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Originally published Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 3:00 PM

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Movie review

"Delgo": animated fable falls short of mythic status

The busy but decent animated fable "Delgo," about the conflict between the Lockni and Nohrin people, looks and feels like a "Star Wars" or "Lord of the Rings" spinoff.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

"Delgo," with the voices of Anne Bancroft, Louis Gossett Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Malcolm McDowell, Freddie Prinze Jr., Chris Kattan, Val Kilmer. Directed by Marc F. Adler and Jason Maurer, from a screenplay by Adler, Maurer, Patrick J. Cowan, Carl Dream, Jennifer A. Jones and Scott Biear. 90 minutes. Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action violence. Several theaters.

The late Anne Bancroft's final screen credit is her excellent voice work for "Delgo," a busy but decent animated fable that feels like a "Star Wars" or "Lord of the Rings" spinoff.

Bancroft plays Sedessa, a wicked princess from the Nohrin kingdom of winged conqueror types. The Nohrin have maintained an uneasy truce with the unappealingly reptilian Lockni people, following years of Nohrin oppression.

Complicating matters is the legacy of Sedessa's attempted coup of the Nohrin kingdom 15 years before "Delgo's" story begins. She managed to kill the wife of her brother, King Zahn (Louis Gossett Jr.), but was stopped before she could get to Zahn or his daughter, Kyla.

Banished, the resourceful Sedessa nevertheless organizes another secret plot, this time with Zahn's warrior-counselor, Raius (Malcolm McDowell). Meanwhile, teenage Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and goofy/studly Delgo (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a Lockni orphan whose parents were murdered during a Nohrin raid, are building their own romantic bridge between feuding clans.

It's easy to see in the first few minutes where all this is going. But getting there is occasionally fun, largely due to relationship developments. The Delgo-Kyla match is interesting: He's got a lot of anger toward Kyla's people, and she's got a lot of guilt. Delgo's shaky alliance with a Nohrin fighter, Bogardus (Val Kilmer), is a sometimes-amusing, testosterone-induced game of one-upmanship.

The film's lavish visuals — especially long shots of gathered armies — can't help but invoke George Lucas and Peter Jackson. Whatever the influences, "Delgo's" directors (Marc F. Adler and Jason Maurer) deserve credit for displaying limitless imagination in the film's otherworldly look and textures.

But they get a knock for making "Delgo" a little too violent for youngsters, even with the addition of a silly (and annoying) Jar-Jar-like character voiced by Chris Kattan.

Still, "Delgo" is better than a lot of animated features released in the past few months.

Tom Keogh:

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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