Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion lands in the UK and Ireland on August 30, 2019.
On the 60th anniversary of the much-adored comic book series, Asterix and Obelix embark on a quest across Gaul looking for a young druid worthy of learning the secret of the magic potion – a formula which has long helped to keep the Gaulish village safe against Julius Cesar and his invading army. However, once Asterix and Obelix begin their quest, all hell breaks loose at home as the Romans start attacking the village, and an evil wizard named Sulfurix does everything he can to steal the potion’s secret recipe.
Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion is most certainly a trip down memory lane for fans of the books. If, like me, you grew up with some knowledge of the 80s and early 90s you’ll most likely have fond memories of reading the adventures of Asterix and his pal Obelix.
What directors Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy and their team have tried to do with this movie is evoke the feeling of those classic tales but to update the delivery for a more contemporary audience. They do so with mixed results.
Whilst the final product ultimately fails to fully ignite the screen there are great comedic moments peppered throughout and enough nostalgia to make the film an enjoyable for a family trip to the cinema.
Secret of the Magic Potion relies heavily on certain tropes of the Asterix franchise. For instance the wacky, and at times inappropriate, character names are a constant source of laughs throughout the movie. Tomcrus certainly brought laughs from the adults in the audience but went over the heads of the kids whilst Lelosubmarine seemed to land better with all ages. Pectine was certainly one which left me scratching my head though.
Much of the movie centres around the all important magic position which gives the Gaul’s their strength. This also provides plenty of laughs particularly when the druids are feeding the potion to the women of the village.
I got the distinct sense whilst watching the movie that it wasn’t quite sure which audience it wanted to play to more: the die hard Asterix fans or a younger audience new to the franchise. As such there was little time dedicated to setting up the storyline or the characters.
A short vignette with some classic animation styling set the film up and also fast forwarded the storyline via some clever visual exposition when it was required. With an 87 minute runtime there’s not a lot of room for a complex narrative so things are kept, for the most part, simple.
Moments like these, which show some real flare for both visual storytelling and the ability to adapt a 60 year-old franchise, are some of the most frustrating in the movie. They stand as a testament to what is, in fact, a very well produced piece of work, but they also stand out like a sore thumb against some of the more predictable storytelling beats.
The overly simple plot for the most part veers away from the classic Gauls vs. Romans plot line. Whilst it (and Julius Caesar) still exist and form an important subplot they take a huge backseat to an original story featuring the Druid Getafix.
When Getafix falls from a tree injuring his foot he goes on a unit around Gaul to find a new, younger model to replace him and learn the titular secret recipe for the Gauls magic potion.
Whilst the storyline is able to conjure a host of comedic scenes there’s little by way of stakes to make the movie exciting. Instead of pushing you to the edge of your seat it will leave you sitting comfortably whilst trying to keep you entertained. Whilst I feel that is more fitting to the source material it feels less satisfying here.
Plenty of MacGuffin’s and plot contrivances bring us to the third act which follows the superhero template and becomes a free-for-all battle against the villainous Demonix. Whilst these scenes will no doubt still e somewhat exciting for the younger audience members this is most certainly where the adults in the audience drifted off making Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion very much a game of two halves.
The animation style is top notch throughout. At times it almost feels like watching a stop motion movie rather than a fully CGI animated feature. Surfaces are smooth and lack texture but do so to recreate the style of the books. But whilst fine detail may be lacking, the environments are rich and engaging.
Ultimately Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion is geared more towards a younger audience. But whilst they are sure to be entertained there’s enough nostalgia for older fans of the franchise to still be able to enjoy the experience.
Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion stars Christian Clavier, Guillaume Briat, Alex Lutz and Alexandre Astier who also directs the movie with Louis Clichy.
The movie lands in the UK and Ireland on August 30, 2019.