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Arthur and the Great Adventure

6/10

Stars: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Ronald Crawford, Robert Stanton, Penny Balfour.
Voices: Selena Gomez, Lou Reed, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Will.i.am, Fergie, Iggy Pop

Director: Luc Besson

Besson cannot be accused of being predictable. His output ranges from science fiction schlock such as ‘The Fifth Element and hard-boiled action thrillers such as La Femme Nikita and Taken to subtitled and therefore to be-taken-seriously movies like Taxi, Subway and The Big Blue. Basically he’s a good filmmaker rather than a cult figure whose every frame is to be adored and savoured for deep hidden meanings.

Here, as writer and director, he’s made a movie for youngsters. This sequel to Arthur and the Invisibles may not be ‘Art’ as we know it, Jim – for a start it’s in English – but children looking for seasonal entertainment should be entertained by Arthur/Highmore’s further fantastic adventures in the land of the Minimoys where he heads, having magically shrunken himself down to Mimimoy stature and appearance, to save princess-in-peril Selenia. And, in the process, to help defeat a terrifying tyrant who emerges from the fantasy kingdom to mount an all-out attack on an all-American small town whose burger joint plays a role in the ensuing action.

The plot doesn’t really lean towards synopsis. Highmore’s exultant cry of “Adventure is waiting for us!” is as good a storyline as any. Imagery rather than coherent linear storytelling wins out in the end. Like classic advertising, here the sizzle is more important than the steak.

Besson, rather like the giant insects and other odd creatures that run rampant through the land of the mini Minimoys, flits from one extraordinary action sequence to another, making fine use of excellent special effects and fine art direction (small town America was recreated in Normandy) to create some memorable magical images. I particularly enjoyed the airborne assult on the town by squadrons of giant mosquitoes. Highmore (in his human incarnation) and the other human actors do well enough, although, with her wild blonde locks and scary smile, I found Farrow a tad creepy and more ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ than Highmore’s grandmother.

Alan Frank

France 2010. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 27 Dec 2010