Genre: CG Animation
Director: Louis Clichy, Alexandre Astier
Runtime: 1 hr 25 mins
Released By: Encore Films and GVP
Official Website: www.facebook.com/encorefilms
Opening Day: 12 March 2015
Synopsis: Julius Caesar unveils his latest plan to get rid of those indomitable Gauls once and for all. As his army has not been able to crush “the last pocket of resistance”, he decides to try a stealth invasion: civilisation delivered to the village gates! He builds a new Rome-The Land of the Gods-around Asterix’s village, pressuring the Gauls to assimilate or vanish. Despite Asterix and Obelix’s plans to stop the construction work, the buildings quickly rise and the Roman citizens start to peacefully invade their surroundings, bringing chaos to Asterix’s village. Could this finally mean victory for Caesar?
Allow this reviewer to indulge himself in nostalgia for a while: he fondly remembers the days when he would spend hours in the public library hunting down Asterix comic books. Yup, these are the hardcover large ones which every kid in the neighbourhood yearned to borrow (why is that no child ever pestered his parent to actually purchase one back then, you wonder?). Admit it - if your library card quota was up, you would attempt to hide the beloved comic books you found in some obscure corners, so that you could easily retrieve them during your next visit.
Together with the Tintin comics (check out Steven Spielberg’s wonderful 2011 animated feature if you haven’t), Asterix comics were the weekly highlights of an average public housing estate dwelling boy.
If you are already lost at this point (don’t even get us started with Archie comics), then it’s difficult for you to understand this columnist’s excitement with this 3D computer animated film. A little bit of background here, Asterix is a series of French comics by Goscinny and Uderzo which first appeared in a magazine in 1959. Over the years, 35 volumes of the beloved series have been published. Each installment follows the adventures of a group of Gauls, one of them being the titular Asterix, who do their best to resist Roman occupation through a magic potion brewed by the druid.
A French Belgian production based on the comic book of the same name (the 17th in the series, if you must know), this movie directed by Louis Clichy and Alexandre Astier has the series’ main antagonist Julius Caesar building a new Rome, aptly named “The Land of the Gods” around Asterix’s village, so that he can conquer the “last pocket of resistance” once and for all.
Over the years, we have seen several Asterix movies (eight animated ones and four live action ones, if the Internet serves us well). While it’s nice to see your childhood memories visualised on screen, seeing the great Gerard Depardieu (102 Dalmatians, Parisje t’aime) as Asterix’s friend Obelix is still a somewhat traumatising thought. The 2D animated ones are a charmer though, seeing the Gauls being hand drawn in 1994’s Asterix Conquers America and 2006’s Asterix and the Vikings bring back those good old days of imagining the illustrated characters coming to life.
Because we are in an era where computer technology is easily accessible, this latest film featuring Asterix and his friends get a fresh makeover. Call this writer old fashioned, there is something about a seeking sleekly rendered Asterix and Obelix that makes him yearn for traditional animation even more. Don’t get him wrong, this movie is highly enjoyable with its 85 minute runtime. You have an easily understood plot, some humourous sequences and an entourage of characters which you have grown to love as a kid. However, just like any other experience of reminiscing, there’s a part of us that feels the society is moving too fast for its own good.
If anything, this movie is a decent introduction for parents who would like their children to be acquainted with Asterix and his friends. Now that we are more affluent, parents can also easily walk into a bookstore to purchase the comic books right after watching the movie.
(Whether you are a fan of the comics or not, this movie is undeniably easy to enjoy)
Review by John Li