Arthur et les Minimoys, a.k.a Arthur and the Invisibles, from director Luc Besson, is about a 10-year old boy who turns himself into a miniature elf to save his grandparents' farm. A half-animated, magical version of The Goonies, only not nearly as good, Arthur has its moments and should play well to younger audiences, but isn't good enough to be an all-around family film.
Movies like these are hard to review. Yes, it's a kid's movie, but it so easily could have been a family movie, too. The movie starts out as a live action story, and then turns into an animated flick once Freddie Highmore (not the best career choice, Freddie) realizes that to find his grandpa's hidden gems that will save the family farm from demolition, he has to turn into a tiny little creature and venture into the world of the Minimoys, the little elf-like things that live in the yard. He gets to meet an attractive Minimoy princess, become a sword-wielding hero and race to take down the evil "M" - a villain so insidious you can't speak his name out loud. Of course, one would wonder how a 10-year old boy who is not yet interested in girls would be attracted to a miniature creature that doesn't look human, but that thought is for another time...
Arthur has plenty of things to entertain little includes, including some amusing characters, lots of adventure and some neat animation. The animation isn't terrific, yet at the same time it is very detailed and textured; unfortunately, for a film that blends live action and animation, the animation really doesn't blend well enough, and at the same time doesn't look different enough. I remember back to a time when I was a little kid, and the studios would blend 2D drawings and live action together: that worked. In Arthur, things aren't good enough to look real and aren't cheesy enough to look fake. Regardless, the original point of this paragraph was to discuss how children will like it. It's every kid's dream to become a hero all of a sudden, and that's what Arthur is all about.
For older audiences, Arthur has a lot less to offer. You can tell Besson is trying to appeal to a broad age group, but the movie is just a little too cheesy to work. Its adventure is nothing to scream about, and again, the animation just doesn't play well to older audiences. A lot of the creatures are also a bit too modern for their own good. The Minimoys are supposed to be naive to the world of humans, yet they talk in a very modernistic tone which is a bit jarring, especially when the two stoner "Jamaican" Minimoys show up. Obviously Besson needed to cater to modern children, but he goes a bit overboard.
Younger children will get a kick out of Athur and the Invisibles, but this is a film that could have been a lot better if done right. There's a reason why this movie came to theaters with limited to no marketing behind it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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