After four French animated features, a couple of not well regarded Terence Hill live-action films and the odd TV series, James Huth's big budget 2009 version of Morris and Goscinny's popular comic book series Lucky Luke doesn't do much to improve the cinematic batting average of the cowboy hero who's so fast he can outdraw his own shadow. Despite seeming perfect casting, an unfocused script renders Jean Dujardin rather hit and miss as the clean cut Wild West idol of millions who never killed a man only to suffer a crisis of conscience after doing just that when he's tasked by the President to clean up his outlaw-infested home town and finds himself confronted with one of the men who killed his parents. A big part of the problem is that, while there's style to spare - imagine a cross between a Jeunet and Caro film and a brightly lit spaghetti western filmed in the kind of Western town that might have been built by the architects of Robert Altman's Popeye - it's not particularly funny and there's not much of a sense of fun either. True, there are a few effective sight gags here and there and it manages to feel like a convincingly live-action version of a cartoon, but the film's occasional bold colour shifts and dramatic lighting changes tend to make more of an impression than the jokes.
It doesn't help that the overpopulated supporting characters aren't ever really given enough comic ammunition, be it Michael Youn's lollipop licking Billy the Kid or Melvil Popaud's Shakespeare-quoting theatrical ham Jesse James, while the film really doesn't know what to do with Sylvie Testud's Calamity Jane once it's taken the trouble to introduce her. The film also tends to amble until its surprisingly effective final showdown in a giant Las Vegas one-armed bandit-cum-funhouse, though it does provide a few injokes for the fans of the books - Luke's childhood sketch is one of the earliest Lucky Luke cartoons and there's a neat post-credits gag about the decision to remove the character's once trademark cigarette in 1983. There's enough that does work to keep you watching and it's certainly better than its reputation, but it's a definite case of great poster, shame about the film.
UGC's French Blu-ray offers a stunning 2.35:1 transfer that shows off the spectacular Argentinean locations very impressively, though the English subtitles are limited to the feature itself and sadly don't translate the onscreen gags punctuating the end credits. Unsubtitled extras are limited to a director's commentary, gag reel, featurette on special effects and lengthy 32-minute selection of stills from the Argentine location with director's commentary. Just be warned that the pressing seems rather temperamental when it comes to loading. The film is also avaiulable on an extras-free DVD in the UK.