcases subtle yet noticeable enhancements in detail and a richer color palette, thanks to HDR's expanded hues. This release proves to be a feast for the senses, particularly with its Dolby Vision improvement offering a more dynamic and vivid picture. Additionally, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack delivers an immersive auditory journey that complements the film's visual splendor. These technical attributes make the 4K UHD version a worthy consideration for enthusiasts equipped with the necessary home theater setup, over the standard Blu-ray edition.

    While "Valerian" might falter in narrative coherence and character dialogue—sometimes feeling like a mishmash of fantastic visuals in search of a tighter plot—the sheer imaginative leap director Luc Besson makes cannot be understated. This adaptation of the classic French sci-fi comics is visually energetic, strikingly inventive, and oozes whimsical flair, even if it occasionally trips over its grand ambitions. For fans of Besson's work and the original comics, as well as those with a penchant for expansive sci-fi universes, there's enough novelty to warrant attention. The Ultra HD package is rounded off with a commendable selection of extra features that offer deeper insights into the movie's production and universe, though one might find the overall 4K HDR10 presentation slightly underwhelming compared to its Blu-ray counterpart without Dolby Vision.

    In conclusion, despite "Valerian's" narrative and pacing issues, its 4K UHD Blu-ray release stands as a testament to the potential of home cinema technology, offering an audiovisual spectacle that almost demands viewing in the highest quality available. While it may not reach the zenith of reference quality due to its 2K source, the enhancements in detail, color fidelity, and atmospheric sound create a compelling case for ownership among fans and cinematophiles alike. However, those new to Besson's unique blend of story and spectacle might want to explore the film through rental before committing to purchase.