Review of animated movie “Delgo” (2008)

Posted by – January 9, 2011

Delgo
Rated PG
89 minutes long

I understand why this movie tanked at the box office and recouped the independent production only 700k of 40 million invested, it needed a major script overhaul to edit out about 40 minutes of what feels like filler, tighten the story, cut the ultra-forced comedy, and lighten the heavy handed *Jews vs. Palestinians intractable racial struggle over arable land* plotline.
“Trying WAY too hard” is the main problem with Delgo. I believe that in order to recoup the colossal, hemorrhaging costs from this on again, off again, shelved and unshelved 9 year production, the usual suspects (out of touch marketing gurus who always design movies for the lobotomized demographic) overstuffed the script with as many hackneyed Disney formulas as possible. The result (which probably has the guys who came up with the original concepts for Delgo crying in their beer every night) is humor so forced that you want to cringe and shield your face in parts. Delgo’s screechy, unbearable sidekick (Chris Kattan) is this movie’s worst mistake; the fact that not only does he screech *every* forced line at the highest pitches Kattan’s “Mango” character (from SNL) could hit, but enduring him is utterly superfluous to the story, has (I’m certain) made innumerable viewers stop a half-hour in. Mango just can’t be shoehorned into a Disney-style comic relief sidekick–let this serve as a cautionary tale to Hollywood! It feels like the producers compromised their vision, in exchange for adding comic relief “buddies,” they kept their overstated sermon on ethnic strife; including BOTH made the movie much too long.
Eric Idle is great as the villianess’ inept lizard henchman. If this thing had more Idle and NO Mango MAYBE it could have been in reach of 4 stars.

I thought the animation was excellent, very creative, with brilliant use of shadows and highlights. Just because it doesn’t aim to copy Disney and Pixar’s emotive, heavily expressive style DOESN’T mean it sucks; just because the production dysfunctions delayed this 2001 animation’s release until the end of 2008 (so it was animation from CGI technology of another era) doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Delgo has amazing epic battle sequences (though big parts of them seem nearly identical to the arena battle scene with winged Geonosian warriors vs. force-wielding Jedi in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones; one even looks like Yoda).

I gave it 3 stars. One for the great casting apart from Kattan, one for the artwork, and one for the awesome, imaginative original elements you’ve never seen before: a steampunk flying buggy, a dramatic swordfight between two winged generals in mid air! Had Delgo been released in late summer instead of lost amid the shuffle of holiday blockbusters, and had its half hearted, under-resourced promotional campaign depicted it as the swashbuckling romantic epic it aims to be vs. the bad Direct-to-Video cheapquel the posters made it look like, I think Delgo could have easily turned a profit. I’ve seen much worse clear $100 million.

Nick