Movie Review – Renaissance (2006)

Director: Christian Volckman

Stars: Daniel Craig, Romola Garai, Ian Holm, Catherine McCormack, Jonathon Pryce, Kevork Malikyan

The time is 2054. The place is Paris. In a monochrome world everything is monitored. A geneticist (GaraI) goes missing and a cop, Karas (Craig) makes it his mission to find her. He scours the city for clues, from dingy bars to the gleaming walls of the huge corporation Avalon and uncovers a bigger conspiracy and secrets that have been held for decades.

The most striking aspect of Renaissance is the visual style. It’s like an animated version of Sin City. It’s beautiful and stunning, and will be a shock when you first start watching it. I loved the aesthetic though, it’s just beautiful. The way the black & white contrast is perfect, especially in the different environments. Most of the action takes place at night or inside so it’s usually a black background, but occasionally we’re thrust into day time and the brilliant white sky. I would have loved to have seen this on a big screen, it really is so so gorgeous and I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen an animated film like this. I hope the technique is used in the future as it means the noir feeling seeps through.

However, the CGI representation of the actors is not perfect. The effect is lessened by the color scheme but some of the expressions are glassy-eyed and unnatural. It’s the typical sort of thing you get with CGI chracters so at times it is distracting but not overly so.

But no matter how gorgeous the film looks it’s not going to be watchable if the story is rubbish. I liked the characters and this is definitely influenced by writers like Philip K. Dick. The world is much like are own only more controlled and invasive. It’s not a particularly original extrapolation of modern times but it is probably quite accurate. There were some nice touches thought, like glass floors that were used for some inventive shots and stealth suits by some security forces that looked really cool. The plot begins with a disappearance and it seems straightforward at first. I thought it dragged as Karas went through the procedure of trying to find clues, but just when it was threatening to lose me (although I was still wowed by the visuals) I was brought back with a surprising revelation.

There were a couple of other twists that I found fresh and interesting too, so although it sagged a little in the middle it captivated me again towards the end. There was also a lot of suspense and some cool action.

Renaissance is a visually stunning film. While it doesn’t have the most unique plot it does provide a surprising ending and makes use of the sci-fi noir setting it. It was made in 2006 so it doesn’t appear that anyone else has latched on to the animation style, which is a shame. I’m definitely recommending it, especially if you like sci-fi noir.

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