Friday, November 25, 2011
REVIEW: Arthur Christmas 3D
James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie
November 23, 2011
Sony Pictures Animation
1 hour 37 minutes
Leave it to Aardman, the creative geniuses behind 'Wallace and Gromit' and 'Chicken Run' to make an animated Christmas movie with lots of comedy and a beautiful heart. The latest entry into the Christmas movie foray is 'Arthur Christmas.' If you've ever wondered how Santa delivers all of the world's presents in one night, this film shows you that exact way, but it's more technologically advanced than you'd expect. We live in the 21st century, so of course Santa and his elves are in the now with a spaceship in replacement for a wooden sleigh, as well as elves delivering the presents 'Mission Impossible' style. This year however, Santa, his oldest son/heir to the throne Steve, and the elves have missed one child in delivering a present. This is where Santa's youngest son Arthur is the only one who cares. Being so devoted to giving every child the perfect Christmas, Arthur, along with Grand Santa, take an old sleigh and seven retired reindeer on a worldwide sleigh road trip in order to deliver this present before sunrise. So how is Aardman's latest entry into the Christmas genre overall? It's a good movie, that's all I can say.
I would like to start off by saying that the voices are good enough, though there were those disappointing ones. James McAvoy is great as the bumbling yet caring Arthur. He is the one character in this movie that actually has a solid heart. He is a good character, but he's not as good as Bill Nighy's Grand Santa, who is the funniest character of the whole film. One liners are keen in animated flicks, and Nighy delivers ALL of the best ones, despite them being in the first 40 minutes of the film. He was funny, and that's all that matters, right? Well sadly these are the only characters in the film that are interesting at all. This movie is filled with an all-star British cast, including Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and Imelda Saunton, who are all extremely talented. Unfortunately for these talented Brits, they are the worst part of this film. All of these characters (except for Saunton, who apparently is just there in this movie) are so incredibly selfish that it's almost sickening to watch. Even Bill Nighy is an asshole in this film. Those characters are barely developed at all, which really disappointed me because there was more to these characters than what was shown. Overall the characters were very disappointing, but McAvoy and Nighy at least bring something to their roles.
The first half hour of this movie are complete animated genius, showing us the action sequence of Santa's present operation, witty jokes in the opening, and lots of great jokes overall. Then the movie slows down for the rest of the film, goes incredibly soft, and starts to disappoint in a surprising fashion. Don't get me wrong, the film is good; I just wish that this movie could have delivered more laughs and still deliver on a soft amount of heart. I was checking my watch a couple of times, believe it or not. Everything might work out well in the end and everybody forms a smile on their face when the credits roll, but everything in between that just disappointed the guy who was hoping that this would be 2011's 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.' ('Fox' opened up on the same weekend two years ago and was also a stop motion, that's the comparison)
I do give the film credit for having fantastic animation and great 3D. Aardman has always been the master of stop motion animation ever since the original 'Wallace and Gromit' specials from either the 80s or the 90s, so it comes as no surprise that the characters in this movie look vibrant and cool. The animation overall is fantastic, absorbing us flabby humans into a world where elves are like the combination of 'James Bond' and 'Mission Impossible.' The 3D also adds the feel of watching a stop motion movie directly on its set in England. While the 3D is good in the film, it's not as good as other 3D movies like 'Puss in Boots' or 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.' I wouldn't say it's something you must see in 3D, because a 2D viewing would be just as effective. But if you can tolerate wearing the goofy glasses for two hours and paying three dollars extra per ticket, then I'd say check it out in the third dimension.
'Arthur Christmas' is a good animated movie, but in the end there is a lot to be desired for after. You may get some good laughs and great voice performances from James McAvoy and Bill Nighy, but the story is too heartfelt for my liking and there weren't enough jokes in the second half to keep me going. This may be my least favorite Aardman film out of everything that they made. I could blame the fact that I'm Jewish that I wasn't as compelled with this film as many others were, but then again I just analyze movies for what they are and put religion aside. This is the best holiday movie in theaters currently, because for once studios aren't so obsessed with Christmas movies being released during the holidays. However for great Christmas awesomeness, I'd say rent something like 'Home Alone,' 'It's A Wonderful Life,' or 'A Christmas Story,' because there is nothing as great as the original Christmas classics. This film is harmless, and it will give you laughs, but 'Arthur Christmas' isn't the film that we'd want to see from Aardman.
PREVIEWS YOU MAY SEE:
Beauty and the Beast 3D
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
The Pirates: Band of Misfits
The Adventures of Tintin