Arthur And The InvisiblesIntro

Fabulous for children and adults who are willing to bite their tongue repeatedly.

The Story  

In this modern day fairy tale set in 1940’s (ish, maybe? They’re never quite specific) Connecticut, our title character is a young boy named Arthur who lives alone with his grandmother while his parents are in the city looking for work. All he wants to do is grow up to be just like his missing grandfather who was an exotic explorer and missionary in Africa. One day though, tragedy strikes as he learns that his house is going to be taken over by developers for failure to pay previous debt and so Arthur follows hidden instructions from his grandfather to seek out a city located below the ground of the farm, the city of Minimoys. The Minimoys are tiny little elves and with their help, Arthur seeks a missing treasure of rubies that his grandfather placed in their care for safe keeping and save his home.

The Good And The Bad

With a film like this, there are so many wonderful qualities to point out that will appeal to everyone in the audience. The story in this film tells a fun story about a child setting out to save those he loves and learning to stand up for himself along the way. The animation is quite well done and the character designs are cute the entire way through.

If you were to look at this as one whole product, you’re going to have a solid feature which children and adults can enjoy together and laugh at along the way. But it’s when you look closer and start to take it apart that you start to see all of the little issues that make up the whole when you start to get annoyed.

While the story in this feature is fun and filled with lots of energy to keep everyone entertained, the writing was really disappointing to me with so many elements lifted from various other texts and stories which made it seem all the less original as you went along. The first instance that absolutely destroyed it for me was soon after Arthur arrives in the city beneath the ground and pulls a sword out of a stone. A boy named Arthur pulling a magic sword out a stone that no one else could, where have we heard that before?

The characters in this film were also incredibly under developed which made for serious problems as I went along with the film. By the end I really found that while all of the characters seemed to be developed just enough that if you weren’t looking too closely, you probably wouldn’t notice, if you do happen to be looking closely you’re going to notice very quickly that by the end of the film you have a distinct feeling of hardly knowing anything about the characters other than perhaps Arthur or his grandfather.

I have been a fan of fantasy films since I was a child and the biggest annoyance of this film for me was the one rule that they chose not to follow which was to suspend the audience’s disbelief. There were so many little details that could’ve easily been fixed that would’ve helped me enjoy this film so much more. Nixing the English accents because the film is set in rural Connecticut would’ve been a great start. Paying attention to little details in the writing would’ve been fabulous as well. While no firm year is ever given during the film on when it takes place, all of the items in it tend to points towards the early 50’s or perhaps even earlier but late in the film there is a joke made by Arthur about speed cameras. It was admittedly a good joke but terribly out of place and I caught it as soon as I heard it leave the character’s mouth which completely took me out of the scene.

One thing that I loved about the writing though was the absolutely beautiful use of foreshadowing. I love films where the tiniest of details comes back later to play a role in how the ending will be played out. There are way too little films that make use of this basic plot device and so it was great to see this film use it so expertly.

The pacing of the film was also very difficult to take as it all felt so rushed that by the time the ending finally came, it all just felt so anti climatic with no real final battle scene between the evil one and Arthur. Likely this was intentional for the youngest members of the target audience but I still believe that every member of the audience deserved a climax of some sort.

The cast did a great job with the writing though and so I will not take anything away from them there. Feddie Highmore did a great job with the title role of Arthur and the rest of the cast really supported him well. When I first saw some of the names that were in the cast, I was quite concerned with what I was about to see but I was quite impressed. Madonna as the princess with Jimmy Fallon as her little brother was amusing to watch and I was equally impressed with Snoop Dogg and Anthony Anderson in their small roles later on.

I wasn’t overly impressed with David Bowie however. While he did a good job with Malthazar, his performance didn’t strike me as anything particularly new for him. Instead of making me think of the current performance, all I could do was think of how much it reminded me of his role from Labyrinth. I can’t count how many times I sat in my chair just waiting for him to look at the princess and say ‘You remind me of the babe…’

You can’t really fault the performers though with this. With the writing being as rushed as it was, it’s incredibly easy for performers to get into their roles and suddenly the performances completely take away from the actual story. Over the years, multiple voice actors have told me that the key to doing voice acting isn’t to focus on the role so much as to focus on the character and what their place in the story is. It’s so easy to give a great performance, but still perform in a way that makes the audience focus on the voice rather than the character it’s coming out of and many of the cast members were guilty of this.

Music

The music in this film though was where the talent really shined through. Throughout the entire feature never once did I feel like the music was out of place or didn’t fit the scene. It was always fun and captured the perfect emotion. I thought that it was a clever touch for the music director to not let himself get tied down to a particular era of music. Early in the film you’re going to hear some soft songs that really take you back to an older time but when you get into the underground, you’re going to hear music that takes influences from many different eras. The fight scene in the club late in the film was absolutely made because of the musical choices there!

Extras

There are quite a few extras for fans to enjoy here with much of them centering about the theme song performed by Jewel. The first extra listed however is a behind the scenes look at the actors performing their voice acting parts for the animation scenes as well as giving their thoughts on the experience.

For the music lovers in the audience there are two music videos (‘Quest for Love’ by Jewel and ‘Beautiful Day’ by Eliljah) as well as a behind the scenes look with Jewel into the recording of the song. Lastly there is the winner of the trailer contest held before the release of the film.

Overall

 

This is a film that presents itself with potential and then decides to try so hard to live up to that potential but ends up trying too hard. There are many things to enjoy about this film such as the animation and a story that is cute as well as entertaining but as I’ve said, all you have to do is look past the surface and you see all the flaws that are covered up by the shiny surface. As long as you’re willing to not let yourself look past the surface and just enjoy the shiny outer surface, you’re sure to find a fun treat for kids and adults.

Final Grade: 77% – C

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