Succumbing to the in-joke trend popular in children's films, Luc Besson's visually attractive movie spoils its own fantasy spell with anachronistic references and a quickly resolved story line. When he's not away at his British boarding school, clever young Arthur (Freddie Highmore) spends his summers in Connecticut with his granny (Mia Farrow); Arthur's parents (Penny Balfour, Doug Rand) are often too busy away from home to care for their son. Three years earlier, Arthur's grandfather went missing while searching for the African rubies he'd received years earlier as a gift of gratitude from an oversized Masai-like tribe. Grandfather hid the treasure in the magical world of Minimoys, a tiny realm located in the back field of the family farm. Arthur and his grandmother have been waiting eagerly for Grandfather's return, but now the situation has become desperate: They need the treasure to save the farm from being seized by bank collectors. Arthur studies his grandfather's journal and discovers a map to the Minimoys' land, which is only accessible every 10 moons. He then is able to contact the Minimoy prince Betameche (voice of Jimmy Fallon) to explain that unless he's given access to the Minimoys' world via their shrinking device, the entire field and the Minimoys' kingdom will soon be covered in a land developer's concrete. Once in, Arthur is introduced to the Minimoy king (voice of Robert De Niro) and his headstrong daughter, Selenia (voice of Madonna). Their castle is soon invaded by large mosquito-like creatures; but fortunately Arthur, true to his namesake, is able to pull the magic sword from the stone and save the day. With Betameche and Selenia at his side, Arthur treks through an adventure-filled landscape actually an oversized version of his backyard a la HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS to his grandfather's last known whereabouts: the dark and mysterious land of Maltazard (voice of David Bowie). This is director Luc Besson's first attempt at combining animation with live-action; and while the look of the film is impressive, he should have focused more of his efforts on fleshing out the script that he adapted from two of his own Arthur books. The story isn't terrible, it's just derivative of too many other books and movies, from THE WIZARD OF OZ and Alice in Wonderland to THE DARK CRYSTAL and Harry Potter. Kids will probably enjoy the appearance of silly characters like Max (Snoop Dogg) and Koolamassai (Anthony Anderson) while not noticing the implications of that mysterious green beverage that makes everyone want to dance. Adults, however, may be bothered by the fact that Max and Koolamassai are actually enslaved by the Evil M., as well as by the scene involving the 1,000-year-old Selenia and the 10-year-old Arthur, which veers off into some potentially uncomfortable territory. Grown-ups may also notice the jarring and incongruous use of musical tracks like Bowie's '80s hit "Let's Dance" and the nods to '90s movies like PULP FICTION in a film that works so hard to re-create the era in which the story takes place: the 1960s.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: PG
- Review: Succumbing to the in-joke trend popular in children's films, Luc Besson's visually attractive movie spoils its own fantasy spell with anachronistic references and a quickly resolved story line. When he's not away at his British boarding school, clever youn… (more)
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