April and the Extraordinary Planet (Blu-ray)

Welcome to Judge Gordon Sullivan’s incredibly ordinary globe.

“A rollicking adventure set in an imaginative alternate universe.”

Animation is arguably older than cinema. If you look at what we contact “proto-cinema” devices like the phenakistiscope, they employed motion blur to simulate movement just before somebody combined the movement effect with the use of photography. This place animation and cinema on slightly diverse tracks all through the 20th century, with animation more typically than not devoted to the impossible, from cartoon mice to the creation of great worlds in which toys come alive. Of course particular animators have pushed up against that feeling, crafting far more realistic animation (think, specially of the current Anomalisa, which is virtually mundane), but animation’s strengths look to be in displaying us the not possible. In that sense, animation is the best medium for showing viewers fantastical worlds. That’s the gamble of April and the Extraordinary Planet, a steampunk fantasy film, and one that succeeds. It is an all-ages affair that combines gorgeous animation and a fine tale of adventure.

As the story opens, Napoleon III has commissioned scientist Gustave Franklin to breed super soldiers to help in the impending war with Prussia. When he’s displeased with the outcomes, Napoleon attempts to shoot the lackluster soldiers, but alternatively sets the lab ablaze, killing himself and Gustave. Napoleon’s successor, Napoleon IV, negotiates peace alternatively of war, erasing one of the most decisive military engagements (the Franco-Prussian War) from the history books. In the ensuing years, scientists start to disappear, leaving their most well-known inventions and discoveries on the drawing boards. Then it really is 1931, and the planet is nevertheless burning wood and coal, the atmosphere ruined by smoke and steam. The French program to invade Canada for their forests, so the French government attempts to conscript the descendants of Gustave Franklin, which sends his youngest granddaughter, April, into exile, 1 that will choose the fate of science and the world.

April and the Extraordinary Globe has a quantity of things going for it. The most apparent is the planet the animation conjures. It begins out dark and gets darker. This is both figurative and literal. Actually, it begins out dark simply because the film is lit by candlelight, and as it progresses we by no means get the influence of electric light. That means gears and steam and coal pollute the world, producing it dark. But it’s also dark figuratively, with the disappearance of scientists, the lack of progress, and April’s own plight. All of this takes place in an animated environment that is surprising in its ingenuity. The characters are making do with the components of steam energy, and their ingenuity is represented in amazing machines and complex gears, all lovingly portrayed by the animators.

These characters are brought to life by a fine set of voice actors as effectively. Viewers get two selections: the original French and an English dub. The highlight of the French track is Marion Cotillard as the adult Alice (it is a shame they couldn’t get her on the English release as effectively). Jean Rochefort (almost certainly best known to American audiences as Don Quixote in Lost in La Mancha) is exceptional as an avuncular kind. The English dub has a few much more renowned names. Paul Giamatti is perfectly cast as the inspector who pursues the Franklin household via the years, even though J.K. Simmons and Susan Sarandon are excellent as unlikely allies. Each casts give the film a warm, inviting set of performances that ground the film’s fantastical globe.

April and the Extraordinary World (Blu-ray) gets a strong release. The set’s 1.85:1/1080p AVC-encoded image is sturdy. Detail is great throughout, most evident in smoothly-animated motion. The static backgrounds are appropriately detailed. The colour scheme is intentionally muted and grimy, but colors are still richly saturated. It doesn’t look like a Pixar epic, but this transfer serves the more traditionally-animated feature nicely. The set provides a DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track for the English dub. It sounds fine, with clear dialogue and some directionality. The track most likely doesn’t need to be surround or lossless, but for a more low-essential presentation this is fine. The French dub is a DTS surround track that also sounds fine.

Extras commence with a fine 28 minute making-of featurette that requires viewers by way of the film’s design and style and production. It is in French but there are English subtitles. The film’s trailer is also incorporated. A DVD and an Ultraviolet Download Code are included obtainable as nicely.

April and the Extraordinary Globe may be a bit as well dark for extremely young youngsters. Some of the action sequences may spook them, though overall the film’s emphasis on hope and the triumph of excellent will restore their faith. The story itself has a lot of intriguing flourishes, but at its core is yet another tale of an extraordinary kid developing up to save the globe. If you happen to be searching for something a bit a lot more original, look elsewhere. The film is also animated in a more old-college style, so these expecting the look of Zootopia or the most recent Pixar epic will be sorely disappointed by the much more cell-oriented stylings right here.

Any film with a talking cat and steampunk vehicles will not be a challenging sell for lots of audiences. If that’s your factor, then April and the Extraordinary Planet is sure to please. It really is a family friendly film that fans of throwback animation will not thoughts watching without having the little ones.

DVD Verdict