Animated feature "Asterix and the Vikings" is a good-natured adventure comedy suitable for tots on up. French voice talents and a far-ranging collection of international animators bring to life the beloved characters whose built-in popularity is a force to be reckoned with. Pic should fare nicely in France and self-selecting territories beyond.

Enjoyably peppy if not particularly memorable, animated feature “Asterix and the Vikings” is a good-natured adventure comedy suitable for tots on up. French voice talents and a far-ranging collection of international animators bring to life the beloved characters whose built-in popularity is a force to be reckoned with. The most recent hard-backed Asterix comic was the bestselling book of 2005 in lit-hungry Gaul, selling 250,000 more copies than  closest runner-up “Harry Potter.”  Family-friendly ode to self-reliance and bad puns should fare nicely in France and self-selecting territories beyond.

Jovial pussycat Obelix (he of the super-strong brawn and bottomless appetite, voiced by Jacques Frantz) and his best friend Asterix (the smart warrior whose strength is unbeatable after a gulp of magic potion, voiced by Roger Carel) live in the last Gallic village to resist the Romans, circa 50 B.C..

The village chief’s nephew Goudurix (Lorant Deutsch), whose dad is a famous warrior, arrives from Lutece. Asterix and Obelix are assigned to make a man of him.

No easy task, as Goudurix — the very early prototype of an ecology-minded surfer dude — couldn’t be less interested in hunting wild boar and clobbering hostile invaders. He shows up with his pet bird, who delivers messages Flintstones-style by pecking text into the nearest piece of wood.

Meanwhile, far to the north, ferocious Viking Grossebaf (Marc Alfos) misunderstands his elderly advisor, Cryptograf (Pierre Palmade). When the wily advisor remarks that “Fear gives wings,” the fearless Viking takes a figure of speech literally and assumes that if he can round up a scaredy-cat, he and his fellow sea-going pillagers will be able to fly.

Machiavellian Cryptograf’s muscle-bound dunce of a son, Olaf (Michel Vigne), provides goofy laughs as he fails to grasp even the most basic task, let alone his dad’s plot to usurp power.

Grossebaf’s proto-feminist teen daughter Abba (Sara Forestier) stows away on her dad’s ship, intent on emancipation and adventure. Cowardly Goudurix will have ample opportunity to skirt his manly responsibilities until he has to impress the girl.

Four years in the making on a budget of E22 million ($27 million), animation hews fairly closely to the look of the hand-drawn comics. But raucous pop songs such as “Eye of the Tiger” and “Super Freak” are peculiar, if ostensibly commercial, choices.

Asterix and the Vikings

Animated - France

Production

An SND release of a SND, M6 Studio, Mandarin SAS, 2d3D Animations presentation of an M6 Studio, M6 Studio, Mandarin SAS and 2d3D Animations production in association with A. Film A/S with participation of TPS Star and M6 with support from the Conseil General de la Charente, Region Poitou-Charentes, CNC. (International sales: M6 DA, Neuilly sur Seine, France.) Produced by Thomas Valentin. Co-executive producers, Natalie Altmann, Anders Mastrup. Directed by Stefan Fjeldmark, Jesper Moller. Screenplay, Jean-Luc Goossens, based on the comicbook characters by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny and adapted from "Asterix et les Normands"; additional dialogue, Fjeldmark, Philip Lazebnik.

Crew

Music, Alexandre Azaria; layout supervisors, Moller, Herve Leblan, Marcos Mateu;  tracing, Franck Bonay, Katrin Inzinger; compositing, Fabrice Renaudin; set designer, Bjarne Hansen;  sound designers, Stig Sparre-Ulrich, Claud Lynge; sound mixing (Dolby), Jean-Paul Hurier; sound effects, Julien Naudin; key characters, Christian Kuntz, Dan Harder, Jesper Moller; accesories based on Uderzo's work, Harder; decors based on Uderzo, Jens Moller; associate producer, Bernard Majani; assistant director, Zdenko Santini; casting, Valerie Siclay. Reviewed at Elysees Biarritz  screening room, Paris,  March 9, 2006. Running time: 79 MIN.

With

Voices: Roger Carel, Lorant Deutsch, Sara Forestier, Jacques Frantz, Pierre Palmade, Pierre Tchernia, Michel Vigne.
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