The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)
Of all the Luc Besson films I see on popular lists around forums, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec never seems to be on... The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

Of all the Luc Besson films I see on popular lists around forums, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec never seems to be on any of them. Either because they genuinely hate it or most likely that they’ve never heard of it. It was released in 2010 and needed stealthy audiences to find it as I’ve only seen the film myself about a year ago. I’ve since watched it three times and found it as charming as ever with it’s mixture of Indiana Jones, Tintin and The Mummy. Not to mention it’s adorable lead played by Louise Bourgoin who sanctified the character for me.

The film is based on a French comicbook series of the same name by Jacques Tardi and first released in 1976. It’s the collision of two of the seven works released so far, set in something of Luc Besson’s making.  The character of Adèle is a journalist and famous writer who lives in France at the turn of the twentieth century and finds herself embroiled in a good number of absurd plots. It’s a historical fantasy known as Gaslamp, meaning the setting is Edwardian or Victorian if those had deep supernatural roots, and takes a lot of its cues from Gothic literature. No, it’s not Steampunk as that has a foundation that tries to establish some mad-science.

So what’s the film about exactly? Well, we open with Professor Espérandieu who resembles a mummy in age attempting a telepathic hijack of a Pterodactyl egg that he helped hatch. He loses control over it only for it to terrorize all of Paris. Meanwhile Adèle is off in Egypt looking for the personal doctor of an Egyptian King who could revive her sister, who’s in a vegetative state due to a hairpin poking through her brain. She’s been like that for five years and none of the other methods have worked. If it’s removed she dies. The mummy of course can only be resurrected by our professor who is now set to be guillotined because his bond to the winged-beast has been discovered (the last guillotine in France was in 1977 by the way). There is another villain in this mix, Professor Dieuleveult, who resembles Major Arnold Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember? The guy who has the medallion burnt into his hand. I’m not really sure who came out first or if the character even occurs in the comic, but they do look the same.

The character of the comicbook is a bit frumpier and far more sarcastic, but the latter comes out in Bourgoin nevertheless. Patriotism is a major theme called into question in the series but is wholly absent in the films. They needed to softball that by ignoring it. The police are lampooned and mostly corrupt. Again, they’re Keystone Cops who are confident that their idiocy is right. Their Capt. is always attempting to eat but is interrupted by something. There is plenty of slapstick humor and it might be a bit too much for some people’s hearts as they also consider Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to be the funny one. A belief that is ridiculous. The special effects are uneven but hold-up. In any case I didn’t consider them a distraction when they didn’t. There are things which one just lets slide when they are enjoying a film. And this is one of those times.

There are two different versions of this film and one of them contains a brief nude scene in a bathtub that had to be excised. It’s not a big deal unless all you watch film for is the discovery of even the most minute of masturbatory material. In which case you probably have problems. Look on elsewhere, the net can fill your quotient as not every film has to.

All-in-all I can say I’d wish they would continue with this series but it doesn’t look likely. It cost close to thirty million dollars to make and didn’t do well the first time around. How unfortunate as we won’t get a more detailed world or exploration into secret societies and Lovecraftian menaces.

Teaser 2 is the more evocative one, but the full trailer is below that. It’s not subbed but those versions exist. These are just posted for you to see what you’re getting into. A nice warm bath.

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Damn Dirty Daggit Machine

  • Nice pick, Sags. It’s an overlooked film for sure. I also wish they would’ve continued the story(especially considering the final shot…).

  • Nice review. Never heard of these books or film. Looks better than that Arthur bullshit he wasted so much of his time with. Dude’s like the French Robert Rodriguez (yes, I know Besson was around first and Rodriguez hasn’t done anything as good as Besson’s best work, but it still fits).

  • Bop

    This was an entertaining movie.

  • Full Frontal Throttle

    I need to watch this. This looks interesting.

  • Arthur and the effing Minimoys?

  • Abe

    Wow I’ve never even heard of this.

  • Great choice and write-up. I watched this years ago upon a recommendation from a friend and was more than pleasantly surprised. The fact that it flopped is sad for several reasons: 1) It is much better than many other attempts by the French to plunder their own pop culture back-catalogue for live-action movies- see “Vidocq”, “Arsene Lupin” or the godawful “Asterix” movies. 2) It is much better than many other movies Besson is responsible for. Yes, Besson has a big name but look at his track record. The guy directed maybe 3-4 good movies. He wrote all of the damn “Taxi” films and “Transporter”. “From Paris with love” was maybe one of the worst action movies I have ever seen, which means something. I’d rather watch another “Adele” than a “Lucy 2”.

  • Of course he wrote “Crimson Rivers 2” as well, lol. Does anybody know these in the US?

  • Sagamanus

    Thx Dee. As for the Asterix films I haven’t seen those but for a few scenes that left me cringing. Don’t get me wrong I grew up reading those books, but never for a moment could I envision someone doing a film on them.

    I think Besson’s next film Valerian has a good idea which itself is based on a comicbook. But if he mines France’s comicbook industry like he did with Fifth Element he’s going to have problems. I love Moebius as I do a lot of the art styles there. Yet most of it is too alien to present on screen and ends up looking terrible. A lot of people like The Fifth Element and maybe there is something to say for the attempt, but the designs don’t come together well at all.

  • Sagamanus

    I’m not familiar with those either. Just Googled it. I’ll check them out.

    Hmh, Christopher Lee is in that.

  • Think “Dan Brown movie”, but less plausible. Ahem.

  • Sagamanus

    Lol. Oh boy.

  • The 5th Element is just too goofy. Moebius demands a more dream-like style. Maybe even then it would not have worked, who knows.

  • franks_television

    This sounds pretty cool. Never even heard of it.

  • franks_television

    Me neither.

  • Abe

    Well damn. You’re much more cultured than me.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Never seen this, but it sounds appealing. Besson is a very hit-and-miss director, though, and hasn’t done much that was good since the nineties.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    “”From Paris with love” was maybe one of the worst action movies I have ever seen”

    Really? It was eminently disposable, but Travolta’s character was fun. Much better than most of the Taken or Transporter movies, certainly.

  • S_D_M_F

    I have the first Crimson Rivers on DVD. Love it and watch it often. I also enjoyed the English translation of the book.

  • CoolHandJuke

    the human may look better overall, but i gotta go with the cartoon for her massive DSL…

  • S_D_M_F

    When is someone here going to review “The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak” or “The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck”?

  • Sagamanus

    Don’t think I’ve seen either of those. I’ll look around for them. Would you settle for Krull until then?

  • S_D_M_F

    Oh hell yes, sir.

  • KilliK

    wasnt there an interracial gangrape in Tennessee Buck?

  • Frankie smales wrote about that Gwendoline film back on Talkbacker I think.

  • This will happen.

  • It was quite mean-spirited for a buddy action movie, the twist at the end with the girlfriend especially. The action and the visuals were shoddy and the humour terrible. Travolta just played the same character as in “Swordsfish” basically, just with an obscene looking beard.

  • I really like the setup of the first one, but it gets more and more absurd and the ending is quite a letdown. The second one is just Scooby Doo for grownups.

  • Excellent, Sagamagus. While i haven’t watched it yet, i’m very glad soembody called attention to this movie.

  • That’s an impossibility.

  • Bop

    Angel-A doesn’t get enough love either.