Directed by Christian Volckman.
Written by Alexandre de La Patellière and Mathieu Delaporte.
Starring the voices of Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack,
Jonathan Pryce and Ian Holm.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 10/1/06
I stumbled upon the film "Renaissance" a
couple of months ago because some of the stills from the film popped
up on IMDB, and I immediately penciled the opening of this one into
my calendar to make sure I saw it as soon as I could. It did
not disappoint, and all I can think is "why don't more folks know
about this flick or want to see it?"
Maybe they do, and I just don't realize it,
but for a film that looks as good as this there's really no reason
to NOT see the movie. "Renaissance" is a French film set in
the near future about the investigation of a missing bioengineer by
Paris's top cop, Captain Karas (voiced by upcoming Bond guy Daniel
Craig). The scientist, a young woman named Ilona (Romola Garai),
works for the Avalon Corporation, a firm that has been experimenting
with beautification drugs and technologies for the last several
years and is obviously concerned about the whereabouts of one of its
top scientists. The case is made more difficult for a number
of reasons, such as the fact that Ilona's sister Bislane (Catherine
McCormack) might know where Ilona is...and even if she doesn't, she
works for Avalon, whose president, Paul Dellenbach (Jonathan Pryce),
seems to be particularly shady about what Ilona was really working
There's more to it than that, but given the
aesthetics of "Renaissance" I'm impressed that the writers decided
to make their story as complex as they did. The strong script
made the film that much more fun to watch, because it's the visuals
that keep you hooked all the way to the end. Save for a couple
of moments, "Renaissance" is completely done in animated black and
white, and the shading techniques combined with what looks like
motion-capture technology (but is probably much more advanced than
that) makes the film look like the original comic book illustrations
of the "Sin City" series. Bad guys look edgy, gritty, urban,
sinister; women are (naturally) drawn with impossible curves and
cars look incredibly sleek. Lighting is obviously key without
the use of other colors; snowfall, flashlight-lit rooms and swinging
overhead lamps never looked so good. All of the futuristic
technologies presented here seem cooler while being animated; the
action scenes of "Renaissance" are brief but effective; the sound is
crisp and invigorating.
Add solid voice acting to the film--scoring
Craig and Pryce just makes the film super-serious, which works--and
you get a very solid film that begs to be seen. Honestly, I
can't tell you how surprised I am that this is flying in under the
radar given how good it is, but in reading some reviews after seeing
the film I can see where some folks want to label this as an
animated "Blade Runner" or a rehash of some things presented in
I think that as a landmark in animation "Renaissance" is worth your
hard earned cash. Check it out; it's probably playing at an
independent theater in your area if you live in a major city.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard