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Western Animation / Delgo

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"In the land of Jhamora, the humble Lockni lived in peace. Far away, lost in the clouds, the land of the winged Nohrin grew barren, depleted of essential resources. Concerned for his people, the Nohrin king sent scouts to find a new home. The Nohrin king vowed not to leave until the last of his people had safely resettled. He sent Sedessa, his ambitious younger sister to govern the Nohrin in the new land. Time passed and tensions rose as the Nohrin sought more land. Finally, the Lockni would give no more. Hatred, once stirred, took on a life of its own."
Narrator of Delgo

A 2008 animated fantasy film, Delgo is the brainchild of Marc Adler, a technology wunderkind who managed to build his own Atlanta studio and scrape together a $40 million budget from well outside the Hollywood system. Until The Oogieloves came along, this film held the dubious honor of the worst wide-release opening in movie history: it was released in more than 2000 theaters and earned less than a million dollars in its first and only week.

The story is set in the land of Jhamora, where a group of lizard-people called the Lockni allow a group of displaced dragonfly-people called the Nohrin to settle on their lands. The Lockni immediately regret this decision when a power-hungry Nohrin named Sedessa (Anne Bancroft in her last performance) tries to enslave them. Sedessa is exiled but returns fifteen years later, bent on conquest and with an army of ogre-like monsters called Ando backing her up. It's up to Delgo, the telekinetic son of one of Sedessa's victims, and a cast of colorful side characters to stop her.

As an epic love-in-a-time-of-war story set on another world and driven by an auteur's singular, risky vision, it's sort of like a Bizarro-world Avatar. The filmmakers certainly thought so, and considered suing Fox and Cameron after seeing Avatar's first trailer. Not much seems to have come from that.

The movie contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: You have names like "Delgo," "Filo," "Raius," "Zahn," and to a lesser extent "Kyla" side-by-side with "Marley."
  • All There in the Manual: The film's website gives names for the various creatures in the background. It's also the only place where the Ando (Sedessa's army) are referred to by name.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Sedessa's weird bald gryphon-thing. Apropos of nothing, right in the middle of dramatically gloating before the defeated king, is a "comedy" scene where it urinates on the king in explicitly doglike fashion.
  • Alien Sky: Jhamora has two moons.
  • Blood Knight: Nohrin general Raius. His motivation for siding with Sedessa (outside of apparently being in love with her) is that the truce between the Lockni and the Nohrin prevents him and his soldiers from experiencing the thrill of battle.
  • Bloodless Carnage: All over the place. Most weapons are blunt, most hits scored are with "blasting" powers, and stabbings or impalings occur just off screen. You have to wonder why they gave characters sharp weapons at all. And when one character gets stabbed and pulls out the knife/arrow/whatever it was, it is pretty darn clean.
  • Broken Aesop: The movie has an Prejudice Aesop with Delgo being shown as wrong for thinking Nohrin are all evil. However, Lockni and Nohrin end up uniting to fight the real threat: the Always Chaotic Evil Ando, thus implying that Delgo's real problem was hating the wrong race.
  • Constructed World: If nothing else, the effort that went into constructing the setting is impressive.
  • Damsel in Distress: Kyla is captured by Sedessa so that she can sever her wings and set up another war with the Lockni and Nohrin.
  • Disney Villain Death: Sedessa, falling when the ledge cracks after Delgo saves her.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Sedessa steps on a Lockni doll in the prologue, as the Nohrin begin attacking the Lockni villagers.
  • Evil Genius: Prando holds this role among the villains, being responsible for Sedessa's technology. Unlike the other Ando, he isn't depicted as a Punch-Clock Villain and helps Sedessa activate the gas chamber to kill the And leaders. In the final battle, he pilots a hovercraft before being downed by Bogardus.
  • Expy: Delgo and Kyla share a few traits with Jen and Kira. Like Jen, Delgo was raised by mystics after his parents were killed, and at one point even plays a reed-like instrument. Like Kira, Kyla is capable of flight. Unsurprising, seeing that The Dark Crystal was one of the film's influences.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sedessa's motivation for starting the war in the first place. Later expands to include petty revenge.
  • Fantasy World Map: The film's website has one.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Okay, Delgo, here's the sitch: you're in melee with Sedessa's main Ando henchman. He's got two feet and a few hundred pounds on you, he's got a warhammer that weighs as much as you, and by sheer stroke of luck you've managed to loop your pickax through his nose, pointing its payload of telekinetic phlebotinum right between his eyes. What do you do? Answer: Jump away from the guy like an idiot and wait until it's knocked loose, tele-retrieve it, then wave the light in his eyes until he cracks the crystal. Way to go!
  • Gas Chamber: Sedessa kills the Ando leaders in this matter, despite them taking her in when she was in exile.
  • The Good King: King Zahn wishes to negotiate with the Lochni instead of declaring war with them after they decide that they can't allow them to have more space. Unfortunately, Sedessa has other plans.
  • Groin Attack: Delgo flies through the air, only to land crotch first on the neck of a dragon.
  • Hollywood Tactics: So, your species has higher tech than the other guys and you can fly. That's pretty good, right? Bad news: the other guys have powerful psychics and, presumably, because they're land-bound, are able to wear much sturdier armor than you. So, what do you do? Hover one foot above the ground in thick swarms and engage the foe at melee range, conspicuously ignoring the psions. At least the effects are more or less what you'd expect.
  • Honor Before Reason: At the end of the movie, Delgo recalls some pro-mercy words of his mentor and decides to save Sedessa from falling to her death. Being the monster she is, she attempts to backstab him, and ends up falling to her death anyway once Kyla punches her.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Acceptance. Sedessa promises her troops a fair shake by invading the beautiful resource-rich continent.
  • I Have No Son!: A sibling variant, King Zahn disowns Sedessa at the start of the movie when she instigates the war between the Nohri and the Lockni. Needless to say, she did not take it well.
  • Interspecies Romance: Delgo, a Lockni (lizard/dino-people) and Kyla, a Nohri (dragonfly/faerie-people).
  • Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy: Very few pointy weapons make their mark. It gets really blatant when two thrown daggers hit crossguard first.
  • Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: Semi-averted. The telekinesis stones are used in, for example, mining tools and for making elaborate artwork. They can also be admirable blasting weapons.
  • Lizard Folk: The Lochni are relatively humanoid beings with the features of both reptiles and dinosaurs. The Ando have reptilian features as well.
  • Mad Scientist: Engineer Prando is a Ando scientist who created most of Sedessa's technology. Complete with the Evil Laugh. He gets a little Dr. Robotnik-esque battle pod, too.
  • Meaningful Echo: "You're on your own, kid." Repeated, with a flashback, for the slower members of the audience.
  • Meaningful Name: The filmmakers were very much aware that Delgo shared the same name as a certain town in Sudan.
  • Missing Mom: Kyla's mother was murdered by Sedessa when she was an infant. Delgo happens to be missing both his parents.
  • The Mole: Commander Raius turns out to be working with Sedessa.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The voting scene. Levitating rocks is just more visually engaging than having council members say "aye" or "nay".
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: A case study in why you shouldn't try to invoke this deliberately unless you're damn sure what you're doing (and even then, think twice). The plot and themes are a little too heavy for really little kids; on the other hand, Filo and the scene mentioned above under All Animals Are Dogs could only have been intended for really little kids.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Sedessa is not only racist towards the Lochni, but she also happens to be a warmonger. She even "rewards" the Ando leaders (who took her in after she got her wings chopped up and was exiled, no less) by killing them with a gas chamber!.
  • No Flow in CGI: The characters have pointy hair, or no hair at all, and mostly wear pants.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Some of the Ando are bigger and more buff than the others, giving them a resemblance to classic fairytale ogres.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The Ando are pretty much Tolkien-esque orcs with a different name.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Outside of Prando, the Ando are depicted as ordinary, if slightly dim-witted folk who don't seem to realize the implications of Sedessa's plans.
  • Save the Villain: Delgo saves Sedessa from falling to her death. When she attempts to kill him anyway, Kyla finishes her off.
  • Scenery Porn: The biggest praise the film tends to get is the imaginative world and beautiful environments. A couple of the monsters and bits of fantasy tech are cool, too.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Sadessa begs to be saved when she is hanging on for her life. When Delgo saves her, she immediately attacks him again, and ends up dying anyway.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Carried out with, of all things, a gas chamber.