November 23rd, 2011

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

Friday evening at TeslaCon, we watched the movie "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec."

Based on a long-running French comic and directed by Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element" and other well-known films), the story is set in the early 20th Century in France and Egypt. The heroine, Adele Blanc-Sec, is what you might imagine Indiana Jones' mother, or maybe Laura Croft's grandmother to have been. She is a globe-trotting journalist and author who specializes in adventure travel writing with an emphasis on the wierd (her latest book is "How I Met the Yeti in Tibet" (title approximate)).

The movie open with a sequence in which an automobile, crossing a bridge over the Seine, is attacked by a pterodactyl and goes into the river, resulting in the deaths of the passengers. The Paris police get assigned the investigation.

Meanwhile, Adele (Louise Bourgoin) misappropriates money her editors have given her to explore Macchu Picchu, and instead goes to Egypt, where she steals the mummy of a famous Pharonic physician which she plans to resurrect in hopes he will be able to heal her sister, who is in a vegetative state due to a freak tennis accident. The "tomb-raiding" sequence is a hoot worthy of Jones or Croft, and worth the price of admission alone.

How these two apparently unrelated plots come together is the meat of the movie, and great fun it is. Bourgoin is well supported by a cast of bumbling policemen, eccentric scientists, and (eventually) very animate and articulate mummies. The film is well costumed, beautifully set, and has decent special effects.

So far, the 2010 film has not found an American distributor, and, much as I like it and think it has great cult/midnight movie potential, it's probably a bit too odd for the average american's taste. While most of the movie is a light-hearted adventure fantasy, there are some moments of genuine horror, such as the flashback of sister Agathe's accident. Plus, the ultimate denouemont is just breathtakingly weird.

Highly reccommended for fans of adventure fantasy. Presently only available on DVD in the USA.

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