Christmas brought me a surprising gift this year…A copy of the recent French Fantasy Adventure film by Luc Besson, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec”. Not from France mind you…. Their version lacked those ever so important English Subtitles your favorite Catgirl needs. Not from the UK…. although I imagine it’ll show up there soon…. This time out I managed to score a copy from…. of all places… Thailand. Not only with those English subtitles on board, but with an absolutely perfect English dubbed audio track as well! Say what!?! Nope…. I kid you not! What a find!
Our synopsis? It goes like this: “Paris, 1912. A 136 million year old pterodactyl egg within the museum of natural history hatches and then wreaks havoc upon the unprepared citizens of Paris, and it’s up to the famous journalist and world-class adventurer Adèle Blanc-Sec to investigate and find some way stop it before it devours the President of France! If this doesn’t complicate her life enough, Adele must also somehow complete her personal quest to find the mummy of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramases’s doctor in Egypt to save her little twin sister, Agathe from a coma caused by an unfortunate lawn tennis accident 5 years before.”
Now… I know it goes without saying, but…. There’s really only one thing Neko likes more in a film than her ghosts and zombies, and that’s movies with strong female heroes just like I daydreamed about and so dearly wanted to be when I was just a wee lil’ kitten. Could I wait for the inevitable Region 1 release for this one? Nope…. not on your life. But luckily for me the “Movie Faeries” are sometimes kind…. and this time they gave your Favorite Catgirl Princess quite the Christmas present indeed!! I can’t think of a more appropriate movie review to start off this New Year at the ol’ Litterbox.
Wanna know all about it? Then stop your dilly-dallying and “Read On”!!
Ever wonder if the characters of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, and Nellie Bly were all mashed together and inhabiting the plot of a film created of equal parts of Stephen Sommers’ “The Mummy” trilogy and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World” would be like to watch? Ever want to see it in French? Then you’re in luck! Coming back from his disappointing last film effort, “Arthur and the Invisibles”, director Luc Besson has done just that with his latest film, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec”. Adapted from the French comic series by Jacques Tardi, it follows the globe trotting adventures of novelist Adèle Blanc-Sec (played by Louise Bourgoin) as she struggles to find a cure for her beloved sister Agathe in a weird coma since a bizarre lawn tennis accident left her with a huge hatpin impaled through her head. Ouch!! Seems nothing in the medical science of the day can be done for her and as poor Adèle feels responsible for her sister’s condition, there’s nothing left to do but look for some…. unusual… medical treatments.
Such as, you ask? Well, how about keeping the crazy French scientist, Professor Esperandieu (played by Jacky Nercessian), on retainer who has mastered the art of reanimating the dead by telepathic means so you can resurrect the mummy of the greatest surgeon of ancient Egypt? If anybody ought to know how to extract that big ol’ spike from Agathe’s noggin and get her up and around, he should. Hmmmm? Sounds like a perfectly reasonable plan…. except for one teeny tiny flaw. While Adèle is traipsing about Egypt, doing her whole “Tomb Raider” bit, our wacky scientist… not certain of his ability to raise the mummy as promised, decided to “practice” while she’s away… just to hone his technique, mind you… and manages to awaken the egg of a 137 million year old pterodactyl in the Paris Museum of Natural History. It does what all resurrected dinosaurs do, and promptly runs amok across Paris causing the scandalous death of the Prefect of Paris, Monsieur Pointrenaud and his paramour, the infamous Can-can dancer Nini les Gambettes. By the time she’s survived near execution for tomb robbery, stolen the mummy, and returned to Paris, the bumbling French police have traced the pterodactyl back to Professor Esperandieu and arrested him, tried him for murder most foul, and scheduled him for an appointment with the Guillotine. Yep… that’s gonna put a crimp in Adèle’s plans…..
Well, it would be a problem for most people. Adèle simply takes it all in stride, planning elaborate schemes to spring the good professor from jail, all the while trying to clear his name and locate the pterodactyl before the goofy big game hunter (who truly looks as if he was last busy in the jungle from “Jumanji”, Hehehehe!!) hired by the government can make it…. and our Professor, who’s mystically linked to the creature in some arcane fashion… extinct once more.
Eventually all things get sorted nicely, of course, we get our reanimated mummies and Adèle saves her sister, but Neko’s not going to ruin it for you by telling you exactly how that all works out… Let’s just say, that this one isn’t quite the movie I expected. Less an out and out adventure film… with the exception of the Egyptian tomb sequence and it’s crazy escape by sarcophagus ride through an underground river…. this one relies more on the comedy and fanciful elements of Jules Verne than the rough and tumble pulp serial shenanigans of Indiana Jones. It’s a character piece. Most importantly it’s a film almost entirely carried by the main character, and if you don’t become enchanted and charmed by her, it’s not going to work. Luckily for us, Loiuse Bourgoin is more than up to the task at hand. While I can’t say I’ve ever read the comic upon which this one is based, she seems at least to me to have captured the essence of the role and made it her own. There are a few odd elements that had both me and Carolyn scratching our heads and going, “Huh?”, but I’m assuming much of this is no doubt the influence of those comic book adventures and a target audience already familiar with those stories. For most of the rest of us, that means being left out a bit by the whole thing, but the film still manages to retain a cognitive, if somewhat bizarre plot overall. However, if you were expecting lots and lots of gun fights, swordplay, car chases and the like… you will be sadly disappointed, this one is more of a fluffy buttery croissant of an adventure that seeks to charm rather than thrill.
Still… all in all, it’s a luxuriously filmed story, with excellent cinematography and a talented cast that gives it their all and Neko ended up liking it. I give this one a firm 4 “Meows” out of 5 with extra special purrs of contentment for the absolutely wonderful presentation of the Thai DVD…. completely unexpected, and completely perfect. The disc is marketed as Region 3, but a close examination reveals it to actually be a Region Free PAL disc with wide screen anamorphic presentation. It has the original French Audio track as well as a Thai dubbing, and…. surprise, surprise… a perfect English Audio dubbed track as well. Want to watch it in the original French? No problem. A perfect English subtitle is on board as well. All for about 14$ US. and available from most Thai DVD e-tailers. About time the “Movie Faeries” smiled on me!!
Trailer? Oui, oui!! Mais, naturellement! Hehehehe !!