Delgo is a 2008 American computer-animated fantasy film directed by Marc F. Adler and Jason Maurer, written by Scott Biear, Patrick J. Cowan, Carl Dream and Jennifer A. Jones, and distributed by Freestyle Releasing. It stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anne Bancroft (in her final role), Chris Kattan, Louis Gossett Jr., Val Kilmer and Malcolm McDowell with narration by Sally Kellerman. It was something of a passion project for the production crew, being in development for nine years.
Despite winning the Best Feature award at Anima Mundi, the film received generally negative reviews and its box office returns was one of the lowest-grossing wide releases in recent history. Delgo grossed just $915,840 in theaters against an estimated budget of $40 million, according to box office tracking site Box Office Mojo. The film was released independently via distributor-for-hire Freestyle Releasing, with a large screen count (over 2,000 screens) but a small marketing budget (marketing and distribution costs are estimated at less than $20 million): the net result is that it is a surprisingly obscure film, with many people having never heard of it at all. The lack of a large marketing budget is also what keeps Delgo off lists of the largest box office bombs of all time. 20th Century Fox later acquired the film rights for international and DVD distribution.
After having left their own world due to a loss of natural resources, the winged humanoid Nohrin settle in the land Jhamora with the permission of the ground-dwelling Lokni. But some of the Nohrin, led by would-be conqueror Sedessa (Anne Bancroft) believe in the superiority of their own race and try to take land away from the Lokni. The parents of Delgo, (Freddy Prinze Jr.) a Lokni, are killed in the resulting conflict. Nohrin King Zahn (Louis Gossett, Jr.) is horrified by the war and admonishes Sedessa, who then poisons the Queen and almost kills Zahn as well. She is subsequently banished, and her wings are clipped off. Delgo, meanwhile, is raised by Elder Marley (Michael Clarke Duncan), who tries to teach him how to use the power of magical stones. Once Delgo grows up, however, he gives in to his desire for revenge against the Nohrin as a whole. But then he meets Princess Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt) of the Nohrin and develops a tentative friendship with her. When she is kidnapped by Nohrin General Raius (Malcolm McDowell), who is actually working for Sedessa. Delgo and his friend Filo (Chris Kattan) are blamed and arrested. In the Nohrin prison, Delgo meets Nohrin General Bogardus, (Val Kilmer) who was forced to illegally gamble with his weapons by Raius, because Bogardus opposed an all out war with the Lokni. Delgo, Filo, and Bogardus escape into some underground caverns and eventually reach Sedessa's stronghold and rescue Kyla. Together they hurry back to try to stop the war from taking place. They are too late, for the war has already begun. Bogardus meanwhile fights and defeats Raius, but is soon after mortally injured.
Just as Bogardus dies, Delgo realizes that he was the Nohrin soldier who spared his life many years ago during the first war between the Nohrin and the Lokni. Meanwhile, Sedessa's army of monsters join in the battle. Kyla convinces the Nohrin generals to direct their troops to stop fighting the Lokni and instead pick them up and fly them away from the battlefield. Filo then directs an entire stampede of large animals onto the battlefield, sending Sedessa's minions fleeing for their lives.
Delgo goes off to face Sedessa and find King Zahn, whom she has taken prisoner. He finally manages to master the stone magic, and defeats Sedessa. He also puts the past behind him by saving her rather than letting her fall to her death. However, Sedessa then attacks Kyla, whohas come to Delgo's aid. The two struggle and Sedessa finally falls to her death, with her artificial wings being of no use. Later, during the celebrations, it turns out Raius didn't die. Raius makes one last attempt to kill Delgo. He is subdued by a Nohrin, but not before he throws his spear at Delgo. Then, out of nowhere, the spear breaks in mid-air. Everyone turns to look at Filo, who has finally mastered his slingshot. Later, Delgo and Kyla's friendship blossoms into romance when they finally kiss.
Why It Sucks
- Terrible animation that's roughly on par with a videogame cutscene of the era. In particular the animation of the humanoid characters is poor, with badly-rigged faces and stiff, unnatural limb movements.
- Ugly character designs.
- The film was in development for close on ten years, and during that time, the minds behind the movie shamelessly borrowed plot elements from earlier fantasy movies.
- It tells the most boilerplate culture-clash fantasy story imaginable. All that has to be said is "there are two races, and one has a princess while the other has a common boy" and you can correctly guess the entire plot.
- The message of the film about overcoming prejudice ends up somewhat mangled. Delgo is the only one who is actually shown to have overcome anything. Moreover, what ultimately happens is the two warring races overcome their differences...by seeing they both have to fight a third race.
- The prologue glosses over a story that's more interesting than the actual movie.
- Wastes an all-star cast with no less than four Oscar nominees in it on supporting roles, while giving the lead roles to Freddie Prinze Jr. and, of all people, Chris Kattan.
- Speaking of Chris Kattan, he tries to play a comic relief sidekick. He only achieves "loud and annoying." There is not a single line delivery from him that does not result in a desire to punch him in the face. And unlike the Dungeons and Dragons film, Delgo does not have the decency to kill the annoying comic relief halfway through the film.
- Lame and uninteresting characters, with an exception of General Bogardus, who is a much more interesting character than Delgo and the film should have been about him instead.
- Generic soundtrack.
- As usual in bad fantasy, "war" amounts to everyone running towards each other across an open plain.
- A few interesting visuals and designs, particularly the floating islands where the Nohrin used to live, which looks like an 80s metal album cover.
- When it was released in theaters, it set a record for the worst opening for a movie debuting in over 2,000 theaters, taking a mere $511,920 on its opening weekend from 2,160 screens: Yahoo! Movies estimated this to average just two people being present for each screening. However, this record was surpassed by The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure's even more disastrous $443,901 opening weekend in 2012.
- The film was pulled from theaters after its week-long run.
- It is also the lowest-grossing theatrically released animated movie of all time, with a worldwide gross of just $915,840, beating the previous record low of $1,051,907 for the 2007 film The Ten Commandments. It played for just 7 days before being pulled from theaters.
- The film was in development for so long that by the time it was released, the actress playing the villainess, legendary method actress Anne Bancroft, had been dead for three years.