Dunkirk vs. Valerian vs. Girls Trip: How to Tell the Difference

Going to the movies can be overwhelming these days, in whatever year this is. There are so many choices! This weekend alone there are three big films opening in wide release: Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama Dunkirk; Luc Besson’s space fantasy adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets; and Malcolm D. Lee’s raunch-com Girls Trip. How can a discerning moviegoer tell them apart? Don’t fret, amigo; here is a handy guide.


Dunkirk vs. Valerian vs. Girls Trip:

How to Tell the Difference


Inspired by a French comic book: Valerian

Inspired by a French military defeat: Dunkirk

Inspired by Le Hangover: Girls Trip


You see mostly white men: Dunkirk

You see mostly black women: Girls Trip

You see humans and aliens of all shapes and colors, which includes three black people: Valerian


Rihanna: Valerian

Queen Latifah: Girls Trip

Harry Styles: Dunkirk


Features a convincing performance by a major pop star: n/a


German bombs: Dunkirk

F-bombs: Girls Trip

Box office bomb: Valerian


Lots of shooting: Valerian, Dunkirk

Lots of shots: Girls Trip


You could picture two of the main characters being in love, even though they aren’t: Dunkirk, Girls Trip

You cannot picture the two main characters being in love, even though they are: Valerian


A planet is destroyed: Valerian

A ship is destroyed: Dunkirk

A booty is destroyed: Girls Trip


The message is that friendship is the most important thing: Girls Trip

The message is that all creatures should be able to live in harmony: Valerian

The message is that you’re lucky to be alive even one more miserable day on this nightmare planet: Dunkirk 


Depicts men on a French beach being sprayed with bullets: Dunkirk

Depicts men in the French Quarter being sprayed with urine: Girls Trip


It’s empowering to women: Girls Trip

It tells a true story that didn’t involve many women: Dunkirk

It removes the woman’s name from the comic book it’s based on: Valerian 


Has a character who can look like anyone: Valerian

Has characters who all look like this:



May remind you of The Fifth Element: Valerian

May remind you of the fifth Tyler Perry movie: Girls Trip


Will probably be in the conversation at Oscar season: Dunkirk

Will probably be in the $5.99 bin at Best Buy: Valerian


Action centered on breakwaters made of stone: Dunkirk

Action centered on leading man made of stone: Valerian


Has an actor who talks like Keanu: Valerian

Has an actress who was in Keanu: Girls Trip


May rekindle thoughts of old friends: Girls Trip

May rekindle an old interest in sci-fi: Valerian

May rekindle an old hatred of Germans: Dunkirk


Is now showing in multiple formats: Dunkirk

Will soon be showing on multiple airplanes: Valerian

Will probably be shown in an angry Fox News segment: Girls Trip


Your grandparents may remember it: Dunkirk

Your grandparents would be baffled by it: Valerian

Your grandparents had laws prohibiting it: Girls Trip


Shows human life being wasted: Dunkirk

Shows people getting wasted: Girls Trip

Shows money being wasted: Valerian


Eric D. Snider lives in Portland, will never get these three movies confused again.

Eric D. Snider has been a film critic since 1999, first for newspapers (when those were a thing) and then for the internet. He was born and raised in Southern California, lived in Utah in his 20s, then Portland, now Utah again. He is glad to meet you, probably.

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