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Miramax Pictures presents
Renaissance (2006)

Muller: I realized I could do more good here than in a lab.
Karas: And yet, you stayed at Avalon.
Muller: You don't just leave Avalon.

- Ian Holm, Daniel Craig

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: July 23, 2007

Stars: Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormick, Jonathan Price, Ian Holm
Director: Christian Volckman

MPAA Rating: R for some violent images, sexuality, nudity, language
Run Time: 01h:45m:28s
Release Date: July 24, 2007
UPC: 786936724776
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Christian Volckman's Renaissance saw only limited release here in the States, vanishing quickly from theaters and waiting for a home video release. While it isn't a great film, it deserved some kind of push, as it's gorgeous animation would have no doubt wowed a decent number of people. Its problem comes in terms of story and character, but we could say that about 95 percent of the films Hollywood churns out, so that's no excuse. Whatever its theatrical fate, it's free to be judged more widely now that it's come out on DVD, and I expect the film will gain a small following.

The story revolves around the kidnapping of a young scientist, Ilona (Romola Garai). Assigned to find her is Karas (Daniel Craig), the stereotypical tough-as-nails cop who's ready to break the rules when the case demands it. The stakes turn out to be very high indeed, and Karas discovers that Ilona's work for the Avalon corporation may be more dangerous than anyone thought.

Renaissance is one of those films that looks so good that I'm just about willing to overlook its multiple flaws in story and characterization. Animated in stark black and white, it is simply beautiful to look at. Set in a futuristic Paris of 2054, the design blends familiar Parisian sights with a high tech veneer. My concern was that this would look too videogame-like, but the animation flows really well. As the jacket copy doesn't hesitate to remind us (not to mention the producers themselves), the film is directly inspired by Blade Runner and Sin City. Indeed, the makers readily cop to the former as an inspiration, and Frank Miller's graphic novels certainly are echoed in the monochrome, shadow-dominated look.

The only problem with all this is that it's in service of something fairly mundane. Karas, despite some attempt at providing a backstory, comes off as just another hardcase cop. Dellenbach (Jonathan Pryce), the ostensible villain, is so sneeringly evil that it's hard to take him seriously. More interesting is Muller (Ian Holm), whose motivations provide the center to the plot. Bislane, Ilona's sister (Catherine McCormick) doesn't appear to provide much beyond a love interest for Karas. It's all bland, by-the-book scriptwriting, and makes you wonder what the film would have been if it had a story to match the visuals. The actors generally do a fine job even with the occasionally clunky dialogue; I can't really complain about any of them, though Pryce is wasted as Dellenbach. Craig's performance, much like his work as James Bond, has the edge, albeit without the depth.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Renaissance looks spectacular, with deep blacks and a clear, sharp picture.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: Both English and French language tracks are present here, and for review purposes, I watched the English track. Much like the video, it's excellent, with vivid, punchy sound.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Invisible, The Lookout, The Hoax
1 Documentaries
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: A decent making of (26m:08s) is the only extra of note, and it covers most of the bases, getting into the inspiration for the film and the way in which it was produced.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Pretty to look at, but without a story to match the slick visuals, Renaissance might find a following on DVD if fans can overlook the shallow script and focus on the comic book milieu of it all.


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