REVIEW: Arthur Christmas

For decades, films based upon the magical and enchanting tradition of Christmas have melted the hearts and inspired a countless number of people from the likes of hilarious disaster-comedies, live-action family heart-warmers and visually stunning animations. However, making critically and financially successful Christmas films within this current generation is often a rather difficult task due to the fact that the overloaded budget and effects usually take over the meaning and message of the story it’s trying to tell its audiences (The Polar Express for example). As far as Arthur Christmas is concerned, it not only provides dazzling effects but it amazingly establishes the Christmas spirit for both kids and adults.

Arthur Christmas ultimately fulfils a question that is always on a child’s mind when it comes to Christmas: how does Santa get round to every single house around the world and deliver all of the presents in one single night considering the world population is growing? Plus, as children we have questioned about the appearance and the outlook of Santa’s grotto and his home in the North Pole and of what we witness in the film, our imaginative knowledge of Santa is tested as the backgrounds come pretty close to what we would like to imagine within the North Pole. The most charming concepts about Arthur Christmas are that the story is just very simple although there are a few particular moments where the film has its occasionally slow segments, but that didn’t jeopardise the Christmas spirit that the film beholds.

Throughout the past 20 years, Aardman Animations have given us some of the most creative, hilarious and beautifully crafted feature films, but Arthur Christmas becomes only their fourth animated feature after Chicken Run, Wallace And Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbitand Flushed Away where they collaborated with Dreamworks Animation. However, for Arthur Christmas, they cooperated with Sony Pictures Entertainment in their first feature together. Like Pixar Animation Studios in the USA, Aardman Animations in the UK have always made their films where they have made the characters; story and script their number one priority if they are to succeed, which is why both have succeeded admirably almost every time. Aardman have mixed all kinds of verbal jokes from the likes of wacky slapstick and physical humour as we have seen in the pats that is efficient for kids and adults alike.

Aside from the effects and story, a strong and energetic ensemble cast is a huge priority the majority of the time as it can often be the key to a successful film for the family. After previously leading an ensemble cast in other 2011 animated film Gnomeo And Juliet, James McAvoy leads the pack once again but even better this time as he brings forth a very sweet, funny and heart-melting character with a big heart and shows a tremendous amount of courage. A funny key part of the characters is that most of the main characters names are associated and are linked in some way with Christmas, but the heir next in line to be Santa is called Steve with Santa’s original name in the film being Malcolm. These could be almost like humourous gags within the characters but it’s funny and adds more reality to the characters and makes them more human.

Hugh Laurie was very good as Steve as he provides the well-spoken and attractive English accent with the cool yet rather arrogant personality. Although personally finding Jim Broadbent a favoured candidate to possibly portray Santa in a live-action film one day, he provides his voice in a role that almost completely defines Santa. In most of his roles, Broadbent has portrayed characters with a genuinely soft and easy-going nature and provides a very good performance. Santa’s true nature in this film is tested and it goes into great depth about and becomes a story of self-discovery. Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen make supporting appearances in their respective roles while Laura Linney, Michael Palin, Joan Cusack and Robbie Coltrane make their voices heard in cameo appearances.

Overall, Arthur Christmas is a dazzling and exhilarating adventure that takes you beyond what you imagined as it takes you to the imaginative and enchanting world of Christmas on the North Pole and is sure to build-up the Christmas spirit to an even higher level. It miraculously isn’t ruined due to the big budget but small brains and heart like we have seen many times over the years and it will be an adorable family film to watch anytime including the Christmas season. It is a strong contender for Best Animated Picture 2011 and will hopefully become a Christmas and family classic in years to come.


~ by SJMJ91 on 15/05/2012.

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