MGM // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 19th, 2009
In a divided land, a troubled youth and some unlikely friends must save the world from itself.
Granted that's a Biblically awful tagline and connoisseurs of box office bombs will no doubt be aware of its epic failure at the box office ($500,000 gross versus a $40 million budget), but Delgo is not the malignant force the stats and word of mouth would have you believe. What it is, is animated mediocrity and, when you consider it took six years to make essentially a collection of clichés, uninspired characters, and flat writing, well, that's gotta sting.
Here's the story: two species of alien weirdos have been nursing some serious geopolitical tension. This animosity will eventually come to a head, when a scheming woman named Sedessa (Anne Bancroft in her last role) arranges for an all-out war. To avoid rampant alien bloodshed, it will fall to Delgo (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), the wise-cracking young guy who may in fact have an inner power that just needs to be released and an assortment of one-dimensional supporting characters.
There you have it. A brief plot capsule that could probably be applied to a multitude of other animated films, some lesser, some better. In the end, the question remains: will anyone really care? In the case of poor Delgo, I submit that the answer is a resounding "What's a Delgo?"
Before we get too negative, how about a positive observance? For all its narrative shortcomings, Delgo is an awesome looking film. I'm not in love with the character designs, but the animation is top-notch and at some points (the big battle at the end) downright stunning. I can definitely see where the six years worth of effort went -- directly into the animation.
The script and story could have used some of that funding love, though. Delgo is essentially a half-baked war movie. The bad guys want power, a plot is put into place to get everyone pissed off at each other, fighting ensues, our heroes save the day, and that's the depth of the storytelling. I could stomach such simplistic plotting, if it weren't for the limp script and annoying characters. Prepare to hear such awesome lines like "Eat foot!" and "Say hello to gravity!" plus some gibberish about fighting wars honorably as long as your cause is honorable. The story is riddled with clichés, too. You have the spunky, rebellious kid who comes into his own to lead his people to victory; the mandatory character-pushes-other-character-out-of-the-way-and-gets-shot-with-an-arrow, followed by the boost of encouragement with his last breath; and endless monologues by the villains, giving the good guys time to do whatever it is they're supposed to do.
Delgo himself is no different from any other genre caricature, the villains clench their fists and yell "Get them!" and the plucky comic relief, Filo (voiced by Chris Kattan), is one of the most nails-on-a-chalkboard irritating creations in years.
Should you stay away from Delgo? Nah, it's not radioactive. But unless you're itching for something -- anything -- to pop in front of the kids, I wouldn't exert any muscle activity tracking this down.
The DVD looks fine with a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a bombastic 5.1 Dolby surround mix. Extras: Directors' commentary, a behind-the-scenes segment with the actors pretty much in agreement that this is the greatest movie ever made, a featurette on the sound, character and creature profiles, deleted scenes, and a short animated film.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* Character Profiles
* Short Film