Un Monstre à Paris (2011)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 12:41 AM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.5/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 7/10

UN MONSTRE À PARIS (2011) - Bilbo Bergeron

In recent years, the most widely known animated film that delves into the magic of Paris is the Pixar hit Ratatouille. Four years later, we have yet another entry that exhibits the fascinating world of the French people, one that is more hidden in the shelves and quiet in the theaters. Call it a French Secret of Kells if you will, but less compelling. Use your imagination for a bit. Picture this: A French 3D animated film that combines all the elements from Phantom of the OperaFrankenstein, and Beauty and the Beast. The result is a miniature piece by Bilbo Bergeron, a talented but inexperienced director, set in 1910 Paris. The result is A Monster in Paris.

The film revolves around Emile (Jay Harrington), a shy projectionist, and his inventor friend Raoul (Adam Goldberg), who mistakenly mutate a flea after accidentally mixing a vocalizing potion with a super fertilizer in a professor's laboratory. The result is a seven-foot tall monster with a magical singing voice. In addition, the film revolves around Lucille (Vanessa Paradis), a cabaret singer who welcomes the monster into the club she works for. Soon enough, a classic story of "people besides the main characters want the monster dead" unfolds.

In terms of the characters, they have cliche but likable personalities. Sadly for me, I was unable to watch the original French version and was stuck with the English dub. Mischievously, the voice acting rarely syncs up with the way the characters move. Either the voice actors are bad or they did not watch the film while dubbing it. It might not sound like a significant flaw, but it certainly detaches the realism and concern for events in the story.

Though the film is released in 2011, its animation unfortunately makes it look like it belongs in 2002. It bears similar 3D shapes and figures seen in early Pixar shorts like  Luxo Jr.Geri's Game, and Knick Knack. Therefore, many objects lack texture and appear unrendered -- very unphotorealistic. Despite the animation simplicity having a bit of charm to it, the overall image hits and misses, due to the entire frame being still. For example, recent animated films like Up or Toy Story 3 already have a sense of "cinematography." There are times where we can now say "That was an amazing shot" in an animated film. Here, A Monster in Paris is loaded with still shots in which the imaginary camera is only sitting still. As a result, A Monster in Paris appears like an old short film being stretched into a feature length. Furthermore, it sometimes looks like an animated thesis made by a group of five grad students in UCLA.

Even though A Monster in Paris borrows heavily from other notable works, its devotion to the writing department is fairly acceptable, especially when you realize the amount of budget the film had. However, though the writing is sharp enough, the editing is not clever enough. In cinema, certain pieces involve fast talking and a lot of noise coming out of characters' mouths. Thus, the director and editor need to know how to give the audience room to breathe between each scene, which leads me to conclude why Bergeron is inexperienced. This film's script is pretty tightly written, but in the way it was edited, it was wound together too tight. If Bergeron stretched the movie out a little bit more, let the audience live a bit in the world of Paris, then A Monster in Paris would have been much more magical.

Come to think of it, the film starts off with the wrong protagonist, focusing too much on Emile when most of the story is centered on Lucille. Furthermore, the film does suffer a plot hole in the third act. Fortunately, the hole was not large enough for the entire film to fall through.

In spite of all the amateur qualities and lack of film sophistication, A Monster in Paris is still oddly a charming sight to behold. This is probably because if you watch the movie from beginning to end, nothing about it feels Hollywood. In the end, even when you are watching something cliche or familiar, the imagery feels refreshing.

In conclusion, A Monster in Paris is a very unique animated film that is highly recommended for those who are curious to explore beyond Hollywood. True, the film has many problems and could have had a lot more substance in its content, but this is quirky and charming enough for young filmmakers as well as young animators. In fact, I encourage young animators to try A Monster in Paris. To them, the film will help them comprehend the different tiers of animated movies in the film industry.

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