April and the Extraordinary World (2015) FILM REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted 16th February, 2018
Paul, Annette, and Pops Franklin are three scientists secretly working hard to create a serum of invincibility. Unfortunately, their work is interrupted, as a dark stormy cloud takes Paul and Annette away. Meanwhile, Pops is caught by the police, but luckily escapes their clutches. It’s up to Paul and Annette’s daughter April, to find her family, with help from her genetically mutated talking cat Darwin and a thief called Julius.
This film is set in a world where important scientists have mysteriously disappeared, so the human race ends up depending on old fashioned technology to survive. As the title suggests, we’re treated to a truly wondrous alternate version of earth, one that’s very steampunk inspired. It’s this cool blend of dark dystopia and European nostalgic romanticism.
This film mainly centres on the mystery behind the vanishing scientists, and what a thrilling conspiracy it is! The movie drip feeds us small details, teasing us with clues all the way through April’s adventure. While it can be frustrating not knowing all the facts, I can’t say that I wasn’t intrigued to keep learning more.
I really don’t want to give away too much though, because a big part of this film’s appeal IS seeing things escalate, each revelation being wilder than the last. You WILL respond with joyful surprise and bursts of “What the f***?!” while watching this film haha! It can take twists and turns that are that imaginatively fun.
The characters we spend time with are also very endearing too! April is a relentless woman, who keeps the film’s momentum going with her sheer determination and survival instincts. Sure, she can make mistakes that get our heroes in trouble, but this is only because she’s not fully clued in about what’s going on yet. Darwin is a charmingly cheeky kitty cat, who will steal your heart with his tongue in cheek comic relief.
Pops is delightfully quirky, surprisingly crafty for his age, and bursting with enthusiasm for science.Julius ends up being a pretty rounded anti-hero as well, showing genuine guilt about his true intentions during this adventure. Even the bumbling Pizoni, a police officer who is chasing after our heroes, makes for a sympathetic antagonist; despite how pathetic he can get.
The film also develops a romance between April and Julius. It’s a little rushed though, considering they’ve only spent a day together, and they mainly bicker with eachother for most of the film. However, I can see why they are drawn together! Julius has found a strong compassionate woman, who helps him tap into his conscience; which has faded away since becoming a thief. While April has met someone willing to connect with her, after years of hiding away with her old cat for company.
But beneath the film’s weird creativity, lies deep themes about science, war, and family. April is determined to carry on her family’s legacy, yet she knows very little about their final goals, putting a lot of trust in the people who raised her. Sure, the emperor wants to use the Franklin family’s serum for enhancing the soldiers of his army, but how will the Franklins themselves use it? And will April stand by her family at any or cost? It’s all very poignant stuff, that becomes clearer towards the end.
This movie, as you may have noticed from the stills, has a very stylistic design, inspired by the work of comic artist Jacques Tardi. It’s dripping with Frenchness, looking elegantly refined but also a little cartoonish too. The appealing look of the characters, actually helps them to stand out in the drearily dystopian setting; while also fitting in with the 1940’s European aesthetics of this alternate steampunk landscape.
To conclude, “April and the Extraordinary World” is a lavishly stylistic and excitingly action packed movie. The further the film goes on, the more you want to piece together the puzzle, but you can enjoy lots of imaginative steampunk set pieces until the jigsaw is complete. If you enjoy beautifully animated European movies with wacky ideas, profound themes, and a quirky sense of humour, then this is the film for you.