Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Louise Bourgoin (Little Nicolas), Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace), Phillippe Nahon, Gilles Lellouche, Nicholas Giraud
The Story: In early 20th century Paris, an ancient pterodactyl egg suddenly hatches and the prehistoric creature terrorises some of the local town folk and livestock. Meanwhile, eccentric lady adventurer Adele Blanc-Sec (Bourgoin) retrieves an Egyptian mummy from the tomb of Ramessess II. The two events are somehow linked as Adele seeks to revive the mummy in order to save the life of her catatonic sister.
The Buzz: This is only film-maker Luc Besson’s (Nikita, The Fifth Element, Taxi) third directorial effort since 1999’s The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. The film centres on the celebrated heroine from the works of French comic artist Jacques Tardi. The attractive leading lady Bourgoin is a model-turned-TV presenter-turned-actress who paints for leisure.
Before there was Lara Croft, in video games or film, there was another strong independent female heroine with a penchant for exotic adventures a la Indiana Jones.
The fair Bourgoin plays the young Renaissance lady, Adele, with a nice comic touch. Living in 1912 Paris, she is a woman before her time, brave with a taste for adventure, beholden to no man, and whose only loved one is her sister. An unfortunate accident, for which Adele blames herself, has caused the sibling to be trapped in an unresponsive stasis.
Where then, you may ask, do the pterodactyl and the mummies so prominent in the publicity for this film come in? It turns out that these fantastic creatures hold the key to Adele’s far-fetched plan to save her sister. If ever there were a French-language comic that suited director Besson’s sensibilities, it’s this.
The film is – predictably – often over the top, features slapstick humour as well as copious special effects and action set pieces. It is keenly concerned with its charismatic and resourceful heroine and matters of the ancient world, the occult included.
It all turns out rather superficial and isn’t quite as fun as it promises to be on paper, but the lively Bourgoin helps keep the offbeat film watchable. Do note an English-dubbed version plus the original French-language version (only at The Cathay) will play in cinemas.
The English dubbing, akin to the sort of dubbing you’d find in old, dubbed Bruce Lee movies or Japanese anime series, is jarring and distracting. Opt for the original French version instead.