'Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods' - Movie Review

'Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods'
U; Animation, Comedy
Director: Louis Clichy, Alexandre Astier
Cast: Roger Carel, Lorànt Deutsch, Laurent Lafitte

AsterixA still from the film

A France-Belgium co-production, this animation film version based on the Comic Book 'The Mansion of the Gods' by Rene Goscinny & Albert Uderzo, directed by Louis Clichy and Alexandre Astier (also scriptwriter) is one of several films based on France's popular Asterix comic-books.

The Asterix comic-books basically concern a village of characters in Gaul (modern-day France) in the first century A.D. who stand up against the Roman occupation with the aid of a magic potion that gives them super-strength.

The plot in this one mainly concerns Caesar's plan to deal with the pesky villagers in Gaul by encouraging his architect Squareonthehypothenus to build what he calls 'The Mansion of the Gods' – an apartment complex to be constructed right next to the village where Romans will settle and eventually conquer the villagers.

And this construct finds echoes in the contemporary world where tribals and forests are giving way to rampant urbanization at a huge cost to nature , health and quality of life. What the creators envisaged in the area surrounding Gaul appears so disconcertingly similar to modern way of life that it seems incredible. Then again, this was created in the modern age even though it's really about ancient civilization.

While hunting for boar, Asterix and Obelix bump into Squareonthehypothenus and his team of slaves in the process of cutting down age-old trees in their lovingly protected forest. They use magic acorns to thwart their plans but the Romans continue on with their destruction and eventually build those mansions they originally set out to.

The entire village is in disarray and some, prompted by the huge profits earned from doing business with the Romans , decide to move into the mansions. And the Romans are only too happy to see their divide and rule policy working so wetly in their favor. So now it's up to Asterix, Obelix and a few others including Cacofonix and Getafix, to stage a rearguard fight back in order to drive the Romans out of Gaul.

A series of inconsequential and unproductive subplots make heavy-weather of what was intended to be a light and frothy offering. The message is also not very clear here. The jokes don't score laughs either. And for those unfamiliar with the back stories, things will not seem very clear or plausible.

While the character animation features look very much identical to the ones that we loved in the comics, their movements just don't feel as fluid or exciting. It's all to do with the speed of the motion technique in use here. It's just a bit too fast and choppy to appear realistic. Also the animation looks far more rounded than the original comic book characters. The translated dubbing from French to English is also not up-to-the-mark. The dialogues don't come good in conjunction with the slap-stick on display. What you get is a likeable product that in no way matches up to it's comic-book counterpart. And that's truly sad, really!

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