Renaissance (2006)

Genre(s): Animation / Crime / Drama / Science Fiction / Thriller
Miramax || R - 105 minutes - $29.99 || July 24, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-07-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Christian Volckman
Writer(s):
Cast: Daniel Craig, Romola Garai, Ian Holm, Catherine McCormack, Jonathan Pryce


Theatrical Release Date: September 22, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • The Making of Renaissance Featurette


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot (from DVD back cover): The sudden kidnapping of a gifted young scientist draws a tough-as-nails cop into a twisted underworld of corporate espionage, genetic research and organized crime.

Renaissance is a fascinating animated sci-fi thriller in the vein of Blade Runner and ďGhost in the ShellĒ mixed with some Sin City flavor. Itís no surprise this movie takes place in 2054 (the same as Blade Runner) and presents a moralistic quandary, which is why I also mention ďGhost in the ShellĒ. Of course, it never quite gels together as much as I had hoped, more on that later.

The film was made using black and white animation combined with motion control. There are no grays and only a splash of color makes its way onscreen twice. Visually speaking, Renaissance looks fantastic. I had just as much amazement watching it as I did with other visually creative flicks like Sin City and A Scanner Darkly. Given, though, the use of motion capture, at times the eyes have a creepy blank stare... you know what Iím talking about if youíve ever played Madden NFL. I digress, that is a minor quibble...

Aside from the blank eyes, Renaissance doesnít merely rely on its style but instead also provides a gripping and solid crime thriller and the combination makes for a unique experience Iíve rarely felt. It didnít quite connect on an emotional level and as much as it tries to provide a conspiracy involving immorality, it never quite gets to that point either. However, I still enjoyed it overall and could overlook the flaws.

The Paris landscape is recognizable but the filmmakers make slight adjustments to make it still believable. Many times you see movies set in the future and but structures seem to go through drastic overhauls that not only isnít it believable, but it sometimes comes across silly and impractical.

For the English dubbing, filmmakerís utilize the voice talents of Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) as Karas, Catherine McCormack as Bislane, the sister of a missing scientist, Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings) as Muller, a former scientist for the mysterious Avalon Company and Jonathan Pryce (Ronin) as Avalonís suspicious CEO. I didnít have an issue with this track, but preference should always go to the source which would be the original French audio. It is Paris 2054 after all, unless it was taken over by the English...

Thankfully it finally gets a wide releasing in the States and if you run across it, donít hesitate to pick it up as a rental. The repeat value may be limited and some might not find it all that interesting, but if you like giving these dark horse movies a shot, I think itís worth it.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The solo feature is The Making of Renaissance Featurette. Itís presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and contains interviews with the crew, taking the viewer from its inception to combining animation with motion control and balancing that with the actorís performances (without the use of wardrobe or props). This is entirely in French but the English subtitles should automatically turn on.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35 OAR, and if thereís a movie that one can judge black levels on, itís this. From what I could tell, the levels look perfect with no overflow and providing for a crisp picture.

You can listen to it with either the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track or a French track. Some prefer the latter and there are English subtitles to accommodate. The sound levels are good and give off a nice surround sound mix between shootouts or just general chatter (coming mainly from the middle speaker). The beautiful orchestral score sounds wonderful (hell, it'd make a great relaxing soundtrack).



.::OVERALL::.

It's not perfect, yet I still feel thereís something original, making it better than most of the films Iíve seen lately. Because it didnít make a splash in the box office (only $1.8m worldwide on an $18m budget), they didnít include much with the special features and what was included, wasnít that good. For the masses, itís certainly worth a rental and later you might find it a bit cheaper.