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Arthur Claus (James McAvoy) is the bumbling son of the reigning Santa,
Malcolm Claus (Jim Broadbent). Arthur is relegated to the Letter
Department where he can presumably do no damage. Arthur's brother Steve
(Hugh Laurie) is the heir apparent to the title of Santa. Steve is
handsome, confident, and in charge of the North Pole command center
that monitors Santa's gift-giving flight around the world. The film
opens with a bravura set piece showing how Santa is able to stop in
millions of homes in one night. Hint: he has the help of thousands of
When Arthur discovers that one gift was accidentally undelivered, he becomes determined to get it to the unfortunate girl before Christmas sunrise. Even with the help of his retired grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and a perky elf (Ashley Jensen) from the Wrapping Department, can Arthur travel around the world in time?
There have been many movies over the years where Christmas must be saved from disaster, but Arthur Christmas has a very creative take on it. From the opening scene where it's established that Santa is really a dynasty through the centuries, a title handed down from father to son, to the paramilitary operation to get millions of presents delivered in one night, to the misadventures of Arthur and his grandsanta as they try to make sure one little girl is not disappointed, Arthur Christmas is fun, creative, and original. Produced by Aardman Animations in association with Sony Pictures Animation, this CGI animated film delivers Aardman's distinct brand of quirky humor and style.
The art direction maintains the slightly skewed look of an Aardman claymation film. The character designs are asymmetric and the surface textures are realistic yet bold. The North Pole command center and Santa's high-tech sleigh are clean and modern.
Sometimes celebrity voice talent backfires, but here it works beautifully, the English accents lending a sense of gravity that heightens the silliness. Bill Nighy is particularly good, conveying wisdom that is tinged with resentment of the modern gift-delivery methods his son and grandson use.
Arthur Christmas is a funny, heartwarming, and poignant look at the Santa Claus mythos, adding a family dynamic that will resonate with children and adults. I expect Arthur Christmas will become a joyful holiday favorite for years to come.
Christmas is a great time of the year. The whole family comes together,
children are excited, and joy fills the air. What better way to spend
the festive season than seeing a family Christmas movie with your loved
ones? Now, Aardman Animations has given us a very joyous movie that
should be a Christmas classic for years to come.
Over the years, because of the world's expanding population, Santa Claus' Christmas Night deliveries has become a high-tech military operation, involving thousands of elves and a giant aircraft. Santa Claus' son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), runs logistics and intelligence in the North Pole and is set to become the next Santa Claus. His younger brother, Arthur (James McAvoy), is a very passionate young man who loves the spirit of Christmas, but is a bit of a klutz. Arthur is kept in the mail room to handle all of Santa's letters.
The Christmas delivery seems to be a big success, so much so that Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) postpones his retirement, much to Steve's annoyance. But the worst thing imaginable has happened, a child has been missed. Steve refuses to delivers one bike because the margin of error was too small, so Arthur and his grandfather (Bill Nighy), who wants to show the old techniques still work, and the dedicated elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) set out to ensure that one little girl is not the child Santa forgot. But their ambitions result in an adventure around the world as this band of misfits save Christmas for one child.
Like Pixar, Aardman believes that story and character have to come first and they make movies for children and adults alike. The movie is funny throughout, with plenty of the verbal jokes that children and adults will enjoy as well as some really well done physical humour and some slapstick. But this is a movie that understands children and what they want. The premise is simple, but the writing is strong and clever throughout the whole film and there are little touches that give Arthur Christmas that Aardman feel, from the pictures of the previous Santas to Steve's Christmas Tree goatee. Christmas is an exciting time for children and Arthur Christmas is just such a good-natured, fun movie that delivers on that spirit.
Some elements of Arthur Christmas are similar to Elf, mainly that Arthur is a big kid like Buddy who believes in the magic of Christmas. He is also a guy who does not quite fit in the North Pole and given a job that keeps him out of trouble. The score by Harry Gregson-Williams is very much like the score in Elf, particularly the choir, which sounds identical.
This is a cliché, but Arthur Christmas follows the old Hollywood maxim of "you make them laugh, you make them cry." It was filled with colourful, likable characters throughout that you will end up caring for despite their faults and expertly played by a top notch voice cast. I left the cinema with a massive smile on my face.
I want to give this a 7, but its originality boosts it to an 8.
The story is predictable, but fun, but the tri-planar nature (Father-Father-Son) of the piece with off shoots of wife, mother, brother and friend, mean this is truly a film about a family Christmas.
Nothing unexpected happens, but I found myself laughing and egging Arthur on all the way! A film that succeeds in entertaining children and, in making the older viewers feel the onset of rosy and sometimes, emotional family nostalgia.
A more original plot may have blunted the message, but would also have engaged my brain.
Regardless, well done! A good Christmas film to add to the ranks.
Arthur Christmas is one of those animated films that throws too much
craziness throughout the adventure and ends with a powerful
heartwarming twist. There is an animated film just released this year
and last year that is really similar to the storyline of
this(Despicable Me and Mars Needs Moms). The plot is too simple but the
whole matter goes to the heart and the comedy because it's a family
movie. It works well enough but it could have been better if the
adventure is quite interesting and less mediocre. It's also good as a
Christmas movie. It has the true heart of the holiday. Arthur Christmas
might be one of the best holiday films I've seen this year so far.
Arthur Christmas is a futuristic turn to the life's work of Santa Claus. It's a great concept. From sleigh and reindeers to a flying ship. But the whole story belongs to Santa's son, Arthur. His heart really shines the very small plot and makes it bigger. It's disappointing in the second act though. It relies to nothing but throwing all the gags they could give. GrandSanta keeps going to the wrong way and do something crazy all around the world. It feels mediocre and extraneous. But it can be pretty fun though. The third act saves most of the film. Bringing back the true heart and spirit of Christmas.
The characters are fun. No wonder, this is Aardman and they always have great character development. The CGI is really solid. It's not clay animation nor a CGI animation that tries to look like stop motion. It's just solid. The score keeps the spirits up. The performances were great. James McAvoy makes Arthur a one lovable dork. We loved it. Hugh Laurie and Jim Broadbent are both delightful and Bill Nighy nearly steals the show. He has the best gags. Grandsanta's loyalty to his generation and his crazy antics. The rest of the cast are also fun.
Saddest thing about Aardman, most of their movies (besides of Chicken Rush and Wallace and Gromit) ends up being forgettable even though they are pretty good and imaginative. And it looks like Arthur Christmas didn't do well in the box office. Well, I strongly recommend Arthur Christmas this Holiday. It's a perfect Christmas movie to watch this year. The second act may be crazy and mediocre but the film ends beautifully. Then there, I saw this in 3D, it ends giving me a smile in my face, ran away when the song in the end credits started, and is happy.
This was the best kind of family movie -- fast-paced, lots of fun,
entertaining for elementary age, middle schoolers, and parents, and
with NO bad words or sexual innuendo.
We loved Arthur, Bryony, and Grandsanta especially, as they were the most developed and important characters, and as a mom I appreciated the morals of this story -- every single person matters, never give up, and sometimes old-school is better. Plus, technology is still good and yes, customer service and people skills do matter!
I loved it, my husband loved it and our 8 and 11 year olds loved it. We saw it in 3D that mostly felt 2D, so the 3D in this one didn't pop for us (like it did in Puss in Boots) but maybe it was just nicely subtle -- sometimes the attempt to make things come of the screen is over the top. But I don't remember ANYTHING coming at us this time, so this is probably just as good in 2D.
Bottom line: very enjoyable, good messages, lots of twists and fun humor ... Definitely worth seeing and owning!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The "test" of a film like this is whether you can just let go and enjoy
it, or whether you are constantly feeling the presence of the writers
or directors trying to push you or pull you.... I was delightfully
surprised because this little treat was not released by a major player
with all kinds of fanfare and expectations, it seemed designed as a
simple holiday staple from the getgo, yet the writing and the animation
were as good as or better than any of the big league stuff. This film
is more fun than a barrel of hammers and in my view can (and should) be
watched anytime of year by children of all ages, which includes
updated review ... unappreciated film ... and I know why
After first watching, I felt compelled to revisit Arthur Christmas again, and then again, and just finished my 4th go. The IMDb score is much too low and I know why. This is one of those very rare films where the creators put so much care and effort into the production that you cannot appreciate it all first time around. The dialog, the action is simply too quick. Fourth time around I was on the floor laughing at lines I had missed the first three times. There is more attention to detail in the closing credits than in many B-grade "thrillers" being churned out today. I believe this is not only one of the best animations ever done (in terms of script and execution) but also one of the best X-mas stories ever done. It deserves to be considered a classic. Maybe a new generation will notice it and give it the respect it deserves.
As a fan of Aardman ever since Wallace and Gromit, I was interested from the get go into seeing Arthur Christmas. Apart from it dragging slightly in the middle, Arthur Christmas was a wonderful film. The animation is absolutely breathtaking, it is all very colourful and beautifully modelled, and the soundtrack is so rousing it makes you want to get out your favourite Christmas Carols/Songs CD and sing along afterwards. The script is mostly witty, if more amusing than laugh-out-loud funny, and the story has a lot of charm and heart to it. The three best assets were the terrific characters, Arthur in particular, makes such a big impression with his likability and his wonderful jumper and I hope to see more of him in the future, the voice cast with a spirited James McAvoy, a jovial Jim Broadbent and a truly inspired Bill Nighy and the real sense of occasion, watching this movie you actually feel that it's Christmas. All in all, colourful and entertaining, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 9/10 Bethany Cox
Old Santa (Jim Broadbent) with his sons, Arthur (James McAvoy) and
Steve (Hugh Laurie), silently witness the magic of Christmas morning,
as their animated faces fill with wonder in "Arthur Christmas". My eyes
welled, as Director and Writer Sarah Smith touchingly and whimsically
reminds us that the world works when no one is left out, and they know
this. Sony Animation's "Arthur Christmas" is visually amazing. I did
not see it in 3D, and I thought it was great. It is the heartwarming
and hysterical screenplay by Smith and Peter Baynham that lives and
breathes in "Arthur Christmas".
So how does Santa Claus deliver all those presents on Christmas Eve, so every child in the world can open their gifts Christmas morning? This generation of Santa is advanced technology and complex mission operations leveraging GPS and NORAD databases. No kidding. Santa commands the helm of S1, a Star Trek Enterprise-like ship that also cloaks as the Christmas night sky. The Elves go all Tom Cruise- Mission Impossible executing Special Forces synchronization delivering the presents in the designated drop zones. Smith directs the animated chaos with excitement and precision. Leading the Mission Operation from Mission Control North Poleamazing ice citadel of Elves and flat screens, is older brother Steve, (Hugh Laurie, brilliantly confident on the verge of pompous). Old-school and misunderstood nerd younger brother Arthur (gentle and passionate James McAvoy), intervenes the operation with handwritten letters to Santa, "I just want everything to be perfect!" All heart Arthur personally writes back all of the 2 billion children, who write letters to Santa. To his soul, Arthur believes that Santa is the greatest man in the world.
After celebrating this Santa's 70th mission, gift wrapping Elf Master Bryony (great and spirited Ashley Jensen) discovers an undelivered gifta child was missed! This is the pink bicycle sweet little Gwen requested from Santa. Arthur had assured Gwen (precious Ramona Marquez) that Santa exists and gave his word that she will be remembered on Christmas. From Steve's perspective that is a 10 sigma error, within the parameters of mission success. Steve brazenly believes he is heir apparent to Dad. Santa (Broadbent) over the years, is the jovial old man reduced to figure head, also perhaps lapsing into Alzheimer's. He is content to spend quality time with Mrs. Santa (sensible Imelda Staunton) following the mission.
Arthur enrolls the help of Grandsanta (crotchety Bill Nighy), because Gwen must wake up Christmas morning with her bike. Be careful what you wish for. Grandsanta goes really Old School, dusting off the Sleigh and the reindeer. And Arthur is reluctantly along for the ride with stowaway Bryony. Every gift must be wrapped. Obviously, all does not proceed as planned particularly without GPS navigation. The animated flight and visuals are seamless and fun. However, Grandsanta's action is all about making others wrong. Arthur's spirit is tested, but for him it is always about bringing joy to a little girl on Christmas morning. He is the selfless noble soul, who gets that it doesn't matter who delivers the gift. It's about love. "Arthur Christmas" is touching, funny, and gets it right.
Bringing an unconventional twist to the 2011 holiday season is
Aardman's 'Arthur Christmas', re-imagining Santa's Christmas operation
as a high-tech mission, his wife and two sons employed in delivering
the festive season successfully. While his eldest, Steve, handles the
reigns in the North Pole headquarters, young Arthur is left responding
to the many letters received from children around the world; that is,
until a present is mistakenly undelivered.
'Arthur Christmas' has visual, slapstick, adult humour - you name it, they've got it - from start to finish, relentless throughout save for moments of dialogue which Aardman were wise to have cherished (as opposed to a shoehorned joke in their place). The visuals may not be a technical marvel, but the images they depict are; the opening sequence alone manages to evoke the classic 'twist on a world' that is a staple of the standard Pixar feature.
The emotion is pitch-perfect, a subplot detailing the family rivalries that threaten to draw attention away from their annual responsibilities. The film itself is never distressing or upsetting; the character conflicts and their resolution are purely organic, resulting in story progression that truly does feel like the natural course for these characters to take.
Arthur Christmas is more than just pedestrian Christmas fare; it will, in future, become a wonderful companion to classics such as 'Muppets Christmas Carol'.
"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a
thunderstorm, and we all go through it together." Garrison Keillor
Where I live, too many Christmas Carol adaptations take the place of imaginative theater productions that could celebrate the holidays without the requisite Scrooge redemption. Arthur Christmas is a refreshing new take on the countless Santa stories, notwithstanding my favorite: Bad Santa, which satisfies my need for the new and irreverent.
Arthur (James McAvoy) is one of Santa's two sons, a bungler with a big heart. He takes it on his own to bring a present to the one girl in all the land whose present was not delivered. His technocrat brother, Steve (Hugh Laurie), has been responsible for the mis-delivery, although his array of laptops for elves and computerized delivery system is impressive. The head versus the heart forms the central conflict, providing laughs and groans but never in a mean way as in Bad Santa.
Aardman CG works its animation magic to create big-nosed, elongated-faced characters like GrandSanta (Bill Nighy), Santa (Jim Broadbent), and Mrs. Santa (Imelda Staunton), all of whom are fleshed out as loving characters with quirks just right for their roles.
In regard to developing character, Aardman goes nose to nose with Pixar. The use of 3-D is unobtrusive as it is in Martin Scorsese's Hugo with the process useful to give flights of the sleighs a grand feel, swooping in and out of perspective. Yet, in the end, regardless of the jazzy visuals, it's a lovely and exciting story for the holidays. As soon as the younger audience adjusts to the Brit accents, and that doesn't take long, they will enjoy the high spirits, good will, dry humor, and imagination they deserve and should expect from the masters of unique animation.
It's wonderful filmmaking that touches the heart with affectionate Brit humor.
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