Monday, November 20, 2006

[Animation Nation] Renaissance

I Have a License To Kill

Daniel Craig is making another impact on our screens, though a limited one, besides the latest grittier installment of the Bond Franchise. In this year's Animation Nation Festival opening film, Renaissance, he lends his voice as a lead detective character in perhaps THE animated movie of 2006.

Created using motion capture technology and done entirely in black and white, some reckon it to be similar to reading a Sin City comic book that moves. While Sin City itself was filmed by Rodriguez in live action mode, Renaissance is done in animation, and what beautiful animation it is. Without colour, the entire look and feel is hinged on the clever eye for lighting and shadows, to create the dark futuristic looking atmosphere of Paris 2054.

Hardcore fans of science fiction will probably find the story a yawn, as it rehashes tired plots of mighty futuristic conglomerates and the power that they exert on the commonfolk. Formula dictates that these successful companies are successful because they hide deep dark secrets, if once revealed, could bring about their downfall, and along with it, their grip on the future. Here in future Paris, the largest company Avalon makes its business in youth and beauty, where huge billboards with beautiful models tout the latest in Avalon products.

However, a promising young Avalon scientist gets kidnapped, and its up to maverick supercop Karas (voiced by Craig) to recover her. In the future, all cops have awesome tools to assist in their detective work, and Craig, like his Bond character, brings about a angst filled lone ranger character to his Karas, as tables are turned, the roles between hunter and prey get blurred, and with the usual expected twist at the end to add some flavour to a tired tale.

But hey, while the plot might be uninteresting, we're all here for the animation no less. And it's simply amazing to see how, with just splashes of black and white, and superb control in shadow play, what may look easy to produce actually passes off in a sophisticated manner. What's amazing is the creation of the look of Paris of the future, and the characters when they interact, seem like blotches of black ink merging into and separating from one another. It is easy to mash everything up in an incoherent manner, but here, there is clear distinction within the barrage of blur.

A joint French-UK-Luxembourg production, Renaissance boasts some excellent voice talents in "recognizable" names like Craig, Jonathan Pryce (also a Bond alumni), and Catherine McCormack in the English soundtrack. There's also a French soundtrack, but that's not the version put on screen today, though I am curious to see how it actually sounds like.

Given the sold out sessions of this movie in Animation Nation, it wouldn't be a surprise if it gets picked up for general release here. And what will be the icing on the cake, is Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly also hitting our shores. That'll be sweet!

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