The well-known little village from the Asterix and Obelix-comic books is in trouble: It is the last place not controlled by Rome. When Tax collector Claudius Incorruptus does not get his ... See full summary »
After another raid in an empty village, the chief of the Vikings Timandahaf misunderstands the explanation of his druid Cryptograf that "fear gives wings to the dwellers" and believes that ... See full summary »
Popular animated hero Asterix and his faithful sidekick Obelix travel to ancient Egypt to help Cleopatra build a new summer home. Cleopatra and Julius Caesar have made a bet, with Caesar ... See full summary »
Caesar has had enough when another legion is hacked to pieces by the damned single indomitable village in Gaul because of the druid's magic potion, so he decides to tackle the problem at ... See full summary »
The diminutive Asterix and his rather larger companion Obelix, warriors of the last village in Gaul still free after the Roman invasion, set out on a mission to deliver a barrel of their ... See full summary »
Pino Van Lamsweerde
Obelix falls for a new arrival in his home village in Gaul, but is heartbroken when her true love arrives to visit her. However, the lovers are kidnapped by Romans; Asterix and Obelix set ... See full summary »
The first was made by an old-school director, the second by a fan, the third, by businessmen...
René Goscinny's untimely passing in 1977 left a vivid interrogation mark on the future of his most iconic creation: Astérix, the little Gaul. Yet Albert Uderzo, the drawer, took the challenge and managed, for at least two decades, to remain respectful to the witty, comical and slightly satirical tone of the first albums. Of course, here and there, he injected some fantasy or romance, but the humor did justice to the legacy of the great Goscinny and never caused any concerns.
It's not until the dreadful "All at Sea" in 1996 that some signs of, pardon me, senile over-inspiration, alerted the fans. It started with the Atlantis Island and that horrific sight of a flying cow, it was followed, five years later, by another story featuring Asterix and Obelix' mothers attempting to marry their bachelor kids but even those were nothing compared to the deathblow of 2005, the last album drawn by Uderzo, daring to mix Astérix with Sci-fi. The title was "The Falling Sky", reading it, I felt like the sky actually fell on poor Uderzo.
The relationship between Uderzo and Astérix became as problematic as when a troubled parent has the custody, and to understand the horrid disaster of "Astérix at the Olympic Games", one must consider the context of its making. Basically, the third live-action adaptation was one of the most anticipated projects of French Cinema, especially after the success of the hilarious "Mission Cleopatra". "Chorus" director Gérard Jugnot wanted to pay his tribute to his childhood hero and the movie was planned to be based on "Astérix in Hispania".
However, Uderzo dismissed a script that, according to him, didn't respect the spirit of Astérix. The man who was just preparing an album that would make the late Goscinny roll over his grave, who despised "Mission Cleopatra", sealed the fate of a promising project. I would hate to think that Uderzo, who co-created Astérix, would be the least capable person to judge the quality of an adaptation, didn't he love, after all, the magnificent "Mansion of the Gods" in 2014? Uderzo probably refused the script, out of fear that it would interfere with the release of "The Falling Sky" and "Asterix and the Vikings". It was nothing personal, but strictly business.
And indeed, when you see "Astérix at the Olympic Games", you don't think of it as the work of a fan, but of businessmen. Claude Berri, who produced the first films, let his son Thomas Langmann taking over the ambitious project, and invest millions of euros to make an international blockbuster. Clavier was replaced by Clovis Cornillac, Depardieu would still be Obelix and Jean-Pierre Cassel, in his last role, was a rather weak and invisible Getafix. The rest of the cast featured bankable stars: Alain Delon, comedians Benoit Poelvorde, Elie Semoun, Franck Dubosc and Alexandre Astier, and so many cameos they became the rules rather than the exceptions.
Still, the most disconcerting aspect of the casting is Canadian comedian Stéphane Rousseau as a Gaul named Alafolix, in love with a Greek princess, I say 'surprising' because this has nothing to do with the album, yet it works as the set-up of the film: to marry the princess whatever-her-name-is-and-who-cares, Alafolix must win the Olympic Games over his greatest rival: Brutus. Astérix and Obélix are almost relegated to secondary roles just like in the 'Vikings' film. Again, romance ruins everything. Check all the previous attempts, Justforkix and Abba, Obelix with the Native girl or Falbala in the first live-action film, and even "Asterix vs. Caesar" to some extent, romance never fits with Astérix and just slows down the action.
But "Olympic" takes the cake as the romance isn't part of the original album, and involves two characters who don't even belong to the series. It's dull and boring and only redeemed by the sight of beautiful Vanessa Hessler and Poelvorde's funny performance as Brutus. Well he manages to grab a few laughs although some attempts are so intelligence-insulting that you're wondering if the gags that work aren't accidental. It starts with the falcon whose landing on Brutus' arm is so "brutal" he's thrown from the saddle, okay then he sees Princess and recites a poem. The lyrics are an excerpt from a famous French hit song. The gag works for a few seconds until the unforgivable mistake where he actually sings the original song, which totally ruins the joke.
A similar gag occurs when we first meet Caesar, Delon delivers a tirade full of references to his previous films, the first reference is fun, the second can pass, at three, it gets redundant, at the fifth one, you just want to shout "stop, this is embarrassing!". Delon is not even playing Caesar but a Caesar version of Delon, which is not funny, since this is the most predictable cliché about him, not to mention the running gag of Brutus' assassination attempts, which, despite some funny ones, confine to a level of absurdity totally discrediting Caesar's intelligence. If that's the joke, it's not even funny. And this is actually symptomatic of the film's problem, the script was written according to the stars, they are the references, the story is secondary.
So secondary that after an overdose of CGI-driven lousy effects, movies references, and cringe-worthy performances, the film's conclusion gratifies us with an extra ten minutes featuring a cameo of Jamel Debbouze and Adriana Karembeu, then Zidane and Tony Parker showcasing their skills. The only interesting jokes came from Alexandre Astier as Centurio Mordicus and it's interesting that Wikipedia mentions he wrote his lines, as to justify this oasis of brilliance in a desert of mediocrity. Later, Astier would write the greatest adaptation of Asterix since Chabat's, "The Mansion of the Gods" making us forget about that dreadful adaptation.
"Asterix at the Olympic Games" shows how far cinema can go when poisoned by business, it's almost ironic that it has to be a Sports-themed film.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?