Thursday, January 18, 2007

Movie Log: Arthur and the Invisibles

The boys and I hadn't seen anything in the theater for a while, so I gave them the choice of Happily N'Ever After and Arthur and the Invisibles on Saturday. This is the one they chose, and I can't really complain, since neither one is supposed to be very good.

I should say that this wasn't a bad movie, just a bit slipshod and hurried. The live-action acting is perfectly acceptable, and the character designs for the CGI characters are interesting and move well. But the movie suffers from an excess of stunt voice casting, can't decide what it's audience is (or how to target that audience), and has a tin ear for dialogue. (Particularly of the I'm-talking-too-much-too-fast-to-get-all-of-my-words-in style.)

The CGI scenes also often seem rushed, especially during action sequences and as scenes change -- I'm not sure if that's a reflection of a tight budget, or an eagerness to get to the "good stuff" -- but it makes parts of the movie hard to follow visually. Arthur seems to have a little too much plot in general for its length; it should have either been ten minutes longer or a bit more simplified.

(And, as others have pointed out, casting Madonna as the love interest -- yes, it's more middle-school infatuation than anything else, but her CGI character does appear fully grown up -- for ten-year-old Freddie Highmore is more than a little squickworthy. The camera also seems to linger on CGI-Madonna's butt much more than is strictly necessary.)

Still, I'm glad I saw it on a big screen. Given the pacing problems with the CGI scenes, I expect this will not play well on normal-sized TVs; a lot of this movie will turn into visual mush at home. It's most interesting as a CGI test-bed; to see what this particular studio has done with the form -- there's some nice animation here and there. If your kids drag you to see it, try not to let the dialogue annoy you too much, and don't think too hard about the dropped plot points -- just watch the pretty pictures.

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