Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods ***Dirs: Alexandre Astier, Louis Clichy. Animation with the voices of: Jack Whitehall, Nick Frost, Greg Davies, Matt Berry. 85 mins. Cert: PG
The French rework Goscinny and Uderzo at the same rate we do Dickens and Shakespeare. This here’s not one of those Depardieu-as-Obelix live-action pantos, rather a distinctive, energised 3D animation, redubbed by a smattering of British comic talent. The Gauls’ resistance against a looming Roman housing development allows writer-director Alexandre Astier to mock the processes of gentrification, while razzing all those recent Euro toons trying so desperately to be American; where others have plumped for generic action, Astier’s preference is for bathetic pauses and funny-eccentric jokes of scale. Even this version’s vocal ensemble (Matt Berry, Dick and Dom, Jim Broadbent) proves a small triumph of out-of-the-box thinking, the sole quibble being with the casting of Jack Whitehall as the title character: apparently even Asterix now has to sound like an Eton alumnus. Still, there are gags enough for this not to matter unduly: youthful newcomers and devotees alike will be chuckling early and often.
Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods is now playing in cinemas nationwide.