April and the Extraordinary World is an imaginative and entertaining ride filled with Steampunk style Science Fiction. The film is a lighthearted and heartwarming tale of a girl trying to find her family while also working to save mankind. This is a pure take on Science Fiction with an alternate timeline foundation, and it works incredibly well. From the masterful world building to the captivating and at times emotional storyline, April and the Extraordinary World may well be an instant animation classic.
The plot concerns a family of scientists at the turn of the 20th century. The story begins when an explosion occurs in 1870 that changes the fate of France and the industrial world. Because of a botched super serum experiment, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 never occurs and a series of mysterious disappearances begin to affect the world’s top scientific community. With all of Earth’s greatest inventors missing, there is no one to kickstart the Age of Electricity.
The film jumps ahead to 1931 where the next line of inventors in the family are still working to perfect the super serum. Their goal is to achieve human invincibility and make the world healthy again while the globe attempts to move beyond the hazards of steam powered industry. In this timeline, the whole planet has mined itself of all coal resources and has turned to decimating the forests for fuel. Science has come to a standstill, and the family soon gets their underground lab raided. This separates April from her family and begins her great journey.
The environment created for April and the Extraordinary World is a beautifully realized landscape of what the Steampunk age would actually be like. Pollution is rampant and the world’s citizens are forced to dawn gas masks to prevent lung damage. France is shown as a brutal police state under the continuing reign of the Napoleon dynasty, and without the progression of electricity and the oil industry, the world is always near the point where everything is looking to fall apart.
What helps this film from being overwhelmingly bleak is it’s fantastic script and cast of characters. Fantasy type elements are introduced into the story when April’s family tests their serum on animals and family pets. This provides mixed results and winds up aiding in the creation of one of the film’s most valuable players, April’s talking cat named Darwin. As she gets older after the events of 1931, April grows to carry on her family’s work while outside forces attempt to intervene. Her story is very well crafted and the movie as a whole does her character arc justice.
April and the Extraordinary World is a film for the imaginative viewer willing to indulge in Science Fiction, Steampunk and Fantasy storytelling. The French language cast is excellent in their performances and the film has a unique and very rich artistic style that works wonderfully to build the world of the film. Marion Cotillard, known for her roles as Mal in Inception and Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, does great work as April and makes her character a standout role in an animated movie filled with wonderful characters. This is definitely one that is perfect for all ages.