Review: A Monster In Paris

In 1910 in Paris, the river Seine flooded most of the city after months of heavy rainfall. Only high levels in Paris were considered dry, most people had to live in shelters and the only way to walk through Paris was on boats or handmade platforms. Despite these problems, many people got through it the best they could, including Maude and Raoul, two friends who run their own businesses as a Cinema projector and a goods deliverer respectively. After sending a pack of goods to a scientist at the Plant Gardens, the two discover the owner’s lab, and decide to have fun with some of the chemicals. Unfortunately, a slip up caused them to transform a flea from the scientist’s monkey assistant into a giant, escaping into the city and scaring the locals. However, one of the chemicals that was caught in the reaction granted the monster to have a beautiful singing voice, which gets the attention of Lucille, a singer who was a childhood friend of Raoul, and seeing the kind nature of the creature, gives it the name Francœur. Upon knowing the word of a monster on the loose, the Police Commissioner wants to kill Francœur to be viewed as a hero. Our heroes now have to protect this amazing flea and show the world that this monster in Paris is nothing to fear. Before I mention anything about the film, I’d like to mention the man behind the film, Eric Bergeron, also known as Bibo. Bibo originally began as an animator on two of the Asterix films in 1986, moving onto America where he worked as an animator and storyboard artist for almost every major animated film studio in America, Warner Bros Animation, DisneyToon Studios and more prominently at Dreamworks where he directed The Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. In 1996 he opened his own studio called Bibo Films and with the backing of Europa and France 3 Cinema, this is his studio’s first film. While the animation is good, it does feel dated and similar to Dreamworks past workings. The designs of characters such as Francœur and the Commissioner are creative and the overall human designs are well rounded, the animation itself feels like a Dreamworks Picture after Shrek but far before Kung Fu Panda in quality. It doesn’t have that many creative scenes and the effects are quite minimal, and for being one of the first few 3D releases of 2012, the 3D effect is practically absent in this film. Good for a first independent studio effort but disappointing overall. The soundtrack was barely at all memorable aside from the film’s main song “La Seine” and the flea’s song, which is a nice song that gets into your head for a while. I wish I could say something else but other than it fits the classic French setting; it has no impact on the user. Since I’ve only seen the English version, I’m not going to give an opinion on the French version, but after seeing film clips with the French audio, I doubt this film was originally made for the French in mind anyway. Surprisingly, the cast isn’t very huge or well known, with one actor being close to a prominent and current film actor while the rest consist of TV actors and voice actors. Most of them don’t really have much of a character outside of stereotypes early on, and they barely make an effort, as only one or two of the cast actually try a French accent. Although one problem with the cast is the voice of Francœur, because it’s the question of whether he needs one, since it only speaks actual dialogue when singing. It’s surprising how one of its positives, considering the time this was made, might also be one of its flaws. It is really refreshing to see films which are marketed and written to show no cheap pun gags and popular culture, just like The Adventures of Tintin. However this is one of the flaws because this film is dull without them. It does have a nice simple storyline, a beauty and the beast romance with a King Kong style creature feature, but the characters are dull clichés that are played up like original characters. You have the shy man who has a crush on someone but too afraid to confess it for Emile, the egocentric and diabolical police commissioner, the loving angel who prefers the simple life instead of wealth as Lucille and so on. There are also two tacked on romance subplots which get resolved at the last minute near the end of the film, and it’s very predictable to hear what they’ll say to each other and how they will get together, and the film ends on as predictable note as well. Considering that this is one of the few French films to get an international release, with nice animation, great visual design and a few catchy songs, this would be nice to watch if it was released half a decade ago. However, with very dull and predictable plot, with uninteresting stereotypical characters and a dated appearance, this isn’t a film to praise or rant on. Much of what is good about it has been done much better in older films and what little they bring that’s unique isn’t worth paying to see it. A Monster in Paris is available from Europa films. It currently has a UK cinema run since the 27th February 2012 and has yet to have a US release.


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