DIR: Sarah Smith • WRI: Sarah Smith, Peter Baynham • PRO: Steve Pegram • DOP: Jericca Cleland • ED: John Carnochan, James Cooper • DES: Evgeni Tomov • CAST: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy
Arthur (James McAvoy) is the son of Santa ‘Malcolm’ Claus (Jim Broadbent), who is nearing the end of his 70 year shift as festive gift-giver. But Santa is merely the public figurehead, with the entire operation run with military precision by next-Santa-in-line, Arthur’s older brother Steve (Hugh Laurie). But Arthur is the only one in the family who still brims over with the absolute joy that the season brings, and when a technical oversight sees one child left present-less, Arthur takes it upon himself to ensure that the child’s Christmas isn’t ruined, with the help of his Grand-Santa (Bill Nighy) and a ninja-level wrapping elf (Ashley Jensen).
The entire film takes place on one night, so there is a nice against-the-clock backdrop that keeps up the pace, even as the film flits from the North Pole to Toronto to the Pacific Ocean to Africa and, finally, to England. Aardman Studios keep their trademark look, even as they venture further into solely CGI creations, and while they’re not quite up to Pixar levels in terms of finesse, they surpass in terms of details, with almost every scene having something amusing going on in the background.
The voice cast are great, and the whole ‘Christmas is a time for family coming together’ message is nicely played out without being too cloying. And while the script is peppered with jokes for both adults and kids, there are very few moments of absolute hilarity, more just an overall sense of fun. And once again, the 3D was severely underused and just a way to make more money (which could be a sly joke about the Christmas season itself, come to think of it.) But these are just nit-picks, as chances are young ‘uns will be watching this every Christmas for years to come, wanting to get another behind-the-scenes look at their favourite jolly fat guy.
Rated G (see IFCO website for details)
Arthur Christmas is released on 11th November 2011