It’s more than 50 years since potion-powered super-Gauls Asterix, Obelix and sidekix first made the transition from comicbook page to cinema screen. And they’re looking good for their age, courtesy of some stylish three-dimensional computer animation. But, if visually they’re growing old gracefully, in terms of content they’re pretty much stuck in their time – there’s nothing especially new going on here. So, if you’re already a fan of Asterix films and comicbooks, fine. But, in a golden era of family animation, it’s hard to see such old-fashioned and rather retro stuff securing much of an audience beyond nostalgic oldies with a hankering for things as they were.
It’s 50-ish BC. And village druid Getafix finds himself inafix when he busts his foot in a fall from a tree. With intimations of his own mortality, he decides that it’s time to pass on the recipe for his super-strength potion before its secrets die with him. But who to pass it on to? It has to be a druid and druids with the right stuff are few and far between. So, with Asterix and Obelix as bodyguards, and with village girl Pectine stowing away in their cookpot, Getafix starts scouring the known world for his successor. Trouble is, self-appointed prime contender for his potion formula proves to be dark druid Demonix, banished from druid-dom for his practitioning of forbidden magic.
Demonix proves as devilish as he looks when he decides that the way forward in his pursuit of potion and power is to come to an arrangement with Roman head honcho Caesar and his mealy-mouthed yes men. He’ll provide old Julius with the strength formula and Caesar’s legions will help him in a deception to get it. Meanwhile, Caesar sees the absence of Asterix, Obelix and co from their village as a chance to launch an all-out attack, unaware that the women of the village still have a supply of strength potion. But what happens when their potion is exhausted? And what happens when Demonix, now with size and strength super-boosted by a magic growth potion, joins the attack? The village’s problems truly are now legion, so will Asterix and Obelix save the day? And what part does village girl Pectine have to play in all this, right under Getafix’s bulbous nose? Oh, and just what are the wild boars all about?
This umpteenth screen outing for the little cartoon Gauls is a patchy affair – sometimes wryly amusing, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, quite often a trifle dull. A whizbang final few minutes, when super-size Demonix goes on the rampage, pays lip service to the modern trend for things that go crash-bang-wallop. It’s almost Transformers-like at times, but such amped-up stuff sits a little uneasily with the gentler material that precedes it.
It’s a decent watch for kids, though. But one suspects that it’s nostalgic grown-ups who will derive marginally more pleasure from it than they will.
Is Asterix: The Secret Of The Magic Potion suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
More sensitive kids may be scared by dark druid Demonix, practitioner of the forbidden arts. His devilish character is defined by his first appearance as a giant horned shadow thrown on a cave wall. There’s no mistaking he’s the baddie of the piece. Though physically his devilish appearance is subsequently toned down and often played for fun, he remains the film’s evil presence, as evidenced by his final, scariest appearance as a demonically giant version of himself, hellbent on literally stamping out Asterix and the Gauls.
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