Arthur and the Invisibles (review)

Imagine the Smurfs meeting Troll dolls in the world of The Dark Crystal, give it a plastic CGI sheen, speed everything up so that you can barely see what’s happening half the time, and make sure the characters move in a jerky kind of way so that the kids feel like they’re playing a video game without any of the fun that comes with playing a video game. That seems to have been the recipe for this tedious whirling dervish of a movie. Very young children will be dazzled by the constant motion and whirls of color, but everyone else will be confused, bored, and sometimes both at the same time by this forced, inorganic tale of the titular 10-year-old boy (the charming Freddie Highmore, from Finding Neverland) who journeys from his live-action world of 1960s rural Connecticut to the animated fantasyland of the Smurfishly Trollish Minimoys on a quest to save his grandma’s (Mia Farrow: The Omen) farm from greedy developers. (There’s treasure involved, of course.) Many famous voices — Madonna, Robert DeNiro, Snoop Dog, and more — utterly fail to distinguish themselves as a variety of stock fantasy characters, perhaps because they find themselves in stock fantasy situations. (Guess which character will be the only who can pull a magical sword from a stone?) Best awful moment? Lord Voldemort (the voice of David Bowie) — or some other bad guy whose name we’re not supposed to say — stops the action cold with his monologuing on why he’s just so darn evil. And it’s not even a very good reason.

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