In the year 2054, the Avalon Corporation controls all aspects of life in Paris and the world with its promise of youth and beauty for all. But trouble brews when a top scientist, Ilona (voice of Romola Garai) is kidnapped and tough cop Barthelemy Karas (voice of Daniel Craig) is assigned to the case. His investigation is fraught with danger lurking around every corner when he learns that events that took place in 2006 cast a menacing shadow that could engulf mankind in “Renaissance.”
Freshman director Christian Volckman (with the screenplay by Alexandre de la Patelliere, Matthieu Delaporte, Jean-Bernard Pouy and Patrick Raynal) makes his debut with this noir animation, shot in live action, which depicts a future world controlled by a single corporation. Its promise of eternal youth is steeped in mystery when beautiful boffin Ilona disappears and detective Karas tries to get to the bottom of her vanishing. The story revolves around his inquiry into her disappearance, her sister Bislane’s own investigation and what may be a genuine fountain of youth. But, as Karas learns, in a world “without death, life is meaningless.”
Volckman and company have created a stylish old-fashioned detective store, done in black and white anime, that depicts an ominous future, 50 years hence, that promises life in perpetuity to all. The rotoscope animation is visually stunning but the story is just a straightforward sci-fi thriller with good guys, bad guys, evil scientists and a corporate-controlled world. “Renaissance” is a slick looking piece of work that would have benefited from a more imaginative story. Think of something more along the lines of Bladerunner” meets “Sin City” (to which “Renaissance” owes a great deal of its visual style).
The vocal characterizations, led by James Bond-to-be Daniel Craig, have the feel of an old 40’s detective noir with the gritty dialog and tough guys and dolls. I would have liked to see “Renaissance” in its original French but the redubbing in English is made for the US marketplace for maximum appeal here. The big-brother-is-watching-you story is familiar, probably too familiar to give it the needed originality, and it’s pretty much by the numbers with the corporation-as-evil-entity rehash.
Style without real substance make “Renaissance” an interesting, to the eye if not the mind, film to watch. It’s this lack of substance that made it fade from memory quickly after leaving the theater. It is a nice looking film, though. I give it a C+.Laura:
Laura did not see this film.
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