Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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The most insulting adaptation I've ever watched, thanks to being an Asterix fan. Sure, the people I know hate movies like The Last Airbender and Dragonball Evolution for ruining their childhoods but me? Asterix at the Olympic Games is absolute trash. Where shall we begin? The story. Good God, the story. Keep in mind that Uderzo, may he rest in peace, was a supervisor on this movie after he didn't like the well-received Mission Cleopatra, preferring Take on Caesar. And I know he was something of a bitter old man considering his swan song, not counting an updated version of a short Goscinny-written story and a 50th anniversary celebration, for Asterix before passing the torch was a xenophobic manga rant disguised as an Asterix story with out-of-place sci-fi elements. But what caused you to just let the director and screenwriters make their own fanfiction? Let me explain: The original "Asterix at the Olympic Games" story was a satire on the usage of performance-enhancing drugs in sports with the magic potion being analogous to steroids. The movie decides to tell a completely different story about Asterix & Obelix helping new character Lovesix win the Olympic Games to win the heart of his love interest, who also wasn't in the book. And if they lose to Rome, she'll have to marry a man she does not love. This man is Brutus. To his credit, the actor seems to be genuinely having fun hamming it up like there's no tomorrow. There's just one teeny, tiny problem: he overshadows Asterix and Obelix, big time. And unlike other live-action adaptations, it's much more blatant here. The duo viewers actually want to see are not much more than side characters and even though it's pretty clear Brutus is the villain, so much time is spent with him, he might as well be the actual protagonist seeing how so much of the movie is told from his point of view. To add insult to injury, look at the advertising for this movie. Note that the poster and the trailers don't bother hiding the fact that this is his show. Tell me, if you had never heard of Asterix before in your life and this movie was your first exposure to the character, which one would you think was Asterix? The guy in the center or the blond dude standing next to him? If you wanted to make a story centred around two lovers and a villain whose most heinous crime, aside from the running gag of constantly trying to kill Caesar, is hogging the spotlight from the heroes then make it a stand-alone film. Don't add Asterix in it, you know? It makes the scenes that actually were recreated from the book all the more infuriating for how out-of-place they feel. Especially since I was calling bull on something that happened near the end of the book but did not lend itself well to live-action. The humour? HA! Gone is the wordplay that defines the series' identity and instead we've got stupidly anachronistic moments that pander more to the modern crowd. And unlike Big Fight, this was what the French script was like. Not anything added in a dub in a misguided attempt to appeal to a specific crowd that never paid attention to it. Nope, this is from French people. The production values? Actually, they aren't half-bad. Though it honestly looks much more outdated than the art direction of Take on Caesar which came out 9 years ago. That movie did have a solid mix of realism and comic book-like appearance in its set design. This tries too hard to look like the comics and comes off as comparatively cheap. Ironic considering this is one of the, if not THE, most expensive French films of all time with Take on Caesar actually being made on a smaller budget than this movie. Not to mention one of the most expensive non-English language movies in general with only one movie determined by Wikipedia as being more expensive. The acting? I feel bad for everybody involved because they seemed to be enjoying themselves but it was ruined by the material they had to work with. Maybe it was better that Christian Clavier didn't reprise the role, given that Asterix is barely in this movie. And don't give me that "he was too old" crap because by that logic, they should've replaced Gerard Depardieu as well in the role of Obelix. Oh by the way, half of the "actors" are people with experience in sports, most notably the guy playing Gluteus Maximus...I'm not into sports so why should I be expected to recognise these people? Besides, I doubt sports fans, even in France, will be watching a film adaptation of a comic series revolving around wordplay and slapstick just to see if their favourite athlete/footballer/whatever showed up in this movie. This review has gone on for too long already so let me just say this, Asterix at the Olympic Games is one of the worst live-action film adaptations that I have ever seen and definitely deserves its position as THE worst, least-defended Asterix movie of the bunch.
Waking Life is a truly unique animated movie whose deranged style help keep the viewer's attention, for what could've otherwise been a boring film if the viewer isn't interested in dialogue-heavy works. Don't get me wrong, they are really interesting conversations, it's the rotoscoped uncanny valley art direction that makes the movie stand out. Had it been live-action, who's to say it would've been a more mundane film that would be better suited to being a bunch of YouTube videos? Classic or no classic, Waking Life is certainly unique. Expect a review of Richard Linklater's other adult-oriented rotoscoped animated film, A Scanner Darkly soon.
This movie disappointed me. I wasn't expecting it to be good, mind you. From the trailers, it looked awful and I was unsurprised that critics had a low opinion of it. But I ultimately saw this movie as a generically bad movie that, had it been a stand-alone movie, than a Robin Hood movie would've likely attracted little attention. I wanted "The Room, with archery", damn it! Joking aside, what does this movie have going for and against it? The acting was fine, for the most part. The action, while not the best, I still preferred more over the action of the 2010 Ridley Scott version. And it really didn't look like a cash-grab, at least in my opinion. Where it really suffers is in the dialogue, storytelling and costuming departments. Man, I did not like the anachronistic costume design. You've got Robin looking like an Assassin's Creed cosplayer and the Sheriff of Nottingham looking more like an unscrupulous businessman than, you know, a sheriff. While I have seen movies set in a specific time period that have people talking as though they're living in the present, this modern style of dialogue just didn't work here. With regards to the narrative. You know you're in trouble when your hero and love interest meet for the first time and the next scene they've already fallen in love and have been spending the next few months making out in their big fancy manor and then he gets drafted and we cut to 4 years later. With the audience barely being given any time to breath. Just have Robin already be fighting in this war and leave the previous couple of scenes as flashbacks. Especially since we actually do have a non-archival flashback. And all wrapped up in a nice little sequel hook for a continuation that's never going to happen. I expected Robin Hood 2018 to infuriate me. Instead, I was just sporadically interested a couple of times, but otherwise bored.
With regards to where Titan A.E. ranks among the trilogy of commercially unsuccessful animated sci-fi films of the early 2000's, I personally consider it to be better than Atlantis: The Lost Empire but inferior to Treasure Planet. It helps that this movie's narrative is more focused whereas in the former, by the time we get to Atlantis there's not enough runtime left to fully explore the world and its culture before we get to a big action-packed finale. Titan A.E. is not a bad movie, it's just confused. While there have been worse movies that had problems figuring out who their target audience is supposed to be, the criticisms about whether this movie was meant to be for kids or for teens are justified. On one hand, you have the smartass quips you'd expect from a Joss Whedon script as well as visible human bloodshed and even some surprisingly violent deaths. On the other hand, you have characters like that John Leguizamo alien who, from design, voice and mannerisms, are clearly intended to appeal to children, which can call more attention than was likely intended to the fact that this was a Don Bluth-directed film. Even the commercials reflected this uncertainty. Note that Earth blowing up is one of the earliest things even children get to see in the trailers. Regardless, Titan A.E. is definitely not lacking in the merits department. The visuals look great, especially given that the animators were working on a time crunch. Yes, there are moments when the animation looks unfinished but they do a good job integrating the 2D and 3D together for the most part allowing for some really cool angles at which to capture the action. The voice-acting for me is a bit hit-and-miss. It's not awful but sometimes the line delivery doesn't mesh well with the animation killing the mood. Other times, the voice acting works well for when anybody is speaking Whedon-ese. And while the story is rather paint-by-numbers by sci-fi standards, I can't say it wasn't lacking in its own interesting ideas such as beings made out of pure energy. The characters were definitely in need of a much better script. While I liked the Nathan Lane alien and the human characters just fine, the other two characters, while certainly not the most obnoxious, were clearly Don Bluth characters whereas the other four were Joss Whedon characters. World-building was interesting, if sparse. Doesn't help that most of the lore was shafted to a comic book and two different novels that not everybody is going to be reading. In conclusion, Titan A.E. had all the makings of an animation classic but what ultimately ruined it was inability to decide whether this was a Don Bluth movie or a Joss Whedon movie and wanting to prioritise one dimension of animation over another. At least the former got to enjoy three years of newfound success following his otherwise poor '90s output. Maybe one day that Dragon's Lair movie of his will finally see the light of day.
Renaissance's amazing visual style, well-done dubbing and appropriately noir atmosphere help make it stand out amongst other animated movies despite a weak by-the-numbers plot, dull script and uninteresting characters. I feel bad giving this movie 3 stars because I really wanted to like it much more but it is unfortunately let down by how boring it is when there aren't any Sin City-style action scenes. But I still think the style is what helps the movie stand out from the pack. Would've benefited from a better story but when judged as a visual experience, it definitely delivers.