Saturday, 14 May 2011



I rather like Luc Besson. Not just for the apparently infinite stream of screenplays and storylines for boneheadly dumb but entertaining Euro-set action movies that included what is probably the definitive Jason Statham movie - The Transporter - and thud-bang-wallop vehicles for everyone from Jet Li to Liam Neeson, but some offbeat French art/cult movies including Subway and The Big Blue, and of course the massively bonkers but strangely wonderful The Fifth Element, which he supposedly wrote while in high school if you believe the IMDb trivia page.

I'm guessing The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec was actually written while Besson was in secondary school because it's incredibly childish: it's actually two stories rolled into one, but not terribly well. It's Paris in 1911, and the Adèle Blanc-Sec of the title is an adventurer, explorer and novelist seeking to use a Parisian doctor's psychic powers to revive an Egyptian mummy who she believes can cure her twin sister who was paralysed after a freak accident involving a hatpin and a tennis ball. Sadly, the doctor concerned has used his powers to set a pterodactyl loose on Parisian society, which proceeds to attack the Prefect of Police and ultimately the President. Can Adèle and her lovestruck assistant save the doctor from imminent execution, find the pterodactyl and control it - and then sort out this business with the mummy and her sister?

Mysteriously (although perhaps not, given that it's a French language film) it's only had a patchy and brief UK theatrical release. The two stories don't really mesh together terribly well, and Adèle is off-screen a lot of the time while the beast is rampaging around Paris. But it's a generally good-natured, amusing if hopelessly nonsensical bit of French fantasy whimsy with an orchestral score from Besson's regular composer Eric Serra, a fearsome collection of stick-on beards and moustaches, decent CG effects, an array of eccentric support characters including buffoonish cops and big game hunters, and a silly sense of fun. It's no Fifth Element, but it's kind of engaging in its own way.


No comments: