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July 2011

Arthur And The Great Adventure

cast: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Logan Miller, Robert Stanton, and Penny Balfour

director: Luc Besson

91 minutes (PG) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
EIV DVD Region 2

RATING: 7/10
review by Christopher Geary

Arthur And The Great Adventure

Arthur And The Great Adventure (aka: Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard), continues Luc Besson's likeable fairy tale for children, as it's a sequel to the director's previous Arthur And The Invisibles (aka: Arthur et les Minimoys, 2006). Partly 3D CGI animation, and partly live-action, this offers the agreeably fun combination of Tolkien motifs and some delightfully postmodern fantasy characterisations, bought to life by a talented, if not always entirely successful, voice cast - which differs from the first movie: cheaper starlet Selena Gomez (Monte Carlo, Another Cinderella Story), takes over from Madonna as the heroine, Princess Selenia; while Lou Reed replaces David Bowie as wicked villain Maltazard.

As before, though, it all starts with restless teenage hero Arthur (Freddie Highmore, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory remake) shrinking/ morphing down to bug size, joining the bizarre little people called 'minimoys' - not your garden-variety elves, for another questing trek through the pocket universe in his family's back garden. There are goodies and baddies, ferocious monsters and misunderstood creatures, and war breaks out when mischievous or just plain evil, Maltazard, finds a way to reverse the miniaturisation process to scale himself up to adult human dimensions, along with a veritable army of minions plus insectoid air force of gigantic mosquitoes (which are ridden or piloted like dragons), to invade a nearby small town, so gloating Maltazard can preside over streets of chaos from the relative safety a town hall balcony (having usurped the mayor's office).

It's a colourful and highly imaginative milieu, with plenty of amusing touches, which grow into witty in-jokes (like Arthur's untamed hair in his micro-form being such a turn-on for minimoy girls), while Besson's decidedly cine-literate approach to such obvious children's entertainment boasts a surplus of both content and style likely to appeal to parents and movie buffs in general. It's a clich´┐Ż to claim that a 'family film' has 'something for everyone' but, in this case, that's very probably true. Honest!

If you enjoyed the fantasy and adventure of those otherworldly micro-verse realms, as depicted in digital-animation movies like Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and A Bug's Life, then Besson's magical Arthur movies should appeal, especially as its humour skilfully avoids the gross sentimentality of typical Disney product and evinces Pixar-free mentality when it comes to the usual Hollywood standard of anthropomorphic-insect shenanigans. Arthur 3: The War Of The Two Worlds should be available soon.



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