I saw The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (or, to use its French title, Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec) on Free Comic Book Day because I thought it was appropriate to see a film based on a comic book. The fact that I had never read the original graphic albums by Jacques Tardi – or, to be honest, even heard of them – didn’t come into it, especially when the film was written and directed by Luc Besson.
Besson may have spent the past decade writing/producing slightly racist Euro thrillers starring a famous face, but he is the man who gave us Leon; this means I can forgive him practically anything. This is not only his first live-action film in a while but also supposedly the last film he will direct (if he sticks to his 10-film rule), so I had to see this film in the cinema.
The film is adapted from two of the graphic albums (Adèle and the Beast and Mummies on Parade): in Paris in 1911, a pterodactyl has been brought to life from an egg hatched in the Museum of Natural History, and is causing havoc; intrepid reporter Adèle (Louise Bourgoin) is in Egypt to retrieve the mummy of a Pharaoh’s doctor to help her sister. The two are connected. It’s a fun romp, mixing a female Indiana Jones with more overtly over-the-top fantastical elements. Besson brings it all to life with energy and style – Paris of 1911 is lavishly recreated, the story is silly in a fun way, all the male characters look exactly like characters from the books come to life (they are all caricatures, with large faces and big noses), and Bourgoin is charming as the central character: resourceful, plucky, unable to take ‘no’ for an answer.
It’s not perfect: the CGI is occasionally a little ropey (particularly when Adèle rides the pterodactyl); the film is overly long at nearly two hours; and the French sense of humour loses something in translation, especially when it comes to the police inspector given the task of capturing the pterodactyl. Also, the epilogue that blatantly shouts ‘sequel’ seems a little silly and optimistic. However, the film is enjoyable and it feels like the graphic albums come to life in a very cinematic fashion, and I’m glad that Besson has taken time out from writing the likes of The Transporter and Taxi films to bring his talents and production company on a fun adaptation of a comic book.