Finally, for the first time (outside of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H), we’re finally getting a great look at Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Or at least about 50 planets — for now.

“Our mission for the teaser was very simple,” director Luc Besson (Lucy, The Fifth Element) tells EW. “We said, ‘It’s not about the story. Today, let’s introduce the two protagonists, Valerian and Laureline, and let’s the audience a flavor of the universe. Let’s give an ambience, let’s give a color.”

Color would be an understatement. The 95-second trailer — backed by the ethereal hymn of The Beatles’ “Because” — is a plunge into beautifully crisp and vivid outerspace-scapes. And in addition to Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as the movie’s two heroes, intergalactic space cops and lovers, we also get a healthy supply of alien creatures. That includes large, whale-like sea monsters, humanoid warthogs — oh, yeah, and Rihanna, who in one GIF-ready flash-frame we can see shape-shifting from a 1920s flapper into a blonde maybe-Marilyn.

Besson tells EW that he cut the trailer five months ago, then sent the footage to special effects houses ILM and Weta for extensive work. “We wanted them to work on these shots first. And what’s interesting is that they’re good enough for the teaser but they’re not even final for the film. They have one more round to work on.”

And the director is simply relieved to get the footage of Valerian, a $180 million passion project of his for decades, into the world. “I’m super excited and always a little bit nervous,” he says. “It’s like being a chef in the kitchen for six months. You just want the patrons to come in so you can serve them. You want them to eat!”

With his jolliest laugh, Besson adds, “I can’t stand it anymore to have all this food to myself!”

Another second teaser-trailer will come within two months, he tells EW, with a full trailer debuting in March or April. Valerian opens in theaters on July 21.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
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