The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 14, 2013 by  


“The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” is a fun and delightful yet crazy comedy film with fantasy and adventure elements.  The family film is imaginative and humorous and I do hope that Luc Besson continues with a sequel.  An amusing film worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Les Films Saville Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec


DURATION: 107 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: (2:35:1) Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: PG (Some Violence, Language, Brief Sensuality and Rude Humor)

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2013

Directed by Luc Besson

Screenplay by Luc Besson

Based on the comic books by Jacques Tardi

Produced by Virginie Silla

Associate Producer: Luc Besson

Music by Eric Serra

Cinematography by Thierry Arbogast

Edited by Julien Rey

Casting by Swan Pham

Production Design by Hugues Tissandier

Costume Design by Olivier Beriot


Louise Bourgoin as Adele Blanc-sec

Mathieu Amalric as Dieuleveult

Gilles Lellouche as Inspecteur Albert Caponi

Jean-Paul Rouve as Justin de Saint-Hubert

Jacky Nercessian as Marie-Joseph Esperandieu

Philippe Nahon as Le Professeur Menard

Nicolas Giraud as Andrej Zborowski

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre as Agathe Blanc-Sec

Gerard Chaillou as President Armand Fallieres

Serge Bagdassarian as Ferdinand Choupard

Claire Perot as Nini les Gambettes

Francois Chattot as Raymond Pointrenaud

Stanislas De la Tousche as Le Chauffeur Pointrenaud

Youssef Hajdi as Aziz

From revered filmmaker Luc Besson (Taken, The Fifth Element, Le Femme Nikita) comes the extravagant and wildly vivid adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, the coolest author and adventurist in all of Paris.

The year is 1912. A 136 million-year old pterodactyl egg, housed on a shelf in the Natural History Museum, has mysteriously hatched, unleashing a prehistoric monster onto the Parisian streets. But nothing fazes Adele, when she finds a connection with the ancient bird and reveals many more extraordinary surprises. Based on the acclaimed historical fantasy books by Jacques Tardi, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec follows this intrepid adventurer as she uncovers mysterious Egyptian treasures, attempts to tame a wild pterodactyl, eludes dangerous enemies and braves a formidable phenomenon to save her ailing sister.

In 1976, artist Jacques Tardi wrote and created the illustrations for his comic book “Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec”.

A comic book that featured the adventures of the mystery-solving heroine Adèle Blanc-Sec,a novelist of popular nonfiction who is also an investigative journalist in 20th Century Paris during post World War 1 through the 1920’s.

To this day, the comic book is still ongoing and back in the early ’90s, the first five stories were released in the U.S. courtesy of Dark Horse Comics and more stories released in the US since 2010 courtesy of Fantagraphics Books.

One of Tardi’s biggest fans was filmmaker Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”, “Leon: The Professional”, “Taken 2”, “Transporter 2”), who wanted to bring Adèle Blanc-Sec to the big screen and sure enough, in 2010, “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” was released in theaters.

The film would star actress Louise Bourgoin (“A Happy Event”, “Love Lasts Three Years”, “Le Petit Nicolas”), Mathieu Amalric (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, “Quantum of Solace”, “Munich”), Gilles Lelouch (“Mesrine: Killer Instinct”, “Tell No One”, “Love Me If You Dare”, “Point Blank”), Jean-Paul Rouve (“La Vie en Rose”, “A Very Long Engagement”) and Nicolas Giraud (“Taken”, “High Lane”).

And now, the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory.

“The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” begins with Professor Esperandieu is experimenting with his telepathic abilities and next thing you know, a pterosaur egg hatches.  The pterosaur flies out of his home and in the process of flying around Paris, it kills a former prefect (plus the driver and a showgirl in the car with him) which was witnessed by a drunken Choupard.

With many people claiming to see the creature, the President of France orders the case to be the priority of the National Police and the case is handed to the bumbling Inspector Leonce Caponi.

Meanwhile, Andrej Zborowski is a man who is in love with investigative journalist and writer Adèle Blanc-Sec.  He goes to get an autographed copy of his book and then the film gives us a flashback of Adèle Blanc-Sec as she goes to Egypt searching for the mummified doctor of Ramesses II.

Adèle manages to find the mummy but is nearly killed by her nemesis, Professor Dieuleveult, but she brings it back home and we learn that her reasons of bringing the mummified doctor is to revive it with the help of Professor Esperandieu in order to save her sister Agathe who lies in her bed comatose.

But her plans are dashed when Professor Esperandieu is held in prison and to be executed for his experiments of bringing a pterosaur to life. Meanwhile, Adèle tries to find ways to get the professor out of prison, so he can help her sister.  Meanwhile, Inspector Leonce Caponi and celebrity game hunter Justin de Saint-Hubert go hunting for the pterosaur.


“The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” is presented in  anamorphic widescreen (2:35:1) and French and English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital stereo.  It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, you will want to opt for the Blu-ray version of the film.   With that being said, the DVD version of the film looks very good.  Many shots are done outdoors, so colors are vibrant.  For action sequences, there is good use of surround sound activity through the surround channels.

I tested both the French and English soundtracks and both have no significant difference in terms of how sound effects are featured in the film, but for those wanting to watch the English dub, I will say that the dub was well-acted for this film.  Especially for the character of Adèle.

Subtitles are in English SDH.


“The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” includes the following special features:

  • The Making Of: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec – (26:02) Behind-the-scenes of the making of the film, interviews with creator/writer Jacques Tardi, director Luc Besson and the cast.  From how the film came to be, how badly Luc Besson wanted to direct the film and shooting the film and trying to keep things faithful to the original comic book.
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring four deleted scenes with the younger and present-time Adèle and Agathe and their competitiveness.
  • Music Featurette – (1:51) Actress Louise Bourgoin talks about singing with Thomas Dutronc and creating a song for the film.  And how she worried because she is not a singer.

I’m sure that “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” will draw comparisons to a female version of Indiana Jones but as my first introduction to the popular heroine, I found the film to be a good balance of comedy and crazy action.

For one, you have a pterosaur in the film wreaking havoc in Paris, you have mummies coming alive and possibly one of the wildest ways for a person to become comatose (it actually makes me quite uncomfortable to even think about it), “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” was a wild and crazy cinematic ride.

While I’m not too sure how faithful Luc Besson’s film was to the original comic book, I will say that I did enjoy the character.  You have an independent, strong, sarcastic, stylish and beautiful female protagonist who happens to defy evil and get things done, while the men portrayed in the film are somewhat incompetent, unusual or flat out crazy.

While I have read that the comics were somewhat dark and the setting of the time period was during sadder times, for this film, everything looks quite cheerful and it matched the craziness displayed on screen.

There is a great use of CG and the film is rather unpredictable because of its unique fantasy meets realism nature but for a Luc Besson film, it was much milder, more towards the comedy side than a story that is deep or dark but I suppose since the story is based on a comic book, I would imagine that the goal was to create a family film in some way (although, how Agathe became comatose may freak out children).

For me, part of the enjoyment of the film was thanks to the performance of Louise Bourgoin.  I’ve read that the character is actually sarcastic and cold and while the film does exhibit some of that, you get to see a strong, independent woman but also one who is much more beautiful and stylish than her comic book counterpart.  I would imagine that she brought a much lighter and upbeat personality to the character onscreen and I suppose that is possibly the major contention that the comic book purists have towards the film was that she was not stylish, not beautiful, often cold in the comic book version.

But for me, I found her performance and the character to be delightful charming and a strong female heroine that I feel is important for people to see onscreen.  It’s great to have powerful heroines in film as main protagonists such as Adèle Blanc-Sec.

As for the DVD, once again, if you want the best picture and audio quality, there is a Blu-ray version available.  But for this DVD release, picture quality and audio is very good on DVD and you get a few special features and also an English dub track (which is well-acted) for those who are not into reading English subtitles or wanting to listen to the film with its original soundtrack with French dialogue.

“The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” is a fun and delightful yet crazy comedy film with fantasy and adventure elements.  The family film is imaginative and humorous and I do hope that Luc Besson continues with a sequel.  An amusing film worth watching!


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