Adapting the legendary comics of Uderzo and Goscinny into a live-actioner was always going to be a tough job. But, thankfully, this big-budget import has done a mostly successful job of bringing the plucky French hero to the screen.
The film-makers show an obvious love for their subject, and have plucked plot strands from several of the books, weaving them into a tale which involves druid Getafix (Claude Pieplu) being kidnapped by Roman aide Detritus (Benigni). Translated from the French by Monty Python's Terry Jones, the script fizzes with humour, while Benigni slips easily into the Chaplinesque clowning required for his role. Against him, however, Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu are merely adequate, and the Eurotrash-style dubbing of many characters is distinctly dodgy.
But this is still a fun, Gallic romp, which should have the kids squealing at flying Romans, the adults chuckling at the clever historical winks and the Asterixophiles happy that it's kept to the spirit of the Gaul.