PoP!-Star Jose Guzman views and reviews one movie from his “must-see” list, every week, for the entirety of 2011.
For my choice this week, I pulled the sci-fi thriller, Renaissance, from my stack of bought-but-never-watched DVDs. When I first saw the trailer back in late 2005, I was hooked by the dark tone of the black-and-white Rotoscoped approach to the film, leaving me hyped to see it, but it never came to a theater near me. It wasn’t until late 2006 that I ran across Renaissance on one of my many trips to a local Blockbuster (R.I.P. Blockbuster) in search of the perfect 4-for-$20 movie deals that Blockbuster held on the reg. The excitement of finding Renaissance wasn’t enough to make me rush home and pop it in the DVD player, but I was looking forward to eventually sitting down to it. Flash-forward six years later and I finally found the time, and reason, to check this highly-anticipated film out.
The premise of Renaissance is that it takes place in Paris, the year 2042, where youth and beauty are at the forefront of human needs. Avalon (imagine if the C.I.A. and Cover Girl made sweet love and had a baby) is there to provide you with everything needed to keep your youthful appearance. After Ilona Tasuiev, one of Avalon’s brilliant young scientists, voiced by Romola Garai, is kidnapped, Paul Dellenbach, the head of Avalon, voiced by Jonathan Pryce, seeks out the rebellious police captain, Bathelemy Karas, voiced by Daniel Craig, to track down not only Ilona, but also the who and why that lead to her abduction. Karas uncovers Avalon’s plot to find the secret of eternal youth, and Ilona is the only one left alive who holds the information that Avalon needs to succeed.
Is this search for Ilona the chivalrous mission Karas believed it was when he began his search? Is Avalon’s chase of immortality for the better of mankind, or for their own personal gain? Honestly, I was too bored to care. If Bill and Ted crashed their phone booth out on my lawn today, I would probably try to talk them into taking a trip back to 2006 to make sure that I chose another DVD to replace Renaissance at that fateful day at Blockbuster. I fell asleep mid-way through, and when I woke up, I really had no desire to back track to see what plot points I missed during my slumber. The best part about waking up was the fact that I was closer to the end of the film than I was before I passed out. Its sad that a film, which took six years to make, and then another six for me to finally watch it, was so damn boring.
The bottom line on Renaissance is that while it had a stylistic gimmick to it, and some scenes were worth watching, in the end, it bored me. I can appreciate the hard work behind bringing a film with Rotoscoped animation to the big screen, but at the same time, the story did nothing for me. Each scene felt like its own short film that dragged on within a larger film that, itself, dragged on. If you’re into Rotoscope or sci-fi thrillers with moral dilemmas, then check it out, but to be honest, I enjoyed A Scanner Darkly far more than Renaissance. I own both, but one of them I will never be seeing again. See if you can guess which one.