10-year old Arthur (Freddie Highmore) has a lucid imagination fired by the stories told by his loving grandmother (Mia Farrow) about the exploits of his adventurer grandpa who disappeared without a trace four years ago. Now, an unscrupulous real estate developer is about to foreclose on the family home and it is up to Arthur to find the magical, miniscule Minimoys, who live deep beneath the garden, and save the day in “Arthur and the Invisibles.”
Luc Besson has proved to be an eclectic filmmaker and creative talent with such works as “La Femme Nikita,” The Professional,” “The Fifth Element” and “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.” He even entered the realm of children stories with his fantasy book, Arthur et les Minimoys,” which he adapts for his first foray into the world of animation with “Arthur and the Invisibles.”
This mix of live action and anime is a sometimes amusing, colorful fantasy adventure that has young Arthur living in an imaginary world spawned by his Granny’s stories and the books left behind by his missing grandfather. Grandpa had traveled the world and seen many wonders, including living with a tribe of Massai warriors in deepest Africa. He also chronicled his journey to the underground world of the Minimoys, tiny creatures living beneath Granny’s garden.
When Arthur learns that the homestead is in danger and his beloved Granny is to be evicted into homelessness, he vows to protect her and their home. Using his grandpa’s books, he learns the secret of the Minimoys and summons the help of his grandfather’s friends, the Massai. The giant warriors assist Arthur in finding the entrance to the land of the Minimoys and, through the magic of the full moon, the boy is shrunk to near invisible size and drops into a world few, besides Grandpa, have ever seen.
Arthur enters the Minimoy realm to find the fabled treasure of incalculable value foretold in his grandfather’s books. This treasure will save the farm but he has just two days to find it and bring it back to the topside world. And, his transformation will only keep him in his diminutive state for 36 hours, so time is of the essence.
Once shrunk down, he lands among the Minimoy and is befriended by Mino (voice of Erik Per Sullivan), the younger brother of the beautiful Princess Selenia (voice of Madonna). Selenia is the true power behind the throne of her father, the King (voice of Robert DeNiro), and her mission is to protect her people from the deadly machinations of the evil Miro (voice of Harvey Keitel), who has vowed to destroy the Minimoys and their kingdom. When Arthur, alone, is able to draw a sword from a stone (shades of King Arthur of Camelot), he becomes her knight errant and joins her to battle Mino and his evil minions.
Arthur…” is a cute and sassy little fantasy film that borrows from many sources (oft times forgoing originality for familiarity). Besides the aforementioned King Arthur fable, there are references to Shakespeare, particularly Romeo and Juliet, “The Road Warrior” (remember Master Blaster?), “Pulp Fiction” and “Saturday Night Fever.” This deriving is too easy a device to garner audience intimacy and feels lazy from a creative standpoint.
While the vocal talents providing voice to the Minimoy and other animated creatures do things justice, there is one glaring mismatch. Princess Selenia, I believe, is supposed to be the same age as Arthur but, with Madonna’s far too mature voice opposite the obvious youthful Freddie Highmore is almost disturbing. This is a case where the a younger femme voice would have made more sense. Selenia is a babe with a pronounced sexy wiggle which further distances her character from young Arthur.
Techs are decent but this is not a Pixar animation by a long shot. There is a degree of charm and humor to the story but I think Besson’s children’s book would leave more to the imagination. The film version of Arthur…” spoon feeds the audience without sparking that all important quality of imagining. I give it a C+.Laura:
Laura did not see this film.
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