Wednesday, March 2, 2016

April and the Extraordinary World (2015) NYICFF 2016

Set in an alternate past, where we never mastered electricity or oil, APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD gives us a world where really cool things can and do happen. Telling a story that spans decades, the film concerns a young woman named April, whose parents seemingly were killed when a steam train they had been fleeing on blew up. The explosion was the work of some evil doers who were kidnapping all of the world's scientists, and the explosion seemed to be a kidnap attempt gone wrong. Ten years on April finds that her parents are still alive and that if she has any hope of finding them she must reconnect with her grandfather who also has been missing for a decade.

(Apologies for that gross over simplification of the plot but the film's story is incredibly dense with lots of things going on and wide spectrum of characters. It all makes sense, but it's easier if you just see the movie)

Grand pulp adventure of the sort that you only get in comics or novels. APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD is a real blast. It’s the sort of thing that no one would ever do as a live action film because no one would buy it, never mind the cost of creating the world, and yet here it is, a kick ass film which is up for the French animated Oscar. While I doubt very much that it will end up as a US Oscar nominee, it's not a computer animated film from Pixar, it isthe sort of film I want to curl up with on a rainy Sunday with a bowl of popcorn and a bunch of friends because it's become a treasured companion.

While there are many joys, from ray guns, to blimps, to metal suits and the general steam punk world, for me the graphic design is what I treasure. The film was designed by graphic novelist Jacques Tardi and it looks very much like his art work which is absolutely thrilling. Simply put APRIL really is a comic book come to life. All you have to do is look at Tardi's work and then look at this film and you’ll see it’s true. The lines are all there, as is the depth of the image. When you see the film look at how detailed everything is. Watch how deep the details go into the image, nothing is too small not to be fleshed out. Almost no animated film has ever been this detailed except perhaps the Harry Canyon section of the first HEAVY METAL film. The film is a cinematic work of art.

The film’s alternate history is an interesting one. The notion of what would have happened if we never had the science to move past the steam age has all sorts of ramifications which the film explores with absolute glee and seeming accuracy. While in some ways the film gives us so many details as to make it seem overly complex (you could write a long book on it's alternate history),  the film kind of gives us too much, we really don’t need to know as much as we are given since little has any bearing on the plot. On the other hand it's nice to see a film where there the. world of the film really was thought out to the smallest detail and bleeds off the screen.

I can't say enough good about the film and would really prefer if you just went out and saw it for your self, several times since there is so much here I doubt you'll get all of the details in one sitting.  If you like science fiction or adventure this film is for you. It’s a perfectly modulated blast of pulpy adventure. This is perfect for anyone who is jonesing for good scifi until the next Star Wars film comes out.

Personally I hope this film spawns many sequels. Based on the audiences reaction Sunday night I’m guessing this film, that may hapen, certainly it is going to have a long life once the film is released in English at the end of April by GKids (They are currently finishing up the English dub.) The film has one more screening at NYICFF and tickets can be had here.

Put this on your list of films to see

(One small quibble. While I do not speak French, I was aware that the subtitling was not wholly accurate since merde was not translated as anything close to what it actually means)

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