Review of “Arthur and the Invisibles” (2006) PG 103min
November 28th, 2007 by Maxim · No Comments · 4,533 Views
This film comes from a great French director Luc Besson, who is the king of French action movies. Here in the U.S. of A. we know him for creating “The Fifth Element“, which he conceived when he was a teenager, for [briefly] being married to Milla Jovovich, and producing such action flicks as Leon with Jean Claude Van Damme back in the days, Kiss of the Dragon with Jet Lee, The Transporter 1-2, Crimson Rivers, Revolver as well as Taxi 1-4, Nordeste, Love and Other Disasters and more. For some reason he decided to try himself in a movie for kids and animation. Arthur And The Invisibles, a.k.a. “Arthur et les Minimoys” (the French-dubbed version) is this movie.
The plot: Arthur is a 10-year-old boy living with his grandmother in the rural part of Illinois (or was it Connectucut). It’s probably the Great Depression era (but could also be 60s), and Arthur’s parents are in the city on the lookout for a job. Arthur’s grandfather had disappeared long time ago, and Arthur only knows that he lived for a long time in Africa with his grandmother and worked as an engineer building roads, bridges and other cool stuff to develop Africa. One of the tribes gave his a bag of rubies as a token of appreciation of his work, and he hid it somewhere in his garden. These rubies will come handy soon because the family is in financial trouble and about to lose their house to a building contractor who plans to wipe out the garden and build an a apartment building. Arthur has just two days to find his grandfather and the rubies to save the house and the garden… and Minimoys, creatures no larger then a tooth that his grandfather helped to relocate from Africa.
There are a lot of similarities with Jumanji, Zathura and A Bugs Life. The cast is full of stars: Robert De Niro, Madonna, David Bowie, Rob and Nathan Corddry, Snoop Dog. But in my opinion they were mis-cast. De Niro is a great, fantastic actor, but he ruined the King for me with his New York accent: “Dat’s my dwoter!”, “Dat’s a nice bwoy!”… Horrible! Especially considering the King is of a tribe from Africa. Madonna is a great performer and entertainer, but she sounded emotionally deprived. David Bowie was great actually, but his role was too short. What was Snoop Dog doing in this movie? His character also ruined the movie for me.
The human-actor part of the movie was promising in the beginning as it had the same quality as Nanny McPhee and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Reminded me of Jumanji. Until Massai people materialized… out of the box. Well, ok, it’s a fairytale. Freddie Highmore did nice work acting, but for an Illinois kid his Anglo-Saxon accent was odd to hear. His parents (Penny Balfour, Doug Rand) are Brits too, though his grandparents are Yanks. Mia Farrow was a great Granny, maybe a little young.
The animation technically is well executed, but the story is cliche and not interesting, and the animated characters looked like they are from a Nintendo video game (maybe that was the idea for franchising) – quite repelling, actually. There’s a little romance between animated Arthur and King’s daughter, Princess Selenia (Madonna). There’s a battle scene when intruders mounted on wasps (?) attacked Minimoy city – it was a bit of a roller-coaster ride with a lot of fast action in all directions and a bit hard to follow, but it gives an insight into rivalry between the two races – Minimoys and the troops of Evil M (Maltazard – David Bowie). And there is a scene when Arthur and Selenia have to face the villain and the villain gets to start the countdown till the end of Minimoy civilization – no reason why he wants to wipe them out and/or enslave them, perhaps he is just an evil thing to do. There’s a chase in a toy car. There’s a reference to legend of King Arthur and the sword (Excalibur) embedded in the stone. Other ideas were probably stolen from “The Matrix: Reloaded”, “The African Queen” and “The Wizard of Oz”. And little people do what all little people do, like sleep in the flower or shower in a drop of dew.
The Villain, Evil M (Maltazard, sounds like Methasar from Galaxy Quest) had a face with nose without nostrils – like Voldemort in Harry Potter and he had clothes with spikes. Actually, I suspect this character and the looks were ripped off from Sarris, the genocidal reptilian leader from Galaxy Quest.
I think children under 14 will like it, but for older audience there’s little aesthetical or entertainment value. I liked Besson’s other movies, particularly entertaining “Fifth Element” and “The Messenger: The Story Of Joan of Arc” (Milla Jovovich’s performance was awesome in both). But I won’t be surprised if Luc Besson retires after this movie.
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