Azur and Asmar: The Princes' Quest (U)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner07/02/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Watchable, nicely animated fairytale with a commendable message about racial and religious tolerance but the script is perfunctory at best and the quest itself is disappointing.

What's it all about?
A European co-production, The Princes' Quest is directed by Michel Ocelot, using 2-D animation that's essentially a digital upgrade of the black paper cut-out silhouette technique. It tells the story of two boys raised by the same woman: Azur (Leopold Benedict), the blond, blue-eyed son of a nobleman (Keith Wickham) and Asmar (Frederick Benedict), the dark-skinned, dark-eyed child of the nurse (Suzanna Nour).

The children grow up hearing a fairytale about a heroic prince rescuing a Djinn fairy, both believing that the quest is their destiny. After being cruelly separated by Azur's father, they reunite years later as grown men (now voiced by Steven Kyman and Nigel Pilkington), both determined to embark on the quest.

The Good
There's a commendable message about racial and religious tolerance here, but that message is slightly undermined by the fact that none of the Arabic dialogue (of which there is quite a lot) is subtitled. The animation itself is both charming and brightly coloured, even if blue-eyed Azur does look a little weird at times.

The first half of the film is more successful, particularly with the introduction of comedy character Crapoux (Nigel Lambert), a beggar who agrees to help Azur. However, the quest itself is rather dull and there's no sense of tension or danger, even when the rather splendid Scarlet Lion shows up.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is its script, which is perfunctory at best, to the effect that the quest plays out like a computer game (pick up magic fog potion, use magic fog potion, etc.). Similarly, it leaves several key questions annoyingly unanswered, such as Asmar's mother's unexplained transition from banished nurse to wealthy noblewoman in her own country.

Worth seeing?
In short, the brightly coloured animation of Azur and Asmar: The Prince’s Tale ensures that this is never less than watchable but it could have used a bit more in the way of excitement and action.

Azur and Asmar: The Princes' Quest has been reviewed by 1 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 22/04/2019 16:09

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films