Argh, Valerian was so close to being great. So close, but flubs it in the end.
The first two acts are very good. I'm a big fan of French sci-fi comics, particularly the work of Moebius/Jodorowsky. I'm also familiar with the source material here. The storytelling is often full of absurdities. There is open ambiguity about technology and science, as well as the treatment of space and time. Things often do not make sense and that is almost conventional: the purpose of the story is to create awe, and images serve as massive tableaus which are loosely linked in the causal sense. The values derive from similar premises as that of art cinema, in which storytelling avoids a central conflict and scenes embrace happenstance.
But the third act is a shitty compromise done to make the story work for the American market. It is American storytelling, the worst kind. They explain everything and alienate the kind of viewer who bothered to show up. The kind of viewer they coveted never even made it into the theater, because we know that this is a box office bomb. The third act is more Roddenberry than Jodorowsky, with some stupid allegory about colonialism. You go from amazing set pieces to long dialogue scenes. Exasperating.
Again, the first two acts are some really good cinema. Some people will dismiss the film's silliness and some moments of narrative incoherence (e.g., Rihanna's fate). But I will take this any day of the week over the competence and coherence of the soulless Marvel products, where every cause leads the effect and for what purpose? So we can celebrate weapon manufacturers like Tony Stark?