BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
Luc Besson's Latest Adventure Finally Hits Hi-Def Home Video...
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Luc Besson is a director who knows how to bring to life powerful heroines on-screen. Thus, it's no surprise the French filmmaker adapted the fan-favorite comic series - The Extrodinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec - by Jacques Tardi which began over 30 years ago in 1976. Originally released in Europe in 2010, this film adaptation brings to life the fascinating historical fiction comic series, which follows the adventures of the titular character - Adele Blanc-Sec - as a reporter-turned-adventurerer seeking answers to life's problems in the mysteries of history. In the vein of Indiana Jones, Tin-Tin and other brilliantly realized historical fiction films, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec uses real life locations and events to help bring the setting of the film to life, all while following the fictional adventures of the story's characters.
The film stars the little known actress Louise Bourgoin as the titular character, a benefit in bringing to life Adele without the baggage of a famous actress. Bourgoin, who was nominated for a Cesar Award for Most Promising Actress for staring here, does an extraordinary job of playing Adele in all of her strong, witty and stubborn style. Likewise, the supporting cast - including Mathieu Amalric, Gilles Lellouche and Jean-Paul Rouve - does an outstanding job of keeping the focus on the developing storyline and not on the actors themselves.
Adapted from Book 1: Adele and The Beast and Book 4: Mummies on Parade, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec finds itself set in 1912 France and Egypt as Adele seeks to save her sister from death following a tragic accident 5 years earlier. With the help of Adele's doctor friend Espérandieu, Adele believes she can bring to life an ancient Egyptian physician who can cure her sister's ailment. After all, Espérandieu has discovered the answer to bringing to life those long dead and, in testing his ability, he's brought back to life a 136-million year old pterodactyl and a troop of resurrected Egyptian mummies. Works with both, Adele must save the people of Paris and her sister, all while keeping herself out of harms way besides. Throughout the action and adventure, the film interweaves plenty of poignant humor and comedy, specifically when Adele seeks to rescue Espérandieu from jail by posing as everything from a cook and nun to a nurse and police officer. Smart and witty, the script - by Besson - keeps the action lively and the comedy light and enjoyable.
In its native 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the film's gorgeous 1080p video transfer breathes life into the blu-ray. All colors are gorgeous on-screen, motion capture and CGI animation is solid (considering it's now 3 years old) and all lines are tight and solid. Likewise, the blu-ray includes an impressive English dub in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 as well as the film's original French language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. For those purists, the film's English subtitles are easy to follow and accurate. Both audio tracks provide plenty to brag about; from the dino's airborne screams and the hunter's rare gunfire, multi-channel audio is solid and impressive.
As for special features, the blu-ray includes a short collection of deleted scenes, a very short look at the music of the film, and a good "Making Of" featurette which provides fans of the film with a look at the genesis of the film, the adaptation of the comic book, the director Besson and the comic creator Tardi and the casting of Bourgoin as Adele amongst other behind the scenes info. Overall, a solid 26-minute featurette that'll provide fans unfamiliar with the comic more info on why the film is so important.
Overall, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-sec is a great new addition to the historical fiction genre. For fans of Indiana Jones and Tin-Tin, Adele Blanc-sec is a great new addition to their home video collection. If you're a fan of French comics, you'll also want to check out the film's basis; Tardi's work ages well and makes for an entertaining read, even almost 4 decades after it was first published. With a gorgeous picture, solid special effects, impressive audio tracks (in both English and native French) and an entertaining and engaging storyline, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-sec will make for an enjoyable good time for all ages.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-sec is available now on Blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess Horsley