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ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES (article first published : 2008-01-30)

Madonna, Snoop Dogg and David Bowie in the same movie as Robert De Niro, Mia Farrow and Harvey Keitel Ė all under the direction of talented Frenchman Luc Besson, who gave us Le Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element?

A strange hodgepodge, for sure, but most lend only their vocal talents to Arthur and the Invisibles, this childrenís fantasy based on books penned by Besson.

Itís the story of 10-year-old Arthur (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverlandís Freddie Highmore) who, in a bid to prevent real estate developers from taking the farm of his grandmother (Farrow), sets out to try to save the day by hunting for treasure supposedly hidden by his grandpa, who mysteriously disappeared.

This treasure is apparently somewhere in the land of the Minimoys, tiny creatures, almost resembling a cross breed of Jim Henson Muppets and Japanese animae characters, that live in harmony with nature, unseen by human eyes.

When he enters their world - after solving a series of puzzles to become miniaturised - Arthur also enters the world of animation. And he embarks on an adventure that sees the Minimoys agreeing to help him find his grandfatherís rubies in exchange for his assistance in the fight against the dastardly Maltazard, voiced by Bowie.

Madonnaís voice is lent to a sassy Minimoy warrior called Princess Selenia, De Niro speaks for her father and comic Jimmy Fallon is here lending his voice to the princessís bumbling baby brother, Betameche.

A wizard is brought to life by the voice talents of Keitel and Snoop Dogg voices emaciated Rastafarian Max, who runs a dance club, where a memorable moment involves a fight on a record-player.

The film, which was reportedly originally shot in French, is strikingly animated, but is a little cluttered and, with dialogue delivered at a frantic pace, somewhat frenzied. Itís pleasant enough for little-leaguers, but far from remarkable. Rating 5/10 Ė Billy Suter




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