Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre) (2002)
Menu Animation & Audio
Trailer-Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar; Ushipizin; Dogora
Alternative Version-English Dubbed version on Disc 2
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Alain Chabat|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French dts 5.0 (1536Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of reading Asterix & Obelix stories with my Dad. I would borrow the books from my school library and bring them home so we could read them together, sometimes half a dozen at a time. The action, adventure and humour of the books still impress me, and when I heard that a live action film was to be made starring Christian Clavier as Asterix and Gerard Depardieu as Obelix, I was more than excited. A DVD of the film with English subtitles was hard to come by initially, but now we have both the original film (Asterix & Obelix take on Ceasar) and this hilarious sequel, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra in Region 4.
When I received this film for review, I was keen to replicate the feeling I had of reading the books when I was young. So, I invited my Dad to come and join me in seeing the film for the first time. Suffice to say, we had a ball.
For those who are not familiar with the series of books by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, the basic premise of the story is fairly simple. Set during the Roman conquest of Europe in 50 BC, most of the known world is under the governance of Caesar and Rome - that is, aside from one small village in Gaul. The Gauls have managed to resist occupation by the Romans thanks to their druid, Getafix, and his magic potion that gives super-human strength to those who drink it. Asterix & Obelix are buddies who find themselves in all manner of adventures and predicaments, problems usually solved with humour, violence and a drop of magic potion. Obelix doesn't need the potion much, as he fell into a cauldron of the stuff when he was just a baby.
In this particular adventure, Asterix (Christian Clavier), Obelix (Gerard Depardieu) and their druid Getafix (Claude Rich) are hired by Edifis (Jamel Debbouze), an Egyptian architect, to assist in the construction of a new palace. The pride of all Egypt is at stake, because Cleopatra (Monica Bellucci) must complete the project in order to win a bet she has made with Caesar (Alain Chabat). Problem is, they only have three months in which to finish the structure, not to mention the labour problems and attempts at sabotage that have been plaguing construction. If they fail, Cleopatra will feed them to her pet crocodiles!
This is an hilarious, action packed film, full of fun and good humour. Standout performances by Clavier, Depardieu and an especially delicious Bellucci (in a milk bath with her courtesans) are a highlight. The story has been adapted for the screen and directed by Alain Chabat, with quite a few contemporary jokes thrown in for good measure. I recommend it highly.
The film has been transferred to DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.
This is an altogether great video transfer, with no major issues to report. The image is clear and very sharp, although there are a few scenes that come across a little soft in comparison, such as aboard the ship at 56:00. The depth of blacks are good and shadow detail is excellent.
I suspect much of the film has been colour graded in post production. The film's palette is rich, bold and completely consistent.
I didn't note any MPEG compression glitches at all. Film artefacts are nowhere to be seen.
An English subtitle stream is activated by default. My French isn't the greatest, but I did notice quite a few phrases and pieces of dialogue that passed by without translation. Some scenes contain dialogue that is quite quick, so I think there has been some attempt to find a middle ground between pace and accuracy. Also, I noted several spelling errors that were mildly distracting.
Disc one is dual layered (DVD9 formatted), with the layer break placed during the feature at 55:40. The transition was transparent on my system, but it may interrupt the soundtrack score on some players. Contrary to the information on the cover slick, Disc two is DVD5 formatted (single layered).
There are three soundtracks accompanying this film on disc one, all presented in the film's original French language. The default soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). A full bitrate dts 5.0 1536Kb/s stream is included, as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo 224Kb/s.
Unfortunately, any enjoyment we might gain from the full bitrate dts stream is negated somewhat by an annoying sync issue. The video lags slightly behind the audio throughout the film and is particularly noticeable during scenes where the pace of the dialogue is fast. I verified this fault on numerous machines, all with the same result, I'm afraid.
The dialogue is clear and easy to discern above the other elements of the soundtrack. This is a pretty busy surround mix that complements the pace and action of the film very well.
The surround channels are active fairly consistently, with everything from ambient noise and atmospherics to dedicated panning of voices and other foley effects. I found the experience immersive and quite involving.
In comparing the audio tracks, I found the Dolby Digital 5.1 significantly louder, with good depth all round. The dts audio is nice and bright, with good channel separation, however I cannot get past the sync issue, which is a shame. The stereo soundtrack is good, but scarcely comparable to the other two.
The score by Philippe Chany (who appears in the film as a sailor) is suitably orchestral and grand, fitting the overall mood of the film. Some more contemporary music is featured from artists such as James Brown and Steppenwolf. Deep Forest contribute an interesting rendition of Walk Like An Egyptian to the closing credits.
The only soundtrack with a dedicated LFE channel is the Dolby Digital 5.1 option. The subwoofer adds a great deal of bottom end to explosions, thuds and the like, which of course makes the experience all the more immersive.
|Surround Channel Use|
You may be wondering why an English soundtrack wasn't added to the first disc. The English (US) version on Disc Two contains a different title sequence and has been cut in several places (about nineteen minutes, in fact). The first cut I noticed was a scene between Edifis and Itineris that involved an audio gag, in which Itineris' voice began to drop out as though it were a mobile phone. Rather than try and replicate the effect in English, the scene has been cut altogether. The dubbed voices are inane and I doubt I will ever willingly sit through the English version of this film again.
Disc two is DVD5 formatted and contains Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The image is 16x9 enhanced.
The film's French trailer is 16x9 enhanced and not subtitled at all.
Two teaser trailers for the film, again without translation.
Additional trailers include the US trailer for Asterix and Obelix take on Caesar; Ushpizin and Dogora.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Obviously, the ideal version for French speakers would be the Region 2 European release. It doesn't have any English subtitles, but the additional extras include:
The video transfer is great.
The audio transfer is let down a little by sync issues, but only regarding the dts audio option.
The extras include an English dubbed version (with cuts) and trailers.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using DVI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|