The title is too long, the movie (at 2 hours and 15 minutes) is too long, the script is weak, the direction is scattered, the visual effects are more cartoonish than impressive ... and I haven’t even gotten around to the bad acting yet.

Based on a series of French comic books that began in the late-1960s, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” starts out with a history of the Alpha Intergalactic Space Station, home of beings from all over the universe. It quickly jumps way out into the universe for a look at life on the planet Mul-400, where the tall, thin, bald inhabitants all look alike, enjoy a peaceful communal life, and seem to be at one with nature. Until the day that big fiery spaceships rain down from the skies, causing mass destruction.

No, don’t worry. It’s all a dream. That bad business is just in the mind of Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan), a federal agent who’s spending some time at the beach (in a blatant rip-off of “Star Trek: TNG’s” holodeck). Our hero, who has been awarded seven medals of honor, and goes after villains via a combination of an agile, athletic body and a gimmicky power suit, never hides the fact that he has an enlarged ego. He proudly calls himself a bad boy, and keeps a growing “playlist” of female conquests.

Right now he’d like to add the name and body of his tough, slinky work partner, Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who wants nothing to do with him romantically ... or does she? This woman is just so darn coy, she’s hard to read.

But there’s no time for romance. Valerian and Laureline are sent on a top-secret mission to Alpha to “recover some stolen property.”

The film’s problems make themselves known early on, and they never get out of its way. Production values are cartoonish and over the top, from a converted flying school bus to technicolor clouds floating above, from outlandish costumes to ridiculous creatures, any of which would have fit comfortably in with the crowd at the Cantina in “Star Wars.” But back then they were new; now they’re a cliche.

OK, time to make more than just a mention of the bad acting. Iconic jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock gets to appear on a video screen and recite a few lines of dialogue, not act, as a “defense minister” of some sort. Clive Owen shows up as a scowling military commander who’s in a perpetual bad mood, shouting most of his lines. There’s an extended, completely unnecessary cameo by Rihanna as Bubble, a costume-changing, shape-shifting pole dancer. It’s hard to tell if she can act because she moves around too much.

Then there are our two leads: Dane DeHaan plays it cool and calm and full of himself, but none of his performance feels natural. Cara Delevingne goes back and forth between giving a flat performance and outright overacting. It should have been noted during casting that there’s zero chemistry between them.

Once it’s established that Alpha is in danger of being destroyed by unknown forces, the film gets to moving along with breakneck speed, far too quickly to keep track of everyone that’s introduced and everything that’s going on. And it tries too hard to be fun, instead ending up being noisy and overly complicated.

There’s not a lot of sense being made in the plot department, then all of a sudden, almost 2 hours in, a back story, related to those opening scenes with the tall, thin, bald folks, gets shoved up front. When the conclusion is reached, the film keeps going, mainly to show off a few more visual effects sequences. This is a long movie that feels long. I’m sorry to report that I didn’t wait around till the end of the credits to see if anything else happened. I just didn’t care.

— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”
Written and directed by Luc Besson
With Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna
Rated PG-13