April and the Extraordinary World – A Science Fiction Adventure

April_1.jpgIt’s 1941 and France is asleep in the nineteenth century, governed by steam and Napoleon V, where scientists vanish mysteriously. April, a teenage girl, goes in search of her missing scientist parents. This non-mainstream films inspired by the works of French writer Jacques Tardi offers a bit of adventure and thrills that animation fans will love. Starring the voice talent of Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine and Jean Rochefort, it is available in limited theatrical release nationwide. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “April and the Extraordinary World has a magical, hand-drawn, animation style.  Although it has a very gray palate, the film is highly inventive and has a fresh feeling, compared to the computer generated animated films that we are now accustomed to.  You can see the dedication and effort of the creators in each frame of the film.” Benjamin P. adds, “April and the Extraordinary World is hard to describe but fun to watch. This is a science fiction film with sprinkles of history, science, comedy and action.” See his full review below. April and the Extraordinary World By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16 April and the Extraordinary World is a unique and creative animated feature film from France. Based on the steam-punk graphic novel by Jacques Tardi, the film is voiced by Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine and Jean Rochefort.  It is directed by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci. Steam-punk is a genre that mixes science fiction and fantasy in a world powered by steam engine technology, usually of Victorian design.  This makes for a very cool animation style.

The film takes place in an alternate Paris of the 1940s, where France is ruled by a totalitarian regime. There are two Eiffel Towers and the Parisians go around in blimps powered by bicycles.  April is a third generation scientist.  Her grandfather and both her parents are chemists.  But, her parents disappear early in the film when hunted down by the authorities. The scientists of the world have been disappearing and her parents are the most recent casualties.  April lives in a secret hideout in the head of a massive public statue with her intellectual, talking cat, Darwin.  She is the last scientist to evade capture. The adventure heats up when a robotic rat tells her that her parents are still alive and being held captive in a jungle laboratory.  With the help of her Grandfather’s inventions, Darwin and Julius, a shady, police informer, April goes in search of her parents. Thus begins an incredible adventure.april.d.jpg

April and the Extraordinary World has a magical, hand-drawn, animation style.  Although it has a very gray palate, the film is highly inventive and has a fresh feeling, compared to the computer generated animated films that we are now accustomed to.  You can see the dedication and effort of the creators in each frame of the film.

The film also has a strong moral message about pollution, conserving the earth and responsible science. There’s a poignant scene where her Grandfather tells her to meet him at the “Oak”.  It’s the last tree in Paris and it’s exhibited in a conservatory!

April and the Extraordinary World has won a Cristal award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and was nominated for a Cesar last year as well.  It is 105 minutes.  april.f.jpgThe film is appropriate for 8 to 18 year olds. I give April and the Extraordinary World 4.5 out of 5 stars.

April and the Extraordinary World
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

April and the Extraordinary World is hard to describe but fun to watch. This is a science fiction film with sprinkles of history, science, comedy and action. April, an independent girl who doesn’t give up, and her talking cat Darwin take you along on a thrilling ride through a gloomy past that shows you how important science and history are to where we are today. This animated film made me think and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Inspired by the works of French writer Jacques Tardi, April and the Extraordinary World starts out in 1870 when Napoleon III wants to create an invincible army. His project fails and unleashes two super lizards into the world. This change in history causes a world many years later that relies on steam and coal. In that dark dystopia, we meet a girl named April, who has inherited a knack for chemistry from her ancestor, the scientist at the center of Napoleon III’s plot. April’s parents are about to discover, at last, an invincibility serum. They are about to test their creation when, they are pursued by the authorities and the ruthless inspector Pizoni (Bouli Lanners). April’s parents mysteriously disappear.

After April escapes the police and avoids going to an orphanage, she decides that she must live by herself on the streets with her cat Darwin. Ten years later, April gets a message from her father through a bionic rat spy and is convinced her parents are still out there. With the help of her cat, a street kid named Julius (Marc-Andre Grondin) who is not as he seems and her grandpa Pops (Jean Rochefort), she intends to find her parents.

My favorite part of this film is when Pops' house turns into an almost spider-like vehicle so April can escape from a mysterious dark cloud that seems to be chasing her. The scene has high-octane action that kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire scene. My favorite character is Darwin the cat because he is very funny and is very loyal to April throughout the film.

This film is surprisingly good and different than most other animated films. The filmmakers make the steam-punk world look very cool and science fiction fans will enjoy it. I definitely wouldn't recommend this movie for really little kids even though it’s animated. You have to know a little bit about science and history and there is gun play and scenes of peril. I give April and the Extraordinary World an age rating of 10 to16. Adults will also enjoy this film.

This film was made in France and thanks to GKIDS is distributed in the United States. This film has been released in two different versions - one in French with subtitles and one in English. They are both in limited release, so if you can it find playing at a theater near you, I highly recommend you see it. I give April and the Extraordinary World 4 out of 5 stars.

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