Starring: Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack, Romola Garai, Jonathan Pryce, Ian Holm, Rick Warden
Directed by: Christian Volckman
When I first saw a trailer for this last year, I thought it looked amazing, and was really excited to see it (since it never arrived in theatres, I just got around to checking it out on DVD recently). I figured that even if the story wasn’t any good, it would still be a unique visual experience worth my time.
And it was, for the first twenty or so minutes. After that, the worn out plot and lifeless dialogue made the whole thing a slog to get through, with the impressive black and white animated visuals merely serving to make my eyes tired. Originally a French film, Renaissance was re-dubbed into English for an international release. The movie features live action performances filmed with motion capture technology used to create a computer-generated animated film, featuring high contrast, black and white art that gives it a distinct look that plays well with the cyberpunk noir themes of the movie. The effect it creates is akin to a graphic novel moving across the screen with movie playing very much like a less-graphic Frank Miller book, complete with the typical clunky dialogue that has littered Miller’s later work.
Renaissance is set in Paris in 2054, a more technological society than ours, but not unrecognisably so. Detective Barthélémy Karas (Daniel Craig) is assigned to investigate the kidnapping of Ilona Tasuiev (Romola Garai), a 22 year old genetic researcher surrounded in mystery. As Karas digs deeper into that mystery, he encounters the conspiracies, dangers, and femme fatales familiar in the genre. In fact, most of the movie is familiar to genre, with nothing other than the visuals feeling unique or original, and therefore couldn’t hold my interest. There were a few cool scenes, including a chase scene through the glass streets of future Paris, creating a 3-D effect under the Louvre that was really well done. In all, it was the second-best animated rendering of Paris that I’ve seen this year.
A lot of the plotting reminded me of something you’d see in a modern video game, and I’ll admit, were they cut scenes from a video game, it’d be a really awesome game (well, unless the gameplay was repetitive button mashing or something). But as a movie, it was too shallow to be memorable.
Ultimately, it was a visually stunning piece of pop art that grew more and more tiresome the longer it went on. I recommend that you check out the trailer, which is undeniably cool, then watch it couple more times and that will give you the best Renaissance experience possible. Unless you’re a graphic designer or really into animation, watching the movie will only diminish the experience. It’s an undeniably cool-looking visual technique, I’m just hoping that one day it will be applied to a more worthwhile movie.