If someone lined up all the great concepts turned into mediocre stories….sigh. And movies have as bad or worse a track record as any other storytelling medium. Falling squarely into this list would be Renaissance which offers absolutely stunning visuals but little else emerging ultimately as a somewhat distracting exercise in an animation style. On the surface it would seem like a fine approach. Take the idea of film noir and chiaroscuro lighting to to the extreme by creating a world where everything is black and white. I have a non-artists eye to be sure but the problem with this film is that it is too black and white in all of its aspects and feels basically like anything but a true development in animation history. In other words don’t bother looking for a renaissance here.
Taking place in the not too distant future this futuristic noir is set in a Paris where every inhabitants movement is recorded and a corporation named Avalon constantly invades the private lives of the populace with promises of youth and beauty. In this black and white legalistic existence the filmmakers weave an unnecessarily complex plot involving a suspended police officer and a woman in need of rescue. This seems mainly an excuse to stage action sequences. And this is the saddest thing about Renaissance. The story is as flat as the style that attempts to build on it.
The sad thing about this DVD release is that a technical commentary would give animation fans a reason to overlook the lack of solid storytelling but none is present. A too short featurette making of is all we get and it’s just not enough to recommend this. Wait for a special edition or don’t bother unless you are a serious animation completist.
And now on to the DVD release, specifically the Canadian edition distributed on these shores by Alliance Atlantis. The film itself is simply gorgeous, the transfer anamorphic and in the proper 'scope ratio and -- as you would expect from a purely digital production -- perfectly clean. Most importantly the contrast pops and the blacks are deep and true. The soundtrack includes both the English and French dialog versions and it is important to note that although this is a French production the lip synch was originally done to match the English voices so you are getting the film correctly in the English version rather than the French. There is only one special feature included but it is a good one, a twenty six minute making of featurette that gives all of the principal players involved ample time to talk about the process and also give us, the viewers, a good look at how the motion capture process works.