Wednesday, September 28, 2016

[Review] April and the Extraordinary World

Co-directed by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci, and produced by the creators of the excellent Persepolis, this animated French sci-fi film April and the Extraordinary World has a lot on its mind.

In an alternate universe to 1940s Paris, the city runs on burning coal, and scientists are being captured by dark forces in order to research weapons for government. The brilliant April (voiced by Marion Cotillard) is a chemist living in secrecy with her talking cat Darwin. Spies, conspiracies, a search for parents, and the creation of a vital serum propel this twisty plot.

The smooth animation is constructed with crisp lines of meticulous detail. And fittingly, the backdrop of Paris along with its rulers are rendered in hazy greyscale, while the citizens and main characters are accentuated with beiges and deep reds, as if they're the only signs of life in a drab dystopia. The film certainly lives up to the "extraordinary" in its title. Tinged with a steampunk aesthetic and sci-fi eccentricity, the story sweeps into distinctly realized settings with frenetic chases and booming action. It's not afraid to get weird, either. The second half contains talking lizards that look like Dinobots. Seriously.

The narrative floats by with an ecological bend concerning energy and resources, as well as a hypothetical revisionist spin on technological developments. It's also an ode to the important powers of invention and innovation. April and the Extraordinary World didn't make me laugh super hard, nor did it strike heavy emotional gears like some of the bigger animated films from this year, but its wholly unique vision makes it worth the experiment.

( 7.5/10 )

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