Arthur and the Invisibles
|Arthur and the Invisibles|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Luc Besson|
|Story by||Luc Besson|
|Based on||Arthur and the Minimoys and Arthur and the Forbidden City|
by Luc Besson
|Music by||Éric Serra|
|Box office||$107.9 million|
Arthur and the Invisibles (French: Arthur et les Minimoys) is a 2006 French adventure comedy fantasy animated/live-action film adaptation of the 2002 children's book Arthur and the Minimoys, and the 2003 sequel Arthur and the Forbidden City, written by filmmaker Luc Besson, who also directed the film.
It premiered in limited release in France on 29 November 2006, and received wide releases in a number of countries in the following weeks. With a budget of €60 million, Arthur and the Invisibles was briefly the most expensive French film production until surpassed by Astérix at the Olympic Games.
The film received negative reviews from critics, and under-performed in the United States. It was nevertheless successful enough in France and in the rest of the world to generate two sequels, Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard and Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds. The film received the Imagina Award in the category Prix du Long-Métrage. The movie's soundtrack album was released on 9 January 2007.
In 1960, protagonist 10-year-old Arthur lives with his grandmother Daisy in a quiet farm house on a dirt road, in a small rural community in Northeastern Connecticut (based on Sterling). His grandfather Archibald has recently gone missing and he sees little of his parents (who are away looking for work). Daisy entertains Arthur with stories of his grandfather's adventures in Africa, featuring the tall Bogo Matassalai and the minuscule Minimoys, of whom the latter now live in Archibald's garden, protecting a collection of rubies. Arthur becomes enamoured of a picture of Selenia, the princess of the Minimoys. When Daisy receives a two-day deadline to pay a large sum of money to a building developer named Ernest Davido, who plans to evict the two, Arthur looks for the rubies to pay off the debt and discovers various clues left by his grandfather. He is met in the garden by the Bogo Matassalai, who reduce Arthur to Minimoy size. From the Minimoys, Arthur learns that they are in danger from Maltazard, a Minimoy war hero who now rules the nearby 'Necropolis', after corruption by a weevil, by whom he has a son named Darkos.
Arthur, reflecting his legendary British namesake, draws a sacred sword from its recess and uses it to protect the Minimoys from Maltazard's soldiers; whereupon Sifrat, the ruler of the Minimoys, sends Arthur to Necropolis, with the princess Selenia and her brother Betameche. En route, they are attacked on two occasions by Maltazard's soldiers. In Necropolis, Selenia kisses Arthur, marking him as her husband and potential successor, and confronts Maltazard alone. When Maltazard learns that she has already kissed Arthur and thus can no longer give him her powers and cure his corruption, he imprisons all three, who discover a Minimoy form of Archibald. Thereafter Arthur and his grandfather escape and return to human form, with little time to spare before Maltazard's flood reaches the Minimoys. With the help of Mino, a royal advisor's long-lost son, Arthur redirects the flood to Necropolis; whereupon Maltazard abandons Necropolis and his son, and the water ejects the rubies above ground. Archibald pays Davido with one ruby; and when he tries to take them all, the Bogo Matassalai capture him and give him to the authorities (scene deleted in the U.S. edition). The film ends with Arthur asking Selenia to wait for his return, and her agreement to do so.
- Robert De Niro as Emperor Sifrat XVI, Betameche and Selenia's father
- Madonna as Princess Selenia, the daughter of Emperor Sifrat. The character was dubbed by French singer Mylène Farmer in the French version Arthur et les Minimoys, German singer Nena in the German version Arthur und die Minimoys, Finnish pop singer Paula Vesala from PMMP in the Finnish version and Greek Pop singer Tamta in the Greek version, Swedish pop singer Robyn in the Swedish version.
- Snoop Dogg as Max, the leader of the Koolamassai, a race of beings similar to the Minimoys, who supply Maltazard's people with a 'candy fruit' and are therefore left relatively free
- David Bowie as Emperor Maltazard (also known as the Evil M, Maltazard the Evil, or Malthazar the Cursed), antagonist. Although the film refers to him as Malthazar, his name in the book was "Malthazard" and some film versions refer to him as Maltazard. For the Japanese release, he is voiced by Gackt who is also a singer and actor.
- Freddie Highmore as Arthur
- Harvey Keitel as Miro, the royal advisor
- Anthony Anderson as Koolamassai
- Chazz Palminteri as Travel agent
- Jason Bateman as Prince Darkos, Maltazard's vicious but dim-witted son
- Jimmy Fallon as Prince Betameche, Selenia's younger brother
- Mia Farrow as Daisy, Arthur's long-suffering grandmother
The animation was done by the French company BUF Compagnie, which hired approximately 100 animators, most of them from French animation schools and without any previous experience. Besson wanted a photorealistic environment, and BUF initially used microlenses to film physical environments, but eventually instead used photogrammetry, where a digitized photograph of a real object is manipulated with a computer. Sets were built to 1:3 scale, which allowed the animators to use natural elements, such as plants and grass. While the film did not use motion capture, real actors were used as reference, and recorded with 13 to 14 video cameras, but without the markers used in motion capture. Besson directed their performances. In terms of lip sync with actors' dialog, the French animators could not cope with the English phonemes. For Madonna and David Bowie, a camera was used to record their lips to help the animators. The animation was done with proprietary software.
Arthur and the Invisibles received negative reviews from film critics. In the United States, the movie's Los Angeles run garnered 22% positive reviews at the critic review aggregate site RottenTomatoes.com from 92 critics. The critic's census reads, "Arthur wastes its big-name voice talent on a predictable script and substandard CG animation." Los Angeles Times reviewer Alex Chun wrote that, "Director Luc Besson admits he knew nothing about animation before he started this project, and it shows". Variety's Robert Koehler called it "alienating and dislikable" and specifically noted that, "Having African-American thesps Snoop Dogg and Anthony Anderson voice creatures that are basically humanoid monkeys shows poor taste."
Many found it derivative of sources ranging from King Arthur's sword-in-the-stone to the films The Dark Crystal and The Ant Bully, which itself was based on a children's book written three years before Besson's. "It all simply looks as if [conceptual artist Patrice] Garcia and Besson couldn't decide on any one thing to copy," said Frank Lovece of Film Journal International, "so they copied them all." Lovece also noted that, "the whole thing gets seriously creepy when [the animated versions of] the grown-up, pinup-beauty princess and the 10-year-old boy fall for each other. Mary Kay Letourneau comes uncomfortably to mind." Common Sense Media disliked the film, giving it 2 stars out of 5 and saying, "Uneven animation-live action combo may bore kids." Josh Tyler of Cinema Blend greatly disliked the film, giving it 1.5 stars out of 5 and saying, "Sure it has sometimes loved French director Luc Besson's name on it, but the character designs look like they were stolen from those wispy haired troll dolls that were popular for about five minutes fifteen years ago, and the plot sounded like it was written by a ten-year-old kid underneath a heavy bedspread with a big chief tablet and a pencil the size of a horse's leg." Besson, in a May 2007 interview, blamed American distributor The Weinstein Company for the film's failure in the U.S., saying "Why the critics didn't like Arthur was because [Weinstein] changed so much of the film and tried to pretend the film was American. [...] America and the UK were the only countries where the films were changed. The rest of the world has the same film as France."
On 1 February 2007, the film received the Imagina Award in the category Prix du Long-Métrage. On 1 October 2007, Mylène Farmer was awarded the NRJ Ciné Award for her dubbing of Sélénia's voice in Arthur and the Minimoys.
Differences between release versions
After a screening test in the United States, the Weinstein company edited the film. Approximately nine minutes were cut. Most of the edits pertained to the love story between Arthur and Selenia (due to age differences). The Scenes were:
- Arthur's arrival at the Minimoy world in the middle of a Ceremony centering on Selenia's coming of age;
- Arthur falling in love with Selenia at first sight;
- Arthur removing a string from Selenia's corset to use as a climbing-rope, and Selenia taking the string back;
- Max referring to their drinks as 'Jack Fire' instead of Genie Soda. Also, when Arthur escapes the bar during the blackout, Max smokes something that resembles a blunt.
- Selenia kissing Arthur before confronting Maltazard, and Betameche congratulating them;
- Selenia kissing Arthur before he returns to his own world;
- Arthur learning of the custom that a princess must wait ten lunar months before kissing her chosen husband for the second time;
- Davido attempting to steal the treasure from Archibald, before being captured by the Bogo Matassalai;
- Arthur's Grandmother in the antique dealership prior to them arriving at her home;
- Max telling Selenia about his 7 wives while they are dancing;
- Malthazar confronting Selenia about her engagement to Arthur.
- Selenia teasing Arthur while crawling into the toy car, causing Arthur to gasp at the distracting display.
The entire storyline involving the parents and their greed for money was also deleted, cut short by a small cutscene and a narrator explaining that worrying over their son was all they needed to reform completely.
The British version of the film, also distributed by the Weinstein Company, similarly lacked these scenes.
Arthur and the Invisibles was followed by a 2009 sequel, Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard, based on a novel of the same name, and another sequel in 2010 titled Arthur and The War of the Two Worlds, based on the final book in the series.
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- "Arthur and the Invisibles". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "Arthur and the Invisibles: A film with no shortage of well-known talent makes an awkward transition from live action to animation". Los Angeles Times. 29 December 2006.
- Robert Koehler (21 December 2006). "Arthur and the Invisibles review". Variety.
- Frank Lovece (29 December 2006). "Arthur and the Invisibles review". Film Journal International.
- "Arthur and the Invisibles". Common Sense Media.
- "MOVIE REVIEW: Arthur and the Invisibles". Cinema Blend.
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