Arthur and the Invisibles/Arthur and the Minimoys
Arthur and the Invisibles or as it was also known elsewhere in the world, Arthur and the Minimoys, was a complete dud in the United States, but did well worldwide. Pure and simple, this is a kid’s film; to look at it any other way would be to do it a disservice. In reality Arthur and the Invisibles is like two distinct films in one and that is where my problem resides. There is a live action part that is horribly clichéd. Case in point, Arthur is attempting to literally keep Grandmother from losing the farm, no joke. The other side of the story revolves around the visually interesting animated world of the Minimoys.
Arthur’s grandmother has only two days to pay a land developer a large chunk of cash or she is going to loose the farm. Apparently, Arthur’s grandfather had discovered a way to shrink himself down and venture into the world of the very, ultra tiny Minimoys. How, well, he just sort of did. There, in the world of the Minimoys, there are some substantial rubies awaiting recovery and thus, Arthur can pay off the debt.
Once shrunk down by a telescope device of sorts Arthur arrives in the land of Minimoys and, believe it or not, we then get hit with King Arthur stuff. What were they thinking? Regardless, there are some bad guys that must be dealt with and Arthur must save the day. Now you might think that I have concluded that Arthur and the Invisibles is a poor film, but that isn’t the case. The animation is often great and you probably haven’t seen too much like it. The detail, when viewed in high-definition, is fantastic and the voice acting, while extremely weird-more on that later, is good enough. The action sequences are fine, the creature and character animation have rich details and wonderful facial expressions. The world of the Minimoys is visually quite interesting and seems like something out of an entertaining and innovative video game.
The problem with Arthur and the Invisibles is two-fold. First, the mixture of live action and animation hurts the overall quality of the film. Mixing in live action into what should be a completely animated film was more than likely done to save budget-that was a mistake. The second problem is the script is burdened by numerous clichés, such as swords stuck in rocks and the like. Then there is the “ickk-factor” that makes you really wonder what they were thinking. Arthur played by remarkably omnipresent Freddie Highmore meets a nice girl, Princess Selenia played by…Madonna. Madonna is like 50, this Highmore kid is what 12. Who was asleep at the wheel on that one, and what is up with Madonna that she thinks she should be playing the love interest opposite Highmore? This really blows the mind. Madonna listen carefully I know you are rich and powerful, but you are also old enough to be a grandmother. Deal with your new reality!
Arthur and the Invisibles is a unique film in a variety of ways. Few films with so many big name actors go this ignored by US audiences. In addition to Highmore and Madonna, the film as has Robert De Niro as the King, Harvey Keitel, Chazz Palminteri, Snoop Dogg, Emilio Estevez (well maybe that one doesn’t count) and David Bowie. Yet Arthur and the Invisibles didn’t even pull in $20 million in the States. Worldwide, Arthur and the Invisibles was a big hit grabbing close to $400 million, so no surprise director Luc Besson will be making a lot more of these films, especially when the fact that the film’s budget was around $100 million.
My biggest problem with Arthur and the Invisibles isn’t that it’s a bad film, it’s a good enough film for kids in particular. My problem is that the story is lacking in innovation. The sets in the world of the Minimoys are unique, the look of the Minimoys and other creatures are very innovative, but the story is just more of what we’ve seen so many times before, in so many other places and that’s too bad.
Story C- (The script by Besson was adapted from the Celine Garcia books. The story needed the same level of innovation and attention to detail seen in the world of the Minimoys.)
Acting B- (Good acting abounds, as Madonna is actually very good, just inappropriately placed and David Bowie and Snoop Dogg are real treats.)
Visuals A- (Once inside the world of the Minimoys the visuals are great.)
Originality/Innovation B- (Arthur and the Invisibles is like two films in one. The script has minimal originality but the world of the Minimoys is very visually innovative and creative.)
Enjoyability Grade C (This is really, at its heart, a kids film, but the animation will find a place with adults as well.)
Home Theater/HD Factor A- (Arthur and the Invisibles is a great movie to watch in high-definition pure and simple. Just fast forward to the animation sequences.)
Overall Grade C+ (If you use television as a baby sitter, you could find a worse way to neglect your children than Arthur and the Invisibles. Once again, I could have done without British children being the only ones that get to go on journeys of exploration. Regardless, the way things are going, I will be writing the same thing twenty years from now about how its always Chinese kids going on journeys of exploration that somehow involve and reference Chinese myth. The more things change…)