THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC blu-ray review

UK Region B blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.35:1

French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0

Subtitles: English

IMDB

MOVIE: 8.5

VIDEO QUALITY: 9.5

AUDIO QUALITY: 9.5

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 10

EXTRAS: 8

 

There are tons of respectable French comic books that have existed since the 1930s, but it’s quite surprising that only a few have been adapted into live-action films. I think I’ve seen all of them since I do love my French-Belgium comic books. I only know basic French so I was always thrilled to hear that a new Tintin, Asterix, or Lucky Luke book got an English translation released in the USA or UK. I remember that was one of my highlights of my childhood. I would come home from school to find a new Asterix book on the table – a present from my mom. It felt like a new Franco-Belgium book would come once every three years so each one was like treasure. Sure, I loved Spiderman and Transformers comic books/cartoons/toys, but nothing could compete against getting a brand new comic book from France, which would bring a lifetime amount of entertainment (as these books are still fresh and exciting every time they are re-read).

I didn’t read Jacques Tardi’s comic books till I was older. I remember first seeing his material in an underground comic book when I was a kid and thought they were pretty realistic, creepy, and nightmarish. I certainly was intrigued by his style but I didn’t read Adele Blanc-Sec until I was an adult. His artwork is excellent and he’s one of the best in the business of drawing beautiful women (I’ve seen his work in clothing stores when I’ve been in France and Italy), but I was always put off by the coldness of his style. So basically, I’m generally not a fan of his work or Adele Blanc-Sec. But Luc Besson has created an excellent live-action movie adaptation of two of Tardi’s books – Adèle and the Beast and Mummies on Parade. This film is one of the best live-action adaptations of a French comic book. I not only think that this is an excellent adaptation, I prefer Besson’s movie version over the books. As I said before, Tardi is a bit cold. Besson has given the characters life and energy without compromising Tardi’s work. Those expecting tons of action like Indiana Jones and an army of mummies (as falsely advertised on the back of the UK blu-ray) will be disappointed. Just because Adele Blanc travels to Egypt and steals a mummy from a tomb doesn’t make her Indiana Jones – similar yes, but not Indiana Jones. She’s more like Sherlock Holmes and her comic books are more like Sherlock Holmes graphic novels. If anything, I would compare the movie more to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes than to the Indiana Jones movies – only that this film is 100 times more exciting and more interesting than the Guy Ritchie film.

Luc Besson is one of the most consistently satisfying filmmakers since the early 80s. Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, Anne Parillaud, Milla Jovovich, Marion Cotillard and now Louise Bourgoin can most likely thank Besson for starting up their careers. Louise Bougoin is a very beautiful and talented actress that will go far – she gives Adele Blanc-Sec so much more heart and personality than the comic book version. Even though this film is pretty much rated PG-13 for nudity, it is basically a film for everyone. It is so funny that the movie was slightly marketed that you will see Bougoin’s tits. Yes you do see them, but you will have to be patient. In the trailer, we see her nude taking a bath. As you watch the film, you will look forward to that scene. Especially since the bath scene is teased throughout the film. Adele Blanc-Sec wants to take a bath from the very beginning, but she is interrupted at least 2 times before she can finally be left alone to take a bath later on in the film. I found that really funny and a tease to the male viewers! Besson has a great sense of humor.

In two little trivia nuggets, keep a look out for the Tintin-related cameo! Tintin fans will know it when they see it! And also, this is Louise Bougoin’s second movie from a famous Franco-Belgium comic book writer. Her other was the live-action film Little Nicolas, not a comic book, but written by René Goscinny who is more famous for the comic books – Asterix, Lucky Luke, and Iznogoud.

One of the biggest surprises in the film is that there is a famous French actor playing the villain. Even though I briefly looked at the cast before watching the film, I didn’t realize it was this actor until I watched the making of the film on the blu-ray. We have all seen him and he’s an amazing actor. I just can’t remember his name yet, which is why I was surprised. But he is totally unrecognizable in this film due to the make-up and his acting.
The make-up of the characters by the way are excellent and spot on – matching the characters looks in the comic book. The movie should get some award somewhere for make-up and costume design.

The Limited Edition (yeah, right) Region B Steelbook blu-ray is a great blu-ray. The 1080p 2:35.1 image is beautiful – sharpness and and details are first rate. Actors skin and individual hairs have excellent clarity. Colors are rich and reproduced without flaws. The special effect characters merge pretty well with the rest of the film – the mummies look a lot better than the pterodactyl. The CGI character movement and perspective in relation to the real actors is very impressive. Blacks and whites are pure. Look closely at any scenes with the beautiful Louise Bougoin and you will know this is a very flattering-looking blu-ray. The French DTS-HD 5.1 is totally satisfying as well – the use of surrounds and bass effects for action scenes, backgrounds, and music are pretty much what you would expect from an action film as this. The audio really comes to life with the pterodactyl scenes swooping around and attacking characters all over the place. The extras are pretty good for a French film released on a UK blu-ray – plenty of interviews with actors, featurettes, “making of” which includes the involvement of the comic book creator, Tardi, who approved of this live-action adaption as well, and also a trailer.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec is a totally entertaining, original, and exciting film with tons of eye candy, especially Louise Bougoin. You don’t have to be a fan of the comic book to enjoy this film. I know the comic book and I’m not even a fan of the comic book, but the movie is quite good. Overall, these are currently the live-action film adaptations of French comic books from best to worst:

1. Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra
2. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
3. Michel Vaillant
4. Asterix and Oblelix Take on Caesar
5. Iznogoud
6. Immortal
7. Blueberry
8. Lucky Luke
9. Largo Winch
10. Barbarella
11. Sky Fighters
12. The Smurfs (first ten minutes in Smurf Land was excellent though)
13. Asterix and the Olympic Games

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