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Those indominatable Gauls...
on May 14, 2009
For those not in the know, the Asterix books are a hugely successful series of comic books about a village of indomitable Gauls who resist Caesar's invasion thanks to a magic potion that renders them invulnerable supermen. There have been several animated features (only one of them, The Twelve Tasks of Asterix really capturing the wit and spirit of the books despite being an original screen story) before a perfectly cast Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu took the lead roles in two live action adaptations that proved colossally successful throughout Europe but made no impression whatsoever in the English-speaking world (Clavier would wisely opt out of the third live action film, Asterix at the Olympic Games).
Asterix et Obelix Contre Cesar is one of the few foreign films that actually benefited from dubbing thanks to a witty dubbing script by Terry Jones that added jokes the French writers omitted. Seen in its French version (not included on this DVD, which only includes the dubbed version), the pleasures of the film are mainly visual - the perfect casting of Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu, the gorgeous recreation of the comic books' village and Tony Pierce Roberts beautifully rich color cinematography perfectly capturing the hues of the original drawings. The cartoonish special effects, much copied in Kung Fu Hustle are perfect as well, but for the jokes you'll have to see the follow-up, Asterix et Obelix: Mission Cleopatre.
Pathe's UK DVD offers a good 2.35:1 transfer with the dubbed English soundtrack, but the only extra is a brief trailer.