Review: Renaissance (2006)

Story by Danielle Ryan

To say that the animated film “Renaissance” is black and white is an understatement: this film is ONLY black and white, with practically no shades in between. Such high visual contrast gives this film a novelty factor, but that novelty factor wears off very quickly.

“Renaissance” plays like an extreme film noir, complete with the lone yet dogged detective, the maze-like urban backdrop, and the deep, deep shadows. Unfortunately, the most essential part of any mystery is the setup, and this film’s setup is difficult to grasp because it’s incredibly hard to tell the characters apart. Sure, there are moments when the visual style excites: it was pretty cool to watch invisible agents darting through sleet, animated in only two shades of color. But overall, I would vote for substance over style any day.

If the first half of this film were a traditional, live action movie, it would be fairly normal, perhaps even boring. Despite being set in the future, the plot is surprisingly ordinary–a brilliant young woman is kidnapped and a gruff cop with a troubled past (voiced by Daniel Craig) is assigned to bring her back. It’s not until the second half that a critical motive is revealed and the plot finally starts to match the unique and edgy style.

I did appreciate the fact the writers didn’t spell out too much for the audience; viewers are dropped into a futuristic world without much explanation. Sadly, the world doesn’t need much explanation. If you’ve seen “V for Vendetta” or another such equally grim movie set in the future, you’ll feel like you’ve already visited this dark maze of a city.

But it’s that heavy reliance on flashy style that prevents this movie from truly being memorable. Which is a shame, because this movie had the potential to be really, really cool.

Renaissance is playing 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. Sept. 10-12 in Davies Theatre.