A reviewgitation of Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec with
Direcow, Kakita and Korgath
For those of you reading overseas and are wondering what film we’re reviewing, it’s actually the French film Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec which for some reason the local film distributors have deigned to give it a new title- Adele: Rise of the Mummy… which is incidentally a pretty horrible title.
From the people that brought you Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale (Tangled) and Batman of the Future (Batman Beyond). And let’s not forget the horrible horrible “localisation” of Austin Powers: The Spy who Shioked Me – the reasoning being that local parlance would mask the overtly sexual connotations of the original “Shagged”. Okay, you may have forgotten it, but it burns in my memory.
Besides, nobody uses said local parlance in such a context. I guess they thought no one would watch it based on the original title, but with it opening in not so many theaters, one wonders what was the point of the whole exercise.
Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (which we shall, going forward, call Adele, instead of A:RM), is a sort of action-adventure with tons of absurdist elements, featuring the titular character, Adele Blanc-Sec and her various adventures. Think of it, perhaps, as a Tintin of sorts, bumbling cops included. After all, this is based on the Frenco-Belgian comics of the same name. (Yes, we had a comic book movie watching day, which is quite a good way to spend have a movie marathon of sorts). The movie is presumably based on book 4: Momies en Folie, but the movie lacks a subtitle, perhaps indicating that this might be the only movie.
The adventure takes us from Paris to Egypt, where Adele attempts to find a way to save her sister’s life – and she definitely tries everything in the book.
It does seem to be quite a shell game of a plot. We have to explain why there’s a Pterodactyl (not Ferodactyl) roaming Jules Verne-ian Paris, as well as a whole host of supporting characters to introduce before the story starts proper. But when it gets going it’s a rollicking good time.
I’m actually grateful for the long prologue, because while you don’t miss much per se from the opening moments, they’re all enjoyable. Think of it like having a nice appetizer before the main course.
Leave it up to the French (Luc Besson directing) to take such out of the world elements; a reanimated Pterodactyl, a French speaking mummy dressed in a dapper suit, and an ailing french genius who ponders about life after death; and be able to weave it into a hilarious yet moving tale about the lengths a person (in this case Louise Bourgoin’s feisty reporter/explorer extraordinaire Adele) to save her sister’s life. The movie is almost like a heironymous machine in its absurd and hilarious complexity. But it works. And it works amazingly well.
It’s hard to put your finger on it, and if I were to hazard a guess as to why the show was so successful, I’d have to say it was the most beautiful Louise Bourgoin as the heroine. Having Luc Besson behind the helm definitely helped, given that he’s more than capable of marrying action and comedy, and with his last directorial effort being in 2008 with Arthur and the Minimoys, I’d have to say that we’ve definitely missed his deft hand at directing. That’s not to say that the other actors and what have you failed to carry the film (the CGI wasn’t the best), and there are long stretches of time where Adele herself takes a long back seat, and the rest of the crew more than happily makes up for missing her.
I think the CGI effects were rather commendable, despite the relatively low budget of 31 million Euros. The Pterodactyl, in particular was extremely well done – with the only noticeable flaw being the awkward manner in which it carried Adele’s mentor Professor Esperandieu (Jacky Nercessian). What must definitely be praised is the amazing job that the make-up effects and costumes team did.
And as much as the title Adele: Rise of the Mummy horrifies Direcow, it does highlight the fact that this is definitely oging to be compared to Brandon Fraser’s Mummy series a few years back. And when you do so, Adele is much MUCH more interesting and in depth a character than Rachel Weisz’s Evelyn.
While on the very surface Adele does compare to The Mummy (Mummies and frolicking around the world in search of life after death), someone who is expecting just action and adventure may be surprised that Adele is so much more.
Very much so – in general terms it’s definitely a much better movie than all of the Mummy series, but after watching it I won’t be so quick as to compare the 2, Adele is so much more than an action-adventure movie.
Adele also featured all sorts of otherworldly characters, and I’m not simply referring to the mummies. We had the gorgeous Louise Bourgoin in at least a dozen different outfits, including a grand total of FOUR disguises during her attempt to rescue the Professor – one of which actually managed to make her look unattractive. Kudos also to the team which created the Professor’s look, aging him far beyond actor Nercessian’s 50 years. Yet what is truly remarkable is the subtly diabolical character of antagonist Dieuleveult, in an unfortunately limited appearance by Mathieu Amalric – who is arguably the biggest international star in the film, thanks to his appearance in the latest Bond movie Quantum of Solace.
Dieuleveult, used sparingly in the movie, is so sufficiently slimey that his visage would still be crawling accross your conciousness for a while after he’d left the scene. His appearence also hints at the possibility of future Adele movies, given how sparingly he was used, and how good he’d be as the main antagonist.
But not that Adele even needs an antagonist, for after all the motivation of this movie was really the attempt to save her sister’s life. And while that is no simple matter, having nothing but circumstance being Adele’s opposition really showed the strength of character that Adele had.
Plus considering how off-the-wall the entire movie was, when we find out how Adele’s sister Agathe and her mishap we only feel sorrow and not surprise or shock or disbelief at the series of unfortunate events (not to be confused with the book or movie of that title) that befell the sisters.
Being totally off-the-wall does present some problems, with various random subplots that, if you had fallen asleep in the middle of the movie (or not that quick on the uptake), would feel extremely extraneous and almost totally nonsensical, with characters we didn’t really care about, and might not have been included if not for their comic relief potential.
I dunno. I like the extra characters. But you definitely need to pay attention during the movie. The only thing that I wish didn’t happen was the cut during the bath scene. While I do understand the censor’s reason behind it (the original has a few seconds of boob showing) I do wish that we’d be able to watch a movie in its entirety. Or maybe cut it a little bit more elegantly.
I guess with general release they just didn’t want to have to make it NC-16 or something that might totally cut down the crowd going for the movie. But given the advertising given for it, which kid would be watching the movie?
Totally understand. Still, it’s something that I wish didn’t need to happen. In the end though Adele is a great movie. It’s not for you if you expect your traditional early 1900s action-adventure romp, but if your looking for something fun, french and refreshingly complex, then Adele’s a great way to spend two hours.
Indiana Jones this is not – but Adele stands on her own as a pastiche of so many genres that it ends up as something different, and more importantly, eclectic. This is the crazed aunt everybody loves to sit around to hear stories about – won’t you stay for a while?
Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec: 7.5/10