Part action adventure, part sci-fi fantasy, from the start it’s apparent that Besson is in full-blown entertainment mode and relishing it. It’s something of a return to form for a director who carved his reputation in the influential cinema du look movement of the late 80s and early 90s, and whilst it hardly aspires to reach the dizzying heights of his earlier works, Adèle Blanc-Sec is nevertheless a genuinely entertaining family film – something that seems to have eluded Hollywood in recent years.
Following a trip to Egypt in search of the tomb of a mummified doctor, travel writer and journalist Adèle Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin) returns home to Paris to discover that an ancient pterodactyl egg has accidentally been hatched and is now wreaking havoc on the city. With the police force helpless to solve the mystery themselves, the task soon falls to Adèle to investigate, aided by science, her wits, and an array of masterful disguises.
Besson is known for his strong female leads and Louise Bourgoin’s performance as Adèle is perhaps the film’s greatest achievement. A sort of early 20th century answer to Lara Croft if you will - witty and ineffably charming, she’s perhaps one of the most charismatic and entertaining heroines in recent cinematic memory and Bourgoin’s buoyant performance lifts and carries a film that could otherwise have been a relatively workaday family affair.
For the most part, Adèle Blanc-Sec does well to appeal to its broad audience, striking an enjoyably light-hearted tone whilst unashamedly laying on slapstick humour, witty dialogue, and action set pieces en masse. It’s not without its faults - scenes more heavily reliant on CGI, particularly those involving the pterodactyl, are slightly lacking, but on the whole Besson’s film is a frequently funny and unashamedly enjoyable adventure that pays fitting tribute to Tardi’s much-loved source material.