Renaissance: Paris 2054 (2006)

July 1, 2010

Renaissance: Paris 2054 – Review by Isaac

Synopsis: Paris, year 2054. A young female scientist named Ilona Tasuiev (Romola Garai) is kidnapped, and a controversial policeman, Karas (Daniel Craig), must find her as quickly as possible. Karas discovers that Ilona was a top researcher for Avalon, a megalithic corporation who deals in life and beauty longevity (*cough* Umbrella Corporation ripoff). Seeking help from Ilona’s sister, Bislane (Catherine McCormack), the two stumble upon a terrible mystery dating back to 2006. After several suspects are found murdered, it appears Karas isn’t the only one trying to find the missing scientist. Karas must investigate missing files, stolen identities, uncover the motive, outrun a group of assassins wearing invisible suits, and above all else, find Ilona before someone else does.

Renaissance unfolds like a beautiful graphic novel, giving the film a unique edge. The beautiful cityscapes are a cinematic wonder. Whether its an establishing shot or intense car chase, there’s some really stunning visuals here. The style allows Renaissance to be incredibly dark and eerie, supporting the futuristic detective story (think Minority Report and not Star Trek here). The producers used computer graphics and motion capture to create an entirely black and white film, and it works well… – But it has some downsides. Because its entirely in black and white and uses a lot of shadow, its difficult to tell some characters apart or remember their specific faces. I know people who can’t keep characters straight in normal movies (I’ll never watch Quantam of Solace with my parents again), so I can’t even *imagine* what Renaissance would be like (no no, that’s the *other* guy with the short dark hair and shadows on his face!) I spent half the opening scene severely distracted because I couldn’t keep the two sisters straight (that’s possibly because I was also folding laundry at the time).  Thankfully, the voice acting is especially good (Daniel Craig! Ian Holm!) and the voices associated with each character become very familiar. (This is a French film, so make sure you switch the DVD audio over to English. Not doing so makes the opening scenes pretty confusing.)

I’m not gonna lie, I picked up Renaissance because it starred Daniel Craig and promised to be an intriguing sci-fi/action detective plot. Renaissance delivered in both areas. The action is ‘fairly’ realistic, using simple gunfights and chase scenes to keep the film exciting but not bloating itself to a ridiculous level. The sweeping shots over the city while characters chase after one another to an intensifying (though generic) soundtrack are thrilling. The hitmen wearing invisible suits are cool too. There’s a number of scenes that unfold to an almost entirely black screen, making the eeriness all the more intense. With that said, some critics could really tear this film apart. Daniel Craig hardly has to act, the script plays nicely to the strengths we saw in Casino Royale. The plot feels more complicated than it needs to be, winding in and around for a good 15 minutes or so before getting remotely interesting. Renaissance relies on A: the unique design, and B: the unique setting to hook you in the beginning. The story itself didn’t really grab me until about 30 minutes into it. So I understand why some people didn’t enjoy Renaissance, its too close to the well-trodden genre of futuristic-detective-dramas that all take themselves too seriously.

Renaissance isn’t the best science fiction, animation, or detective movie ever. But here’s why I liked it: Renaissance is unique. The animation grabbed my attention, the story is good, the plot engaging and subtley creepy. By the final act, I had quit folding laundry, closed my laptop, turned all the lights off, and sat glued to the screen. It wasn’t just that I wanted detective Karas to find the scientist, I was completely engulfed by the world of Paris 2054. When it comes down to it, Renaissance isn’t a “must-see” movie, but I enjoyed it. That’s right, screw you world of critics, I watched a movie that Rotten Tomatoes gave a 43%, and I LIKED IT.

Who I recommend this to: An adult who appreciates unique animation styles and likes a good sci-fi mystery.

Who I don’t recommend this to: 1. Kids. 2. People who get creeped out by stories about genetics. 3. People who only like mainstream animation. 4. Snobby movie critics

Rating: 3.5/5 Zipped Lips

I definitely enjoyed Renaissance: Paris 2054. Its dark and gritty plot isn’t accessible to mainstream audiences, and the rewatchability is pretty low here. Still, it was memorable and worth watching. If you give Renaissance a shot, check out the “making of” documentary, its quite interesting.


4 Responses to “Renaissance: Paris 2054 (2006)”

  1. Joachim Boaz Says:

    thanks! it’s on my netflix queue and now I’ll actually put it near the top 😉

  2. Fortress Guy Says:

    We checked it out because your review brought it to our attention. You were fair to it. The plot did drag a bit and was indeed a tad more complex than it needed to be.

    The style was a plus.

    The technology though was the kind that is thought through enough to make for some cool movie scenes, but not necessarily enough to make whole world congruity.

    Definitely not for everyone, but interesting.

  3. Isaac Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. Its unique enough to keep your interest, and “under the radar” enough to instill a sense of artistic superiority. haha.

  4. This film has been sitting on my video shelf for years. Thanks to your review, I’m going to finally sit down and watch it.

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