Are we watching or not? Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom (February 1)

Are we watching or not? Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom (February 1)

The latest installment in the adventures of Asterix and Obelix, The Middle Kingdom hits theaters on February 1st. Will the signed Guillaume Canet be able to restart the saga?

What is Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom? We are in the year 50 BC. The Empress of China is imprisoned after a coup plotted by Deng Tsin Quin, a traitorous prince. With the help of the Phoenician merchant Graindemaïs and his loyal warrior Tat Han, Princess Fu Yi, the empress’s only daughter, fled to Gaul to enlist the help of two brave warriors, Asterix and Obelix, who were endowed with superhuman strength thanks to their magic potion. Of course, our two inseparable Gauls agree to help the princess save her mother and liberate her country. And here they are all on their way to China on a great adventure. But Caesar and his mighty army, always thirsty for conquest, have also taken over the leadership of the Middle Kingdom…

The statements are all taken from the film’s press kit

The essential

Fifth live adaptation of the adventures of the two Gauls after Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar, Mission Cleopatra, At the Olympic Gamesetc For Her MajestylMiddle Kingdom hopes to repeat the carton of the second opus signed by Chabat and in which the film makes the steps clear. It also marks the return of an actor’s presence in the making of the film – here, Guillaume Canet. It is thus the first of the 5 films in which Depardieu does not appear in the role of Obélix, here replaced by Gilles Lellouche : « I can just as well tell you that I was scared, which didn’t let go of me from the day I promised Guillaume until the end of filming. It was a great responsibility to take on this role because Gérard cannot be replaced… He is France, he is Obélix! In my eyes it was impossible and unthinkable that I could do better and let him “forget”. “… On the other hand, this isn’t the first time a new actor has played Asterix after Clavier, Cornillac and Baer, ​​it’s his turn Guillaume Canet to take on the role. He didn’t want to act there at first as he was already very busy writing and directing before he showed interest in… César. Then he finally falls into the role of Asterix: At one point, Jérôme Seydoux said to me on Pathé: “I don’t understand Guillaume: why shouldn’t it be you? It’s true: you’re young, you’ve got the potato, you’re the nervous kid who always wants to be right. You’re perfect!“. Around the actors, friends in life and on stage, there is a crazy cast, but Guillaume Canet that it is not free and ” Everyone has something to play!“. Another big name we find on the show, “M” composes the music for the show (and even pays for a small guest) as he had done Don’t tell anyone : « I wanted to ask him for a real soundtrack, with a Cosma theme, melodies, a symphony orchestra. Once again, Matthieu exceeded my expectations by providing me with exceptional music and a fabulous human experience.«

© Christoph Brachet

We love

We’re not going to lie to each other: this new installment didn’t inspire us that much. Burnt by the precedents that didn’t come close to that of Chabat, we thought we were doomed to only see “bad movies” about one of the most appreciated French comic book characters. And honestly, despite the early trailers’ efforts to show the breath of adventure, nothing seemed able to get that idea out of our minds. And then we got to watch the movie and realize we made a mistake!
Without reaching the level of Mission Cleopatra, Middle Kingdom follows in his footsteps and presents himself as a handsome heir. A legacy that certainly shows too much that he liked this film, but does it well: ” He has managed to preserve the DNA of comics while bringing his touch, his tone: he has invented something that we have not yet seen in cinemas in France.‘ Canet explains about the Chabat film. And it’s true that remaking a movie with such a legacy is quite a strain on your feet because you’re immediately compared to it.

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First success of the film, the new duo -Canet-Lellouche works very well. It doesn’t reconnect with the spirit of the Clavier-Depardieu duo, but rather that of the comic book, at least in the way we imagine the characters reading it. At her side is the real winner of the film Jonathan Cohen in the role of graindemais. His role is reminiscent of Jamel in Mission Cleopatra in the sense that it forms a perfect trio with our two heroes. Surely those who love Jonathan Cohen won’t be surprised by his interpretation, but he does it so well that it’s undoubtedly one of the film’s true strengths. Other casting successes are Vincent Kassel whose César is reminiscent of comics and cartoons both physically and phrasing; and also Julia Chen (Princess Fu Yi) in which it is the first role and brightens the film.
Canet’s realization is great, the sets, the actors, the costumes, everything is highlighted perfectly. Small flat ones over some fight scenes, certainly very well done, but they don’t lift the spirit enough tigers and dragons.

Another success, the film follows in Chabat’s footsteps by starting in the same register of referenced humor (as the homage to The goat with Pierre Richard) or burlesque (where the carrier pigeon vibrates as soon as a message arrives). Surely one could say that he apes the humor a bit Mission Cleopatra but he does it well, it hits the mark and we want more. The difference lies more in the fact that these gags follow one another less sketchily than in Mission Cleopatra. The homage to The goat The beginning of the film was a good clue, this part of Asterix and Obelix goes in that direction of the homage to the adventure films of the 80’s: ” I enjoyed all of those little moments and made sure they consistently fitted into the tone of a great adventure film. »

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Finally, the beginning and the end of the film in the Gallic village are really tasty and even make you regret not having seen them more. The film even has the luxury of a “cult” moment: a live performance by Assurancetourix Le Barde (PHILIPPE KATERINE) unconventional and as entertaining as possible.

Also to be heard: Jonathan Cohen (Le Flambeau) | The Law of Series No. 586 | VL Media (

© Christoph Brachet

We love less

The film doesn’t escape the somewhat heavy and repetitive gags (like Ramzy’s) or others. Similarly, and although he denies it, the film invokes too many guests who are not used to much other than winking at the viewer. It’s true that comics liked to blur familiar faces here and there, but it seemed less systematic. As if a good episode of the saga had to compete with the previous one in the number of guests. If we enjoy seeing Angèle in film, her score could very well have been done by another actress (where no one else could have done what Pierre Richard did at the beginning of the film). In terms of communication, it is extremely effective; historically it doesn’t always bring something. In fact, we find that the film’s weaknesses are very often hidden in these qualities: we like what Guillaume Canet does with the story and the characters, but we regret the excesses, the excessive repetitions. We like the scale of the action scenes, but we regret that they lean too much on cinema that has come before. We like these majestic settings, but we regret certain passages where they seem less authentic (like this prison in the trees where the Empress is being held).

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In short, the film is successful, effective, time flies without us realizing it, but it does not manage to free itself sufficiently from the model initiated by Chabat, which, if it achieves it, could have given it a real identity would have.