Film Review: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is a joyous movie that offers whimsical charm. The film sets just the right tone and is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure.

In the early 20th century, writer Adèle Blanc-Sec travels to Egypt to find a mummified doctor to take back to Paris with her. She hopes her friend Professor Espérandieu can bring him back from the dead in order to help her ailing sister. Espèrandieu has other things on his mind however, as a pterodactyl stalks the streets of Paris…

Based on the comic books by Jacques Tardi, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is a very entertaining movie. Luc Besson’s film combines the right amount of adventure, mystery, humour and action. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet at the same time allows the audience to become absorbed by the action. There is a definite sense of mystery, and tension at times, but the film retains a lightness which is refreshing.

Part of the film’s charm is undoubtedly due to its period setting. Adèle Blanc-Sec is set in early twentieth-century Paris, although some scenes take place in other locales. There is a propensity for the fantastic that is allowed by this setting. The exoticness transports viewers into another world, one where fantasy is met with less disbelief.

Adèle herself is an amiable protagonist. In a male-dominated environment, she has a commanding presence. It is a nice change to see a heroine with intelligence, energy and beauty. Moreover, like the film, Adèle offers a tongue-in-cheek approach to her mission, despite the severity of it. Her individual manner is central to the film, and the character brings a great deal of heart.

The special effects used in Adèle Blanc-Sec work well within the confines of the film. They are not the most state of the art seen in recent cinema, but they are employed effectively. They add to the sense of charm, particularly in the later museum scenes. Those expecting Hollywood blockbuster production values may be disappointed, but the film stands out with its visual style. Costumes are wonderful, as are the set design and art direction.

Louise Bourgoin is excellently cast as Adèle. She conveys just the right attitude, as is entirely convincing in the role. Jacky Nercessian also looks the part as Professor Espérandieu, while Gilles Lellouche brings humour as Inspecteur Caponi.

Adèle Blanc-Sec is reminiscent of the Indiana Jones films in its style of adventure, but offers uniqueness with its setting and visual style. Highly recommended.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 15th August 2011.