France PAL DVD

Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1

English DTS 5.1, DD 5.1

French DTS 5.1, DD 5.1

Subtitles: none



MOVIE: 8.5





The animated film industry is very cliquish. If an animated film is not Disney, Miyazaki, Pixar, or Japanese anime, where does that film stand? It stands alone in the corner…ignored. It’s pretty sad because if any country has a popular film industry, it usually means that particular country is also making films for children and teenagers, such as animated films. And guess what? There are many good, unknown animated films out there from other countries that are not getting distributed in other countries. France stands alone in the corner, but they have always made good animated films. It’s just that not too many people can name them. No one outside Europe really knows of Michel Ocelot (France’s version of Walt Disney) or Rene Laloux. Outsiders know a little bit about Sylvain Chomet (director of The Illusionist and The Triplets of Belleville). But still, who cares about old school two-dimensional, hand-drawn animation? These guys can’t compete against Pixar’s computer-animated animals running around like bug-eyed, hyper maniacs screaming out their dialogue. And from an American perspective, I’ve always loved animated films released by the underdog companies such as Dreamworks and Don Bluth. Even as a kid, I never understood why these films are supposed to be considered inferior to Disney ones. I remember when The Last Unicorn was released when I was young and I remember people saying that it’s a new animated film AND it’s not a Disney film. Who cares what it is not? They are different from Disney, but so what? Why does every recent animated film have to have bug-eyed manic animals running around? They don’t. I like animated films – all kinds and from any country. And France’s Les Enfants de la Pluie (aka The Rain Children) is a great animated film for children and adults.

The Rain Children is based on a book by Serge Brussolo, directed by Philippe Leclerc, and characters designed by Heavy Metal artist Caza. For anyone that has read a Heavy Metal comic book in their life, you should be very pleased with The Rain Children. As in most French fantasy/sci-fi comic books (such as the ones found in Heavy Metal), you will discover creative alien worlds, diverse characters, interesting stories, and your typical balance of drama, romance, humor, action (usually very violent), and sexiness. The Rain Children film is like one of those French fantasy graphic novels come to life. This film was marketed to French kids, so they can deal with a little more uncensored adult stories than little innocent American kids, but if it had to get a rating, it’s like a heavy PG-13 or a light R. The film is lightly sprinkled with decapitations, characters melted by sunlight, arrows shot into people’s heads and hands, limbs chopped off, and a little bit of nudity. The animation is beautiful and the story is interesting from beginning to end. This epic fantasy film has a coherent story that is exciting, has characters with depth, has awesome villains, and the film is even a bit touching. I just want to remind everyone that it’s not so simple for an animated film to get everything right – this is why Disney, Miyazaki, and Pixar are so popular because they focus on all aspects of the film. There are some countries in the world that have a huge animated film industry but forget to give the audience a complete package – I’m pointing my figure to Japan – they love spending years and years animating a film with such great beauty and detail but they tend to forget to hire a screenwriter. The Rain Children is a complete movie! When you watch it, you get pulled into the story which is sort of like a combination of DUNE, AVATAR (Cameron), and AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER (the cartoon). The beautiful hand-drawn animation (by South Korea) and story is accompanied by an amazing score. Even though it may seem like a nicely animated Saturday morning cartoon at a quick glance, the movie is not – it’s much more. Don’t forget that there was a time when two-dimensional, hand-drawn animated films were released in theaters before this CGI Pixar-style overkill.

The France 2-disk PAL DVD is great. The anamorphic widescreen video quality is totally satisfying. The colors are quite impressive, looking rich and deep throughout the picture. The image is consistently clear and crisp, although not quite razor sharp as one would expect to see on a blu-ray of course. I only noticed one quick scene (like 2 seconds) of slight traces of pixelization one dark scene with the camera panning to the right, but other than that, that’s it. Pretty damn good presentation! The DTS 5.1 English, with a pretty good group of voice actors (especially the villains), was powerful and active, alternately going between loud action scenes to softer quiet scenes, capturing the atmosphere perfectly. We feel the sword fighting scenes and all the other cool sound effects in this film. The action scenes and the musical score are wonderfully enveloping. There are no subtitles on this DVD – it’s not like you can listen to the movie with the French audio with English subs. It’s okay because the English soundtrack is very good – I think I liked more of the English voices more than the French voices after flipping back and forth to see how characters sound in different languages. The extras aren’t English-friendly, but still interesting all the same. There’s a documentary on graphic artist Caza, a making of the movie, and some trailers for other movies.

If you like professionally-made, hand-drawn, epic animated fantasy films, then you should check out The Rain Children.