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Laramie Movie Scope:
Arthur and the Invisibles: The Minimoy Trilogy

Like Epic, but not as good

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 7, 2021 – I managed to snag a free blu-ray disk of two of the three Arthur and the Minimoys movies a couple of years ago, and I finally got around to watching them last week. There are three movies in this action comedy series which combine live action and animation: Arthur and the Minimoys (2006) Arthur and the Invisibles (2007) and Arthur 3 the War of the Two Worlds (2010). More on the various alternate titles for these films below.

I watched Arthur and the Minimoys on YouTube, where it streams for free, with ads. All three movies can be streamed for free on Vudu. I watched the last two movies in the series on the blu-ray disk I already had (both movies on one disk). The movies are based on the 2002 children's book Arthur and the Minimoys, written by Céline Garcia.

There are also alternate titles for these films. Sometimes the first film (originally released in France as Arthur et les Minimoys) is titled “Arthur and the Invisibles,” while the second and third films are sometimes titled “Arthur and the Invisibles 2 and 3, the New Minimoy Adventures” (these are the titles that actually appear on my blu-ray disk). The second film is sometimes titled, “Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard”). If you look up “Arthur and the Minimoys” on IMDB, you will find a TV series of the same name instead of the movie, which is listed under the “Arthur and the Invisibles” title instead. On Amazon, for instance, you can buy a three pack of the trilogy dubbed in German which is titled “Arthur und die Minimoys 1-3.” Problems I encountered tracking down information on this film series arose in part from the fact that although the series is set in America, it was produced and filmed in Europe under various titles, in different languages.

In addition to the various titles, there are also differences in actual film content between the French and English versions, although the YouTube version of the first film I recently watched did include restored scenes that were cut by the Weinstein Company for the British and American theatrical versions of the film.

The films certainly have an interesting cast, featuring David Bowie, Lou Reed, Selena Gomez, Madonna, Iggy Pop, Mia Farrow, Jimmy Fallon, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Chazz Palminteri, Snoop Dogg, Freddie Highmore of “Finding Neverland” and Jason Bateman (the voice cast changed over time, and was different for the various spoken languages in various releases). Luc Beeson directed all three films, although he reportedly said the first one would be his last film. He, of course, changed his mind, and went on to direct more films, including “Lucy” (2014) which is his biggest commercial success to date.

Freddie Highmore and Mia Farrow are among the actors who appear in the live action sequences, mainly on a bucolic farm setting in Connecticut, where Arthur (Highmore) and his grandmother (Farrow) are living. The time period appears to be in the 1950s, or early 1960s, since all the cars, sets and appliances appear to be of that era. There is also a distinct European tinge to everything, given the filming location in France, and the accents of some of the cast.

Arthur's grandfather has disappeared under mysterious circumstances related to the hidden, miniature world of the Minimoys, who live in a garden near the house. The Minimoys, the garden, and nearby forest are guarded by a mysterious group of African tribesmen, who appear from time to time in the films.

Using magical means, Arthur is able to shrink down to the size of the Minimoys and visit their world (scenes in this world are entirely animated) where he falls in love with a princess, Selenia (voiced by Madonna in the first film and Selena Gomez in the last two). Arthur, Selenia and Selenia's younger brother, Betameche (voiced by Jimmie Fallon) have many adventures, including the rescue of Arthur's grandfather, who had been trapped by the nemesis of the Minimoys, Maltazard (voiced by David Bowie in the first film, Lou Reed in the last two).

The various adventures in the first two films are quite similar, and derivative, while the third film is a bit different in that Maltazard escapes from the world of the Minimoys and threatens the larger world with an army of giant mosquitoes, among other things. Here, a familiar cultural reference is made to Darth Vader and Star Wars. Like most of the humor in these films, the joke is not subtle.

Compared to Pixar films of the same era, for instance, the three Minimoy films have generic stories, bland characterizations, unsophisticated humor and plenty of action. All three films seem like children's films, with little appeal for adults. The stories of the first two films reminded me of a film with a similar plot, Epic (2013) which is far superior in character development and storytelling.

The Minimoy movies are impressive, however, when it comes to visual imagination and artistry. The animation, by a large team of French artists, is very good, and the movies combine live action and animated elements very well, especially considering the state of animation technology available at the time the first film was produced.

I would not call these family films exactly. They are more like kids films. These movies are all rated PG. Although there is plenty of action, I never got the impression that anyone was ever really in any danger. So I say this is probably O.K. for kids, but now that I have satisfied my curiosity about this series, I don't ever plan to see it again. The film series overall rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2021 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]