Monday, 2 March 2009

Asterix in Britain - Movie Review

This is quite an old animated film, but still worth watching. So here's the summary:

The Gauls

Asterix and Obelix, created by writer René Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo, are two fearless Gauls who fight the Romans with the aid of their druid Getafix's magic potion. Their village is the only one to have this potion, and the rest of Gaul is overpowered by the might of the Roman military machine. As a result, the Romans have conquered all of Gaul - all, that is, except one small village...

The Britons

When Caesar launches an attack on Britain, the Romans are discouraged not only by the Britons' courage and strength but also their habit of stopping the fights for afternoon tea, and not fighting on weekends. Eventually Caesar has the brilliant idea of fighting on anyway, and the Britons are all vanquished... all, that is, except one small village.

The Quest

The small village holding out in Briton is under great pressure and does not have the benefit of magic potion. But they have heard of the potion that Getafix produces for his village... So one man, as it happens a distant cousin of Asterix, comes to ask their aid... And so it is that Asterix, Obelix, and a barrel of magic potion make their way to Britain...

But...

The Romans hear about the plan and, obviously, want to destroy the magic potion before the Britons can use it.

The Movie

Being British, I could really appreciate the puns in this movie, which made it funnier. But there are many reasons to like this film - the animation is good (although not especially impressive by today's standards, it is very true to Albert Uderzo's style), it's good fun and often funny.

The voice acting is spot on, with Bill Odie making a very good Asterix. There be Pirates (as well as lots of mist... and of course rain) in the English Channel, and that's just the beginning of the obstacles they have to overcome...

The Plot

The plot is good, inventive, and has the occasional surprise (and lots of historic settings, such as the Tower of Londinium), without deviating from the book. I guess if you start with a near-perfect story to begin with, some producers, like this one, might just have enough sense not to tamper with it . A shame there’s not more like that…

The Humour...

The humour is quite often subtle, which makes it better for adults, though this doesn't stop children from being able to enjoy it as there are plenty of sight gags too. You certainly don't have to be a fan of the books to enjoy this movie, though if you are a fan I have no doubt at all that you'll like it. It stays very true to the storyline in the book, which is very nice to see.

There are some riotously funny scenes too, most notably Obelix getting involved in the rugby match (“what a nice game! I must take it back to Gaul with me”) and the Roman Army tasting wine barrels to see which one contains magic potion (and the day after – ”CALL YOURSELVES LEGIONARIES??!?!?”). Most of the humour otherwise is the sort that makes you chuckle to yourself rather than laugh out loud – but it’s still good.

Although it makes fun of the English throughout, the humour is such that it's funnier to us English than anyone else! The thought of the Gauls being dismayed about the warm bear and appalled at the idea of boiled boar with mint sauce is hilarious to me, but probably not to everyone... Also the way the Britons calmly expect rain every day is just soooooo true...

Some of the dialogue is a little complex for young ones, but they'll hopefully be too engrossed in what's going on onscreen to notice.

Overall, a good little animation that's refreshing true to the book and a different, subtler type of humour than most modern offerings.

My Other Asterix Reviews

Books

Asterix in Britain
Asterix and Caesar’s Gift
Asterix and the Golden Sickle
Asterix in Switzerland

PS - I haven't reviewed any other movies (yet), but from memory I can say that Asterix the Gaul was good, The Twelve Tasks of Asterix was very good, and Asterix and Cleopatra was terrible.

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