Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by:Luc Besson
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Chazz Palminteri, Snoop Dogg, David Bowie
Released: January 11, 2007
Grade: B+

Not since The Triplets of Bellville (released here in 2004), have I seen such a distinctive animated film.  Created using a new 3D-style of computer animation, it looks very different from the more traditional animated flicks produced by Pixar and Dreamworks.  As a further positive, this film takes us into a new fantasy world filled with heroes and villains.  That’s right, it doesn’t involve talking animals!

Arthur (Highmore) lives with his grandmother (Farrow) in an old house in a small town.  He puts on a brave face but he wishes he could be with his parents who are off finding work.  To help pass the time, Arthur reads the detailed journals which were written by his grandfather.  They tell the story of his many adventures to places around the globe.  Sadly, Arthur’s grandfather mysteriously disappeared a few years ago.

To make matters worse, the bank intends to sell the house to a wealthy property developer.  Arthur and his grandmother have just 48 hours to come up with money to buy the house themselves.  The situation looks hopeless.

Arthur’s grandfather had written and spoken about a treasure he had hidden in the yard.  The only problem was that he’d forgotten where he’d buried it.  Arthur thinks that if he could find it, there still might be time to save the house.

In one of his books, Arthur’s grandfather had written about the Minimoys.  These tiny people live just below the surface in a world that we never knew existed.  Given their location, Arthur thinks that they may have seen where the treasure is buried.  Using a secret formula and a special telescope, Arthur shrinks himself (to a size smaller than an ant), slips down a hole in the ground and goes in search of treasure.

Arthur And The Invisibles is a very busy film.  Let’s a lot going on and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the pace.  It kept my attention for a solid 90 minutes which is a testament to the well-written screenplay.  Perhaps too much time is spent above surface (as opposed to below in the world of the Minimoys) but if a planned sequel does go ahead, we’ll get to see a lot more of this beautiful fantasy world.

Despite being made in France, the film has been created for an English speaking audience.  Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) and Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby) have been cast in the leading roles and help create the film’s fun, relaxed atmosphere.  A large list of Hollywood stars have leant their voices to the animated characters and they include Madonna, Robert DeNiro, Chazz Palminteri, Hary Keitel and David Bowie.

With an $80m budget, I’d have to think this is the largest animated flick to be made outside of the United States.  It’s nice to see a fresh approach and it looks like the money has been well spent.