Friday, January 26, 2007

Arthur and the Invisibles (Luc Besson, 2006

Excerpt:

Luc Besson's latest, "Arthur and the Invisibles" (2006) is roughly the equivalent of a McDonald's hamburger--not poisonous, per se, but not exactly food either.

I don't know where the picture goes wrong--or rather, I don't know how on earth the filmmakers could ever imagine that this mishmash of fantasy, live-action and CGI animation would ever work out right. There's some wit involving scale (a toy car turns into an escape vehicle, a construct made out of plastic straws becomes material for building some kind of Doomsday device) but said moments whiz by too quickly, and you find yourself forced to turn your attention back to the rather witless story, which combines two hoary old clich├ęs--the farm about to be repossessed by a villainous banker, the youth that steps through glass to enter another world (in Arthur's case (Freddie Highmore, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Finding Neverland"), he's sucked down a telescope). Along the way Arthur evades the misguided attempts of his grandmother (Mia Farrow, still likeable, still luminous) to take care of him, pulls a sword out of a (what else?) stone, falls in love with a princess that has lived for a thousand years (voice by Madonna, who sounds too old for the part), and eventually battles an evil wizard (David Bowie, who slinks away with the picture). Does Arthur win the day, get the girl, find the rubies he needs to save the farm from that darn banker? Is Besson a hack?

6 comments:

andyhorbal said...

Hmm...

My first impulse was to start off by saying "Besson is, for me, a cinematical equivalent of a McDonald's hamburger." But that's not quite right.

Besson, along with John Carpenter and Paul Verhoeven, is maybe the cinematic equivalent of a really, truly good buttermilk biscuit from some southern fast food chain. Or a really, truly good burrito from some southwestern fast food chain. They are delicious. They are filling. They are honestly good. But still they are mass-produced. They bear more in common with "not food/not movies" than with food/movies.

I devour their films. I find myself craving their films. And yet I also know that if I watch too many I risk a stomachache...

And all of that is just a preface to my saying that I actually missed Arthur and the Invisibles, despite the fact that this is the first film from this triad to play Pittsburgh in quite some time (if we don't count District B13).

Noel Vera said...

Oh, I don't know; I'd put Carpenter and Verhoeven a tad higher than Besson. They all know how to direct, they all have their respective styles, Carpenter for the most part has remained something of a guerilla filmmaker (whereas Verhoeven and Besson have gone and sold their immortish soul), and Verhoeven and Carpenter actually seem to have a few ideas up their sleeves (Verhoeven was all about Christ figures and religious metaphors; Carpenter is a Hitchcock/Hawks groupie turned surrealist).

Jonathan Rosenbaum would probably beg to differ, but I think you didn't miss much.

andyhorbal said...

Besson might not have a few ideas up his sleave, but he does have one good one. District B13 almost seems to me the movie he was always working towards, even though he didn't direct it, the action film that balances masculinity and femininity. For all of their macho exterior, most of his films have as their primary conflict the hero vs. himself/herself, and specifically vs. his feminine/masculine self: La Femme Nikita struggles with her domestic side, Leon struggles against what we might call his "maternal" instincts while in the same film Mathilda rages against her budding sexuality, and both Leeloo and his Joan of Arc are arguably feminine ideals brought to life...

Oh! I think I can get some mileage out of this train of thought! Today I commence research...

Noel Vera said...

I'd like to see the resulting train. At the moment, my enthusiasm for Besson, though, is at a low ebb.

Have you seen those Filipino vampire films I recommended? Actually, many of the films I mentioned in my link on the front page should be available, on Netflix or at various online stores...

andyhorbal said...

They've been in the top 5 of my Netflix queue for a month now, I'm afraid! I keep bumping them for films I want screengrabs from...

But since you called me on it I'll stop and watch the first two before I see anything else! I just put two envelopes in the mail so... let's say I'll post thoughts by Saturday/Sunday?

I am far too easily distracted by everything...

Strange Blog said...

Nikita movie is the best he could do.