Some of biggest voices in showbiz fail to register

PUBLISHED: 16:58 08 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:27 07 September 2010

Arthur and the Invisibles (PG) Directed by Luc Besson. Starring Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, voices of Robert De Niro, Madonna, Harvey Keitel, David Bowie. 90 mins Two star rating Luc Besson s latest sees him branch out into the world of animation, mi

Arthur and the Invisibles (PG) Directed by Luc Besson. Starring Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow,

voices of Robert De Niro, Madonna, Harvey Keitel, David Bowie. 90 mins

Two star rating

Luc Besson's latest sees him branch out into the world of animation, mixed with some live action scenes.

In the live action scenes, a boy called Arthur (Highmore) lives with his granny (Farrow) on a

remote farm in Connecticut where they are threatened with eviction.

In the animation scenes, Arthur becomes a member of a race of miniature people called Minimoys, who live in his garden, and goes on a quest for some rubies that will save the farm and the Minimoys' kingdom.

The computer-generated animation is regulation stunning and it'll be Legion d'honneurs all round for the French team of hundreds who have produced something that can stand comparison with the best stuff from people like Pixar.

In the packed Sunday morning screening I attended, it seemed to mostly keep the audience of small children entertained although there were a couple of wails of "I don't like it." Adults may struggle though.

Besson has never been a model of narrative cohesion and this

isn't been helped by the 20-odd minutes that seemed to have been snipped from its original 110 minute running time. The story is confused and feels second-hand.

Besson has a reputation as a great visual stylist but I think he forfeited this with his futuristic adventure The Fifth Element, which featured flying taxis that were standard New York yellow cabs with rockets instead of wheels. This was not an example of striking design but rather the first and most obvious idea that came into his head. Like most of his films, there's plenty of visual dash in Arthur but a paucity of really striking images.

The Minimoys look like Cabbage Patch Dolls and the ones that don't are just crude national stereotypes. Snoop Dogg turns up as a Rastafarian Minimoy, typical of the film's clumsy attempt at keeping adults interested, along with awkward parodies of films such as Matrix Revolutions and Pulp Fiction.

During the film, the only voice I recognised (other than Mr Dogg) was that of David Bowie, who is actually rather good as the main villain. It was a real shock at the end when the credits revealed a number of big names in the

voice cast.


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