The Prodigies (film)
|Directed by||Antoine Charreyron|
|Screenplay by||Alexandre de La Patellière
|Based on||La Nuit des enfants rois
by Bernard Lenteric
|Starring||Jeffrey Evan Thomas
Lauren Ashley Carter
|Music by||Klaus Badelt|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. (France)
Remstar Films (Canada; theatrical)
Entertainment One (Canada; DVD)
Entertainment Film Distributors (UK/Ireland)
The Prodigies is a 2011 French-British computer-animated science fiction, action, drama and psychological thriller film based on La Nuit des enfants rois, a novel written by French writer Bernard Lenteric, Magnolia Pictures had acquired distribution rights in the film for North America and plans to release the English-language (American) version under the title The Prodigies, Entertainment Film Distributors had acquired distribution rights in the film for United Kingdom and Ireland and plans to release the English-language (British) version under the title The Prodigies: The Night of Royal Children, as Warner Bros. Pictures holds France distribution rights.
Ten-year-old Jimbo Farrar is a gifted child who is misunderstood and regularly beaten by his parents. One day he is badly beaten by his father while his mother cheers him on, and Jimbo gets carried away by his anger and loses control of his abilities. When he wakes, up he finds his mother's body on the floor, as she had been beaten to death by his father, who then hanged himself, all under the control of Jimbo. He is then sent away to a mental hospital, where Jimbo is visited by multi-billionaire Mr. Killian, who decides to take him under his wing to help him control his abilities.
Twenty years later, Jimbo has become a brilliant researcher in the Killian Foundation for Gifted Children, married to Ann with whom they are due to have a child. Jimbo has only one goal: to find young children who, like him, possess supernatural powers. Thus, he created an extremely complex online game in the hopes that he'll be able to identify any such people around the United States. One night, five unrelated teenagers pass the game and hack Jimbo's computer. In desperation, Jimbo shuts his computer down and restarts it, only to find a message on his screen with the words: "Where Are You?". Jimbo immediately sets out to find them and bring them to the Foundation, but on his return he learns of the death of Killian. The Foundation therefore passes onto Melanie, Killian's daughter, who plans with Jenkins - her second-in-command - to end Jimbo's game and instead work on a TV show. In order to save the game - and the possibility of locating more "Prodigies" - Jimbo has the idea of combining the ideas: create a large-scale televised competition to reveal future geniuses. The show, American Genius, is launched, and five teenagers are announced as participants - hand-picked by Jimbo, having met and identified them as "Prodigies": Gil, an abused child; Liza, a young girl trained to be a top model; Lee, a young Asian who helps her parents in their trade; Harry, an African-American whose mother wastes all her money in Paris; and Sammy, the only son of a wealthy family and physical ungrateful.
The five are identified immediately and Jimbo arranges to meet with them in secret in Central Park. No sooner are the teenagers gathered than two thugs assault and rape Liza. Jimbo, however, is not there: he has just learned that Ann is pregnant. He learns of the teenagers' situation too late and, by the time he arrives at the park, Liza is missing and the other four are on the floor, unconscious. However, through Liza’s agony while she is being raped, her pain is telepathically extended to the other four teenagers and Jimbo, who unconsciously drive out the thugs using mind-controlling abilities of their own. As soon as Jimbo recovers his senses, he hurries to Liza and finds her in a coma. The next day he learns that Melanie wants to cover up the crime, in order to preserve the TV show, by claiming Liza was injured by a hit-and-run driver. Furious, Jimbo violently demands an explanation, and his anger almost makes him lose control of his abilities. After this, he vows to protect the other four, and locks himself away in his office with his computer, afraid because of how he had almost lost control like in the day of the death of his parents. Meanwhile, under the leadership of Gil, the five teenagers infiltrate the archives of the Killian group, where they find video recordings of Jimbo during his sessions in the mental hospital. Here he talks about his feelings of isolation caused by his supernatural abilities, as well as the possibility of others like him being out there. The mention of him bringing them all together to avenge themselves for all the years of mistreatment entices Gil, Sammy, Lee and Harry to bring justice upon Liza’s attackers, which they do by brutally killing them as well as the officer, who helped cover up the crime, and his wife using their powers.
When Jimbo learns of this, he is very alarmed. Furthermore, Melanie refuses to recognize the truth if only to let the TV show continue, meanwhile the teenagers are demanding justice. However, one evening, as he tries to reason with the teenagers, they turn against him. Doubting his trust, they put him to the test by ordering him to kill Jenkins. Jimbo, who had made a promise to Killian never to use his power in such a way, refuses. The teenagers go on to make Jenkins beat up Jimbo (once again with their abilities) and kill Jenkins, then frame Jimbo for his murder. Although Jimbo initially attempts to explain to the policemen the truth about his and the teenagers’ superpowers, the policemen don’t believe him, particularly due his supposed history of having schizophrenia. Jimbo eventually relents and is sent to prison, where he is kept under surveillance. In the meantime, Gil, Harry, Lee and Sammy make plans for causing large-scale destruction upon the United States, under the belief that this will exact justice for all the pain they had been subject to in the past. Shortly afterwards, Liza comes out of her coma, and Ann visits her to ask her for help, for she now knows of Jimbo’s abilities from the police interview, as well as the teenagers’ plans to infiltrate the White House to launch nuclear weapons. However, Ann angers Liza, who loses control of her powers and almost kills Ann’s baby. In a desperate attempt to prevent the imminent destruction the other teenagers plan on causing, Ann reluctantly seeks help from Melanie, the organiser of the final of American Genius, which will take place in the White House, include the four teenagers plus another fifth contestant, and be attended by the President of the United States. When Jimbo learns of Liza harming Ann, he uses his powers to break free from prison and joins Liza to reach the other teenagers, as well as Melanie and Ann, at the White House.
On site, when she and Jimbo are attempting to sneak into the White House, they are halted by guards and Liza uses her powers for the two of them to escape. This triggering an alarm and initiates a security procedure where everybody in the Oval Office (including the finalists of American Genius) must get to safety in a security bunker. But once inside and all exits are sealed, the four gifted teenagers manipulate the soldiers and bodyguards into killing each other, and Melanie is shot dead under Gil’s will. Gil then begins the attacks by launching a nuke at Killian University, where Jimbo and Killian worked. Ann’s life is spared when Sammy raises the possibility that her child, being Jimbo’s as well, might also be a "golden child". Jimbo eventually arrives at the bunker with Liza, where he learns that Gil is the one leading the group into attacking the US. A fight ensues where Gil attacks Ann and Jimbo fights to protect her, until the fifth contestant fires a gun at Gil when Jimbo is at the verge of being killed. But Jimbo, anticipating the bullet, pushes Gil away and instead receives the bullet in his heart. While Jimbo lies in Ann’s arms, dying, Gil horribly attacks Liza for her refusal to cooperate with him, which brings Harry to his senses and convinces his friends to stop all the madness of attacking and killing masses of people across the United States. And so, while one controls Gil in order to prevent him from stopping them, Harry cancels the nuclear attack, saving Killian University by seconds. Shortly afterwards, Jimbo takes his final breath.
Three months later, Killian’s company has gone bankrupt. Ann, still pregnant, receives a package containing Jimbo’s phone (which he had lost in the fight at the White House), which has a final video message from Jimbo. Ann does not know it was left by Liza, who has disappeared from the radar along with Harry, Sammy, Lee and Gil. Liza, Harry, Sammy and Lee now search for other gifted people like themselves, using Jimbo’s game, but Gil now continues with his journey on his own, and it seems that he is plotting dark schemes.
The film was universally panned by critics, with criticism mostly focusing on its animation, script and lack of originality. It currently holds a 0% 'rotten' critical score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 4 reviews (as of September 2015), indicating generally negative reviews.
Linda Barnard of Toronto Star wrote 'too violent for youngsters and so poorly written it won't engage an older audience, it seems to be targeted towards youthful nerds nursing overwhelming revenge fantasies', Liz Braun of Jam! Movies wrote 'you wouldn't expose a teenager to this, that's for sure, but the storytelling is so ham-handed that few adults would sit still for it' and Dave McGinn of Globe and Mail wrote 'The Prodigies pulls together a lot of familiar tropes from superhero movies without adding anything new or compelling to the genre'.