Astérix et le Coup du ménhir

Astérix et le coup du MénhirSynopsis: When the druid Panoramix is attacked by some roman soldiers, Obélix drives them away by throwing a menhir on them – which accidentally hits Panoramix. After this the druid has lost his memory and cannot remember the formula of his magic potions, especially the one which gives superhuman strength. And that’s when a sinister form appears in the village one dark, stormy night.

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Astérix et le Coup du ménhir 7.0

eyelights: the animated backgrounds. the sense of depth.
eyesores: the cartoony character designs. its more childish/silly tone.

‘Astérix et le Coup du ménhir’ is the sixth animated film based on Astérix and Obélix’ adventures. It actually takes its plot from two Astérix books: the 7th one, ‘Le Combat des chefs’, and the 19th one (prolific, much?), ‘Le Devin’.

Again, as with ‘Astérix et la Surprise de César‘ the filmmakers managed to blend two original stories by using their similarities to overlap plot elements:

After Obélix launches a ménhir at Panoramix, the Gaul’s druid, to prevent his capture by the Romans, the village is without magic potion: Panoramix has lost his mind… and his knowledge. Now, deprived of his wisdom, the villagers become prey for a soothsayer.

As they devote all their efforts to nursing Panoramix back to health, Astérix and Obélix are also burdened with preventing the village from being lost to the Romans and the soothsayer, who eventually collude to bring about its demise. But Obélix has an idea…

It’s a pretty decent amalgamation of the two stories. If one hasn’t read the books frequently enough, one could easily think that this was one tale, so effortlessly does it flow from start to finish. The one thing that doesn’t work is that the English title is ‘Asterix and the Big Fight’ and the big fight itself is not in the film. Funny that.

‘Astérix et le Coup du ménhir’ was obviously conceived with making the kiddies laugh, what with the few bits of goofy animation that are totally ill-suited to the piece. In those moments it almost felt like a Saturday morning cartoon production – even though it was released in cinemas in 1989.

To make matters worse, there was a musical number in it – as has become customary in animated films (no doubt thanks to Disney!), God I hated that bit, which featured Assurancetourix accompanied by many of the villagers. Horrible stuff. I mean, I hate musical numbers to start with, but this is also veritably out of place.

From a technical standpoint, there were some treats. Unlike the previous film, ‘Astérix chez les Bretons‘, the backgrounds weren’t static – they actually had a breath of life in them. Unfortunately, they didn’t look quite as good – same thing for the character designs, which were slightly more cartoony at times.

But, all in all, ‘Astérix et le Coup du ménhir’ is a pretty decent animated film. It’s hardly the best of the series, but it’s not the worst either. And compared to films of its ilk, especially of that era, it’s one of the better ones. The two books are better, though, and I would recommend those first and foremost.

Nota bene: there are differences between the American and British translations of this film. From what is described on h2g2, it appears that the Brit version would be the best one to get – should one want to avoid watching it in French with subtitles, that is.

Date of viewing: April 11 + 15, 2013

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