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A mixed adaptation of both Asterix and the Big Fight and Asterix and
the Soothsayer. The arrival of a mysterious soothsayer test the beliefs
of the village as Getafix loses his memory and more magic potion can't
be made without him to stop the invading Romans.
As a fan of Asterix this ranks with Asterix in Britain, certainly in terms of the balance of good animation, story and fun. Despite the musical number it's a very good outing. Voices include Andrew Sachs, Ron Moody and Brian Brian Blessed to name a few.
Many complain about the voices of English VHS version, Bill Oddie as Asterix and Bernard Bresslaw as Obelix, I actually think they are perfect in tone, capturing the humour and rapport. They are the epitome of what I'd expect those characters to sound like. So much so I was disappointed with the release of DVD box set not containing the aforementioned. It's down to personal taste I suppose.
One of the most Asterix rounded adventures that the follow ups Asterix Conquers America (1994) and Asterix and the Vikings (2006) and have failed to equal or surpass.
Asterix and the Big Fight is fantastic family fun.
The basic idea of mixing two Asterix stories together was not too bad at
all: the Romans were a bit too pale and one-dimensional in the original
big-fight story and the druid's absence and the resulting threat to the
village was underexplained in the original soothsayer story.
However, the result sacrifices most of the satire of either story, aiming at a young kids market (which really isn't the traditional Asterix audience). But it is not just the story - also the animation moved a couple of furlongs towards Disney territory, especially the musical number made me cringe. How can the villagers dance to this bard's singing? It is supposed be painfully abysmal! A nauseatingly bad musical number would have been fine, but the film makers simply didn't dare.
I also could not warm to the English voices. While Brian Blessed put some oomph into his character, he overdoes it, as usual. An example of a scene which required cool understatement was when then the centurio instructed his messenger to Caesar. Blessed speaks it with too much excitement, though 70% of the blame has to go towards the director as the animation is similarly hyperactive at this point.
The English title of the film still sticks with "big fight" which is misleading as the actual fight (the one between Gallic chiefs) is not in the film.
"Asterix and the Big Fight" concludes the second movies' period of the
famous little Gaul. This statement is inaccurate but I've never really
paid attention to the 1995' "Asterix conquers America" or "Asterix and
the Vikings" made one decade after, and I'm fine with that. These two
films failed to capture that spicy wit that made the Asterix's
adventures so enjoyable, the lameness of their songs and the
Americanization of their plots betrayed the marketed intentions of
their makers. In others words, these films didn't have the secret
ingredient of the magic potion.
And neither does "The Big Fight", but that's only because it's part of the plot. It starts with the Roman soldiers who had the misfortune of meeting two Gauls in the forest well, not quite, as they try to explain to their centurion, there were not just two Gauls, they had one dog, plus two wild boars, so technically, they were five, what a relief: the honor is safe. Romans are much aware that the Gauls owe their force to the magic potion and therefore they plan to kidnap the druid Getafix. But their plot fails thanks to Obelix' providential intervention. He throws a huge menhir at them, convincing them to run away. But gravity is a bitch, and it's on poor Panoramix that the big rock concludes its doomed trajectory.
The consequence is a mix of amnesia and dementia putting Getafix in a child-like state. Obelix tries to make amends, précising that it was just a little menhir, but who is he kidding? As soon as Getafix opens his eyes, his hallucinations say enough about his medical condition. And this part leads to the first (and only) musical sequence where the well-meaning bard Cacofonix sings the film's defining song, a catchy Rock'n'Roll theme that lasts one minute, but it would have been too patience-demanding for Fulliautomatix to let him finish. The ancestor of all musical critics puts the final note with his huge hammer. Granted Cacofonix' head is used to these displays of brutality so he'll not probably end up like Getafix.
This part of the plot belongs to the "Big Fight" album, but like "Asterix vs. Caesar", another album inspires the narrative, and not the least, "The Soothsayer". A mysterious man penetrates the village under a rainy storm, the kind that reminds us the Gauls' only fear: that the sky would fall on their heads, perhaps a metaphor for bad omen. Prolix, to name him, is welcomed to the village and shares a bowl of milk and some boar with Obelix (let's not guess who eats what). In an ominous and solemn voice, he reveals that he anticipated everything that would happen. How come? He's a soothsayer. The whole assembly is impressed, only Asterix, the smartest one have reasonable doubts and Obelix has no sympathy for someone who takes pride from being capable to read in dog's guts.
The merit of the "Big Fight" is to be based on an album totally set in the Gaul's village, no escapism, but a rather static adventure where the Gaul villagers play a significant part, notably the females. Vitalstatitix' wife is even one of the most important characters. No Asterix movies dared to keep the action in the village, which says a lot about the maturity of the makers, who trusted the originality of the album and knew they could make something out of an adventure where even Asterix and Obelix would spend most of their times watching the druid. The two plots mixes rather well, confronting the village to two dilemmas: the wisest man hasn't just lost his mind but can't even remember the magic potion's recipe and the soothsayer can manipulate them, to the point of convincing them to leave the village.
And with all this sensation of doom pending over their heads, "The Big Fight" features some hilarious sequences and great pieces of animation. The soothsayer is caught by the Romans, and when realizing that his 'I'm a soothsayer' rhapsody would cause him to be arrested, he then reveals he's a scam. But the Centurion who just learned he might be upgraded doesn't want to believe it, he submits him to a 'heads or tails' test, whose outcome is one of the film's greatest gag followed by Prolix' desperate to convince the Romans that he's not a soothsayer, he's just clever. The second part is a hilarious and fast-paced scene where a poor legionary is asked to taste the potions made by Getafix, slow-motion, shrinking, transformation, nothing is spared for the poor soldier. His capability to fly at the end feels almost like a consolation, starting a friendship with a very sympathetic owl.
"The Big Fight" evolves smoothly and confidently and never leaves an opportunity for a gag, even the druid's cure is followed by a hilarious attempt of Obliex to cure him with delicacy. The film culminates with a great fight that ends up with the Gaul's triumph, but there's something strangely melancholic and moving in the final score, when the Gauls leave the Roman camp, and the centurion realizes a bit too late that the soothsayer's predictions weren't worth the coin he flipped. The film concludes with the brave soldier flying away from the camp with his friend, the owl, into the sunset we see him again in the pale moonlight under the legendary banquet that concludes every adventure. And the rock'n'roll score is back. End of the story, a good one.
I'll never forget the day I saw the film for the first time, on a moody Sunday of 1991, those were the times where each Sunday featured a cartoon adventure, no 3D, nothing, just the simple power of images and imagination. Anyway, the "Asterix" movies couldn't have had a better conclusion, yes, they were others to be made, but when it comes to cartoon, they finish with the "Big Fight".
Before I critique the actual movie I should inform you that there are
in fact TWO English dubs of this movie. The first features Bill Oddie
once again as Asterix and keeps the plot and story as was originally
presented in French. The American dub however changes names, changes
plot details, adds a pointless narration, and has all of the Gauls
speak with American accents. Make no mistake, this version is
dumbed-down and I implore you to avoid it. The existence of this dub
forces my score down to 4/10 when it would otherwise be 7/10.
The Romans, as usual, are camped outside the village waiting for a weak link to finally invade and conquer ALL of Europe. Obelix adjacently drops a Menhir on Getafix's head, making him forget the recipe to the magic potion. Meanwhile, a soothsayer arrives and cons the more gullible villagers into rewarding him. The Romans get wind of his scams and use him to clear out the village. The actual fight of the title does not happen in the movie as that part of the plot was lost when the adaptation was crossed with elements from another Asterix book.
The animation is lovely, the plot doesn't reach its potential, and voice acting is uncertain depending on what dub you are watching. Otherwise this movie ranks as an above average Asterix adventure.
Or "above averagix" if you like.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have always been a big fan of anything Asterix and Obelix. This movie
in particular is one of my earliest memories of the series. I remember
watching it on Sky Movies when I was very young and recently
Firstly, don't bother with the version that you get in the recently released box set. It has US dubbing which sounds rubbish. The UK version of this movie is the one to watch. You can pick it up on Ebay or Amazon pretty easily. As far I as I know the UK dubbed version was never released on DVD, only VHS. All of the voices in this movie are the ones I have always associated with the characters and classed as their original voices. Bill Oddie makes a great Asterix and 2 names I must mention are Brian Blessed as General Chaos and Ron Moody as Prolix. The cast are truly suited to each character. I may be a little biased as this is how I remember the characters voices from my childhood and they are my personal favourites.
I am still confused by the actual intended plot/film. The artwork and detail on the VHS sleeve quotes this to be based on the comic book 'Asterix & The Big Fight', when in fact the actual film is based on 'Asterix And The Soothsayer' with various parts taken from 'Asterix & The Big Fight', such as Getafix getting hit by the menhir and losing his marbles. The rest of the movie is pretty much taken from 'Asterix & The Soothsayer'. This is not a big deal but the sleeve is misleading as it quotes the film to be based on the actual comic book title. So if you read it and then watch the movie don't be too confused if they don't match. You are actually watching 'Asterix & The Big Fight'. :) The film itself is very enjoyable. The plot is straight forward and easy to follow. For me personally the film doesn't drag in anyway, it is packed with humour and overall enjoyment. The animation looks superb for it's age and the voice work is fantastic. This is my personal favourite Asterix movie and I can watch it over and over.
The plot is as follows, Getafix the village druid is injured by a flying menhir and loses his sanity and his ability to brew the magic potion that the Gaul's so heavily rely on. (With the exception of Obelix). The Romans get wind of this news and decide to play it to their advantage. The future of Gaul is uncertain and the Gauls live in fear of a Roman attack without the aid of any magic potion. Also amidst this, an untrustworthy soothsayer (wonderfully voiced by Ron Moody) arrives in the village, claiming he can predict the future of the various Gaulish folk, leaving *almost* everyone convinced apart from Asterix who is suspicious of the cunning soothsayer. The film events are mainly based around Asterix and Obelix trying to assist Getafix gain back his sanity and the also soothsayers various actions and his involvement with the Romans.
The Cacofonix singing sequence takes Asterix away from the comic book style and for one moment puts you in the middle of a cartoon musical, a rather catchy 80's number. :) Overall a great part of the Asterix collection and a movie that any fan should not miss!
When Getafix loses his memory the village loses it's defence in the magic potion. The arrival of a mysterious soothsayer further endangers the village as the Romans prepare to invade. There are several attempts to make Asterix films and none of them are very successful. This is a mix of stories - it is an adaptation of Asterix and the Big Fight and Asterix and the Soothsayer. However the two stories are not complete and in fact some of the situations contradict each other, the plot is such a mess that the big fight of the title that ends the book is not in the film at all! The main problem is that this could be any cartoon, there is none of the humour and wit of the books. It even ropes in a terrible musical number - something that would never happen in the books! The voices are mainly all miscast, Bill Oddie is a terrible, terrible choice for Asterix - too mousy and squeaky. Getafix, Obelix and the women characters are all miscast. The only good voice is Brian Blessed - but his presence begs the question why was he involved in this? Overall this is very boring with a terrible mixed up story, unlikeable versions of the characters and a total lack of comedy present in the books.
I bought Asterix and the Big Fight expecting it to be a big screen recreation of one of my favourite Asterix books. I was sorely disappointed. To begin with, the plot was entirely different, and inferior, to the book of the same title. Bizarrely, it seemed to boast a glaring omission, namely a significant enough big fight to warrant the title. Also, the character of a soothsayer was added and many others dropped. On the subject of characters, for some reason the names of all but Asterix and Obelix had been changed from their usual English translations. Getafix became Vitamix, Vitalstatistix became Chief Bombastix! All very confusing. The voice characterization was way off the mark. Obelix, for one thing, should always be portrayed as a deep voiced dummy, but here it sounds more like he should be hanging in the 'hood! All in all, this film lacks the appeal of the Twelve Tasks of Asterix film, or the Asterix and Cleopatra film and an attempt at a musical number, a gimmick which worked well in the latter film, goes sourly wrong, with poor writing and the Gauls singing in voices drowned out by the music. I advice you not to buy Asterix and the Big Fight. From the patronising opening scene in which Asterix explains the term 'Gaul' to Obelix, it is clear that you are in for a tedious hour long slog.
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