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  • "Avril and the extraordinary world" was presented before the official release at the Anim'est international animation festival in Bucharest. I went to see it after a brief look at parts of the official trailer, without knowing anything about the cast, cartoonist, director and the plot in general. I have to say that it was a magnificent movie, reminding me of some classic Disney style hand crafted animation that I used to love when I was a child. It is beautifully drawn and looks without any flaws. The story takes place in an alternative universe, where some modern inventions where never discovered or made available for the advancement of our societies. This makes you question how would the world look like if we have never used electricity or petrol in our daily lives. And the movie answers a lot of these questions. The plot keeps you for most of the movie engaged and in some small parts at the edge of your seat. The comic release character, a talking cat with the name of Darwin was instantly liked by all people present at the screening, adults and children together. His comments of various situations in the movie proved to be very effective, bringing smiles and laughter all around.
  • I recently reviewed a Japanese film and was left a bit indifferent by the film. It's a shame, as I really love animated pictures. Thank goodness I found "April and the Extraordinary World"...an animated movie that was delightful and really, really unusual. It isn't so unusual because it's in a steampunk world...a few other films have explored this same sort of material. However, the film offers far more in this odd alternate universe...and it makes the film worth seeing. Fortunately, it just debuted on DVD and is available through Netflix.

    When the film begins, you learn that this alternate tale of planet Earth diverged for our reality in the 19th century. Apparently Napoleon III was a bit of a nut and was intent on using his top scientist to create super-soldiers which the French could use against the Prussians. However, the experiments were failures and soon the French and Prussians made peace. His successor, Napoleon IV, was also a bit of a nut...and tried as well to use the top scientific minds to make super-weapons...but, oddly, soon all the scientists began disappearing...and so the world never experienced the gains of the 19th and 20th century. Electricity never really came into widespread use and instead the world was a dirty, deforested strange steam-driven place...and the French were part of an empire dedicated to war with the United States...a war for resources as the Europeans had completely exhausted their natural reserves.

    Time passes and soon the story soon involves a family torn apart in the 1930s. Napoleon V's agents have been searching for the scientists and a few of them are in hiding in Paris. Soon young April and her scientist parents and grandfather are all separated and the young girl is raised in an orphanage. A decade passes. April lives in a secret hiding place with her talking cat...yes, I said talking cat. Anyway, government agents are looking for April...and assume they can use her to find her family and the other scientists. Here's where it gets weird...yes, weirder than the talking cat! It seems that most of the scientists, including April's parents, are working with aliens...yes, aliens! What are they working on and how does April figure into all this? And, how does the cat become a hero? See this clever mind-bending film and find out for yourself.

    This project has an unusual pedigree. It originally was a graphic novel...which isn't unusual. But it was made and financed by French, Belgians and Canadians! The overall product is a very nice bit of escapism. I liked the story very much as well as the characters. My only complaint, and it's so small that I barely want to mention it, is that the characters themselves weren't drawn to the highest standard. The background and much of the animation was lovely...but April and the rest don't exactly look like Disney or Studio Ghibli quality. I found I was able to look past this.

    So who would enjoy the film? Well, most anyone except younger kids. It is not cute or child-oriented in any way and younger kids would probably be confused and bored. The youngest I'd show it to are kids about 10. Try it if you love anime, try it if you love more traditional animation, try it if you like sci-fi or try it if you just want to see something different. I'm glad I did.
  • There is much to love, but also a bit to dislike about "April and the extraordinary world" (the correct and more interesting title is "April and the twisted world"). Its story explodes with creativity, especially compared to US animation (which tends to severely underestimate the intelligence of children). Its "ligne claire" - animation style is both a break from US-animated CGI, which hasn't been successfully adapted in Europe, and an homage to the patron saint of European comics Hergé (co-director Ekinci did, in fact, do the storyboards of the 1991-92 "Adventures of Tintin" TV series, which is often considered to be the best adaptation).

    Leaning on Jacques Tardi for the visuals is a reminder that BD (bandes dessinées) adaptations work best in the classic animated form. One cannot help but compare "April" to Luc Besson's real-action adaptation of "Adèle Blanc-Sec", Tardi's most famous work. That movie was a commercial success, but BD fans were disappointed with the humorization of a serious story-line and the cheap-looking effects.

    What's not so great about "April" is that it's so voluntarily old-fashioned that you may have a hard time convincing your kids to watch it. The character expressions and movements are very static, the heroine is not designed to express emotions through gestures. That is very Tardi, very Adèle Blanc-Sec (which translates as "dry white", after all). But what works fine in a BD doesn't necessarily work in a movie. It seems that French animators still cannot bring themselves to realize that the times they are a-changing, and that a l'art pour l'art approach cannot reinvigorate an expiring industry, apart from justifying a €9.2 million budget (against which it has earned 5%).

    Given the character's lack of expression, the film relies heavily on the dub, and I must say other actresses could have done more justice to the part of April than Marion Cotillard - Mélanie Laurent, for instance, or Chiara Mastroianni who voiced Marjane Satrapi in her BD autobiography "Persepolis". Cotillard is a fine actress but she has a tendency to exaggerate, which can be entertaining but also quite unnerving - just look up her death scene in "Dark Knight rises" on Youtube if you don't (painfully) remember. Jean Rochefort, on the other hand, is wonderful as "Pops", April's grandfather. He speaks his lines with great candor and veracity, as does Olivier Gourmet as the father.

    So what you get to watch here is a very creative, if old-fashioned animation, which could be of more merit to adults than kids, who may find it hard to follow and perhaps somewhat boring. This is not a perfect European animated film for the whole family - that would be last year's Irish "Song of the Sea". It's also not a fandom film for BD connoisseurs, as the dub and continuity jar a bit, and as there is no commitment to a mature audience, like in the works of Sylvain Chomet. But if you're starved for anything animated that is not Japanese or yet another US CGI-film about talking animals, this one is definitely for you.
  • "Steampunk is ... a joyous fantasy of the past, allowing us to revel in a nostalgia for what never was. It is a literary playground for adventure, spectacle, drama, escapism and exploration. But most of all it is fun!" George Mann

    April and the Extraordinary World is an animated French adventure for the whole family (I recommend about 8 years and older) reminiscent of the fantastic 'toons of Hayao Miyazaki (think of Howl's Moving Castle). Leading us through an alternate steampunk history of modern France, April (voice of Marion Cotillard) is a little girl whose scientist parents in 1941 were abducted by the "Empire" to advance the cause, in this case by creating an immortality drug.

    With her charming talking cat(a product of the scientists' experiments), April spends her youth confronting malevolent forces like a driven policeman (Javert anyone?), a roguish boy, and nature itself. Not one moment of the 1 hr 45 min is wasted; each is crafted under the expert direction of Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci for maximum adventure and humanity (for example, love may be blooming and Grandpa Pops is feistier than ever).

    The graphics as well are outstanding in the steampunk visual style with the omnipresent steam and pipes, furtive surveillance rodents, bicycle-powered blimps, and suspended trolleys, among some of the creative expressions. Although great advances such as the use of electricity and oil have not been discovered, the above-mentioned steam objects awe April as she navigates this alternate universe of coal and wood.

    Conservationists shouldn't despair, for there are numerous references to the need to use coal, for instance, responsibly—already coughs are in the ambient sound. The suggestion that without the invention and use of atomic energy and fossil fuel, the world could have been stuck in an ecological disaster is an intriguingly benign take on modern energy.

    The extraordinary April and the Extraordinary World is nothing if not an invitation for girls to follow their dreams and create as their talents demand. For all children it is a call to be bold and responsible as they enter the real modern world.
  • As a film fanatic who grew up watching lots of 2D animations, I'm very happy to see they're still alive in other parts of the world after Hollywood abandoned them for 3D animations. Especially when it comes to this kind of animation, obviously the France produced some extraordinary films in the recent years such as 'Ernest & Celestine', 'A Cat in Paris', 'Zarafa' et cetera. This is an internationally produced film in the French language, but available in the English language too, which was based on the graphic novel by the French cartoonist Jacque Tardi.

    This is the story of a young girl Avril that takes place in the 1940s, Paris. But it all begins many decades earlier that reveals how a family of three generations were pursued by the powerful men. It is the parallel universe story, especially when it comes to the technology, the world is underdeveloped and is in the steam age. This film is about the science and invention where Avril's parents, grandparents were on the verge to invent an ultimate serum. Now those bad guys are after Avril and her cat, Darwin. So before they catch her, she must find her family members if they had survived the crash a decade ago to put an end to all the surrounding mysteries.

    Usually Europe means fairy tales with magic stuffs, but this is an sci-fi-adventure. Feels like watching a Japanese anime. Excellent story, the brilliantly developed characters with lots of suspense and thriller, so I don't think it makes sense to call it a comedy or children's film. Definitely for all ages, the film has a bit of everything to please the people from different generations. The sketches were another highlight, very catchy with the low bright colours. Directed by the two new directors, but their's experience is the fine result of this film.

    "Cats don't dance. And they don't talk! So be quiet."

    It is a beautiful world with the twin Eiffel towers, a bridge in the English channel kind of stuffs, yet it suffers from all types of severe pollutions. The global warming is the hot topic right now, but this film sets in 65 years earlier. So it comes in the line of 'Boy and the World', but all the focus was turned towards the family of scientists and their adventures than to press harder on the important issue. But throughout the narration, it is quite clear the world was affected by without the proper scientific progression and adaptation to save it. Avril might be the centre of the story, but the film character distributed widely and theirs story were well preserved to keep the excitement and pace steady till the end. So be prepared for some unexpected, because it's very matured yet a light humorous film.

    The title might give an expression of a cliché, so if you expect a fantasy tale, then you're in the wrong place. But I'm surprised for how unique it was from other sci-fi films. Especially somewhat resembles 'Les Misérables' and some others, yet quite refreshing with all the twist and turns. When the actual story ends, there's an extended scene which makes us to dream for a sequel to come. But it all ended here, so a follow-up is very unlikely. Apart from the story, the technical brilliance was like par with the Animes, especially it reminds Miyazaki's films. These directors must keep doing films like this and who knows they may become the French versions of Tomm Moore.

    One of the best animations of the years. A sci-fi which is not a dystopian theme. I said that because that's what very common in the current films. Instead, it is a mid 20th century story and totally an entertaining film with the breathtaking visuals. The story wise, it is nothing less than any similar live-action themes. It should have been very popular by now, but it is not and the reason is it is not a Hollywood. That's really very sad, but if you are an international film fan then you should give it a try and animation fans must not skip it. Like I said you won't often get a film matured, at a time funny as this one where adults and children can sit together.

    8/10
  • Avril's Extraordinary world is an alternative time line in which Napoleon V rules France and the scientist that help built the foundations of technology are missing, forcing the world into a steam punk setting, and Avril a young scientist herself has the key to our future.

    It's animated quite beautifully. I'm a huge fan of steam punk and I love seeing the design all over the movie. I also like the style of 3D animation blended with computer generated images. It's always a welcome change to see this other than the world we live in right now that is dominated by 3D animation.

    It was a great adventure film, filed with character and characters that were smart and funny, and accessible to everyone.

    Good watch.
  • I absolutely LOVED this film! An excellent an complex scenario based on a nice and original "what-if" idea, well-constructed characters, good voices, a well-constructed universe, it was absolutely perfect! The peculiar use of music -only present when music is actually played in the story-, was great, very interesting, and gave a very unique feel to the story. The drawings and animation change from the big modern Disney blockbusters that we've gotten used to, but this is something that actually goes very well with the BD-like style of the film: you really feel like seeing an high-quality comics that somehow came alive, it's fantastic! A must-go!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have to say that when I went to the Gene Siskel Film Center to see this, I was quite bored at the start of the movie, but this movie had whipped me pretty hard awake with how engaging it eventually got. The animation style isn't necessarily unique, but is still very relevant to the strange utopian society of the 1940s and is a fabulous treat. The characters are hilarious or dark when you experience them, and remain fascinating even after some of them play their one role. I am especially fond of Darwin for eventually possessing the ability of "kittenvincibility", one of the best improvised words I have seen in an animated film. The story concept is among the most imaginative I have seen, though in execution there is one cliché moment that the story didn't seem to recover from, similar to what reviewers of Howl's Moving Castle noticed. Despite the flaws in the story, this is regardless a must-see film for anyone who has a taste in animation or science fiction, with its emotion and humor being loaded with brass. (I would recommend the English subtitled version rather than the dub.)
  • Avril and the Extraordinary World is a nice French animated film set in an alternative past that diverts from real historical events starting from 1870. The result is a steam-punk world, dependent on coal first, on tree logging then, a world in constant war and where scientists are used as weapons.

    The film has a great start and even the initial credits are beautifully presented. The mood is excellent, and the world depicted is wonderfully imaginative. Although this is mostly a fun and adventure story, there are some interesting environmental messages embedded in the story, as well as a light reflection on the role of science and scientists in Society. The character of Darwin, the talking cat, is utterly charming. The backgrounds are stunning as well as some of the machinery depicted. I found the second half of the movie really engaging, entertaining and with a cohesive story, witty and fun, and the ending was also lovely.

    Having said that, this was a disappointing film for me, certainly not what I expected beforehand especially taking into account the raving reviews. There are many reasons for that. 1/ The story needed of better characters. I found Inspector Pizoni unnecessary for most of the film, and too much of a stereotype to be of any interest. Most of the main characters, Avril included, are totally unlikable, frigid emotionally and I couldn't care less about them. 2/ The story needed of a better tempo. The first half of the film is painfully slow and unfocused, and I found myself bored as it seemed to be leading nowhere. However, the film leads somewhere, it is just that part of the film was wandering around unnecessarily. 3/ The story needed of a bit of more humour and fun. At times seems to take itself too seriously! 4/ The movement was chunky some times, very good at some others; the lighting and chiaroscuro were almost non-existent, and the characters were not polished visually. The film was a bit flat visually to me.

    The film is enjoyable overall, but it didn't do it for me.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The steam punk alternate universe is the most interesting thing about this film. However, I'm not sure if it will appeal to adults who are not steam punk fans. The storyline with its lizard men, talking cat, and house that can both walk and swim (not a typo!) is reminiscent of what you would see in a children's cartoon on TV. I would have liked it better if the film had omitted these types of fantasy elements and stuck to science fiction elements such as the steam powered automobile and cable car. The talking cat provides some comic relief, but not as much as I expected from the trailer. As another reviewer mentioned, the animation is similar to Miyazaki. The people aren't drawn with much detail. The color palette is mostly shades of gray and rust...too much of those colors for my taste.
  • 2016 has really proved to be a great year for film. April and the Extraordinary World may not be on the level of some truly fantastic animated films (Kubo and the Two Strings, Tower, The Red Turtle, Zootopia) but it's still a very good film in its own right. The great thing about it is that it is not held back by having to only appeal to children and by not having to show anything that may be even remotely inappropriate for kids. It's a very classic action-adventure story, one where you could also see working in live action (although not exactly because many of the characters would not translate to live action as well). It is very well paced, very funny at times, and also genuinely heartfelt. That ending was also really effective, with the last scene really hitting on some great themes that the film had only previously alluded to. Definitely recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I only watched this movie because it was in French and I was learning French, and I don't see why people would vote it less because it's French. There is an English version too.

    April and the Extraordinary World is kind of like a steampunk TinTin with sci-fi and a bit of romance.

    I completely disagree with anyone who says it is mainly for steampunk fans. I think the colours are reminiscent of a "dark" world. I think the characters look great, even without too much detail, and the scenery is just amazingly drawn.

    It is so nice to get a break from too much detail 3D CGI which all the rich companies are using nowadays.

    I also totally disagree with anyone who says the style is too "old". I think the old style is nice, and I'm not 40.

    I'd definitely recommend this movie to old and young.
  • Authors of this once were famous comic makers.

    There is a term in french culture for the graphic novels. They call it "Bande dessinées" which means "strip stories". This one is not. Or, to be exact, it's more of a stripped one.

    It's a rip-off. Cultural and visual. I could name hundreds of popular videogames, books and graphic novels, ideas from which were stolen to be placed into this. It's a commercial being in its entirety and has no other meaning than to be and stand for something. This one stands for someone else's naiveté.

    I had great expectations, but this, not being independent, put too much pressure onto its own makers.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Napoleon III, Emperor of France, wants an army made up of fierce and invincible soldiers. Gruesome experiments involving vivisection have not yet produced the desired results. While His Majesty communicates his disappointment in a somewhat ungracious way, two animals (or at least animal-like creatures) escape from the laboratory. Nobody realizes that the two creatures are both clever and ambitious...

    "Avril" offers a Gallic take on the steampunk phenomenon, by giving us a tale set in a ficticious France which looks and feels somewhat like a badly mauled nineteenth-century France unceremoniously dumped in the year 2015. (I gather the technical term is a "uchronia".) There are all kinds of wonderfully strange landscapes, machines and vehicles, many of which look as if they were designed by Jules Verne on LSD.

    The movie bears the unmistakable stamp of Jacques Tardi, an illustrator and comic book artist of seminal importance. (If you've never heard of Tardi, run, don't walk to the nearest quality book shop.) The general message is anti-militaristic and anti-authoritarian, witness the many satirical barbs aimed at complacency, propaganda and agressively nationalist self-conceit. For instance, nearly every institution or building is called "Imperial", up to and including the "Imperial Toilets". There is a strong plea on behalf of animal rights, just as there is a strong plea on behalf of the protection of the environment and the preservation of forests.

    All of this sounds nice - and indeed, it IS nice - but the movie is not without its problems. It was unclear to me who or what is the intended audience : the tone, especially during the first half, is too dark and bleak for children, while adults are unlikely to be impressed by magic potions and talking cats. Moreover, "Avril" works best for an audience familiar with French history ; if you know bupkas about, say, the Second Empire, Napoleon III or the architectural evolution of Paris you might consider leaving the movie alone and spending your time in another way. It's a pity, mais c'est la vie...

    P.S. In case I was observed by a robot/rat hybrid laden with espionage equipment : I for one salute our lizard overlords !
  • It's an alternate history. In 1870, Napoleon III meets with scientist Gustave Franklin who is developing a serum to turn animals into super soldiers. Two lizards escape and an explosion kills everybody. The young Napoleon IV signs a peace treaty with Prussia and thereby extending the Napoleonic age into the future. Scientists disappear and the world remains stuck in the steam age. Coal and Europe's forest have been used up. In 1931, the government is kidnapping any remaining scientists to prepare for impending war. The Franklin family is continuing their research into the invulnerable serum. Inspector Pizoni fails in their arrest and vows to avenge his demotion. The parents disappear after being attacked by a lightning black cloud. April (Marion Cotillard) escapes with her serum-altered talking cat Darwin. Ten years later, Julius is working for Pizoni to keep track of April and her grandfather Pops. April hopes to finish her parents' work and ends up uncovering a shocking conspiracy.

    This is a fascinating world. The animation is interesting. It's comic book animation. I would stay with April more consistently and keep the reveal secret longer. Revealing the parents so early takes away some of the tension. It could be a more compelling shock. April needs more comedic scenes to add to her appeal. She's a little stiff. The talking cat could have been fun except for his sickness. Nevertheless, the overall sense is one of a good adventure.
  • Had great anticipation, after reading a write-up on a local paper, and made special plans to clear one evening to go to the local theater and see this. While the drawings depicting the city of Paris in imaginary time extensions were beautiful, the action sequences seemed dull. The story too was a bit outmoded, seemed to steeped into traditional storytelling of graphic novels of four decades ago. And the character of Inspector Pizoni was just a inherited old baggage from Tintin's Dupont and Dupont. Not funny anymore. Also, in a Europe that is more and more intertwined with different cultural streams, this plot was entirely Franco-centric, with nostalgic references to an imperial France that stubbornly still hinges of some people's minds. Get over it. It's over. There is so much "new", so why keep on bringing back the "old" ? At the end, left the theater somewhat disappointed.
  • This quite fantastic film had so much that reminded me of old Miyazaki pictures!

    I was fascinated from beginning to end. It's amazingly creative and fun and the action is pretty non-stop.

    I just read a review that said children would not be into it because it was too static and "arty". Frankly that's a load of BS. My two kids found it fantastic. They loved the whole thing and talked about it for hours afterwards.

    A fully original and intelligent movie with a developed story and fantastic characters. More than worth your time!
  • 'Avril et le monde truqué' or 'April and the extraordinary world' is a highly imaginative and charming film - an animated picture that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The story is brilliant and unusually mature for an animated picture, but with the same entertainment value as any animated film aimed at kids.

    I enjoyed the characters a lot in this film, especially the talking cat. A minor character which brought so much to the overall enjoyment to the film. The animation itself is a lot more simplistic than most these days, but it sort of adds to the overall charm of the film. 'April and the extraordinary world' is a wonderfully imaginative animated adventure, definitely worth a watch.
  • This animation tells the story of a post Napoleon would, where all scientists are captured, and the world becomes very different due to a lack of technology. The last surviving free scientists strive hard to create the serum that can make life perpetual, but mysterious forces are after them.

    The colour scheme of the animation is dark and dull. The characters are not cute either, and therefore it's hard for me to develop a liking for it. Though the story is quite engaging, I still don't find myself developing a connection with April and her experiences. The normally careful April all of a sudden trusts a stranger appearing from nowhere doesn't make sense, which annoys me quite a bit. Overall, the story is strong but has a loophole or two. I would have liked it better if the colour scheme was brighter.
  • Graphically I fell into surprisingly different worlds. As well realistic as imaginary it's one big adventure. Sometimes the lines between them are so thin that it makes you wander. What if? So it's definitely not a childish movie, more the contrary. However there's lots of messages in it for the youth as well grown ups. I was afraid before I watched it, it would be a Japanese cartoon with loud screaming boys and girls with wooden movements and for the western people non understandable humor but again: Bang! No way Jose!! It's a beautiful visionary as well the sounds and music, perfectly directed it's as I sad A must see, one big adventure!(btw it's a French/Belgium production I thought, I really don't understand I never had heard of it before... It signs again what's appreciated in this crazy world and what is not. Unbelievable! This movie is an very enjoyable piece of art packed in , drawn in three dimensions. Nine stars from me because it surprised me as well in the beginning and after that every minute again, on and on, again and again.. Amazing peeps! It was truly a pleasure and after three days I'm writing this cause I still can't forget it and never will. Have fun.