Starring: Louise Bourgoin, Nicolas Giraud, Gilles Lellouche
The year is 1911, and popular French novelist/journalist Adele Blanc-sec (Bourgoin) is on a desperate mission to save the life of her sister, who is suffering from having a spike driven through her head. Her quest takes her to Egypt, where she must obtain the mummified body of the physician to King Ramses II.
In the meantime, in Paris, Professor Espérandieu the man who is supposed to help her resurrect the physician has been practicing by bringing back to life a pterodactyl egg, which promptly hatches...
Adele Blanc-sec marks the much anticipated return to directing by one of France’s most well-known auteurs, Luc Besson, director of such films as Subway, Nikita and Leon. Besson has spent a lot of the past decade producing shiny and shallow action fare such as the Taxi and Transporter series of films, that it comes as something of a surprise that Adele Blanc-Sec has such a complex narrative, with many different characters to keep track of.
The production values of Adele Blanc-Sec are very sumptuous. The period design is excellent and very immersive, and Louise Bourgoin makes for a compelling heroine, who faces each potentially deadly adversity with a sarcastic rolling of the eyes. The CGI characters are well animated and fit into the film very well, especially the pterodactyl.
The film’s problems lie in it’s meandering script, which needs to be constantly narrated for the audience to keep up. The humour feels very old fashioned too, with the jokes laboured to the point of exhaustion. Adele’s attempts to spring Professor Espérandieu from prison is a prime example, as she adorns disguise after disguise...after disguise.
Another problem is that while there are a number of antagonists, there isn’t a clear-cut villain. Adele’s sisters near death state is a result of an accident playing a rousing game of tennis, while the police, the big game hunter hired to take out the pterodactyl and even the president, are acting out of concern for the people of Paris. The only really villainous character(s) are the ones Adele encounters in Egypt at the beginning of the film, and aren’t seen again until the epilogue.
There is still a lot to enjoy here though. The aforementioned Egypt sequence is really good, and the hatching of the pterodactyl is exciting. You just get the impression you should be enjoying it all a lot more than you are.
Adele Blanc-sec sees Luc Besson return to the director's chair, but with a meandering script and a lack of his usual visual flair, leaving us with an interesting but not quite compelling period adventure tale.
6 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)
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