Asterix Conquers America Review

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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.