Renaissance

on September 22, 2006 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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Set in Paris circa 2054, the animated “Renaissance” deliberately meshes science fiction and film noir. Unfortunately, all it does with that provocative combination is remind the viewer that there have been better films made in both genres. Digitally drawn in stark black and white, thus replicating a graphic novel, the film postulates a future Gallic city overlaid with gargantuan architectural achievements, ubiquitous, intrusive technology and figures who could have stepped out of a Humphrey Bogart movie.

One of these is tough-as-nails cop Barthelemy Karas (voiced by the next Bond, Daniel Craig), who is called in to investigate when a young female scientist (Romola Garai) goes missing. The girl worked for the shadowy Avalon Corporation, and soon Karas' sleuthing uncovers the company's forbidden genetic experiments, which are tied into the case and a tragic incident from the distant past. There's also a love interest, namely the scientist's troubled, irresponsible sister (Catherine McCormack), a nefarious corporate head (Jonathan Pryce), a high body count and pretty much every noir/SF cliche in the pantheon.

The movie's imagination is also stunted: It does nothing with the fascinating fact that Karas, unusual for a cop, is a Muslim, and, other than mentioning a 2030 war that took place in the Casucus, gives little hint of the political realities -- and complexities -- of its created world. What's left is obvious dialogue, a by-the-books mystery and a predictable resolution. Evoking “Sin City,” fortunately minus that movie's empty, offensive nihilism, and the far superior “Blade Runner,” “Renaissance” leaves little lasting impression of its own. It looks great but pretty pictures aren't enough. Voiced by Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack Jonathan Pryce and Ian Holm. Directed by Christian Volckman. Written by Alexandre de la Patelliere. Produced by Aton Soumache, Roche Lener and Alexis Vonarb. A Miramax release. Animated/science fiction. Rated R for some violent images, sexuality, nudity and language. Running time: 105 min.

Tags: Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack Jonathan Pryce and Ian Holm. Directed by Christian Volckman. Written by Alexandre de la Patelliere. Produced by Aton Soumache, Roche Lener and Alexis Vonarb. A Miramax release. Animated/science fiction, experiments, corporate, scientist
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