Arthur and the War of Two Worlds

Another blandly recycled storyline and a denouement that feels rather violent for tykes.

Arthur - Freddie Highmore Rose - Mia Farrow Archibald - Ronald Crawford Armand - Robert Stanton Rose - Penny Balfour Voices: Maltazard - Lou Reed Darkos - Iggy Pop Princess Selenia - Selena Gomez

The notion that all good things come to an end doesn’t really apply to “Arthur and the War of Two Worlds,” the third and final chapter in Luc Besson’s overblown melange of animation, live-action and unappealing kid’s fantasy. Once again featuring the microscopic world of the Invisibles and their cookie-cutter American backyard, this episode shows some improvements on the tech side, with stronger 3D rendering and imagery that’s easier on the eyes. But with another blandly recycled storyline and a denouement that feels rather violent for tykes, EuropaCorp’s €65 million ($91 million) venture may see miniature returns outside its potent local fan base.

While the second part of the trilogy failed to land a U.S. distributor (the first installment was released by the Weinstein Co.), it scored solid numbers in Gaul, raking in close to 4 million admissions and unloading beaucoup DVDs and merchandise afterwards. Although much of the world seemed to tune out of the series after the first film, there are likely enough French children hooked on the fate of Arthur (Freddie Highmore), his elfin damsel-in-distress, Princess Selenia (voiced by Selena Gomez), and their nemesis, Maltazard (Lou Reed) — an evil emperor who dresses in tattered leather bondage wear — that the pic should play well enough in France and Francophone markets.

For those who skipped the first two parts, things kick off with an overcaffeinated highlight reel that attempts to explain where the story has gone thus far. In a nutshell, Maltazard has grown to human proportions and is planning to invade the world above ground, while Arthur is still shrunken and trying to get back to normal size so he can save his grandparents (Mia Farrow, Ronald Crawford) and parents (Robert Stanton, Penny Balfour) from doomsday.

With more live-action portions than the previous films, much of the narrative cuts between Arthur and Selenia as they face an array of miniature obstacles (straight out of the “Toy Story” pics), as well as Maltazard’s efforts to disguise himself as a magician, make his way into Arthur’s home and retrieve a potion to summon up his underground warriors. Soon giant killer mosquitoes are attacking the neighboring town in a rather brutal scene (straight out of “The Birds”) that eventually leads to a massive, pyrotechnic-heavy battle against both Arthur and the U.S. Army.

As in the rest of the series, there’s little here that’s feels either original or enjoyable, with lots of stock ’60s settings (including a retrofitted McDonald’s) and overanxious characters that fail to create a mythical universe one can actually invest in. At the very least, writer-director-producer Besson isn’t afraid to do whatever he wants with the production’s sizable budget, such as casting rock legends Reed and Iggy Pop (as Maltazard’s tormented son, Darkos) to amusingly voice a pair of creatures who spend more time kvetching than they do wreaking havoc, or offering a bizarre homage to “Star Wars” in the form of an encounter with a young George Lucas body double.

If the head-swirling CGI in the first “Arthur” made the screen look as if it were being assaulted by Skittles, the 3D animated sequences (by Gallic f/x house BUF) in this episode are more skillfully rendered, with a chase scene set on a model train serving as the series’ probable highlight. Pic’s many outdoor settings also give vet d.p. Thierry Arbogast the chance to work with more naturalistic light and a softer color palette than the one used for the Invisibles’ gaudy underground lair.

Score by Besson regular Eric Serra is fitfully bombastic and unsparingly used. Punk fans may want to stick around for the closing credits, which offer the rare opportunity to hear Iggy Pop, backed by a band of metal-geared mutants, perform a cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.”

Arthur and the War of Two Worlds

Animated/Live-Action - France

Production: A EuropaCorp Distribution release of a EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Prod., Apipoulai Prod., Avalanche Prods. production, in association with Sofica EuropaCorp, with participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: EuropaCorp, Paris.) Produced, directed, written by Luc Besson, based on the film "Arthur and the Invisibles" written by Besson, Celine Garcia, from a universe created by Patrice Garcia.

Crew: Camera (color, Panavision widescreen), Thierry Arbogast; editor, Julien Rey; music, Eric Serra; production designer, Hugues Tissandier; costume designer, Olivier Beriot; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS), Martin Boissau; sound designers, Guillaume Bouchateau, Alexis Place; re-recording mixer, Didier Lozahic; special effects supervisor, Stephane Naze; visual effects supervisor, Anthony Lyant; animation director, Yann Avenati; 3D director, Pierre Buffin; 3D animation, BUF; line producer, Camille Courau; associate producer, Emmanuel Prevost; assistant director, Stephane Gluck; casting, Todd Thaler, Gale Stevens, Swan Pham. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles 6, Paris, Oct 13, 2010. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: Arthur - Freddie Highmore Rose - Mia Farrow Archibald - Ronald Crawford Armand - Robert Stanton Rose - Penny Balfour Voices: Maltazard - Lou Reed Darkos - Iggy Pop Princess Selenia - Selena GomezEnglish dialogue

More Film

  • Lion King merchandise

    'The Lion King': Disney Targets Nostalgic Adults With High-End Merchandise

    Does Nala wear lipstick? Probably not, but “Lion King” fans can celebrate the release of the live-action remake with a new line of makeup that’s part of a whole pride of other items themed to Disney’s live action redo. For about $40, the Can’t Wait to Be Queen eyeshadow palette by Luminess Cosmetics includes shades [...]

  • 'Cats' Movie Trailer: Watch Taylor Swift,

    'Cats' Trailer Drops: Watch Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson in Movie Musical

    Universal has released the first trailer for its film adaptation of the Broadway play, “Cats,” starring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and James Corden. Based on the book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot, the musical follows the Jellicle cats, a family of felines who go before the group’s leader Old Deuteronomy to [...]

  • Yvonne StrahovskiCritics' Choice Awards, Arrivals, Los

    'Handmaid's Tale's' Yvonne Strahovski Joins Chris Pratt in 'Ghost Draft' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “The Handmaid’s Tale” star Yvonne Strahovski is in negotiations to join Chris Pratt in Skydance’s sci-fi pic “Ghost Draft,” sources tell Variety. “Lego Batman’s” Chris McKay is attached to direct. “Ghost Draft,” written by Zach Dean, is about a man drafted to fight in a future war where the fate of humanity relies on his [...]

  • Dreamville Dreamers doc

    J. Cole's Watchful Eye, All-Nighters and Weed: Inside Dreamville's 'Revenge' Doc

    Having the No. 1 project in the country is old hat for J. Cole, but the instant success of Dreamville’s highly-anticipated “Revenge of the Dreamers III” collection, which features collaborations with more than 25 artists, writers and producers (among them: Cozz, Omen, Bas, J.I.D., EarthGang and Ari Lennox), took many by surprise. The first installment [...]

  • The True Adventures of Wolfboy

    Karlovy Vary Film Review: 'The True Adventures of Wolfboy'

    Most teenage boys would kill for a few whiskers, but not Paul. At 13, he already has a full face of hair, and his peers treat him like a freak for it. So, too, does Martin Krejčí’s “The True Adventures of Wolfboy,” although the movie argues that perhaps being a freak isn’t such a bad [...]

  • 'Top Gun: Maverick' Trailer: Tom Cruise

    Tom Cruise Drops First Trailer for 'Top Gun: Maverick' at Comic-Con (Watch)

    Tom Cruise made a surprise appearance at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday to hype the forthcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” and receive mass adoration from Hall H. “I felt it was my responsibility to deliver for you,” Cruise told the crowd, tugging local heartstrings by reminiscing on the original “Top Gun” shoot in Downtown San Diego. [...]

  • Tribeca Film Institute

    Tribeca Film Institute, Pond5 Announce Latest Indie Film Grantees (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and Pond5 have once again teamed up to offer microgrants to indie filmmakers and artists. The grants, which go as high as $7,500, are intended to help storytellers during “in-between” phases of their projects, such as research, festival travel or community screenings. They’re the kind of unexpected costs that can lead [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content