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RUNNING TIME: 105 Minutes
– ‘The Making of Renaissance’ featurette
It’s Blade Runner with a Sin City aesthetic. This is probably as close to an encapsulation of the film’s worth as one could get.
English dubbing provided by Daniel (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) Craig, Jonathan (Stigmata) Pryce, and Ian (The Sweet Hereafter) Holm
Katharine Hepburn has a posse.
It’s the year 2054, and a pretty girl is kidnapped. A tough detective (Craig) with a past leans on the victim’s sister in order to piece together what information she has. Was it her handlers at the Avalon corporation where she works? The doctor she did pro-bono work with on the side? Some of the seedier company her sister kept? Cthulhu? The film doesn’t give a shit, so don’t worry if you don’t either.
Paraplegic snow angels make up for what they lack in form with stunning realism.
When a movie seemingly makes no effort to make itself interesting beyond its (admittedly) interesting visual aesthetic, it becomes entirely reliant on that visual quality to carry it beyond whatever narrative shortcomings it has. However, the question then becomes whether or not the film is viable when it’s abundantly clear that all there is to appreciate here is style and there’s nothing in the way of substance.
When you’re dealing with a one trick pony of this nature, the one trick better be damn sure to be something spectacular and as far as this film’s concerned while it isn’t mind-blowing in terms of their results and processes of animation, it certainly makes for something visually interesting. By filming motion capture and combining it with traditional animation and only using the colors black and white (no grays), the filmmakers have thrown down something of a visual gambit that has its moments of inspired success, such as the gun battle in a futuristic greenhouse. The imagery looks best when soaked in the shadows as it remains for large portions of the film. The cityscape at night in particular looks really fantastic (and avoids the trappings of becoming too ‘futurized’ which some cities fall prey to on film) and really adds to the film, and when the characters themselves are slinking in and out of shadows they also succeed in being a visually interesting creation.
As much as she wished it weren’t so, she knew that when she turned around Anthony Perkins would still be watching. Waiting.
However, when seen full on without the texturing of the shadows, the character designs are revealed to be a little polygonal and more worthy of a cut-scene in a Playstation game than fodder for a big-screen motion picture. Also, the movement of the lips is supremely unnatural in the English language dub, but from what I’ve watched of the original French audio track, it’s not exactly just the dub that’s to blame. And while some of the movement of the characters feels realistic and human-like, other time you feel pulled out of the world they’re trying to immerse you in because the movement seems to be working at odds with the world they’re set in.
The film’s big secret: it’s just a remake of Intellivision’s Dungeons and Dragons.
And while the visuals are intermittently quite exciting, it’s the completely vapid noir-esque tale that dooms this flick to the trash heap of cinematic history. They’re definitely trying to make something interesting in the tale of the kidnapped girl who works for an omnipresent corporation in the future. However, the visual aspect is so completely dominant over the proceedings, the storyline never even has time to resonate with the viewer. It has all the staples of a noir (the deep blacks and shadows of the color palatte, the femme fatale, the cigarette smoke) without any of the thematic or narrative heft that defines the best noir pictures of its heyday. I will admit to finding the resolution of the main mystery interesting, but it was far too little too late on this picture’s behalf.
So while I can’t say that I’d really recommend checking this out, I also don’t think it was a wasted experience for me in watching it. It’s an interesting visual experiment that yields some dividends in the way of action setpieces and moody atmosphere, but there’s literally nothing else there. So in a way, the dead eyes of the motion captured main characters perfectly illuminate the problems with the picture. It sure looks pretty when it’s seeped in shadows, but when you see it for what it really is, it’s a completely hollow experience.
"I see you’ve noticed my Natalie Wood portrait."
The cover is very uninspiring as they don’t seem to think letting some of the more striking visuals in the film speak for themselves would work and instead opt for main character with gun crazy glued to his forehead. In a case of a movie where the entire draw is the visual aspect of it, you better make damn sure that the transfer is sparkling, and Miramax acquits itself nicely on this front. It looks and sounds fantastic. In terms of extras, all there is a pretty nice half hour long making-of featurette that goes a little bit deeper than your standard fluff piece. It also confirms my suspicions about the filmmaker’s motives going into the making of the movie as the focus is almost entirely placed on the visual aspect as opposed to any discussion of the storyline. Also, a note to those planning on checking this out: even though I mentioned it in the body of my review, I’d definitely recommend skipping the dub (which is severely unimpressive) and stick to the subtitled French dialogue that matches the characters mouths a little more fluidly. Makes for a more pleasant viewing experience.
5.8 out of 10