Luc Besson wows Comic-Con with look at ultra-stylish ‘Valerian’

Although Leeloo remains a staple among Comic-Con cosplayers, it has been a full 19 years since director Luc Besson released “The Fifth Element.” Today, however, in his first visit to San Diego Comic-Con, the French iconoclast gave a hint that the decades between sci-fi epics have only made him stronger, as he wowed audiences with a first glimpse of his new film Valerian.

Joined in the Con's Hall H by Valerian stars Cara Delevigne and Dane DeHaan, and his producer Virginie Silla, Besson presented a ten minute reel of four snippets of his adaptation of a beloved comic book series, which tells the ongoing tale of a pair time-traveling, universe-saving young intergalactic adventures.

The clips previewed were a stunning contrast to the very familiar plodding look of superhero fare which that is Hall H's bread and butter.  Layered on top of dazzling effects, the scenes had all the hallmarks of the style that is unmistakably to Besson's: relentless visual playfulness that makes one just grin from ear to ear at every frame; a constant sense of stylishness – not only in the costumes and sets, but in the entire world – that would be more at home in a cutting edge couture collection than in the visually formulaic world of today's blockbusters, but married to special effects as breathtaking as anything in the Marvel or Star Wars universes.  And amazingly, if the clips paint a good picture of things to come; all this in service of a very human, tale at the center; the buddy comedy between Delevigne and DeHaan, a relationship Besson said today, that meant “you could transfer it to the story of two cops today and you would have basically the same film.”

In particular, the film looks to be a A-list minting vehicle for Delevigne, whose character showed both the humor and the ass-kicking chops to make her a worthy entry into Besson's long line of leading female tough gals.

The scenes in question showed the pair fighting their way across the Valerian universe, from a Mad Max like-desert bus chase eluding a the fastest giant slug seen in cinema, to a partners' squabble about who is the better space-fighter driver to a bind-bending dive through the most spectacularly colorful wormhole you're likely to see on the screen.

Speaking to reporters today, Besson advised them, despite the epic scale, to think of the film on the terms of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, “They laugh, they fight. It's very human, just in a world that is crazy.”

Speaking of how this film might be received differently than The Fifth Element, which many thought a movie  ahead of its time, Besson mused, “Twenty years ago, I was weird and the world was normal. In the years since the world as become much weirder, so maybe we've met in the middle and they won't be as surprised.”

He also added a decidedly un Comic-Con-like thought in his comments to reporters.  Speaking to representatives of the world which eats, drinks and breathes advance peeks and tidbits of upcoming franchise films, he asked movie goers, “If you can trust me enough, try to know nothing the just sit and watch the film.  I've made 17 films, so watch some of them and decide if you can trust me, and then just go and sit and watch.”