April And The Extraordinary World (France 2015)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 9/23/16
Cast: Marion Cotillard

It's 1941 and the world's top scientists have been kidnapped, leaving society stuck in the age of steam power. As a result, the world's coal supply has been depleted and war rages over control of forests. Amidst this chaos, a daring and resourceful young girl named April (Marion Cotillard) and her talking cat Darwin perfect a powerful serum that her parents were working on before they were kidnapped. This discovery puts her life in danger and she's on the run for the rest of the film. Things get really strange towards the end when the missing scientists are discovered and the fate of humankind is left in April's hands.

It's a beautifully animated tale, but the pacing is sluggish and it's far too political for my tastes. April is basically Adele Blanc-Sec's little sister, and the steampunk aesthetic is delightful. The voice acting is superb and the Wilhelm scream even makes it into the mix at one point. Despite the heavy-handed social themes, the adventure is very lighthearted in a Miyazaki kind of way. And having a talking cat is always awesome.