GRADE: 4 out of 5
There are many reasons to love ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, it is quite possibly the most original and creative holiday themed adventure movie in recent years. The concepts presented in this movie boldly break down certain traditional mindset, opinions and assumptions about Christmas but it remains true to the legendary spirit of Santa's job which is supposed to be and always will be about sending presents to every single child in the world. This is a no child left behind program from Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman Animations..
Set on Christmas night, the story of Arthur Christmas at last reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child’s question: ‘So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?’ The answer: Santa’s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the heart of the film is a story with the ingredients of a Christmas classic – a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.
I think it's brilliant that the film suggests that there is not just one immortal Santa who's been delivering gifts to kids all around the world since the beginning of time. That Santa is lineage, a dynasty, a job passed down from generation to generation and so there have been many Santas and there have been many Mrs. Claus as well. Out with the old and in with the new, the story has this clash of the old way of delivering gifts versus the new high-tech, advanced, gadgetry, electronic, lean way of doing that same task but it all comes down to the question of which one has the most care, or has everybody gotten too focused on putting themselves in the spotlight instead of making this about the kids.
The design that they have for Steve's military style operation is massive and fascinating, it's like a pentagon in the north pole. They've got hundreds and thousands of elves working constantly on the computers. And then you have the field agent elves moving in stealth mode, delivering gifts, causing the most minimal amount of disturbance. They're reliable, they're smart, they always have a last minute back up plan in case something goes wrong. Excellent line of communication from the headquarter allows each mission to go smoothly. Instead of a sleigh, now they have an enormous space ship that could camouflage itself. Santa is now just a figure head and Steve basically runs the whole show, so that's another concept that I find intriguing and slightly ironic because I'd like to think of it as Aardman Animations' (based in England) silly way of parodying its country's own system with the queen and the Prime Minister.
The characters in ARTHUR CHRISTMAS are very lovable and entertaining, you have Santa voiced by the great Jim Broadbent, Mrs. Claus voiced by the great Imelda Staunton, Steve voiced by Hugh Laurie, grand santa voiced by Bill Nighy and Arthur Christmas voiced by James McAvoy and the scene-stealing gift-wrapping expert elf, voiced by Ashley Jensen. These are brit and scot thesps who are at the top of their game. I especially enjoy McAvoy's high-pitched nervous voice as Arthur, to let you know that you're dealing with bumbling kid who has a good heart but is a bit of a klutz. If there's one thing that I think doesn't work well is that some of the jokes are too adult-centric for kids and younger viewers to understand, and I don't necessarily mean innuendos. The film has smart jokes on literacy, biofuel, and antimatter, we the adults would find those funny and they are funny but I don't think kids no older than 8 would understand how funny they really are. But the film is terrific, the story is heartwarming, you can enjoy ARTHUR CHRISTMAS just the same even if you don't watch it in 3D.. but it's more exciting in 3D.