If you’re a fan of “Doctor Who” or Doctor Strange, then the French film The Magical World of Andrew Bennett just might be for you. It’s a story that very much feels like a comic book movie at times, while still grounding itself in likable characters and even a revenge tale. Yet, it’s never so outlandish or fantastical that it won’t appeal to those seeking something a little more interesting than the usual Hulu or Netflix stream.
Directed by Kevin Payet, the film was a TV series first, based on a universe created by YouTuber “Superflame.” Geoffrey Petit-Jean-Genat plays Andrew Bennett, hunter of cursed books and forbidden grimoires. He’s also the keeper of a magical doorway that can teleport him anywhere that he’s been to before. The door also acts as a shield, and it contains his office. Yes, this all sounds a bit absurd on paper, but it’s still cool to see it play out within the context of the film. After a series of violent murders that police can’t solve, Bennett teams up with Inspector Hobbs (Frederic Perchet) to solve the case, which involves dark rituals.
Both Perchet and Petit-Jean-Genat do a fine job in their roles. Bennett is not a hulking, macho type of superhero. Instead, he wears a long maroon coat and glasses and relies on ancient books for his power. Petit-Jean-Genant brings some realism and humor to the character, while Perchet gives a solid performance playing a by-the-book sort of cop whose thirst for revenge grows after something unspeakable happens in his personal life. The justifiable transformation of Hobbs is a strong narrative arc.
David Vigroux plays the sadistic Jonathan Hillgram, while Cederick Spinassou plays the sinister Stanislas Braun, the one who launches a plan for world domination. The evil master plan involves killing people and cutting out their eyes to fit into a statue, which eventually gives Braun mind control powers. Again, it makes more sense when you watch the film. As for these two main baddies, they aren’t quite as engaging as Hobbs and Bennett, simply because there’s not enough meat on their bones. Hillgram is one sick puppy who takes pleasure in inflicting violence upon others, but otherwise, these villains are too flat and too one-note. If there’s ever a sequel, and based on the ending, it seems likely, I’d like more character development in the villain department, especially regarding Hillgram.
The Magical World of Andrew Bennett is entertaining, and while it has some occult elements, it contains realistic and flawed characters. Unlike, say, a Marvel movie, there aren’t long, drawn-out action sequences or countless explosions. There are, however, a few grisly murders that aren’t for a PG audience. There’s a lot of potential here for a sequel or two, and if that comes to fruition, I hope these characters are given a bit more backstory. I’d especially like to see what happens with Bennett and Hobbs’ uneasy partnership. They make an interesting pair. This film feels like only the first taste of a much broader universe. Still, it’s worth stepping through the doorway and teleporting yourself into Andrew Bennett’s world for an imaginative adventure.
7 Out of 10 Magical Doorways