Film: 'Arthur Christmas'; Cast: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent; Directors: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook; Rating: ****
One of the most delightful mythologies of the world is that of Santa Claus. Though celebrated by Christians, it is not married to the religion. And its emphasis on celebration of childhood hope and joy, makes it endearing to kids and adults alike. In cinema, there have been many attempts to reboot the mythology and give it a new, delightful garb. Yet, very few of them succeed like 'Arthur Christmas'.
Santa Claus rides a state of the art, modern spaceship with an army of elves, and his older son Steve in mission command helping him fulfill his mission of delivering a gift to every child.
One Christmas eve, after one child is missed and Santa and Steve express inability to help, the youngest Santa, Arthur, along with the oldest, Grand Santa, ride the sleigh and reindeer on a mission to bring cheer to the last remaining child. But their mission is tougher than they imagine and would end up almost destroying Christmas.
The film gives a perfect reworking of a well-known mythology with deft modern touches that are witty, stylish and detailed. The story and the various sub-plots are intelligently interwoven into eone another till the different anxieties of the four male members of the 'Santa' family are resolved in the end.
What we have here thus, is a film that will delight a small child to a very old man, a rare claim for any film.
It is sweet, funny, heartwarming and dramatic enough to hold your attention till the end. Yet, where it scores the most is in its sub-plots, which attack the world of the grown-ups and their longing for power and control and counters it with the sincerity and dedication of a child, Arthur. Like in a good film, the child wins over adults, reminding them of what is truly valuable in life.
British animation studio Aardman Animations, most well-known for their stop animation work, entered the computer animation films with the hugely successful 'Chicken Run'. With 'Arthur Christmas', they enter the 3D animation market with a Christmas bang.
It is thus a perfect Christmas film, reaffirming the ideas and values that make the festival so special. So perfect that even though it releases in India three weeks after Christmas, you'll still tap your feet to Christmas carols.