Back in the 1990s, Luc Besson was a filmmaking force, thanks to his ennervating work on La Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, and his most underrated feature, The Messenger. Although he devoted much of his energies the past decade as a producer on a multitude of films (he also directed several installments of the Arthur and the Invisibles franchise), Besson has re-shifted much of his recent focus to directing.
He helmed the 2011 feature The Lady, a biopic on Aung San Suu Kyi and he’s also the man behind the camera for the upcoming Robert De Niro/Michelle Pfeiffer feature The Family.
His 2010 effort The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is a fascinating mix of Besson’s love for kinetic action and passion for fantastical narratives. Based on the comic book series by Jaques Tardi, the 1912 storyline on author/adventure Adèle Blanc (Louise Bourgoin) who goes on an epic mission to save her sister Agathe (Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre) from the clutches of death.
Adèle’s adventures lead her to Egypt, where she unearths a tomb which may save her sister’s (she’s named Agathe) life. Housing the mummy at her Parisian residence (where her sister remains either comatose or dead as she’s propped up on Adèle’s bed), our heroine then attempts to rescue Professor Menard (Philippe Nahon) who is imprisoned for the hatching of a pterodactyl egg at the Natural History Museum. If Menard revives the medical doctor mummy, maybe both of their brain power can resurrect Agathe.
Like The Fifth Element, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is filled with unpredictable twists and a multi-layered and at times overly ambitious storyline. The feature continues the lifelong collaboration between Besson and cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, and the movie is a total feast for the eyes (especially the Egyptian sequences).
Besson is also a master at helping craft excellent performances from his leading ladies, most notably Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita and Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element and The Messenger. Louise Bourgoin, as the unflappable and resilient protagonist, continues in that tradition, infusing her performance with charm and the appropriate dose of moxie.
Special Features: Unlike many Blu-ray releases which have forgettable featurettes just for the sake of it, this disc contains a first rate, 26 plus minute look into the making of the film. Included in the segment are in-depth looks at how Besson mounted the project as well as how Bourgoin landed her biggest role to date. An unexpectedly evocative moment comes when comics artist Jacques Tardi meets Bourgoin, who’s dressed as Adèle, for the first time. Watching Tardi walk around the film set and seeing his world come to life before him, is the featurette’s highlight.
Also included on the disc is a quick music segment featuring Bourgoin recording a song for the film. Two minutes worth of deleted scenes, which contain more sequences with Adèle and Agathe, are also on the disc. Although it’s easy to see why they’re not on the final cut, the extra clips are definitely worth watching, especially if you enjoyed the sibling rivalry element of the film.
You can also watch the movie with subtitles or, if you simply hate reading off a screen, check out the dubbed version.
Last but not least, the Blu-ray also includes a digital copy and DVD version of the feature.
The Verdict: Beautifully shot by Thierry Arbogast and containing a spirited performance by Louise Bourgoin, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is another first rate feature from Luc Besson. If you’re looking for an Indiana Jones-ish experience, but in the shape of a woman who can ride on the wings of a pterodactyl, you’ve come to the right place.
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Posted by Greg Srisavasdi