Wonders of a Tiny World
Find the rubies and save the farm. That’s the mission undertaken by a precocious 10-year-old boy in Arthur and the Invisibles. Never mind that this treasure has been buried somewhere by a missing grandfather and that locating it requires the lad to shrink so small he's invisible to normal-size humans. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?
Fortunately, Arthur (Freddie Highmore) certainly has plenty of will. Even when his doting grandmother (Mia Farrow) locks him in his room to keep him out of trouble, Arthur climbs out the window and begins planning his quest with the help of clues left by his grandfather as well as assistance from a group of Wassai warriors. I know what you’re thinking: where did they come from? Doesn’t this story take place in Connecticut around 1960? Please don’t be so nitpicky, dear reader, this is a fantasy, so suspending disbelief is a must.
Okay, now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s get back to Arthur who’s been changed into an itsy bitsy elf-like Minimoy with spiked hair and pointy ears. Why? Because that’s the only way he can travel through the teeny world of the tiny inhabitants, of course. And, surprise, the rubies are buried in his own backyard -- which just happens to be where the Minimoys live.
What an adventure Arthur encounters in his new incarnation! He meets the brave and beautiful Selenia (voiced by Madonna), her loyal but sometimes jealous brother (voiced by Jimmy Fallon), their father the King (voiced by Robert De Niro), the evil Maltazard (voiced by David Bowie) and a host of other amazing little creatures. He takes a dangerous water voyage in a straw, sleeps inside a tulip, dances on a spinning turntable and joins the Minimoys in an action-packed battle to save their homeland from the followers of wicked mini-monster Maltazard, who also guards the rubies Arthur seeks.
Filmmaker Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) effectively combines live action and animation in this highly imaginative film based on his own series of children’s books. Although it took me a few minutes to get used to the strange look of the Minimoy universe, I soon became enchanted with it. However, the villainous Maltazard may be too frightening for very young viewers. One tyke cried loudly and had to be taken out of the theater at the screening my husband and I attended. Also, parts of the movie may be overly talky for some youngsters.
Personally, my biggest problem with Arthur and the Invisibles involved trying to understand Freddie Highmore’s British accent. He’s a very charismatic young actor (remember how wonderful he was in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?), but his articulation needed improvement here. Still, I was fascinated by the wonders of the tiny world depicted in this creative film, and I also felt a great deal of satisfaction watching the incredible adventures of a young boy committed to helping others.
(Released by The Weinstein Company and rated “PG” for fantasy action and brief suggestive material.)
Listen to Betty Jo's review of Arthur and the Invisibles at www.ReelTalkRadio.com.