Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods

Taking a very rough survey – one friend and one member of the family – there’s a suggestion that the adventures of Asterix the Gaul has skipped a generation, at least in this country. On the continent he remains as popular as ever, with France very much the hub. It would be a shame if people are missing out, as the stories by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - writer and illustrator respectively - are timeless.

Originally published in 1971 The Mansions of the Gods is set in Gaul. Asterix’s old foe Caesar has just about had enough of the village of indomitable Gauls who will not surrender to the might of Rome. Force is not an option, as the Gaul’s magic potion makes them super strong, and his legionnaires endlessly bashed by them are nervous of confrontation. So he decides to change tack and what is proposed would today be called gentrification. The idea is to construct roman apartments around the village, fill them with Roman citizens with the hope that they will see the advantages of Roman life and culture, and eventually of their own will fall under the Roman yoke.

What follows is terrific adventure with plenty of action with the boar hunts, constant village fights and roman tactical manoeuvres. The dialogue is sharp and funny, with the English cast revelling in the parts. This writer had reservations about Jack Whitehall as Asterix but while not totally convincing he’s not a car crash either. Jim Broadbent clearly has a whale of a time with the egomaniacal Caesar. However, it’s Greg Davies as the continually exasperated Centurion who takes the honours.

There’s also some wry observations on market forces, worker’s rights and benefits, plus social manipulation. The CGI animation is fine, and if not quite up to the detail of Pixar, successfully transfers the look of the books to the screen. Whether the 3D enhances it that much is debatable, this write isn’t convinced.

All in all, it’s a jolly romp that can be enjoyed on several levels and should please young and old, newcomers and old-hands alike.
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