Posted in Animated Movies

Brought to Life: A Monster in Paris

I may be a week late, but to end the month of Halloween in style, why not top it off with A Monster in Paris?

If you’ve seen the promotional art like the one above, and even the movie poster, you’re in for a bit of misdirect, since most of the promotional art is focused on the two characters above. However, in the opening minutes of the movie, which focuses on another character – Emile. I was caught off guard, honestly, but this was a pleasant surprise – this carried through much of the movie, which took clever and sometimes unexpected twists and turns that I enjoyed. Of course, this movie’s not entirely realistic, so I would recommend keeping your disbelief down.

Emile is just your average film guy who works at the theater, playing the film projector mostly manually for patrons (the film takes place in early 19th century Paris, I believe). With his friend Raoul, he gets in some mischievous activities at the lab of a (probably mad) scientist, who has concocted creations such as a potion that gives you an amazing voice and a potion that enlarges (or rapidly grows) objects. Some potions get mixed together accidentally and you’ve got a human-sized monster…in Paris. For the sake of being spoiler-light, multiple characters’ narratives intersect and interact in such a natural way that the culmination is respectable and fun to watch.

I was surprised. I didn’t think I’d be as interested in the movie as much as I was. I was getting really into it – the film is executed very well. Characters feel like they have depth (which can be difficult to have in a 90 minute movie) but this movie succeeds narratively while also being fun to watch in action, from a cinematic/visual perspective, regardless of the visual problems that I had. Speaking of…

Perhaps it’s because I’m an animation student, but I noticed a few technical quirks in the movie – some mistakes in animation, like when an old man almost gets hit by a truck and looks around, his eyes go haywire, and not in a good way (if there is a good way). Some animations can feel a bit rigid or stiff, which becomes really noticeable given that a majority of the animation feels nice and fluid.

Additionally, there were times where the environment – the town, for example – seemed very blank in color. Most of the town looked like it was colored white (or dark depending on the time of day), that it was jarring, since it seemed like this movie wanted to be very colorful. You can especially tell looking at the upper halves of the buildings which are colored white, while the bottom halves are actually colored brown or red. It’s a stark contrast, and from my personal perspective, it was because of their budget and the amount of time they had under that budget that they had to really hone in on the parts that mattered. Despite the lack of color at times, they still make sure to get the good points (or views) across to the viewer, and I can respect that.

Speaking of budget, I looked up on how much it took to make this film, and it was $28 million. If you’ve read my previous post, I slammed Ratchet and Clank for having a budget of $20 mil, because I thought it was a heavy limitation on what it was trying to do and what it could have been given a better production (and better director, honestly). So it’s understandable that this movie has limitations as well. Unlike Ratchet and Clank (which was somewhat enjoyable, but mostly disappointing), though, I thought it largely succeeded within its limits and I still very much enjoyed it.

A Monster in Paris is on Netflix, and I definitely recommend a watch.

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