A living pterodactyl, a beautiful girl immobilized by a hatpin stuck through her brain, a mysterious black-clad archaeologist, a pompous big-game hunter, a resuscitated mummy in a bowler hat, a love-struck young scientist, a master of occultic rituals, and a lady adventurer named Adèle Blanc-Sec. Set in 1912 Paris, the film named for our lady adventurer presents itself in trailers and advertisements as an action film in the vein of Indiana Jones or the recent Mummy films. It is, however, a comedy through and through. Famed director Luc Besson does craft a number of exciting, two-fisted scenes, but there is no mistaking the absurd cast of characters and spot-on comic timing.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is based on the long running series of bande dessinée by Jacques Tardi. In particular it is based on the first and fourth volumes - Adèle and the Beast (or Pterror over Paris) and Mummies on Parade - and is faithful insofar as possible in combining multiple divergent stories. Some of the scenes from Tardi's comic are rendered perfectly in celluloid, such as the hatching of the prehistoric beast pterrorizing the City of Lights.
Louise Bourgeon stars as Adèle, to whom we are introduced as she hunts down the mummy of Rameses the Great's chief physician. Through the acquaintance of her occultist friend, she hopes to resurrect the mummy in the hopes the he may be able to heal her sister... The beautiful girl with the unfortunate hatpin problem. This occultist successfully practiced his craft on a 135 million year old pterosaur egg, but whenever his concentration flags, the beast goes on its primordial rampages. Hilarity ensues, and it does.
There is absolutely nothing to be disappointed by in regards to The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec's being a comedy. The action titillates and the laughs are plentiful. It is definitely a departure from the films of Luc Besson with which most people may be familiar, such as The Professional, Nikita, The Messenger, The Transporter 1, 2 and 3, and The Fifth Element. One can certainly see some of the shared eccentricities between the latter and this film, however.
Helping Besson considerably is the beauty of the French setting. Very little apparent computer imagery had to be used to achieve the effect of Paris in La Belle Époque. Here and there an antique skyline or an Exposition building had to be reconstructed, but more often, the richness of architecture and a bevy of well-placed horseless carriages and well-dressed extras provides a glimpse of the decadent era.
Adèle Blanc-Sec is a highly entertaining, very odd, and quite fetching film and one hopes that it will receive international DVD distribution.