We’re supposedly living in a halcyon era for (extreme sarcasm quotes) “geek culture,” but I sometimes wonder how true that is. Sure, science fiction and fantasy dominate film and television screens and you can confess to reading comic books without fear of ridicule, but a lot of that success has been built on the back of known entities and established ‘brands.’ Already popular characters like Spider-Man and Batman paved the way for sprawling comic book universes to play out on screen, and series like Star Wars and Harry Potter were hardly obscure curiosities prior to this supposed geek revolution. Yeah, your mom might know what the hell an Infinity Stone is now, but outside of the established framework of a popular series, there still seems to be a tendency to look down our noses towards the more genuinely oddball stuff when it does come around. Weirdo passion projects like Pacific Rim, John Carter, and Jupiter Ascending have either underperformed or been catastrophic bombs, and while we can debate each of their relative qualities, none of them were any worse than Batman v Superman, and people, y’know, actually saw that one.
I say all of that because last week I was invited to see some early footage of another weirdo passion project and despite the fact that it looks positively stunning, without being connected to a major brand, I have no idea if people will pay it any mind.
That passion project is Luc Besson’s Valerian.