Arthur (Freddie Highmore) is a young, 10-year old boy who spends his time living at his grandmother’s country home and dreaming of the fantastic adventures his grandfather supposedly had. One such tale involved his grandfather helping to transplant a civilization of tiny, fairy-like folk called the Minimoys to the backyard garden and of an amazing treasure hidden somewhere in the yard. When Arthur learns that his grandmother (Mia Farrow) owes money to an unscrupulous land developer, he begins searching for his grandfather’s treasure and unexpectedly finds himself magically transported to the minimoys world where he finds that to retrieve the treasure he must stop the evil Maltazard (voice of David Bowie) from destroying the village of the minimoys.
Arthur And The Invisibles is a project producer Luc Besson has long been developing and talking about making for years. The film is as an imaginative and frenetic as Besson’s 1997 science-fiction actioner The Fifth Element. A mishmash of elements including magical swords, quests for fantastic treasures and spunky princesses, Arthur And The Invisibles owes a debt to numerous films that have come before it from The Wizard Of Oz (1939) to The Goonies (1985). Unfortunately, this potpourri never gels into its own movie. Instead, it bounces from scene to scene, influence to influence, never allowing the diverse elements to work together to form something unique.
Perhaps due to the Frankenstein nature of the film’s influences, tonally, the film never seems to find itself. While the film presents itself as a family adventure film of the type that Disney doesn’t make anymore, it still feels the need to crowbar inappropriate and unfunny comic moments into the narrative that only succeed in stopping the movie dead in its tracks. Logic flies out the window for the sake of an attempted laugh too. In one action scene in a nightclub uses many modern day songs spun by the club’s DJ as part of the action even though the movie is firmly set in the late 1950s.
Arthur And The Invisibles is ultimately the victim of its own excesses. A hodgepodge of elements thrown into a cinematic blender set on puree, the movie never manages to exhilarate, only exhaust.