Friday, 6 January 2012

Review - Renaissance (2006 - Dir. Christian Volckman)

About five minutes into this I went back to the main menu, looking for sound options. It felt as though the voices didn't strictly match the animation. No option for another language, just English. Okay then. The next thing I noticed is how bad the voice acting is; it's worse than early 90s computer game cutscene acting. This almost made it unwatchable.

The other thing that almost makes it unwatchable is the style. The filmmakers have to be applauded for trying something different, and at times, the stark black and white animation really works, especially on the intricate architecture. But when the camera is on the characters the harsh white becomes painful to the eyes and worse still the action can be very hard to read. Fine, try something different, but change tack when you can blatantly see that it's really hard work to watch.

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the story yet. That's because it's pretty hard to follow. Your mind swings between 'Ooh bright light. Too painful' and 'This acting is laughable'; you don't have a lot of time to actually take in the story. From the little I managed to glean, it's something about a mega-cosmetics type company in 2054 called Avalon (L'oreal in other words). Set in Paris, the main story revolves around Ilona who gets kidnapped and our grizzled cop hero, Karas, sets out to investigate.

There are some great visual ideas: a glass office set in the middle of a bridge, glass multi-levelled pedestrian areas and the blending of two faces through a reflection in a sheet of glass. They like their glass. 

The biggest surprise was getting to the credits: Daniel Craig, Romola Garai (Glorious 39), Ian Holm, the list goes on. I've heard of 'phoning in' performances but these were sent by smoke signal. From a fire made out of smokeless briquettes. That had long since gone out. Shocking stuff. Looking at Wikipedia (so it's obviously true) there is a French cast list. I'm guessing, but I suspect the French language version would have been way better. How hard is it to put the original version on a DVD? Different soundtrack and subtitles, that's it. I'd have typed the subtitles for them if they were that strapped for cash. I feel quite sorry for the filmmakers, to have their efforts severely hampered by the distributor and actors who sound like they couldn't be bothered, Craig being the main offender.

It's still painful on the eye though.

If you liked this you could also try:
Ink, Appleseed: Ex Machina, Vexille.

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