Cover Art and Menu: 6/10
This is a film that screams out for some artsy attention. The cover isn’t that exciting though, sadly. The menu isn’t very memorable either. It’s an few clips from the film with navigation over the top…oh how I wish they would make more of an effort in the menu/cover department, especially for these more innovative films.
The making of Featurette isn’t very long, but it does a good job of showing how the film was made from the ground up. They show the technology behind the motion capture. This behind the scenes documentary also shows the French performers who did the original roles. We get to hear the new Bond (Daniel Craig) in the English version, along with Ian Holm and Jonathon Pryce, but it’s nice to see the original folks who did the actual physical parts with all those little balls stuck all over them and in sets with nothing more than wire mesh as their props. It’s a cool looking film and I would have been disappointed if they had not included some background information, so I am happy with what they tossed our way.
The Movie: 7/10
There are movies and there are films. I know some people may not agree with that statement, but that’s ok. It’s not for me to tell them they’re wrong. Renaissance is a film that makes the leap from movie to film with one little trick, presentation.
The look of the film is, to unabashedly simplify things, a moving black and white drawing. I don’t mean black and white like old movies. I mean BLACK and WHITE with no shades of grey, or at least as few as are functionally required to maintain the visual style.
They use motion capture and new techniques to bring what would be a standard live action story into the world as a very different experience. I draw black and white ink designs, so I was immediately intrigued. I did worry that the constant effect would become tiresome. Sometimes experiments in the arts are amazing but overwhelming at the same time. I did have occasion to squint and wonder if I was getting the whole picture because of the reductive nature of the images. A small white squiggle on a solid black shape can be an eye, a shirt collar, or a reflection of light. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind at all. I love innovative visual effects in any capacity. I just wish that the story was as exciting as the look of the film.
Once you get your mind around the black and white moving images and grasp the futuristic vision of Paris, you can then settle in and get to grips with the tale of a cop on the hunt of a missing woman. She’s been kidnapped. She works for a big company that seems to have a kind of big brother effect on the culture of the city. Their billboards repeat that they promote longevity and quality of life with moving images of a woman who goes from being old and wrinkly to young and beautiful. Take from that what you will. It’s creepy in the way that they give off that brainwashing vibe.
There is another story behind the kidnapping. The woman’s sister and the jaded cop find themselves facing down some tough situations with people dying around them, danger around every corner, secrets being revealed, and the distinct feeling that there is something more sinister at work beyond a simple kidnapping.
The story is fairly standard, I’m sorry to say. I got used to the look of the film and was loving it, anticipating an equally innovative, challenging, or at least stimulating story to go along with it. That wasn’t the case.
Maybe the fact that it was originally French and possibly something got lost in translation, or more likely it was the unfortunate situation where the writers/directors fell into the traps of a lot of Sci-Fi adventures. There are elements of mad scientists, big companies controlling things, technology in every aspect of human existence, immortality, good vs. evil, or at least, people making choices that reflect the concept of what’s right and wrong. None of which is bad or boring, I think with all the effort to make such an amazing looking piece of cinematic art, they could have thrown us a masterful new take on the human condition. No matter what the story is, though, it’s worth the time to watch it purely for the visual experience.
This is a rental for most people. I wouldn’t suggest to anyone I know to go out and buy the DVD. I know that sounds harsh, but there is only a portion of the population, at least in my circle of life, who would appreciate how different and innovative Renaissance is. If you love art films, buy it now regardless of the price. You will appreciate it and most like want to examine it closer with every viewing. If you love graphic novels, comic books, or Sci-Fi in general you will most likely dig this film, so it’s worth a few bucks to try it out.
Overall Score 7/10