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on 15 November 2011
I've seen lots of very average reviews of this film, so was expecting some impressive visuals but was prepared to be disappointed overall. Quite the reverse was true - this is an utterly charming fantasy obviously made with a great deal of love. There are lots of comparisons to Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, but these comparisons are totally superficial based purely on the relatively brief archaelogical exploits at the beginning of the film. What these comparisons don't encompass are the humour, the wonderful characters cum charicatures and delightful absurdity of it all. It's not supposed to be a rip-roaring edge of the seat action film - it's supposed to be fun - and it is - in spades.

This is firmly based in French fantasy comics - no-one making this film had either Indy or Lara in mind when making this, and such comparisons are simply lazy. I'd thoroughly recommend parking any preconceptions you may have, and simply enjoying what is a great film.
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on 12 December 2011
Luc Besson came to prominence as the writer/director responsible for some of the most iconic French films of the Cinema Du Look period including Subway, The Big Blue, Nikita and Leon. His career faltered with the release of The Fifth Element, the overblown and unhinged Sci-Fi saga starring Bruce Willis. Since then his output has been largely hit and miss, concentrating his efforts more as a writer/producer for the action oriented Taxi and Transporter franchises.

Besson recently returned to direct the heartfelt live-action/animated "Minimoys" trilogy based on a series of fantasy novels he wrote for children featuring Freddie Highmore as the hero Arthur battling his arch-nemesis Maltazard on each occasion voiced by David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed respectively along with a host of Hollywood elite lending their vocal talents to supporting roles. The films proved to be massive hits with my 4 year old son, who happily returns to them on a regular basis.

When I first heard that Besson's next movie The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec was based on the 1970s comic book series by Jacques Tardi about the adventures of an "Indiana Jones" style heroine, I had assumed that it was also primarily aimed at children and would get an English language release. However, I would suggest that subtitles aside the themes and leisurely pace of the film would probably fail to engage a pre-teen audience even if it were dubbed.

Besson has adapted the script from Tardi's most popular comics Adele and the Beast and Mummies on Parade set in turn of the century Paris focusing on the exploits of an intrepid, independent young journalist and adventurer Adele Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin), who uses her acerbic wit and exceptional resourcefulness to run rings around her opposition, the Professor Dieuleveult (Mathieu Amalric). Tardi conceived his female protagonist in contrast to the overtly sexualised Barberella, whose titillating escapades in outer space dominated Franco-Belgian comic culture at the time, setting the stories in the early 1900s further emphasises Adele's emancipation.

By employing the mystical powers of the strange and reclusive Professor Esperandieu (Jacky Nercessian), Adele hopes to revive the mummified remains of Ramesses II's doctor in the belief that he will be able to cure her sister whose current condition remains a mystery for the greater part of the film. Whilst Adele is away in Egypt excavating the Pharaoh's tomb Esperandieu practices his resuscitation technique on a 135 million year old Pterodactyl egg which hatches and goes about terrorising the city and suburbs of Paris. The beast is eventually tracked down by the bumbling and insatiable, Inspector Caponi (Gilles Lellouche) and the Professor is arrested awaiting execution.

The film cleverly employs the episodic quality of the serialised adventure films of the 1930s but amidst the many action set pieces, amusing subplots and colourful supporting characters you never lose the key narrative thread of Adele's quest to revive her sister who has been in a catatonic state since a bizarre tennis accident involving a hat pin for which she feels responsible; her guilty suffering and dogged determination provide the movie with an emotional core and Louise Bourgoin's layered performance prevents it ultimately from being forgettable fluff.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec is Luc Besson's finest movie in a long time and the intriguing end scene of Adele embarking the Titanic for a well-deserved vacation suggests to me that there may be more instalments to come for which I would be exceedingly grateful. There will be clamours for an English language version but there is no doubt that this is an extremely watchable subtitled movie and I'm of the belief that the distinctive French flavour enhances the overall enjoyment of the piece.
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on 19 May 2012
Whimsical, quirky and off the wall. They say Indiana Jones meets Amelie, but I would also add a bit of Monty Python - albeit with a French Galic flavour thrown in. Yes one notch to the left or the right would've made this film a true classic. Unfortunately there is something missing you can't quite put your finger on. That said it's highly watchable and does leave an impression to maybe one day watch again. The make-up though is amazing due to various actors being virtually recognizable! And although Louise Bourgoin - the lead character is a bit of an offset beauty, she does indeed carry a very plucky and vivacious spirit that ultimately is really quite captivating and appealing. THe only let down is some of the CGI - especially when it comes to riding a pterodactyl! Yes, you did hear right! That said, give it a go... I'm sure there are worst films in your Blu-Ray collection!
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on 14 June 2012
From some of the reviews you can see that many people really like this movie and a few others were distinctly underwhelmed, as for me I'm right in the middle - not a great film, but certainly not a bad one either. If I had to give it a one liner it would be "a great family fun movie" and certainly worth viewing. Just enjoy the fun characters, don't think too much about the holes in the plot would have been 4 stars but for the rather poor special effects in places.
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In 1912, and around 135 million years after being laid, a pterodactyl egg in a Parisian museum hatches and causes panic. Sightings of the flying monster are reported by newspapers and a chain of investigators delegate the case until a big game hunter is brought in to find the prehistoric creature. However, re-animating the pterodactyl was only a practice run for Professor Espérandieu, his ultimate aim is to assist the beautiful Adèle Blanc-Sec...

When Adèle first appears in the film she is on an expedition to Cairo. She hopes to retrieve the mummified body of a Pharaoh's doctor who (once brought back to life) will be able to heal her comatose sister. The plot may sound ridiculous but the overall look of the film manages to pull it off without looking like a mess. The turn-of-the-century setting is blended with a modern style and visuals which almost make this feel like a fairy-tale world. Some of the characters have prosthetics which give them an otherworldly appearance which places them in an alternate reality and allow the viewer to accept the implausible concept. Inspector Conrad, for example, looks like Monty Python's Mister Creosote and Mademoiselle Blanc-Sec has the appearance of Mary Poppins crossed with Indiana Jones.

CGI is used extensively in the film and for the most part it looks very good, but there are some sequences involving CGI human's which aren't as convincing as the pterodactyl.

This is based on a series of French language comics and the madcap adventure has translated well to film, it is quite whimsical and often involves farcical comedy, the comedy element of the film means that you never really feel that anyone is ever in any peril (which perhaps detracts from some of the drama) and this is ultimately a light-hearted adventure. Adèle is feisty and beautiful, her plight provides an emotional insight which is good as there is little character development to her otherwise.

If you want madcap French comedy then Micmacs does it better (one of my favourite films of the last few years) and when it comes to breathtaking visuals, Luc Besson did it best with the black and white Angel-A which is jaw-droppingly beautiful. This however is a fun swashbuckling film with larger than life characters and a good dose of the occult. I don't think it will be as highly regarded as others in Besson's back catalogue but it's certainly enjoyable and the humour comes through well. This is one of his more mainstream films and should appeal to a wider audience, especially with so much of it looking familiar (there are scenes reminiscent of Indiana Jones and The Mummy), it's a shame that many will only entertain foreign language films if they look like Hollywood fayre, this certainly has that look in places but the Gallic humour and fantasy-esque visuals ensure that this is still stylishly individual.

In a nutshell: A quirky, pre-war romp which captures the energy and excitement of a Jules Verne adventure. It's great to see a strong female lead in a film which isn't averse to not taking itself too seriously.
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Only the French can make films as gloriously daft as this one. Hollywood tries but takes it all far too seriously, even with good attempts like the original Mummy. But this 100-minute wonder is altogether more accomplished; subtle and silly, entertaining for kids but superbly arch for adults.

A pterodactyl in art deco Paris is splendid in itself, but Adele herself is a glorious adventurer in the American Earhart mould; tomb-raider one minute, and mistress of the failed jail-break the next. The verbal and visual jokes are beautifully played throughout, and the CGI (sorry; it's not a real pterodactyl) sits comfortably well alongside the live action. Younger viewers might struggle to keep up with the subtitles as the film is in French, and I guess some of the less obvious humour may mystify them. The resurrected mummies should entertain anyone - Ramses II is a gent, it seems. The scene with the hat pin and tennis accident might cause some alarm, mind...

The Amazing Adventures tip its hat to the Raiders series, to the Lara Croft films, and indeed to the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies. But it stands splendidly apart from them as being rather more delightful - a bundle of witty visual entertainment with a pleasingly absurd angle on what might be possible.
There's more than one version of this available on DVD, so check you're buying the right type for your system (and whether you prefer subtitles or dubbed language)
8/10
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on 26 August 2011
Saw a review in the Empire magazine and was intrigued, was this Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones?
I literally dragged my wife along to the local council/independent cinema to watch, with the promise of a glass of wine beforehand as the carrot. I was ever optimistic, enjoying the majority of my visits to the big screen whatever the movie. Surprise surprise, my wife loved the movie which offered a nice mix of Gallic humour with Besson panache. The movie was well worth the ticket price, especially with the French students in front of us laughing a second before we did as we caught up on the subtitles.
The film is a nice mix of adventure and humour with digs at French stereotypes. Look for the comment towards the end by the mummies (yes mummies). You have to know your Parisian architecture to cotton on.

I would recommend buying the movie if you like something a little different that is not afraid to take itself too seriously. Huge effects and big stars it is not but definitely enjoyable. Finally there is a little something at the end `a la' Marvel movies so don't switch off and walk away when the titles begin, and yes my wife also enjoyed her glass of Pinot Grigio.
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In 1912, and around 135 million years after being laid, a pterodactyl egg in a Parisian museum hatches and causes panic. Sightings of the flying monster are reported by newspapers and a chain of investigators delegate the case until a big game hunter is brought in to find the prehistoric creature. However, re-animating the pterodactyl was only a practice run for Professor Espérandieu, his ultimate aim is to assist the beautiful Adèle Blanc-Sec...

When Adèle first appears in the film she is on an expedition to Cairo. She hopes to retrieve the mummified body of a Pharaoh's doctor who (once brought back to life) will be able to heal her comatose sister. The plot may sound ridiculous but the overall look of the film manages to pull it off without looking like a mess. The turn-of-the-century setting is blended with a modern style and visuals which almost make this feel like a fairy-tale world. Some of the characters have prosthetics which give them an otherworldly appearance which places them in an alternate reality and allow the viewer to accept the implausible concept. Inspector Conrad, for example, looks like Monty Python's Mister Creosote and Mademoiselle Blanc-Sec has the appearance of Mary Poppins crossed with Indiana Jones.

CGI is used extensively in the film and for the most part it looks very good, but there are some sequences involving CGI human's which aren't as convincing as the pterodactyl.

This is based on a series of French language comics and the madcap adventure has translated well to film, it is quite whimsical and often involves farcical comedy, the comedy element of the film means that you never really feel that anyone is ever in any peril (which perhaps detracts from some of the drama) and this is ultimately a light-hearted adventure. Adèle is feisty and beautiful, her plight provides an emotional insight which is good as there is little character development to her otherwise.

If you want madcap French comedy then Micmacs does it better (one of my favourite films of the last few years) and when it comes to breathtaking visuals, Luc Besson did it best with the black and white Angel-A which is jaw-droppingly beautiful. This however is a fun swashbuckling film with larger than life characters and a good dose of the occult. I don't think it will be as highly regarded as others in Besson's back catalogue but it's certainly enjoyable and the humour comes through well. This is one of his more mainstream films and should appeal to a wider audience, especially with so much of it looking familiar (there are scenes reminiscent of Indiana Jones and The Mummy), it's a shame that many will only entertain foreign language films if they look like Hollywood fayre, this certainly has that look in places but the Gallic humour and fantasy-esque visuals ensure that this is still stylishly individual.

In a nutshell: A quirky, pre-war romp which captures the energy and excitement of a Jules Verne adventure. It's great to see a strong female lead in a film which isn't averse to not taking itself too seriously.
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on 10 June 2011
I wasn't too sure about this. I've been more and more disappointed each time I've seen a Besson movie and I was dreading this, but the result is absolutely charming. It's fun, witty,well-paced, with a dose of second degree humour and a huge dose of gallic charm.
Highly recommended.
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on 17 January 2012
It's so refreshing to watch a film with a great deal of humour, enough twists and turns to make one giddy and a really original take on action films.
I won't reveal the plot but the setting, decade and attitudes are delightful. Subtitled but even that is funny. I'm so pleased as I stumbled on it via Love Film, had to have a copy for my collection.
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