‘Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom’ Review: An Epic Journey With Our Heroes For A Light-Hearted Fun 

There are millions of us who remember the joy of getting a fresh comic of Asterix and Obelix in our hands and diving into the world of rowdy, boisterous Gauls, scheming Romans, magic potions, and a whole lot of fun. René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s masterpiece, the Asterix and Obelix series, gets a live-action adaptation of “The Middle Kingdom” comic, and it’s every bit as fun as you’d expect it to be. Guillaume Canet brings us the live-action representation of this joy with his latest adventure comedy, Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom. With fabulous actors, jaw-dropping scenery, amazing representation of various cultures, and side-splitting humor, this movie is all you need for a happy weekend.

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In the barricaded little town of Armorica inside Gaul, where our heroes Asterix and Obelix spend their days hunting boars and thumping Roman soldiers, a mysterious carriage driver brings in treasure from a land far away. The Phoenician trader Bankruptis brings in Sa See, the daughter of the Chinese Empress because a lowly prince in China has seized power in the eastern empire. Now, the duo of best friends must go on a long journey to reunite Sa See with her mother, the Empress, who’s being held hostage by the usurping upstart, Deng Tsin Qin. We also get to see firsthand the marital troubles of Julius Caesar and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt before the Chinese power-grabber’s strategist whisks Caesar away to join Deng Tsin Qin in the war effort. Escorting Sa See and her bodyguard Ka Ra Tay, along with the somewhat charlatan Bankruptis, the best friends must travel through the vast stretches of the Red Sea, the sweltering heat of the Sahara, and the bustling crowds of China to reach their destination. While Asterix is charmed by the beauty of the young princess Sa See, Obelix falls for the bravery and gallant nature of the princess’s protector, Ka Ra Tay. The two best friends also end up releasing the frustrations they held against each other and almost coming to blows, but one thing’s for certain: Just like the druid, Getafix will never forget the magic potion recipe, and neither will the two best friends fall out. At the end of the day, though, the two brothers from different mothers come together and join efforts to face the mighty Roman Empire. Are the heroes able to rescue the Empress and save the day? Or might Caesar’s 80,000-strong military prove victorious? Join the Gauls on this fantastic journey, and I daresay it might even be a lot more entertaining than reading the comics yourself!

The casting choice is fantastic for the movie, and Guillaume Canet, who plays Asterix himself, has taken extra care in handpicking the best cast for the entertainer. It’s a delight to see Vincent Cassel as the humanized version of Julius Caesar, full of haughty pride, “Veni Vidi Vici” and all, but crying in secret as he misses his “Dear Cleo.” Although conservative Asterix lovers may not agree with the latest representation of Caesar, it feels refreshing to see him as a man with emotions. However, Canet took a different route with how he wanted to play Asterix because we often find his character admitting that he’s frighteningly weak without the magic potion. While in the comic books, our two heroes are virtually invincible save for the terror of the sky falling on their heads By Toutatis, the live-action goes the extra mile, giving them doubts and weaknesses and thereby humanizing them. Marion Cotillard plays the ravishing and gorgeous Mediterranean beauty Cleopatra, and for those who’ve read “Asterix and Cleopatra,” Cotillard feels like the perfect choice to represent the prideful yet emotional Cleopatra. However, the biggest surprise of it all was seeing the legend of the football field, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, play the role of a scary Roman soldier, Antivirus, as he sliced through the Chinese opposition. During the brief period Zlatan is on the screen; he manages to be as charismatic with a sword as he is with a football on the field.

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With a production budget of $72.4 million, it’s no wonder that the crew is able to shoot in exotic locations like the forests of Xuan, the harbor, which we’d later call the Suez Canal, and even the vast green stretches of ancient China with its many palaces. Everything from the hair to the costumes of the Gauls, Romans, and Chinese looks straight out of the creations of Goscinny and Uderzo, and it’s evident that the make-up team spared no expense. From the martial art-honed fight sequences of the kung-fu specialist Ka Ra Tay and Princess Sa See to the magic potion-loaded super punches of Asterix and Obelix that send their enemies flying straight up to heaven, the special effects and fight team have done their job well. Even the final battle between two massive armies is so well-directed that we can barely tell CGI apart from real people. Overall, the miscellaneous things other than the story and acting that make a movie perform well, work out brilliantly. 

In conclusion, all I can say is, if you’ve loved the comics and were on the lookout for the perfect, wholesome fun where the heroes fight, make up, fall in love, and try to save the day, this movie is for you. This will be the perfect movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family because of the harmless and innocent fun it brings. However, with poor critical reception and a diminutive box office work, the movie tanked on the big screens, leading to disappointment. However, you don’t need to go by the reviews you read; go watch the movie yourself, and be the best judge, as the amazing cast takes you back to the wholesome nostalgia of fun-filled childhood. 

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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In conclusion, all I can say is, if you've loved the comics and were on the lookout for the perfect, wholesome fun where the heroes fight, make up, fall in love, and try to save the day, this movie is for you. 'Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom' Review: An Epic Journey With Our Heroes For A Light-Hearted Fun