Work on “Delgo,” an independently produced animated film, began in 1999. Here’s an article from CNN in 2004 saying it was “due out in the spring of 2005.” And now here it is finally being released at the tail end of 2008. It features voice work by Anne Bancroft, for crying out loud, and she died 3 1/3 years ago.
I wish I could say that all the time and effort put into the film had resulted in something special, but that would make me a filthy liar. It’s an exceedingly generic fantasy adventure that borrows from the usual sources (“Lord of the Rings,” “Star Wars,” etc.) to tell a forgettable story involving the expected mix of usurped thrones, double-crossing royal advisers, cross-cultural romances, brave young heroes, and Jar Jar Binksian sidekicks.
It’s set in the land of Jhamora (no relation to Sodom and Jhamora), where there is an uneasy truce between the two major races. The Lockni are reptilian folks who use the Force to move rocks telekinetically, while the Nohrin are winged (but still kind of scaly-looking) people who are a little haughty toward the down-to-earth Lockni. Sedessa (Bancroft), the exiled sister of the Nohrin king, is plotting to take over by fomenting war between the groups.
Meanwhile, the Nohrin princess, Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt), meets Delgo (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a Lockni boy whose parents were killed in the Lockni-Nohrin wars years ago. Romance blossoms between them, hampered only by the fact that Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt are among the two least interesting voice actors of their generation. Well, that and the cut-rate script, which doesn’t give them anything useful to say anyway.
Eventually there is war and treachery and treason and stuff. Val Kilmer voices a noble Nohrin warrior; Malcolm McDowell is a traitor; Michael Clarke Duncan plays Delgo’s Obi-Wan; and Chris Kattan is Delgo’s craven, whining best friend and alleged comic relief. It’s all been stiffly animated in a way that probably wasn’t even state of the art when they started, let alone now.
You’re probably thinking: Why am I ignoring this film in theaters? Shouldn’t I be ignoring this film on the straight-to-DVD shelf? Probably so. While it’s not aggressively bad, it is vapid and unimaginative, the type of thing you’d let the kids watch on TV for free, not in theaters for an arm and a leg. It’s terrific that the filmmakers were able to get the funding necessary to make their movie outside the Hollywood system. Unfortunately, money isn’t all it takes to make a good movie — you gotta have a story, too.
C- (1 hr., 28 min.; )