In a summer movie season burdened by laborious franchise updates and a calendar all but void of fun, April and the Extraordinary World should have made a splash. Its synopsis is as grand and ambitious as any blockbuster. A family of scientists hope to create an elixir to end aging — and with it, death. Things spiral out of hand, and by the conclusion Albert Einstein, laser rifles, and talking animals are in the mix. Not to mention the story takes place in an alternate history in which the 20th century’s greatest inventors have been kidnapped, stranding culture in the age of steam.
April and the Extraordinary World released in April, shortly after Batman v Superman, albeit with a crumb of that superhero flick’s marketing budget. The animated film also lacked the brand recognition of Independence Day: Resurgence and the other sequels, reboots, and rehashes that took up screens. Public perception was yet another battle. A PG-rated cartoon might have spooked away the adults the film would appeal to. And though it received an English dub, its international film status may have relegated the movie to art houses. As you might expect, all of these reasons why you may have missed April and the Extraordinary World are, in part, what makes the film so special.
The hero isn’t a bald, muscular dude with a sharp chin and a bucket of quips. Instead (thankfully!) we have a smart, adventurous, and courageous heroine in April. Her PG-rated world is often colorful and inventive, managing to feature a bleak alternate timeline without succumbing to the industry's artistically suffocating color palette: teal and gold. Speaking of fellow blockbusters, by not being produced in Hollywood, April and the Extraordinary World has a structure and tone that feels both refreshingly unique and distinctly French. My colleague Tasha Robinson wrote in The Verge's review of the film how the story phases between epic world-building and cogent narrative with an uncommon ease.
I had the opportunity to see April at Fantastic Fest last fall. For almost a year now, I’ve been pushing the film on friends, grasping for a point of reference by listing the many things it reminds me of: classic G.I. Joe cartoons, Kiki’s Delivery Service, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tintin. And for months, my friends have no practical way to actually see the film, and shut me up. That changes this week, as April and the Extraordinary World is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming. Finally more people can see how this film is like its great inspirations, and also so much more.
In one respect, the timing is perfect. April and the Extraordinary World can be your favorite action spectacle of the summer — and with only a few weeks to spare.