Arthur Christmas (2011)

Arthur Christmas Review

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Arthur Christmas Movie Review

Arthur Christmas is a 2011 animated comedy film directed by Sarah Smith and starring James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent. It is a flawed, but still an expectedly sophisticated Aardman entry.

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And may One Hundred Percent of your Christmases be White!

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Arthur Christmas Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

It is about Santa’s clumsy son who discovers that the team failed to deliver presents to one girl and he sets out to fix that. The story here is magnificent and really sophisticated. It may seem on the surface that this is a children’s film, but it is not like that at all as it has some really intriguing themes in it. I loved how each and every character is so well defined and how everybody has some issues that are quite relevant and beautifully explored. I also found the adventure here pretty engaging and I loved how the movie is emotional, but never too much. That was great.

The character development in Arthur Christmas is just fantastic and it is easily the best thing about this movie. Arthur may seem typical at first, but I enjoyed his clumsy behavior and I found his charisma great and he has such a big heart. Steve is great as his more cynical brother and I loved how they never vilified his character despite the fact that they seemed to be going in that direction. He wants to be the next Santa and is feeling left out by his parents and I loved that family dynamic. Yes, Malcolm is great. There isn’t much to his wife as she is underdeveloped, but he is excellent and I loved his issue quite a bit. He fears how people will perceive him once he is not Santa. That was so moving and wonderfully depicted.

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Arthur Christmas Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

I loved Grandsanta. His disdain for the modern world is so grounded in reality and his personality is excellent. And I just loved the character interactions between him and Arthur. Bryony does feel like a one-note character at first, but I still found her to be pretty well realized, well at least compared to the other elves. All of the characters are superb here and I just loved the family dynamic and how they made this giant Clause family and hierarchy. That was clever as it led to a much better characterization than is usual for a Christmas movie.

The voice acting is good, but I have to admit that it took me too much time to adapt to James McAvoy’s voice here. It was just odd and did not fit well with the character. But Hugh Laurie is pretty good, Ashley Jensen is also good and Jim Broadbent is superb. And Bill Nighy is of course one of the highlights in the crazy grandpa role.

Arthur Christmas’ animation is stellar and startling. It is so professional and just beautiful to behold. The character designs are great, but it is the wonderful scenery that takes it to the next level. The flying sequences are moving, the military gadgets are so detailed and well depicted and the colors are excellent. The attention to detail is also quite overwhelming and the film is just brilliantly animated and it is always beautiful to watch.

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Arthur Christmas Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

Now, let’s talk about the flaws. Frenetic pacing. Yes, that’s it. That is the biggest offender here and the only thing that significantly ruins this movie in my opinion. The film could have been a classic, but is unfortunately held back by its overwhelming action and stupidly frenetic pacing. It is always too fast, it is always annoyingly energetic and there is always immense action and stuff happening on the screen that it was sometimes too difficult for me to follow. I really, really disliked that about this film as it was otherwise a brilliant feature, but that pacing and action really cheapens it and reduces its quality immensely.

Yes, even though the characters are all terrific, their problems still could have been given much more screen time had the action been reduced. And no matter how terrific the adventurous aspects are here, they still should have been much more present. And although I really liked the modern approach to telling a Christmas story that is essentially traditional in its heart, I still found its military overtones to be overly emphasized. But that modern approach was still unique and refreshing.

The action bored me, but Arthur Christmas is otherwise an engrossing picture filled with some fascinating scenes. The ending is just beautiful and the moment in which Gwen sees Arthur is just so wonderful and it is never overplayed as it lasts for just a couple of seconds. That was great filmmaking at display. I also adored the flying scenes as well as the family dialogue scenes. And the scene in Africa did seem like a detour, but it was still a great adventure.

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Arthur Christmas Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………….

The tone is great as it is heartwarming in just the right doses, dramatic, but also pretty comedic at times with some solid humor thrown in the mix. I loved the message and although it may seem predictable to some, I loved the happy ending here and I found the film to be positively childlike and a great mix of modern and traditional. It is above all such a great Christmas movie that every child should watch. The score is very good, the sound effects are excellent and the film is solidly directed. It is heartwarming, but never too emotional. It is badly paced, but never boring, though it is a bit dull in some of its action. But it is mostly such an original and sophisticated take on this subject matter and, although not one of Aardman’s best, it is still such a good movie that is easily one of the finest animated films of 2011. And a good Aardman movie is still much better than most animated films from other companies.

Arthur Christmas is such a good movie. Its stupidly frenetic pacing and too much action really hurt the movie, but it is still such a great mix of traditional and modern with impressively well developed characters, some sophisticated themes here and there, superb character interactions, a great story, a positively childlike tone to it and many heartwarming moments. It isn’t one of Aardman’s best, but it is one of the finest animated films of 2011.

My Rating – 4

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Posted in 2010s, 2011, Adventure, Animated, Comedy, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , .

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