Astérix and Obélix seems to be something that every French person has either read or watched (probably both) so I thought it was about time I had a watch myself. Astérix and Obélix contre César was the first on-screen adaption of the famous French comic and it was reportedly the most expensive French Film of the 20th century to produce.
For those of you that have read the comics, this film takes elements from Asterix the Gaul, Asterix and the Soothsayer, Asterix and the Goths, Asterix the Legionary and Asterix the Gladiator. The story is set in 50 B.C. and Asterix and Obelix are happily living in a village in Gaul where the townsfolk are turned into mighty soldiers by a magic potion brewed by the Druids. When César and his Roman troops are travelling through Gaul to get to the English Channel, they discover the secret of this potion and take the Druid leader who knows the formula captive. Asterix and Obelix set off to rescue the Druid leader and face a number of challenging situations.
I expected Astérix and Obélix contre César to be a really lighthearted film that would be full of funny gimmicks bordering on slapstick style comedy and that’s exactly what it was. The film started out great with vibrant sounds, colours and magnificent scenic views. The acting was as I had expected and was all very over the top with ridiculous accents and costumes.
Whilst I was really engaged in the movie for the first half an hour or so, I soon became quite bored with it as it was simply too long. This film lasts, in total, around one hour and forty five minutes which is too long for myself to be engaged in the novelty and hilarity of this sort of film. The CGI effects of this film are absolutely awful at times, though extremely funny, so I’m really surprised that this was the most expensive French-language film production of the twentieth century. Perhaps the effects were considered very good at the time, I’m not sure, but certainly for the modern viewer who is used to seeing films such as Avatar and Inception, this just wasn’t very impressive (though this added to the hilarity). In many ways I’m glad that the CGI wasn’t perfect because it matched very well with the general ridiculous atmosphere of the film.
The actors in Astérix and Obélix contre César were all excellent. With this sort of film it’s quite easy to go overboard and be a bit too silly, but I think these actors carried it off perfectly. Gerard Depardieu seems to be in just about every French film in existence and the vast range that his acting ability covers is quite impressive. I was slightly confused by the Italian accents in this film as no subtitles, plus funny French equals a very confused me. I didn’t always understand what the characters were saying because of the lack of subtitles, but it didn’t really make much difference to be honest because the acting is pretty self explanatory.
You just can’t help but smile whilst watching Astérix and Obélix contre César ; however, it is quite a long film so I can imagine there are many who would get bored very quickly. There are five more Asterix and Obelix films that have been produced since 1999 including one that was released this year. I haven’t seen any of them but I imagine that they’re a lot better than this debut film and so if you’re interested in this sort of genre or this film series, I’d start with the latest ones. (Also the new one stars Edouard Baer as Asterix and he’s rather dishy in my opinion so check it out!)