Kaena: La prophétie [aka Kaena: The Prophecy] (2003)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Kaena: La prophétie</strong> [aka <strong class="MovieTitle">Kaena: The Prophecy</strong>] (2003)

(On DVD, August 2010) It’s amazing to see which films go past unnoticed, ready to be discovered by curious cinephiles years later.  So it is that even hard-core SF fans may have never seen this lush computer-animated fantasy/SF feature film.  Don’t raise your expectations prematurely: Kaena remains B-grade CGI movie-making, with sometimes-unconvincing animation, confusing visual compositions, a muddled plot and plenty of other annoyances.  But the result remains so visually intriguing that it’s hard to dislike.  The back-story involves a gigantic tree between two planets, a superstitious human colony, remnants of an alien ship and liquid antagonists, but the plot comes from the good-old SF template of a curious young female teenager going off on a quest to discover the true nature of her world.  It works even when it’s too confused to make us care: The plot gives up and falls into the tired “incomprehensible light-show contest between gods” cliché by the end, but there are better moments along the way.  The visuals are particularly intriguing, although many will raise their eyebrows at the body-revealing outfits of the surprisingly curvy teen heroine.  (French standards being what they are, we even get a surreal nude scene at the climax)  For a film often marketed at kids and young adults, Kaena features a surprising amount of visual poetry, exposed thighs and anti-religious content.  While the final result may not escape that of a curiosity, at least it’s a refreshing kind of oddball film.  The R1-Quebec DVD contains an interesting making-of featurette that explains how the film was put together using consumer-grade technology, and an entertaining “virtual interview” with the heroine that even pokes fun at the sexiness of her outfits.

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