Is it time to admit defeat? There have been five Asterix movies since 2002 and all of them, it’s fair to say, have been pretty dreadful. Is it possible that Goscinny and Uderzo’s comic strips about the indomitable Gaul just aren’t filmable?
‘The Mansions of the Gods’ is largely faithful to its source, the one where Julius Caesar decides to defeat the Gauls not by strength of arms but by Romanising them out of existence. To this end, he orders a housing project to be built on Asterix’s doorstep, in an attempt to show the rebellious barbarians the benefits that civilisation can bring.
Jokes about encroaching urbanisation may have been relevant in 1971 when ‘The Mansions of the Gods’ was published – now it all feels weirdly conservative. So too do Asterix’s efforts to stop the Roman invaders immigrating to his beloved Brittany. And the animation is lacklustre, turning Goscinny’s sprightly illustrations into plasticky CGI. But the really disastrous decision was picking well-known comedians to dub the voices. None of them sound remotely engaged, and plummy-accented 28-year-old Jack Whitehall as middle-aged French everyman Asterix is just unforgivable.