April and the Extraordinary World
April and the Extraordinary World
Directors: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
Writers: Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand, Jacques Tardi
Voice Cast: Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc-André Grondin, Bouli Lanners, Anne Coesens, Macha Grenon, Benoît Brière, Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tony Robinow, Mark Camacho, Tod Fennell, Carlos Alazraqui, Victor Brandt, Jim Ward, Mick Wingert, Paul Giamatti, Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons
Synopsis: 1941. France asleep in the nineteenth century, governed by steam and Napoleon V, where scientists vanish mysteriously. Avril (Marion Cotillard), a teenage girl, goes in search of her missing scientist parents.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for action/peril including gunplay, some thematic elements and rude humor
9.8 / 10
- Great animation. I love how the color scheme and art direction really set a unique feel and tone to the overall movie.
- Voice acting was great.
- Loved the humor. Especially the talking cat, as he was funny.
- Cinematography was excellent, with plenty of shots that help capture this world quite beautifully.
- Story was great. Has a lot of pro environmental messages that are subtle, yet deep
- It's a bit slow around the first act of the movie, but it picks up afterwards.
This is what "Tomorrowland" should have been.
Set in an alternate timeline in 1941, where Napoleon V governs over France. The world still operates under steam and coal power because most of the world's leading scientists have disappeared up to that point, so no other alternative means of fuel was ever discovered. If you can imagine a world where radio, television, electricity and combustion engines never existed, as the world relies on outdated technology, then you should have a general idea on how this alternate reality plays itself out.
Where have the scientist like Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein gone over the years? No one truly knows, but one little girl named April happens to be one herself. Constantly on the run from the government, as Napoleon wanted her parents to invent a formula that would essentially make all of France's soldiers immune to death and aging.
Sadly, her parents mysteriously disappeared during a storm, and she's been on her own ever since. Accompanied only by her talking cat, who was an experiment of her parents. She continues to work on the formula her parents worked on ages ago, so she can help her cat friend live forever.
Meanwhile, the cop that tried to bust her parents ages ago is still on the prowl for her, after decades have gone by, and he even recruits a young man to stalk her. Without giving away too much, she comes across the formula her parents made by accident, which not only makes her a huge target by the government of France, but it also puts her on the wanted list of a race far more advance than anything she's ever known.
The film does have something of a subtle pro environmental message, and how sometimes power can be corrupted over time. As the film alludes to, there are many inventions throughout history that are often meant to help humanity and the Earth, but we tend to lose sight of that because of our own selfish ambitions. It shows how sometimes we can lose sight of that for the greater good, and how easily power corrupts.
It's an intriguing story to say the least, and I have to say the premise alone makes it worth watching. However, what impresses me most about this movie is it's visuals and cinematography. The film features traditional hand drawn animation, with coloring that seems to seems almost like a water painting to some degree. It's an interesting look, and it definitely gives the film it's own aesthetic identity.
Some of the camera shots in this film were amazing, and I loved how creative this world was. Sure, it would've been easy to make this world look rather simplistic due to it's limited technological advances, but "April and the Extraordinary World" takes it one step beyond. While this world was deprived of such things like electricity and etc, it makes up for it in other ways. For instance, hot air balloons still exist, and April's grandfather even manages to invent a house that can turn into a flying plane, while operating on steam power. It's quite interesting how aesthetically unique this world is, and it's definitely a creative masterpiece in terms of it's overall style and art direction.
What I especially loved about this film was not only it's ability to make you think, but how it also takes you to places that you never would've expected. For instance. Every time you think you know exactly where the story is heading it always throws you for a loop that you never see coming. And even though these loops are shocking, they never feel out of place. One moment, the film is a science fiction thriller about a girl on the run from the French government. The next it's a love story about a man that was originally hired to spy on said girl, but inevitably falls in love with her. And somehow, it even turns into a story about aliens too?
In some ways, it reminded me of how exhilarating the original animated series, "Adventures of Tin Tin", used to be, where you'd see the protagonists go off on adventures to all sorts of places, where almost anything is possible.
"April and the Extraordinary World" is arguably one of the best animated adventure stories that I've ever seen. Think "Tomorrowland" if it had more action and less exposition, While not quite as great as "Zootopia" this year, "April and the Extraordinary World" is worth a look for any die hard science fiction fan that's yearning to see an adventure unlike anything they've ever experienced.
© 2016 Steven Daniels