‘Arthur Christmas’ Review
A well-meaning and innocent Christmas adventure that feels familiar but fun.
Christmas movies are usually a mixed bag from Hollywood but there’s one animated movie almost every year that tries to tell a story about the holiday in hopes to become the new Christmas tradition like ‘Polar Express’ did. ‘Arthur Christmas’, however, doesn’t have such lofty goals. It’s an earnest and well-spirited Christmas film that’s fun and has an uplifting story to tell even if we’ve had the moral before. But it does it better than most films of its kind do.
Ever wondered how Santa delivers all his gifts for Christmas in one night? The film answers a high-tech answer to the question – it’s all thanks to his army of elves operating a high-flying operation in the North Pole to deliver the shipments before the morning dawns. But Santa’s family is a dysfunctional one with the dorky son Arthur and the more commanding son Steve who is a shoe-in for replacing his father as the next Santa when he retires. But when Santa misses a gift for a little girl, Arthur decides to make a journey to deliver this important gift before it’s morning.
The obvious high concept hook the movie sells itself on is the sci-fi spin on how Santa really delivers his gifts – through a spaceship and an army of elves working round the clock on Christmas day. But the first few minutes of the film are mundane even when we see all the gadgetry that’s involved in the mission by Santa. It’s just one overdone action sequence that runs a little too long and begins to feel aimless. So it can’t be said that the film takes off very early itself.
However, something happens right after the first fifteen minutes or so that adds a great new twist to the story. In all the hurry, Santa forgot to deliver a pink bicycle to a little girl but thinks nothing of it. But our dorky little hero Arthur just can’t put that around his head and believes that the girl will feel so left out to know that everyone in the world got a gift other than her. It’s in that one line that we learn more about Arthur and why he’s really adamant on delivering this gift than any other. It’s a beautiful plot twist that kick-starts his adventure to head down outside with his grandfather on the good old traditional sleigh and deliver this gift to the girl before the sun is up. The goal is such an uplifting and disarmingly innocent one that the audience can’t help but root for the little guy in his selfless quest for justice.
From here on out, the adventure is a fun ride for the audiences and children are bound to be entertained. There are a lot of chase scenes that look great in 3D and obstacles along the way that only make the proceeds more gripping to watch. It has some hilarious moments thanks to some memorable supporting characters including an elf that they bring along for the ride. Of course, the journey in itself isn’t particularly original and that’s where the film somewhat falters. It just feels very familiar and something not too different to what we’ve been seeing in other films. Its this that unfortunately might end up making the film fade out in time from audiences’ minds simply because there isn’t enough strikingly different here to register.
If you’re looking for a well-meaning and innocent Christmas adventure, you could do a whole lot worse than ‘Arthur Christmas’. It has heart and a charming sense of fun which easily compensates for it’s sense of familiarity. It might not become a new Christmas classic, but that doesn’t stop it from being a recommended watch come holiday season.