Having hit cinemas just over a year ago, Aardman’s first venture into computer animation after established stop motion success is rather exciting, especially for its audience.
Released just in time for Christmas, Arthur Christmas is the type of film families can watch annually, as they do with other classics such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Home Alone and The Muppets Christmas Carol. But here, as is the way with Aardman’s filmography, it has a wide appeal spanning, kids, families and indeed adults.
The style of their CGI animation is still as unique as ever. Charming and beautiful: the dedication and attention to detail is clear, which is positively accentuated on Blu-ray. From start to finish it looks the part and, coupled with a pleasant, whimsical story, is a very satisfying festive treat.
Obviously this is a movie that is only really applicable for viewing between the months of November and December. It’s specifically a Christmas story that focuses on Santa’s (Jim Broadbent) youngest son, Arthur (James McAvoy). It addresses the magical questions such as what really happens at the North Pole? and the classic how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night? And it’s all conveyed rather amusingly within the hierarchy of the family and how power and authority is delegated. As the story unravels, it becomes pretty clear that, in order to save Christmas and prove his worth, Arthur must take the initiative and show his value to both his Pops, rival Steve (Hugh Laurie), as well as other family members that include doddery Grandsanta (Bill Nighy).
The film, in its entirety, is rather funny with some subtle as well as not-so-subtle humour that makes it a hugely enjoyable movie. Perfect Christmas fodder, too, Arthur Christmas has an impressive voice cast that includes Imelda Staunton, Michael Palin, Eva Longoria, Robbie Coltraine, Joan Cusack and Rhys Darby. The actors behind the animation do a great job of bringing the story to life, affirming itself as one of Aardman’s better films (below Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but higher than The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!).
Overall, it is a good transition, as the animation is sweet, likeable and visually striking. It’s not quite as unique as its stop motion, which bodes a genuine standout quality, but it more than suffices as a bold, colourful and beautifully rendered CGI film, with a consistently high level of plotting, story, animation, action and acting.
Make sure you see it this Christmas.