Eons ago (i.e. my early teen years), I was given a lovely hardcover volume of Asterix comics, which I remember enjoying yet never fully embracing. Theoretically, I should have related more (Asterix is short like me and an underdog character, as I imagine myself to be); what held me back? Was something lost in the translation? Asterix the Gaul has never really caught on in the United States, but worldwide it's among the best known French comics ever made. Likewise, numerous movie versions have been made, none of which have dented the American market, even though they've done well worldwide.

The latest cinematic edition, Asterix at the Olympic Games, will have its world premiere on January 13 in Paris, according to Variety, which also says that it's "one of the most expensive European films ever made," with a budget reported to be $114.6 million. The film is a co-production by French, German and Spanish companies. The comic series followed "the exploits of a village of ancient Gauls as they resist Roman occupation," according to Wikipedia; the new film appears to, uh, pit the Gauls against the Romans in the Olympics -- and they said I couldn't read!

The French-language official site for Asterix at the Olympic Games has an impressive-looking teaser as well as a full-scale trailer and a selection of gorgeous high-resolution stills (click "Espace Presse" for those). From the looks of things, a good chunk of the budget was set aside for computer graphics. Human stars include Gerard Depardieu as Obelix, Alain Delon as Julis Caesar and Clovis Cornillac as Asterix. The "family adventure comedy" is scheduled for wide release on Wednesday, January 30; no word on North American distribution, so hard-core fans will need to make some European travel plans.