Searching for ingredients for the village druid's magic potion, Gaulish adventurers Asterix and Obelix accidentally cross the Atlantic and discover America.
For those with fond memories of the flinty little Gaul and his menhir-lugging stripy-trousered chum Obelix, the news is not good. Indeed, this movie buries the plucky warrior, his sidekick and their entire village society under a mound of cheapy TV-styled dross. It's a travesty that rivals even Walt Disney's Robin Hood, another low exercise in signing up story-book legends, junking their idiosyncrasies and returning them to a paper-thin plot.
Thus as our helmeted hero and his gargantuan pal bravely negotiate an oblique story line, we meet a succession of animated film cliches. There's the Cruella DeVille-derived villain, the moon-eyed maiden, the spooky native. There are swirling tempests and ravenous sharks but nothing to hold a candle to The Little Mermaid. And there's the heart-tugging Americanised moral, in this case about the dangers of drugs. But the world that's depicted seems hugely unmagical and absurdly old-fashioned. Decades behind the giddying perspectives of Beauty And The Beast or Aladdin, Asterix has the cosy pastel-coloured Smurf-like aesthetic of those fearful TV ads for My Little Pony.
Empire's junior reviewers (nine and eleven) disappeared in a cloud of popcorn whenever the comic Roman legionary showed up but put in a good hour's fidgeting in between. And yes, they were right - the Scouse tones of Asterix belong to Craig "Red Dwarf" Charles, and the cheery cockney Obelix has the voice of Christopher Biggins. Quite why is anyone's guess.
The much-loved comic deserves so much better than this trite scribble of an animated feature.