It’s the early 20th century and popular novelist, adventurer, and often tomb raider — Adele Blanc-Sec is on a determined quest to find a Pharaoh’s physician in hopes of saving her dying sister.
It’s easier said than done, however, as standing in her way are rival (and ruthless) tomb raiders, the gendarmerie, a beheading, and a pterodactyl?!
Preambles and Musings…
This has been a great decade for fans of comicbooks and more specifically comicbook movies. America was not the first to see the potential inherent in the material, but thus far they’ve been the only ones to succeed in reaching a significant audience beyond the shores that spawned their material.
In America you need not point to the big comic names such as Batman, Superman, or the X-Men series. You can easily point to globally recognized (though little known) comic adaptations such as Blade in 1998, a Stephen Norrington directed Marvel property. Even before that you have the Jim Carrey starrer, The Mask (1994) — a film that cost 18 million to make, but grossed nearly 200 million in the US box office alone.
The US continues to churn out popular and sometimes unknown successes (even by it’s own market), but ask an American what the last foreign born funny book adaptation they’d seen and it’s likely you’ll get several short bursts of the blank stares.
Ofcourse being a layman myself, I have no real solutions to this injustice, but maybe by my giving attention to these works via this site will help bring some of these properties to a larger audience. All three of you. *pats himself on the back*
So, Adele… is the latest popular foreign comic to be adapted to film. This time by fan favourite and previously (and self imposed) retired filmmaker Luc “Fifth Element” Besson.
Unlike the aforementioned Fifth Element, this is a much smaller and intimate film. There is a slight detour in the beginning that involves some travel to Africa, but mostly the film takes place in touristy Paris. The cinematography is top notch as has come to be expected of Besson’s productions and the overall production design is also quite emaculate.
The characters and actors are all quite larger than life and delightfully theatrical. Not in a bad way mind you, but in an Amelie meets [Alan Moore’s] League of Extraordinary Gentlemen way, if you can imagine that. From the Mr. Rictus-look-a-like that is Dieuleveult (played by Mathieu Amalric), to Caponi, to Esperandieu. The attention to detail in terms of casting and makeup are commendable. A job well done in that department. I have read that some are upset that the title character was cast too pretty and is not quite as well cultured in the comics. A point I can concede to, but I feel there are scenes that hint at that at various points in the film.
Moving on, the story is probably another sticking point for the comic-faithful and is probably not as deep as one would want, but also not as preachy and opinionated as the comic were — it attempts to tug at the emotional strings and in some cases succeeds quite well. I think though in the end, the film only seeks to entertain and with that I would say it handles itself amiably.
The story (like the comic) is sufficiently imaginative. From walking, talking mummys and dinosaurs (or squawking in this case), and nicely staged action set pieces. This unecessarily long titled film has enough to keep modern audiences interested to see more.
Production Design – A
Storytelling – C+
Acting – C+
Overall a grade of B