Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec

Ask people to think of Paris and a lot of the answers will include “the Eiffel tower”, “the city of love” and – since a couple of years – “Amélie Poulain”. Adèle Blanc-Sec, the latest offering by Luc Besson, combines a lot of these ingredients. Based on a comic, the adventures of the French adventuress are told in a style most viewers will associate with Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, but is in fact a lot older than that. These films go back to the old style of “cinéma de papa” the Nouvelle Vague directors reacted again. Apparently in Blanc-Sec, there is a need to go back to tell entire back stories of a lot of characters. And a need for CGI because it’s the only way to tell the story of a pterodactyl coming to life because an adventuress is looking for a way to communicate with the dead. Who else will save Adèle’s sister?

Adèle Blanc-Sec presents itself as the bastard child of movies like Amélie Poulain (in how it’s told) and La Cité des Enfants Perdus (in the way the characters look). The baddies in this film seem to compete in ugliness, whereas the old and talented professor doesn’t just look old, he looks mummified. Rather more disturbing is the film’s sense of humour. The police force looks like they’ve taken lessons from inspector Clouseau and there’s a fat drunk Adèle enjoys a post-bath smokewho, when he’s not staggering around on the streets of Paris, is emptying his bladder against a Parisian monument. And ever so often is disturbed by one of the supernatural elements of the film (from pterodactyls to mummies). Feel free to laugh if you’re inclined to, but if not, be warned that the first ten minutes will only please those who love la comédie française

Things drastically change when Louise Bourgoin pops up, the heroine of the film. Louise doesn’t really look like the comic version of Adèle: she is a lot more beautiful and her presence drips off the screen. We find Adèle in Egypt where she’s surrounded by the ugliest locals the casting crew could find and in the middle of an adventure that brings us to another simile: she’s a bit like Lara Croft, our Adèle. Not that she’s a saucy one, our Adèle. She’ll only strip in front of an abducted mummy. But that’s another story…

Les aventures extraordinaires d’ Adèle Blanc-Sec doesn’t make a bit of sense, but if you don’t mind your movies to be adventure films with stereotypical characters, hyperbolic features and comic book style plots, then you won’t mind this one. The CGI isn’t always credible, but then again, neither is the film. It’s a comic book come to life (much like a pterodactyl), you dummy.


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