How Do They Do It?
4 out of 5 popcorn buckets
Director: Sarah Smith
Writers: Peter Baynham, Sarah Smith
Cast: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Ramona Marquez, Michael Palin, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Cusack
SYNOPSIS: The youngest of two sons of the current Santa Claus finds out that one child has not received a present for Christmas, spurring him on an adventure to deliver that present to her before she wakes up.
REVIEW: What happens when you mix any number of Christmas adventures with the hi-technology of Mission: Impossible? You get the new 3D holiday animation from the minds of writer/director Sarah Smith (TV mini-series Thin Ice) and fellow screenwriter Peter Baynham (Arthur (2011)). Together, they bring a new twist on a holiday tale that revolves around Claus and his family, from The Santa Clause to Fred Claus.
Arthur Claus (voiced by James McAvoy, X-Men: First Class) is the youngest of the Santa Claus children. While Arthur is relegated to responding to Christmas letters, his older brother Steven (voiced by Hugh Laurie, House) runs the yearly operations from the North Pole command center with his father Malcolm (voiced by Jim Broadbent, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), the current Santa Claus, delivering christmas presents around the world with battalions of elves and impressive technology in support. When the latest Christmas Eve is a complete success, except for one wrapped pink bike undelivered to a young girl Gwen (voiced by Ramona Marquez) in a small town in England, Arthu, aided by his Grandsanta (voiced by Bill Nighy, Pirate Radio), goes against his dad, brother and his own phobias in an attempt to deliver the present.
A cross between The Santa Clause and Mission: Impossible, Arthur Christmas delves deep into the mechanics of the festive holiday. Like NASA, Santa Claus is supported by a North Pole mission control center manned by hundreds, if not thousands, of elves. And from the deck of the mammoth S-1 sleigh-craft carrier, complete with holographic camouflage under panels, specialized gift delivery elf battalions repel from the hovering craft into every home that celebrates Christmas. Santa himself is now more of a figurehead than the man who travels the world in one night.
Beyond the technology that the Spirit of Christmas must employ to counter the logistics of the holiday, Arthur Christmas deals with the succession of the man who is Claus. Arthur is filled with the spirit of the season, joyful of who his father is and what Santa Claus means to the waking children around the globe. His brother Steven, on the other hand, has developed and run the Christmas delivery operations for some time and now believes it is his turn to take the reigns over for the Claus vestige and have his father retire. At the other end of the spectrum is Grandsanta who wishes Arthur to learn of simpler ways of handling the Christmas responsibilities without modern technologies and manpower. I am sure most can remember a "In my day,...!" speech.
Arthur Christmas is a wonderful story of the spirit of Christmas, and what the season truly means. Arthur represents the wide-eyed innocence that all of us revel in when we see children opening presents from the Big Red Guy! And as much as the film is touching, it is funny. Just seeing an aging reindeer with a broken antler and an Elizabethan collar hanging its head out the side of a classic Santa's sleigh will make you smile.
Heartfelt and fast-paced, this 3D adventure has what every Christmas film needs to get you in the holiday spirit. Filled with good tidings, and additional cameo voice talent like Joan Cusack, Eva Longoria, Robbie Coltrane and Laura Linny, Arthur Christmas will make your heart three times too big.
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