Though Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom is a visually pleasing feature, it fails to capture the essence of the beloved French duo and leans into nonsensical action-filled scenes to compensate for its weak script.
Our review of the 2023 Netflix film Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom does not contain significant spoilers.
Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom is a movie based on the famous French duo first featured in René Goscinny’s 1959 comic book Asterix the Gaul.
In this modern-day film adaptation, the pair return to the big screen to embark on a new adventure while making friends and enemies along the way.
Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom Review and Plot Summary
It’s 50 B.C., and Asterix and Obelix live in a remote village that has yet to be taken over by the Romans. One day, their friend Graindemaïs appears after returning from China with Princess Sa See, the daughter of a Chinese Empress, whom he has helped escape from a malicious prince who is after her.
To protect her mother’s kingdom from being conquered by princes who secretly wish to take over the land, she travels back to her home country with Asterix, Obelix, and a group of Gauls to save the territory.
Asterix & Obelix The Middle Kingdom’s greatest strengths are costume design, cinematography, and visual effects. Wardrobe choices capture the look of each character portrayed in the comic books, accompanied by stunning film locations that embody the period represented.
In addition, the visual effects utilized during the battle sequences are impressive and some of the best moments during the 112-minute run-time.
Though the film excels visually, many scenes are nonsensical, long-winded, and accompanied by puerile humor and songs that are entirely out of place. The year is 50 B.C., yet a cover version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is featured, only this time, the lyrics are changed to gain laughs.
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Jennifer Warnes and Billy Medley’s “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” is also sung during a skit, coupled with a farfetched reenactment of a dance move from Dirty Dancing.
Are the Gauls fans of the 80s movie that didn’t exist during the timeline the film is capturing? It doesn’t make sense, and references to iconic movie scenes and hit songs feel interjected to try and resonate with the audience in some way due to a weak script.
As someone who read the Asterix and Obelix comic books and watched the 1999 film Asterix and Obelix vs. Caeser, the portrayal of Asterix in this live-action remake strays away from his personality depicted in previous works.
Instead, he is reflected as “the village idiot” lacking courage, and his gloomy persona is distracting. Obelix aligns more with the source material, but the pair feel disjointed alongside one another.
Vincent Cassel shines as Caesar, and despite limited screen time, Marion Cotillard stuns as Cleopatra. But the biggest surprise is a cameo by Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic. So why is he in Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom? I don’t know, but he doesn’t feel out of place in a film so over the top.
Is Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom Good or Bad?
Apart from pleasing visuals and decent performances by Cassel and Cotillard, there is nothing to write home about regarding Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom, which is let down by a poor script.
Outlandish sequences and humor are exercised to create funny and creative material, but instead, it results in a chaotic, unfunny disaster.
Is Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom Worth Watching?
If you’re an Asterix and Obelix superfan and don’t mind unrealistic, over-the-top fun, this movie may be for you. If, however, you’re a casual fan or a newcomer to the material, this mediocre flick isn’t worth the time investment.
What did you think of the 2023 Netflix film Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom? Comment below.
1 thought on “Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom Review – An uninspired, forgettable film adaptation”
The reviewer in the piece above clearly has no sense of humour, let alone a creative bone in his body (like most pro ‘critics’. This movie is a fun romp paying a whole lot of fan service and all without getting “current” or “corrected” as is so sadly prevalent in many cinematic revisits to much loved, older IP’s.
I recommend highly. (Watch in original french with english subtitles if tou can to get the full gamut of verbal hilarity)