There was a time where I believed that Luc Besson would never direct a film again. After giving us magnificent films like La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element, Besson had decided to become more of a writer/producer. It wasn't until years later, that he'd step back into the director's chair and offer the beautiful Angel-A, which managed to prove that he still had some cinematic brilliance left in him. Its never been hidden that Besson loves comics, which is very much evident in The Fifth Element, but I was certainly surprised that he'd directed another film based on a comic book character, Adele Blanc-Sec, who first appeared in print in 1976, by author Jacques Tardi. The result of this is 2010's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, which happens to showcase Luc Besson at his most whimsical, in this entertaining and energetic comic book film.
The film stars Louise Bourgin as the titular character, as she travels around the world, goes on adventures and lives to writes about her exploits, as a sort of day job. We find her in the midst of seeking the remains of a mummified doctor, whose medical findings in ancient Egypt could be the key in helping her save her sister. While traveling back to Paris, with her mummy doctor in tow, Adele seeks the help of Professor Esperandieu (Jacky Nercessian), who might be able to psychically link his mind to the mummy, in order to find out any information that might be helpful. While in the process of trying to find the professor, a pterodactyl hatches from an old egg in the museum and starts wrecking havoc on the city. Its up to Adele and the professor to help stop the dinosaur from destroying everything and find a way to awaken the ancient secrets that lie within the mummy's past.
The production values alone are worth checking out Adele Blanc-Sec, for Besson's production team has presented a beautiful rendition of early 20th century Paris. From the use of shooting on location, to the impressive costume design, Adele Blanc-Sec manages to imbue the vibrancy and liveliness of Tardi's comic book. The casting in the film is also brilliant, with the beautiful and charming Louise Bourgin playing the Adele, with humor, elegance and strength, that she easily carries the film single handedly. Many of the other actors, wearing some of the best make-up I've seen in awhile, play either very goofy characters or nefarious villains. Mathieu Almaric, of The Diving Bell and The Butterfly fame, looks almost nothing like his own self, as he portrays the evil Dieuleveult, an nefarious professor who is constantly trying to stop Ms. Blanc-Sec, at every turn. If there's anything major to fault the film, it would have to be its screenplay and running time. While Besson has done a great job at adapting the comics into a well crafted film, it remains painfully obvious that there are two comic book stories that have been slammed together. With this in play, the film begins to drag its feet towards the latter half of the film.
Shout Factory's disc of Adele Blanc-Sec is very well done, with its rich video and audio presentation, as well as the few extras that showcase behind the scenes footage. The video on the Blu-Ray is presented in a AVC encoded, 1080p transfer, with an aspect ratio of 2.34:1. While the film would shine regardless, due to its production values, the films video pops off the screen and provides some incredible detail and beauty to this comic book adaptation. The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Mixes, in both French and English, along with normal stereo mixes as well. I never bothered to see how the English dub sounded, but the French language track in surround was crystal clear and a lot of fun. From the bustling activity in the pyramid sequence, to the pterodactyl flying around Paris, there's a great deal of the surround channels being utilized properly and creating a wonderful experience. There's a behind the scenes look at the film, that speaks to not only the cast and crew, but to also Mr. Tardi, who lends his experiences of working on the comics, as well as his experience on the set.Overall, Luc Besson has managed to craft a beautiful and energetic comic book film in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. While its a tad long, there's plenty of things to enjoy on this fun little film.