Synopsis with some info:
This 2010 French fantasy adventure feature film is loosely based on the comic book series of the same name by Jacques Tardi. As in the comic, the film follows the eponymous writer and a number of recurring side characters in a succession of far-fetched incidents in 1910s Paris and beyond, revolving around parapsychology and ultra-advanced Ancient Egyptian technology.
While experimenting with the paranormal techniques he has been researching, Professor Espérandieu (Jacky Nercessian) hatches a 136 million year-old pterosaur egg housed within the Galerie de paléontologie et d’anatomie comparé. The young pterosaur soon afterwards attacks and kills a former prefect (scandalously sharing a taxicab with the most popular Moulin rouge showgirl). It sparks an epidemic of claimed sightings of the creature. People of Paris feel terrorized. The President of France himself orders the case be considered of utmost urgency by the National Police, only for it to be handed down to the bumbling Inspector Albert Caponi. Who loves his job and loves food – in that order.
Adèle Blanc-Sec (the truly gorgeous Louise Bourgoin), a journalist and travel writer of some fame, finds herself involved after returning from Egypt, where she was searching for Ramesses II’s mummified doctor/physician Patmosis. She wants to revive the mummy with the help of Espérandieu so the Egyptian doctor can save her sister Agathe (a bit less gorgeous but still pretty Laure de Clermont-Tonnere) , comatose after an unfortunate incident involving a tennis ball and a hatpin.
Her mission is complicated further by the fact that Esperandieu is now blamed by the police for the pterosaur’s attacks and, strangely enough, the bird chooses the president of France as his next victim. Andrzej Zborowski, a young researcher of Polish origin at the Jardin des Plantes who is enamored with Adèle, manages to lure the pterosaur into hiding. Adèle, riding the animal, rescues feeble Esperandieu moments before his execution. Still will she be able to rescue her sister as well?
Oh mon Dieu. Tonnerre. I was rather reluctant to watch this movie but, overall, when I finished it, I found I hadn’t had so much fun since my last Indiana Jones marathon. 107 minutes of pure child-like joy is simply priceless. No, don’t look at that stupid, sombre poster above with a damsel in distress who is counting fleas in her feather boa. The film was fast and funny in a positive way. Look at the still on the right.
The hero is actually a heroine. Mind you even though she is so blatantly feminine, with gorgeous auburn ringlets, hats, dresses, corsets and stays, STILL she does everything and anything completely on her own, trusting just her instincts. There is no boyfriend, no sidekick, no father or other male guardian to assist or defend her, imagine that. Yes, I know, what those Frenchies think? They might give little girls some dangerous ideas about independence and such diseases. And those subtitles – who wants to read in the cinema?
Anyway this is what comic-book movies should look like when they’re not blown up into several hundred million blockbusters, doomed to earn producers a fortune but otherwise lackluster: nice and cosy even in the middle of outrageous escapades which simply scream ‘emergency disbelief override’ at you.
I fell in love with Adèle instantly; anyway the moment she asked her two shifty, smarmy local guides in Egypt, offering her tea: “Do I look like a tea fan to you?” I screamed with delight – yes, that’s the spirit! How dared they offer a French lady tea when she clearly deserves cognac? Or, according to her name, at least a glass of white dry wine like Chablis? Full of joy, I could even overlook the fact that those two unsavory companions couldn’t be trusted just because they, contrary to our beautiful girl, had tangled hair, bad teeth and dirty clothes. Oh, and of course they were after gold while all she sought was knowledge and her beloved twin sister’s well-being.
Of course some parts of the plot were very Raiders of the Lost Ark, and not always in the best way. Especially that “bringing the dead back to life” weird pseudo-science left me slightly perplexed. I ask you: why the pterodactyl was revived but not those many dinosaur skeletons standing right next to its egg? Not to mention innumerable skeletons of people entombed below the surface, in the famously crowded Parisian catacombs? Why the good professor Esperandieu didn’t have a long queue of relatives and friends of recently deceased, waiting outside his flat and begging for a revival even if his ‘powers’ were just in the experimental stage?
Still there were plenty of scenes which made up for those lapses of logic and reason like taking a leak in front of the golden statue of Joan d’Arc, the comical attempts at breaking Esperandieu out of the prison or one naughty but delicious sequence when Adèle, very aware of her nubile body, performs a kind of strip-tease before the not-entirely-dead but still completely stiff mummy.
A great movie for a holiday season or a free weekend: light, funny and original. It is also kids-friendly so you can watch it with the entire family. Yes, it is French. Yes, it features one intrepid girl who, having plenty of exotic adventures, doesn’t fall in love and doesn’t find a husband. Yes, it might have more than one completely crazy and over- the- top moments. Still my inner child liked it insanely. Encore!