Luc Besson’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec is a fun fantasy adventure film, based on the French comic book series by Jacques Tardi. The film finally makes it way across the Atlantic nearly three years after its initial theatrical release in Europe thanks to Shout! Factory.
Studio: Shout! Factory
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC, 480P/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English PCM 2.0, Other
Run Time: 1 Hr. 47 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), DVD-9 (dual layer)
Region: A, 1
Release Date: 08/13/2013
Set in 1912 Paris, France, journalist Adele Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin) travels to Cairo to retrieve a mummified Egyptian doctor, hoping that Professor Esperandieu (Jacky Nercessian) can revive him so that the doctor can cure her comatose sister. But things do not go quite according to plan. Adele is double-crossed in the pyramid by Professor Dieuleveult (Mathieu Amalric), managing to escape in the mummy’s sarcophagus. Meanwhile, Esperandieu revives a pterodactyl, which in turn wreaks havoc on Paris, leading to his arrest by Inspector Caponi (Gilles Lellouche). Adelle must then free Esperandieu from jail and capture the pterodactyl before the mummified doctor can be revived in order to save her sister.
The Production Rating: 4/5
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec could have easily been a mess of a movie with such a confusing plot if it were not for writer/director Luc Besson. Like his most popular film, 1997’s The Fifth Element, Besson infuses enough manic energy into the confusing plot that the audience can very easily put their brain on hold for almost two hours and just go along for the ride. Louise Bourgoin is well-cast as Adele, a 1911 young woman with 20th century sensibilities. Jacky Nercessian is brilliant as the eccentric yet loveable old professor. Gilles Lellouche has great comic timing as the bumbling Inspector Caponi (who does nothing other than eat and sleep). Mathieu Amalric manages to make the grotesque Dieuleveult memorable, despite the lack of screen time (although I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him in future installments). With one or two exceptions, the visual effects work is on-par with most modern Hollywood blockbusters, as is the production design.
The version of the film included on this release is an edited, more family-friendly PG-rated cut, and a “director’s cut” is due from Shout! Factory in October.
Adèle Opens the Secret Door to Treasure
The 1080p transfer provided to Shout! Factory is top notch, retaining the film’s intended theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and compressed using the AVC codec. This is definitely a reference-quality presentation, with deep blacks, exquisite detail (including the grains of sand during the Cairo expedition), and well-saturated colors.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
Viewers have a choice of four different sound mixes to choose from, either in a dubbed English or original French, with each language available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0 PCM stereo.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
Unfortunately, the English dub (in both 5.1 and 2.0) is atrocious, exemplifying everything that can go wrong with dubbing a film into another language. The vocal talent do nothing more than read their lines, with very little emotion, and sound so far removed from the music and effects track, they give the soundtrack a sanitized feel to it. The main exceptions are the two actors reading for the Pharaoh and his nuclear physicist, who bring a great deal of joy and energy to their lines. Adding to the sanitized feel is the fact that the effects track sounds as if it has been muted during the mixdown, especially when compared to the far superior French language tracks.
And it is the French tracks that upped my score to 3.5. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track has clear, natural-sounding dialogue, directed mostly to the center channel. Music and effects are spread nicely around the room, with some great discrete effects thrown in for good measure. LFE also provides a nice workout for your subwoofer. The 2.0 PCM Stereo track has good fidelity, as well, but the real choice here is the French 5.1.
All of the special features are in French with English subtitles.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
The Making of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (HD; 26:02): A fairly in-depth look at the making of the film, including interviews with Luc Besson, Louise Bourgoin, Jacques Tardi, Jacky Nercessian, and Gilles Lellouche.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 2:06): Four scenes involving Adele and her sister Agathe during various stages of growing up.
Music Featurette (HD; 1:51): A very brief look at the recording session of the song sung during the end credits by Louise Bourgoin.
Digital Copy (PC/Android/MAC/iTunes Compatible): Unfortunately, the URL provided on the redemption insert was non-existent.
Fans of Besson’s The Fifth Element will likely enjoy this film, and this PG-rated cut, which removes some female frontal nudity, is much more family-friendly for US audiences. The disc’s main disadvantage, for families, are the horrible English dubbed tracks, which some parents may find annoying (but the kids may simply overlook).
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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