When even most of the good spectacles carry a strong whiff of prepackaging, try taking in the air of Luc Besson's sci-fi extravaganza "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets." Its atmosphere — vibrant in color, elastic in form — takes some acclimating to after such a barrage of more sanitized summer movies.
"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," adapted by Besson from Pierre Christin and Jen Claude Mezieres' comic book series, is just your average Dane Dehaan movie with extraterrestrial ducks, a pole-dancing Rihanna and a prominent cameo from Herbie Hancock — on hand, presumably, to channel the cosmic spirit of his album covers.
In the opening montage of "Valerian" (its best sequence), the commander of the sprawling space station Alpha welcomes over time a steady stream of every nationality of Earth and then alien species, too, greeting each with a handshake.
"The Fifth Element" had many of the same elements — a madcap melding of species, a big musical moment, a feast of color — but it was better organized and had the benefit of Bruce Willis in the lead.
"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," an STX Entertainment release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language." Running time: 137 minutes.