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Renaissance More at IMDbPro »

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105 out of 119 people found the following review useful:

Breath taking graphics, great story

Author: Mathieu Burri (dixyfifi) from England
4 February 2006

I've seen this film in avant-premiere at Imagina Festival in Monaco.

I saw the first trailer four years ago, and from this moment, I was waiting to see the final result. I haven't been disappointed.

It is a full 3d movie with a high contrasted black and white render. Clearly inspired by some comic books, such as the ones from F. Miller. In this optic, it goes one step further than the excellent "Sin City" adaptation from R. Rodriguez. This time, (almost) no Grey or any middle color, but a graphic style never seen before in a realistic animated film.(can't wait for scanner darkly)

The massive use of Motion Capture gives a lot of life and credibility to the characters and we forget really soon the technical aspect to concentrate on more classic elements, such as direction or plot. The direction stays sober and controlled despite the infinite possibilities of the medium, and that is a really good surprise.

The futuristic story (Paris 2053) makes it a classic sci-fiction movie and maintain the viewer interested till the end. Despite a classic base plot (an investigation that goes far beyond initial expectations)the atmosphere and some interesting recurring themes (genetics, absolute power of certain firms...)gives this movie a great interest.

Despite it is an animated film, this one is obviously not made for children. You won't find here any funny pet or any stupid family moral, only the cold reality. It is far closer to a good film noir.

I found that the setting is one of the best aspect of the film: we still feel the well known Paris, but it is morphed by a fine touch of futurism.

Nevertheless, I regret a few mistakes. The montage is sometimes a bit flat, one or two very cliché slow motion effects and some poor dialogs. Even though the technical is excellent, it shows its limits in some romantic sequences (a bit like "final fantasy" did). Those little things makes it a 7/10.

Altogether, it is a successful artistic challenge that you have to watch if you can. The director, Christian Volckman, knows how not to fall into potential traps (luckyly, they didn't ask John Woo to do the job!).

To conclude, it is a film with blasting visuals, an intelligent story and a wonderful art direction. Watch it if you can!

Please excuse me for the spelling mistakes.

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64 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

Melts noir and sci-fi in an animation blender (my 200th review!)

Author: Flagrant-Baronessa from Sweden
19 October 2006

A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Blade Runner, Sin City and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – if you are a fan of any of these then this will be well worth checking out.

French animation project 'Renaissance' took seven years to make on a shoestring budget and tonight I finally got to see it at a private screening for the International Film Festival in Stockholm. My spontaneous reaction is awe; my further reflection is 'huh, neat' and closer analysis regrettably gets a resounding 'meh'. It is a gorgeous science fiction triumph on the surface, but scratch it or even poke it a little and its unnecessarily complex plot becomes glaringly apparent, as do the flat characters.

Nevertheless it is clear that the people at Onyx films have done something spectacular with the aforementioned surface. The visuals are staggering. They have used live action motion capture fitted into key-frame animation, with stark jet black and bright white contrasts and a heavily shadowed rotoscoped background. For those of you who are not down with the 'technical lingo', the film looks like a fully-animated Sin City. Its fluid, transparent, dark and stylized template is complemented by great lurid lightning. It's a vision. Yet much credit is also due to the crisp sound effects that take the form of humming futuristic weapons, suspenseful music, heavy raindrops and glass shards breaking. It's every tech-nerd's wet dream...

The film zooms in on an eerily-lit, bleak, futurescape Paris in which a major corporation called 'Avalon' has begun to interweave in the lives of the citizens with surveillance (think the fluid transparent screens from Minority Report) and genetic engineering. The latter leads to a mysterious kidnapping of young researcher Ilona (voiced by the lovely Romola Garai). Cut to our hard-boiled cop-on-suspension and protagonist Karas (Daniel Craig) – a man who takes the law into his own hands – who is assigned the case of finding and retrieving Ilona. During this case, he is being aided by Illona's sister with whom he also begins a love affair. A very half-assed love affair, if I may say so.

The world of Renaissance is remarkable. Director Christian Volckman takes a fair jab at melting the noir themes and the result is an urban jungle filled with cads, rats, femme fatales and lonely detectives that hide in the shadows of the seedy slum. The problem is that the creators undoubtedly felt the need to have extremely clear and spelled-out archetypes in the story, or the film would have been "too surreal" for mainstream audiences, owing to its lurid animation format. It follows then that we have a multitude of clichéd characters such as evil-laughing villains, sleazy crime bosses and butch tough-chicks who blow smoke every chance they get. It shoves noir in our faces, and it isn't necessary.

What is worse is that the dialogue is a little contrived. It seems as though every line exists for the sole reason of propelling the plot. This is nothing fatal because the plot is so complex once it gets going that it needs some clear direction. Daniel Craig helps here too by bringing a no-nonsense attitude to his hard-edged cop character. At one point in Renaissance, he is seen in a vivid car-chase that surely is one of the most adrenaline-pumping and top notch sequences of the film. Unfortunately, the novelty of the sci-fi visuals have worn off post this car chase and 'Renassaince' could benefit from being slightly shorter. In summary, a very interesting but flawed futuristic comic book experience.

7 out of 10

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63 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Superficial but superb nonetheless

Author: RolandCPhillips from United Kingdom
18 September 2006

One reason Pixar has endured so well, and been so successful, is that while their films remain technical marvels and visual mosaics, they have a story to match their style. And often very moving style at that: affecting, charming and cross-generational. That a lot Anime (speaking in broad terms) and a great many other animations fail to match their technical virtuosity with real substance is, I think (and I might be wrong) partly because either the makers aren't bothered with character and plot and focus far too much on sound and image, or the sheer effort that goes into making some animations is so enormous, so enervating that they don't have the energy to create a really engaging story.

That same cannot be said of Renaissance. There are flaws in its plot, but I'll get to that later. Those same flaws, however, are not reflected in the visuals - Renaissance is nowt short of stunning. The ultra-high contrast images (sometimes so high-contrast that is nothing but one face or one beam of light visible) and incredible detail are always impressive, always a joy to behold. The futuristic Paris on display is the grim offspring of Blade Runner and Brave New World; dark, murky, quite affluent and even clean, but shrouded in intrigue, corporate malfeasance, obsessed with beauty (capital of the catwalk, after all) and disguising the squalor and neglect of its labyrinthine passages with a veneer of monumental, sophisticated architecture.

It's a compelling environment, not entirely original, but great all the same. The film's much-touted 'motion-capture' technology and incredible attention to human and design minutiae result in images a black-and-white photographer would die for. Not that the detail prevents entertainment, because Christian Volckman crafts some superb action sequences: a hell-for-leather care chase, a couple of gruesome(ly imaginative) murders, several tussles in the dark and a nasty dust-up in a gloomy apartment. The locations are great, too (I want to visit the nightclub). While the central character of Karas is your regular off-the-shelf maverick cop, the other two female characters (who are sisters) are the real motors of the movie. Coming from war-torn Eastern Europe, products of a war, diaspora and a family spat, they're a compelling metaphor for Europe as a whole.

The film is tremendously atmospheric, its dizzying, swooping faux-camera moves and adult tone making for a very engaging experience. However, the plot... It never becomes more interesting than the initial hook, in which indefatigable plod Karas must find Ilona Tasuiev, a drop-dead gorgeous and pioneering scientist, after she's snatched from the street. The sinister corporation Avalon (is ANY corporation ever not sinister?), which she was working for on 'classified', projects are hell-bent on her retrieval, and soon Karas is up to his neck in official reprimands, dead bodies, cigarette-smoke and narrowly-missed bullets, and falling in love with Ilona's sister Bislane (very sympathetically voiced by Catherine McCormack), as he plumbs the depths of the city's sordid underbelly (and his own past).

Text-book noir, in other words, but while I enjoyed the film a lot more than Sin City (to which it bears a passing visual resemblance), the plot and resolution are dull, the theme of immortality being raised but never examined, and the shenanigans of high-rolling Avalon CEO Paul Dellenbach are also dull , undercutting a lot of the dramatic tension. The basic ideas are familiar sci-fi genre materials, and there's a nagging sense that the visuals and atmosphere are disguising the mundane material.

However, the film as a whole is lucid and perfectly coherent, even if some of the scenarios the characters get into occasionally feel like excuses for displays of technical wizardry. But it's the projection of life in Paris circa 2054, the vision of community and creation of another city from the ground up that makes this film something to behold. I may be taking it too seriously, and if that's the case I can at least say that it's superbly made, extremely entertaining (and pretty mature, too), and with an ambiance like no other.

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59 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

Innovative Animated Thriller

Author: Crap_Connoisseur from Australia
22 March 2006

Renaissance deftly walks the line between mainstream American animation and Japanese anime. There are no annoying animals here to perform lame songs written by has-been musicians and no esoteric detours through alternate dimensions. Instead, Renaissance is a gritty, innovatively drawn thriller with an engaging central story.

The film's greatest asset is its stunning "film noir" animation. The animators have created a distinctive and haunting look through the use of a black & white colour scheme and the constant manipulation of shadow and light. The result is something akin to an animated lino cut or a manga version of Sin City. Equally impressive is the film's ability to move seamlessly from simple two dimensional outlines to scenes involving the most intricate animation imaginable. This is displayed to good effect during an extended car chase in the middle of Renaissance which contains the kind of dazzling animation usually only seen in the works of Otomo, Oshii and Miyazaki.

Regardless of the calibre of the animation, the film would become boring very quickly without an involving storyline. Renaissance also succeeds in this department with an interesting, if unnecessarily convoluted, plot revolving around a corporate kidnapping and demented scientists. The film benefits greatly from a winning central character in Karas, an unorthodox cop voiced in the English version by Daniel Craig. The voice work and dubbing are generally good, with Catherine McCormack particularly impressive as the voice of Bislane.

Renaissance is one of the best animated film aimed at adults not to originate from Japan. The pace is brisk, the tone is evocative and the direction manages to be effortlessly stylish. Highly recommended for the anti-Pixar crowd.

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32 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Don't watch the trailer

Author: PlanecrazyIkarus from Wales, UK
3 August 2006

If you've ever seen the trailer for the film "The Recruit" with Colin Farrell and Al Pacino, you'll never have to see that film. Sadly, Renaissance has had similarly revelatory trailer makers.

The story of Renaissance is about a detective investigating the kidnapping of a young woman and medical researcher. The setting is a futuristic Paris, and science fiction elements feature throughout. The special thing about Renaissance, though, is its visual style, and not its story. Renaissance is 3D computer animation, like Final Fantasy, but highly stylised into black and white with ultra sharp contrasts. The result looks stunning (although the problems of 3D animation of human beings are still noticeable from time to tome: slightly robotic movements, slightly wooden facial acting, etc) As a highly stylised, beautiful film noir, Renaissance succeeds at stunning the audience, especially visually. The story and writing, though, are not quite at the same level of quality as the visuals. It's not a bad story (and presumably, if you haven't seen the trailer, it's a lot more exciting than it was for me). But it is a story that isn't highly original, and verges on the corny. A few lines of dialogue were painfully corny, making the writing sound like a beginner's first efforts.

I will definitely recommend Renaissance to friends. It's unlike anything I've seen before, visually, and I believe its originality alone makes it a worthwhile experience. It is also a watchable story, even if it isn't perfect.

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31 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Excellent, Intelligent Science Fiction

Author: mvandewettering from United States
4 April 2006

I highly recommend this film. Set in the Bladerunner-esquire future of 2054 Paris, it is in most respect a classic film noir script: lady in peril, sister trying to find her, honest cop fighting everyone. Luckily, it avoids being stereotypical, and combines a pretty good storyline with interesting, innovative visuals. The film might remind you of Sin City in look, but it has an even sharper, even more graphic novel look that I found really compelling. Each frame, each sequence seems like it could have been pulled from the desk of a skilled graphic designer. In terms of story and artwork, you can find nods going back to the nineteen forties (or even earlier with the classic views of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Couer) and movies like Casablanca, as well as looking toward a grim future where our destines are ruled by corporations. Make any excuse you need to see this film.

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38 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Great visuals, great story!

Author: chuba-1 from Germany
5 March 2006

I just came back from a pre-release viewing of this excellent sci-fi film noire. It's style is definitively unique and very well made. It is filmed with actual actors, but transformed into a black and white comic-strip style you have never seen before. It goes one step further than Sin City, and it does it well. It's a successful combination of french comic and movie cultures. The story and mood remind of Blade Runner, and if you liked that one you will surely like this one, too. The storyline is intelligent, never boring and has some nice little twists. This film is a must-see for any cinephile except perhaps those who absolutely don't like sci-fi or b&w.

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30 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Great Animation!!!

Author: hannibal_tot from Mexico
27 July 2006

I just went to a screening of the film during Expresion en Corto, a short film festival in Guanajuato, Mexico. One of the producers was there and gave a brief introduction. The Film rolled and from the first shot I was amazed: one long continuous shot of a futuristic Paris in glorious black and white.

I shouldn't go on with the details 'cause I think it is a film worth seeing. The sci-fi story might be found average for many... to me was really good. The action is great, the camera is free to fly everywhere and I mean everywhere. Things you would not be able to do or see is accomplished beautifully. The cast performance is good, in my opinion no one hits the wrong note.

Now, the thing that I found awesome is the animation. 3D grafics look 2D. A BW comic book brought to life. The details on the backgrounds gives more texture as if it had been done by hand (I'm sure it was but when the angles change you see the depth).

The producer at the screening talked about the hard work behind the film: 7 years! The director, she said, is brilliant, but perhaps he was quite unexperienced since he only had one short film in his CV. So, many people had true faith in them. They started their own studio from scratch and ever since they faced the challenge they brought upon them.

Don't miss it. I think you won't regret it... maybe Richard Linklater for the final look of this film is superior to his I think.

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25 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Breathtaking graphics. So-so story.

Author: no1sbusiness from Canberra, Australia
19 August 2006

First things first, this movie is achingly beautiful. A someone who works on 3D CG films as a lighter/compositor, the visuals blew me away. Every second I was stunned by what was on screen As for the story, well, it's okay. It's not going to set the world on fire, but if you like your futuristic Blade Runner-esquire tales (and who doesn't?) then you will be fine.

I do have to say that I felt the voice acting was particularly bland and detracted from the movie as a whole. I saw it at the cinema in English, but I am hoping that there is a French version floating around somewhere.

Definitely worth seeing.

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41 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Have you seen Blade Runner?

Author: brunob-4 from France
14 March 2006

If the answer to this question is yes, then you should enjoy this excellent movie. I've just seen it a couple of hours ago here in Paris (where the action of the movie takes place)and I can still feel the huge trauma I received in the back of my eyes...What a visual shock ! I've never seen such a beautiful black&white photo and such a drastic change in the way of doing animated movies. I strongly believe there will a before and after "Renaissance", similarly to what we saw with Pixar movies or the Akira and GhostInTheShell experiences. This is a real breakthrough in the small world of animated movies and I hope this french initiative (a small unknown french studio with a few young folks who had a dream named "Renaissance"...) will receive the success and recognition it deserves. Vive la France !

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