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Arthur And The Invisibles

Arthur and the Invisibles is just so-so, despite filmmaker Luc Besson's fervent attempts to create magic.


Based on books by Besson (yes, he writes books, too), we meet Arthur (Freddie Highmore), a 10-year-old kid living on his grandparents' farm. But there's trouble: Arthur's grandfather has mysteriously disappeared and now a real estate developer wants the land Arthur's grandma (Mia Farrow) doesn't have enough money to keep. Maybe the solution lies in his grandpa's treasure, which is hidden somewhere on the ''other side'' in the land of the Minimoys. Who are the Minimoys, you ask? Why, they are creatures that live in Arthur's backyard, just a tenth of an inch tall--that's who. The only hope is for Arthur to enter into this miniature world, become a little pointy-earred, wild-haired Minimoy, find the treasure in the forbidden city and save the day. For this adventurous boy, that's no problem.


Arthur and the Invisibles doesn't lack star power, that's for sure. Along with sweet-faced, high-spirited Highmore (taking a step down from Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in my opinion) and Farrow (who looks a little Minimoy-ish herself), we have the voices of: Madonna as the plucky Minimoy warrior princess; Jimmy Fallon as her younger, klutzy brother; Robert De Niro as their father, the king; Harvey Keitel as a kindly wizard; Snoop Dogg as a weird-looking miniature denizen who runs a dance club; and David Bowie as the evil ruler of the forbidden city. That's some eclectic lineup--too bad they couldn't all click. Poor Madonna--even her animated voice-over efforts can't make the grade.


We all know how creative French filmmaker Luc Besson can be. His offbeat sensibilities can be seen in his tense crime dramas La Femme Nikita and The Professional, as well as his wildly imaginative sci-fi cult favorite The Fifth Element. But he's been taking a break from making his own films, producing and apparently writing children's books instead. Arthur and the Invisibles is his first directorial effort since the 1999 movie The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and while it definitely taps into Besson's fanciful notions--which is probably even more evident in the novels--it doesn't necessarily translate as well to the big screen. Invisibles' animation is lush and there's a lot to look at, but it's almost too busy, while the tepid yet convoluted story drones on. Invisibles is definitely not adult-friendly.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.