After a disappointing turn at the American box office, Luc Besson continued his adventures of “Arthur and the Invisibles” on home video here in the states. The two sequels from this family adventure film were released close together, telling the further story of Arthur as he returns to the Minimoy world to once again defeat the evil Maltazard.
ARTHUR 2: THE REVENGE OF MALTAZARD
MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
In the first film of the set, Arthur receives a message from the Minimoy world calling for his help. With the help of his tribesmen friends, Arthur once again shrinks down to Minimoy size and searches for the lovely Princess Selenia (more appropriately voiced now by Selena Gomez rather than Madonna). Once there, he discovers a plot by Maltazard to escape Minimoy captivity and take over the world above.
This is a cute enough film, which has more of a feel of a Saturday morning television special than a major motion picture. Compared to the first film, the animation isn’t quite as good, and when Arthur is in the Minimoy world, it feels too force. Of course, it doesn’t help the case to have an overly urbanized look to the world when Arthur first gets in there. But then again, what are you gonna do when Snoop Dogg voices one or the characters.
Freddie Highmore revisits his role as Arthur with ease, but it’s the adults in the film that stumble. Even veteran actors like Mia Farrow phone in their performances. Still, it’s good enough for the kids to enjoy.
ARTHUR 3: THE WAR OF TWO WORLDS
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
The third film in the series fares slightly better than the first sequel. Part of this is surprisingly because they get out of the Minimoy world for a bit. Lou Reed sloughs through his line reads as Maltazard, which is a huge step down from David Bowie’s voice in the original film. However, the animation on the full-sized Maltazard is still pretty impressive.
Moving the action into the real world makes things a little more relateable and less creepy. Fewer uncanny valley faces make the movie more appealing, in my opinion.
The bottom line is that it appears that Luc Besson had some fun with these movies, and more power to him for it. They’re kids’ movies at their heart, and they play well to that audience. The action of the last film works best and delivers in scope and adventure. They’re not my favorite kids’ films, but my kids really did enjoy them.