Sunday, October 12, 2008

[French Film Festival] Dragon Hunters (Chasseurs de Dragons)

No Fear

My first impression would be this is Beowulf only with all the good bits of fighting Grendel and dragons intact, making it one thrill ride from start to end. Written by Frederic Lanoir and Arthur Qwak, the two of them had created a fantastical landscape that becomes a character in itself within their story, with its ever changing environment made up of small spheres of land floating around, which can either be wastelands, or globes of greenery.

The story's a simple one, which tells of a land which is cowering in the expectation of a mighty dragon's unwanted visit to plunder and destroy, and the resident knights have all but been annihilated. Enter the king's granddaughter Zoe (Marie Drion) who gathers Lian-Chu (Vincent Lindon), a huge brute with immense strength but truly a gentle giant, and his partner-in-arms Gwizdo (Patrick Timsit), who balances the partnership with his cunning brain. Lian-Chu and Gwizdo (together with their pet creature which too proudly spews incipient fires) share a common dream of owning a farm land and spending idyllic days tending to their farm animals in retirement, but in order to do that comes the requirement of being financially free, hence their career in monster-extermination which doesn't exactly pay off.

That's basically the whole gist of it, but what makes this film a spectacle, is its CG graphics, which is solidly rich, detailed, and an eye-popping marvel to behold. It has some wonderfully crafted set action pieces that were painstakingly designed to draw you into the thick of the action,, and during those fight sequences, there's nary a boring moment. Photo-realistic moments of non-existent landscapes make you put aside the fantasy of make-belief, and it's easy to be in awe of the landscape which goes beyond the usual three-suns and a kaleidoscope of flying thingamajigs (here's having at you George!) And I couldn't get enough of the finale battle as well, though the usual brick-bats will find some fault at the indestructibility of the principle characters.

I guess this film had opened my eyes that there are many more computer-animated companies out there around the world that have quality in their product to match that of Pixar's. And this is definitely a movie that the local filmmakers of Zodiac: The Race Begins and Legend of the Sea can learn from – to keep the story effectively simple, and let your moving artwork do all the talking. Definitely highly recommended!


I should start to read the fine print more carefully. Initially I thought there was a mistake in its subtitles being in Mandarin, then I realize that it's stated rather clearly in the festival booklet that it comes without English subtitles. So I can count myself lucky that I still wasn't left in the lurch and could practise my non-existent Mandarin, though the visuals were awesome enough to have warranted a sit through since a moving picture tells more than a thousannd words.

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