“Arthur and the Invisibles” is a children’s fantasy movie falling somewhere between the cute and the weird. This semi-animated fantasy adventure admirably blends animation and live action in a familiar story that borrows elements from many sources, yet it lives up to a distinctive tone and visual effort.
Other Movie Reviews from 2010 Archive:
Animation, Children, Family, and Teen Films
Though not completely in par with big-time quality hits from Hollywood animation giants like Pixar, Sony, Dreamworks, and Disney, it offers that flavorful animation style and characters reminiscent of the Smurfs and Trolls. Although it’s not something that would impress everyone, but it still generally delivers an imaginative offer where the audience would most likely start appreciating the strange look of the Minimoy world and its people after a few minutes of being exposed to its visual provisions. Amidst its loopholes, the film’s eccentricity, fast pacing, and day-glo colors still make it a psychedelic live action-animation film weaved finely for a kid-friendly acid trip ride.
With its dazzling hybrid of live action and CGI, the story borrows from many fantasy novels, video games, and legends. It takes references from films like “Ant Bully,” “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Star Wars,” “Arthur,” “Antz,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” and even other Freddie Highmore-starred films as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Finding Neverland.”
Effectively set-up as a period film during the times of The Depression, “Arthur and the Invisibles” is enjoyable despite its formulaic qualities because of its looks. In terms of visuals, it is relatively different from the usual Pixar and Disney offers.
This children’s movie sets up an endearing family movie premise on screen — giving life lessons about love, perseverance, loyalty, and family. As it mainly caters to the children audience, the predictable twists and turns of the plot turn out quite forgivable, as long as the adult viewers suspend their matured heart’s disbelief.
The enjoyable fare with the grandfather’s personal journal of watercolor art works and sketches are convincingly eye-pleasing. They add to that magical effect on the fantasy part of the story. The CGI characters navigating seemingly real live foliage are very much eye candy. Though at times, the editing and pacing are not really exceptional, the action keeps up with the film’s transitions from live action to animation and vice versa.
The story’s loopholes, along with a couple of loose ends, tend to become apparent at times. The presentation of some characters and certain turn of events are too shallow. The writers and the director seem to forget the actual goal of Princess Selenia (Madonna) why she attacks Malthazar (David Bowie). It can be something like she wants revenge or she wants him to pay for his bad deeds, or she wants to stop his evil reign and kill him for good. However, none of these have been clearly presented in the movie. Unlike Arthur whose goal is clearly to find the treasure (with a bonus of finding and saving his lost loved one), the princess goes to the territory of the evil Malthazar with all the opportunity to fight him strategically, but she just lets herself get caught like a dumb and pretentious warrior.
Arthur starts as a lonely nerd who struggles to look for the much-fabled hidden treasure in the land of the Minimoys. Then suddenly, the fairy tale-like transition comes in as he suddenly gets to do various kinds ofintellectual and heroic stunts in the world of the Minimoys. After which, the kid falls in love with the princess. Strangely so, one big question to throw here is: Is an almost 50-year old ultimately famous singer really the best talent available to play as the romantic lead opposite a little boy? Madonna’s voice acting performance may not be a completely awful offer, but still, casting a forty-eight year old Madonna as a 10-year old’s love interest/leading lady seems kinda odd. Perhaps, her fame becomes the issue that there is some sort of bias to her actual performance.
With director Luc Besson stating that this film is something really meant for kids, the more conservative parents may find specific concerns on elements like female’s sexuality, all the talks about their soon-to-be children, and romantic kisses. The audience can also see two 10-year olds and a three-year old (as clearly stated in the dialogues) hanging out in a bar and drinking the seemingly counterpart of human alcoholic drinks in the form of a funky green stuff — coming from glasses resembling lab equipment.
The sweetly exuberant Freddy Highmore is experienced enough to carry off his role convincingly. Mia Farrow, as Arthur’s lonely, scatty, and fragile, yet charming, sympathetic, and comical grandmother, is quite fine acting-wise. However, she looks too young in the movie to be Arthur’s grandmother. Even her looks alongside Arthur’s parents and even her husband (though their age gap has not been fairly established; and his detention from the hands of Malthazar can, at least, become a good reason to make him look a whole lot older than his wife), is not physically convincing enough for her grandma role. Arthur’s parents (Penny Balfour and Doug Rand), like most of the other characters, are very much quirky and exaggerated, but each one’s characterization generally works. Snoop Dog as the rastaman underground dweller Max gives a good comic performance. David Bowie works generally fine for the film’s entirety, except for his boring monologue attempts to disclose why he has gone bad.
Come to think of it, despite the star-studded vocal cast behind it, the big names add nothing much for the movie. Some may even keep picturing Madonna, Robert De Niro, and David Bowie talking to each other rather than the story’s actors — which actually pulls down the movie’s quality.
Suspending 102 minutes into a new world of colors and weirdness, “Arthur and the Invisibles” is a nice family movie, except for a couple of glitches, especially for the more conservative ones. Whatever its flaws, it has a certain handmade, personal feel that still affords a certain endearing quality to it. By suspending disbelief for such a fantasy adventure awaiting in one’s own backyard and beyond, the viewer can sit back and enjoy its offer for cinematic adventure.