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THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC

                  

For Hicksflicks.com, Sept. 27, 2013

The 2010 French adventure comedy "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec" actually made its U.S. debut last month on DVD and Blu-ray, but this new release is a "director's cut," whatever that means (the film is just two minutes longer).

But it gives me an opportunity to suggest the film as an offbeat foreign-film fantasy that has a unique sensibility with off-the-wall creatures, and comedy that rises largely from the reactions of uptight Victorian men to the title character's free-wheeling, intelligeht and spirited demeanor.

The film opens with a wacky elderly scientist somehow linking his spirit to a pterodactyl egg in a Paris museum, circa 1912. Said egg hatches and the winged dinosaur begins to terrorize the city. Later, an ancient mummy is brought back to life, but not in any way you may expect; it acts and speaks more like a cultured gentleman.

Meanwhile, our intrepid heroine, journalist/author/adventurer Adele Blanc-Sec (played winningly by Louise Bourgoin), is in Egypt, a la Indiana Jones, and when she's crossed by evildoers you can be sure she will cleverly scheme her way out of a jam in a manner that would make Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford proud.

The plot is a mishmash of ideas and the character is adapted from a series of popular comic books, but writer-director Luc Besson gives it his own cinematic twist and the result is gorgeous and enchanting. But this is also very much a French film, and Adele's attitude may seem to American audiences a little too strident at first. But don't give up; you'll warm to her.

The film was made in French, of course, and you can watch it with English subtitles, or in an English-dubbed version. And if Besson's up-and-down track record concerns you (he's made films as entertaining as "Taken" and "The Fifth Element," but also as barely watchable as "From Paris With Love" and "The Family," which opened in theaters last week), consider this one of his best. Surprisingly so.

In fact, I am one sequel-phobic former critic that wouldn't mind seeing another chapter, if Besson ever gets around to it.