on 15 December 2014
ARTHUR AND THE GREAT ADVENTURE  [Blu-ray] Family Fantasy Hits The Spot!
When Arthur uncovers a distress call sent from Minimoys, the invisible people who live in his own back yard, he knows that once again, he must embark on a great adventure to battle against the evil Maltazard and save Princess Selenia. Little does he know that this is an evil trick by his arch nemesis to reverse the magic of transformation to become a giant when Arthur passes into the Minimoy's world. Now at less than half an inch tall, Arthur must save his own world from a giant evil Maltazard. Will this little hero have what it takes? Acclaimed and visionary director Luc Besson, in the follow up to Arthur and The Invisibles, brings us this brilliant, live action, computer animated, family adventure, starring Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow and Selena Gomez with Jimmy Fallon, Snoop Dogg, Will.i.am, Fergie [Black Eyed Peas], Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. ‘Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard’ (Original French Title).
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Logan Miller, Penny Balfour, Robert Stanton, Ron Crawford, Jean Bejote Njamba, Matthew Gonder, Laurent Mendy and Alan Fairbairn
Voice Cast: Selena Gomez, Jimmy Fallon, Snoop Dogg, Fergie, Omar Sy, Will.i.am, Lou Reed, Jean-Paul Rouve, Gérard Darmon, Paul Bandey, Mylène Farmer, David Gasman, Barbara Scaff, Michel Duchaussoy, Doug Rand, Fred Testot, Jacques Frantz, Cartman, Saïd Amadis, Bernard Alane, Allan Wenger, Leslie Clack, Jerry Di Giacomo and Rohff
Director: Luc Besson
Producers: Luc Besson, Emmanuel Prévost and Stéphane Lecomte
Screenplay: Céline Garcia (characters), Luc Besson (characters) and Patrice Garcia (characters and universe)
Composer: Eric Serra
Cinematography: Thierry Arbogast
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 107 minutes
Number of discs: 1
Region: Region B/2
Studio: Entertainment Films
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: This is nicely acted and Luc Besson deserves some sort of award for casting Lou Reed and Iggy Pop as its villains. Co-written and directed by Luc Besson, Arthur and the Great Adventure is the sequel to 2006's part animation, part live action Arthur and the Invisibles, though it actually combines both the 2nd and 3rd films in the series ‘Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard’ and ‘Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds.’ Arthur [Freddie Highmore], who doesn't seem to have aged at all, is excited to return to the animated land of the Minimoys, but horrified when his father [Robert Stanton] announces that they will shortly be leaving his grandmother's [Mia Farrow] house.
Beginning life in 2007 with ‘Arthur and The Invisibles,’ which at that time, was the most expensive French production in history, the third entry in this children’s animated series (co-created and directed by Luc Besson) comes to Blu-ray. A mixture of live-action and computer animation, this is the tale of a young boy called Arthur [Freddie Highmore] who yet again finds himself teaming up with his mystical friends, The Minimoys. They are little elf-like creatures who live in the woods, and this time around, the two worlds collide as villain Maltazard escapes from his miniature surroundings with a potion which enables him to grow to human size. Arthur calls on the help of his friends Replay and Snow and they too, venture to the outside world in an attempt to stop Maltazard.
With elements of ‘The Borrowers’ and ‘A Bug’s Life,’ ‘Arthur and the Great Adventure’ which is also, rather confusingly, billed as ‘Arthur 3: the War of the Two Worlds,’ state-side, will certainly appeal to many kids out there, but unlike the recent critical and commercial hits to stem from both DreamWorks Animation and Disney/PIXAR, apart from a witty little homage to ‘Star Wars,’ there is little here to engage an adult audience. Everything is pitched at a child-like level, and many of the flesh and blood grown-up cast give extremely broad and irritatingly OTT performances, even for a children’s film. Once again, it’s left to the computer artists to do their best to create a world of wonder, and for the most part, they do an admirable job.
The CGI characters integration into the real world is surprisingly impressive and definitely has that wow factor, particularly the now-huge and imposing Maltazard (voiced by a less-than-enthusiastic Lou Reed of all people!) whose interaction with both Arthur’s family and the broader human world is as flawless and believable as the crustacean-like aliens in District 9. Highmore (last seen as a young Nigel Slater in the small-screen adaptation of his biography, Toast) once again plays both the live-action and Minimoy-ied Arthur, a transformation achieved by a magic telescope, and gives a pretty likable performance in each world.
There’s little here to suggest Luc Besson’s directorial imprint on the material, although Maltazard visage resembles a slimmed-down version of Zorg’s canine-looking henchmen in the director’s intergalactic yard, ‘The Fifth Element,’ but many of the action scenes, both in the digital and real world, have an exciting, cinematic flair to them and the live-action sequences, set in a nondescript, small-town 1960’s America, are imbued with a crisp, nostalgic gleam and a vision palette that appears to be a precursor to Luc Besson’s recent big-screen release, ‘The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec.’
Although ‘Arthur and the Great Adventure’ is extremely unlikely to give PIXAR, Lasseter and Company any sleepless nights, there’s enough imagination on display here to keep kids entertained, although with a running time of over 100 minutes, it may test the patience of a very young audience, but still these films are not always mainly aimed at youngsters, the whole family can indulge and enjoy this film very much. The biggest fascination thereafter is in trying to guess how Luc Besson was able to lure actors of the quality of Freddie Highmore [who I thought was totally out of his depth and a totally useless actor and Mia Farrow to the project, as well as a voice cast packed full of music pop icons.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The film ‘Arthur and The Great Adventure’ is presented in the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and the stunning 1080p encoded anamorphic image that is enhanced for widescreen televisions is awesome. With only a couple of exceptions, sharpness is stunning in these films, and the colour saturation is gorgeous. The live action sequences are also wonderfully realised in terms of sharpness, colour and flesh tone accuracy, and black levels. The animated sequences reveal no banding, and overall, the results are simply splendid. The film looked like a 3D presentation, but of course the transfers is only 2D, of course. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Is as good as the soundtracks on any PIXAR or DreamWorks CGI film on Blu-ray, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track is reference quality all the way. There are wonderful pans, swoops, and zooms across and through the sound field, and the music has a terrific resonance throughout the film. Bass levels are quite deep and most impressive. Dialogue shows up clearly in the centre channel. So all in all, this is top notch quality surround sound that at times will make you duck, thinking the animals and insects have invaded your lounge.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [2.35:1] [00:30] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘Arthur & The Great Adventure.’
Sneak Peaks: Space Chips 2: Zartog Strikes Back; Animals Unlimited in 3D and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Finally, it’s a colourful and highly imaginative milieu, with plenty of amusing touches, which grow into witty-in-jokes, like Arthur’s untamed hair in his micro-form being such a turn-on for Minimoy girls, while Luc Besson’s decidedly cine-literate approach to such obvious children’s entertainment boasts a surplus of both content and style likely to appeal to parents and film buffs in general. It’s a cliché to claim that a “family film” has “something for everyone” but, in this case, that’s very probably true. Honest! If you enjoyed the fantasy and adventure of those otherworldly micro-verse realms, as depicted in digital-animation films like ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’ and ‘A Bugs Life,’ then Luc Besson’s magical ‘Arthur and The Great Adventure’ film should appeal, especially as its humour skilfully avoids the sentimentally of a typical Disney product and a PIXAR free mentality. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom