out of Five
Running time: 90
This is nicely acted and Besson deserves some sort of award for casting Lou Reed and Iggy Pop as its villains, but the script and direction are all over the place and it never really comes together.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Luc Besson, Arthur and the Great Adventure is the sequel to 2006's part animation, part live action Arthur and the Invisibles, though it actually combines both the 2nd and 3rd films in the series (Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard and Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds). Arthur (Freddie Highmore, who doesn't seem to have aged at all) is excited to return to the animated land of the Minimoys, but horrified when his father (Robert Stanton) announces that they will shortly be leaving his grandmother's (Mia Farrow) house.
When he receives a plea for help (engraved on a grain of rice, delivered by a spider) from the Minimoys, Arthur shrinks down to their size and rushes to their rescue, only to discover that he's been tricked and that evil, power hungry Maltazard (Lou Reed, replacing David Bowie) has used him in order to enter the human world. Enlisting the help of Princess Selenia (Selena Gomez, wisely replacing Madonna) and Prince Betameche (Jimmy Fallon), Arthur attempts to return to normal size and fight back. At the same time, they find an unexpected ally in the form of Maltazard's estranged son, Darkos (Iggy Pop).
Freddie Highmore makes a likeable lead as Arthur, though, as with the first film, he's a lot more engaging as a human than he is as an animated Minimoy, when he looks like a troll doll gone wrong. In addition, the sequel corrects the dodgy casting of the original (when Madonna was basically playing the love interest to someone 40 years younger than her) and the casting directors surely deserve some sort of recognition for lining up both Lou Reed and Iggy Pop as Maltazard and Darkos.
The problem is that with the second and third films being combined into one, the script and direction are all over the place, with no clear sense of structure. On top of that, the animated scenes are so chaotic that it's often difficult to tell what's going on; the second half involves people being attacked by giant buzzing insects and that seems like an apt metaphor for what the film feels like to watch.
Arthur and the Great Adventure is messy and unfocussed and never really comes together, thanks to chaotic direction, a confused script and frenzied, unengaging action sequences. One to avoid.
Arthur and the Great Adventure (PG)