Director: William Canet | Script: Julien Hervé, Philippe Mechelen | Cast: Guillaume Canet (Asterix), Gilles Lellouche (Obelix), Vincent Cassel (Julius Caesar), Marion Cotillard (Cleopatra), Julie Chen (Prinses Fu Yi), Leanna Chea (Tat Han), others | Time to play: 112 minutes | Year: 2023
A Chinese princess asks the two legendary heroes of the Gallic people who do not bow down to the Romans to save her empire and the kidnapped empress. On their way to the Far East, Asterix and Obelix pay more and more attention to the princess and her bodyguard, but less to each other. As the friendship begins to unravel, tensions rise in China, where Julius Caesar helps the bad guys take over the entire country.
Some movies are not too good, but you will have a great time. Especially when they don’t take themselves too seriously and there is some laughter involved. Asterix and Obelix in the Middle Kingdom Is there such? With a production budget of over seventy million, this is an expensive film, even by French standards, but the filmmakers opted for pure fun.
The level of jokes is very high. They tend to be very bland, but they go by so quickly that they keep the service and atmosphere pleasant. Some focus on children, others bypass them and are meant for their adult supervisors.
Much of the humor is based on references to modern culture and technology. The messages are sent via homing pigeons, but when such a bird arrives, it vibrates as much as a smartphone until someone opens the note. Or the well-known off-key bard from the town who presents his musical cousin: Remix.
Comments or characters that are no longer contemporary are fortunately absent or at least present to a lesser extent than they could have been. While it may not have been malicious, there was some dialogue or accents in the old Asterix & Obelix comics that were written off of the idea that you can say anything about other cultures.
help that Asterix and Obelix in the Middle Kingdom it is not based on an existing comic. The story was completely conceived for the film. Incorrect jokes are limited to a few names, like Deng Tsing Qin, phonetically coded as ‘Dancing Queen’. Once again, it could have been worse.
Still, the movie isn’t too good. The plot is very simple, the characters are not very deep, the camera work is not impressive, and the CGI is too visible. Even the growing feud between the two best friends is resolved in an extremely perfunctory manner. It’s like the writers think a kids’ movie should be simple, while a shocking break between Asterix and Obelix really deserves the attention it needs.
And then there is the duration: almost two hours. Great for adults, but for the little ones sitting still for that long is not fun. The abundance of dialogue does not help. They just keep talking, the full pieces are impossible for children to follow. France has a richer film culture than the Netherlands, but the ‘show’ film rule does not apply here.
Fortunately, the momentum is good. The plot gets off to a fast start and continues at a fast pace. Even if that literally requires some pointless back roads, like the detour through Africa. For example, it takes a little longer before they are in China to complete things.
In terms of cinema it is not too good, in terms of entertainment young and old will generally be very satisfied. Both age ranges will have fun, and that’s true. Asterix and Obelix in the Middle Kingdom it is made for