The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

Kaena: The Prophesy (2003)
Directors: Chris Delaporte and Pascal Pinon

review by Amy Harlib

Lovers of SF cinema and/or animation ought to seek out the first French computer-animated feature in summer 2004 limited-distribution, and available on DVD from September 2004. An ambitious directorial debut by Chris Delaporte with Pascal Pinon, Kaena: The Prophecy - a video game project that evolved into a film - owes much of its inspiration to anime; its home country's graphic publication Heavy Metal (aka: Metal Hurlant), and artists such as H.R. Giger. This production, resembling largely Japanese-created CG picture Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within more than that other recent Gallic effort Belleville Rendez-Vous (aka: The Triplets Of Belleville), presents an interesting contrast: Kaena's digital, wildly exotic otherworld adventure milieu so different from Belleville's earth-bound, hand-drawn, eccentric, cartoony whimsy - each equally valid examples of a vital art form's range.

Written also by Chris Delaporte with Tarik Hamdine and Kenneth Oppel, Kaena: The Prophecy opens with a prologue about two worlds distant in time and space, but planets so close they almost touch. When an alien starship exploring the system explodes near the world Astria, most of the multifarious crew of sentients perishes and the vessel's computer-brain, the Vecanoi, survives its landing on Astria's surface. This disaster so alarms the world's semi-fluid, sapient inhabitants - the Selenites - they try to destroy the extra-solar artefacts, the Vecanoi's response being, before going dormant, to use its bio-plasm stores to construct a planet-sized tree huge enough to reach halfway to the second world. This giant growth serves to shelter the few human-looking survivors of the crash whose descendants forget their origins and consider their immense arboreal habitat their only home.

Six hundred years later, the people, now calling their environs Axis, eke out a bare existence spending most of their time gathering sap for the Selenites who, having learned to thrive on this substance, have set themselves up as gods to the humans from whom they demand constant offerings. Orphaned human Kaena (voice by Kirsten Dunst), a free-spirited, agile, nubile, curious teenaged girl raised by the High Priest, defies her society's restrictive faith to explore the boundaries of her village, approaching the limits of her known world - where vistas of surrounding clouds can be seen. Although Kaena experiences an unusual sense of connection to Axis, her jaunts finally, on one fateful day, nearly get her killed by some of the dangerous, carnivorous, flying fauna that also inhabits the tree-world.

Kaena gets rescued by a non-human, yet still humanoid alien space traveller, the sole remaining, surviving Vecarian, a near-immortal being named Opaz (voiced by the late, lamented Richard Harris in one of his last roles), who had spent the past six centuries rebuilding the wrecked spacecraft to try and return home. Opaz, assisted by a pair of genetically engineered, highly intelligent, pony-sized worms encased in prosthetic devices with tool manipulating and flight capabilities, finds his repairs nearing completion. This worm duo: Gommi (Greg Proops) and Assad (Michael McShane), surely must be the oddest comic-relief characters ever conceived. When Kaena's descriptions of her discoveries inform Opaz that an artifact he thinks may be the precious Vecanoi still exists, still containing a desperately-needed, immense data store, the elder persuades the protagonist to help him retrieve the computer in return for aiding her to rejoin her people.

Meanwhile, the Selenites' Queen (Angelica Huston) and her Chamberlain (Keith David), unsuccessfully trying to destroy the Vecanoi, for 600 years and blaming it for the trauma of its arrival, feel even more threatened by Kaena and Opaz when the elder shows the younger how ungodly the Selenites really are. The Selenites also fear the changes a fully revived Vecanoi will bring and seek to prevent this from happening. More interesting complications come from the efforts of the humans to find the home of the 'gods' because of the sap's drying up and the tree is dying while Kaena's best friend, handsome, good-natured Zehos desperately quests to find the missing girl towards whom his feelings grow increasingly romantic. All these plot strands merge in a rousing climax that will irrevocably alter the fate of everyone.

Kaena: The Prophecy truly dazzles with visuals so inventive, sumptuous, richly textured and subtly coloured - in palettes of mostly earthy tones for humans and their tree-world and suffused with azure hues for anything hi-tech - that the effect becomes delightfully trippy. The not-quite-realistic look of the CGI combined with the exotic costuming and backgrounds helps make the otherworldly atmosphere convincing. A lush, symphonic and choral score by Farid Russlan enhances the awe-inspiring imagery and scenic vistas.

Genre fans will find this film a gorgeous, breathtaking imaginative creation with engaging characters - especially the spunky, resourceful, eponymous heroine - and with an interesting story. The overwhelming weirdness of it all has already befuddled most critics and average audiences. Kaena's bizarre exoticism seems to be too esoteric to give this film the wide appeal its creators and aficionados would desire. Adventurous souls seeking a mind-blowing genre cinema experience should not miss the wondrous, visionary Kaena: The Prophecy.
Kaena: The Prophesy

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Send It
HK Flix
WH Smith
Argos.co.uk

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2004 Pigasus Press