Film Review: Arthur Christmas

The Christmas film is a heavily populated category. Whether Arthur Christmas will go on to become one of the stalwarts of Christmas viewing remains unclear. Nevertheless, the film is fun family entertainment, and will garner few complaints.

Santa’s yearly mission to deliver presents to children all over the world is a finely-tuned operation helmed by his eldest son Steve. Younger son Arthur meanwhile loves Christmas, and is happy responding to children’s letters in the post room. When the automated operation means a mistake is made, Arthur reluctantly leaves his comfort zone in order to rectify it and save Christmas for one child…

Arthur Christmas successfully combines humour, adventure and emotion to create a film that should please viewers young and old. The comedy in particular works well, with plenty of small asides that should amuse older audience members. Meanwhile, the film does feature some drama, but thankfully this never becomes sentimental.

Arthur Christmas focuses solely on the Claus family, which is a wise strategy. Little time is wasted on auxiliary characters, and there is sufficient development of the main players. Although the narrative requires a child character, she is definitely secondary to proceedings. The emphasis lies firmly on Arthur and his relationship with his immediate family. Arthur Christmas is a sort of coming-of-age story for its protagonist, though this is dealt with lightly.

The only real negative is that the film feels padded out at times. It seems like a shorter narrative that has been stretched to the length of a feature. Nonetheless, this does not diminish too much from the overall enjoyment. The animation in Arthur Christmas is great. 3D also works well, thanks to the quality of the animation.

Arthur Christmas features a the vocal talents of a fantastic British cast. James McAvoy’s voice is very well suited to the character of Arthur, bringing the necessary boyishness and earnestness. Hugh Laurie is also great as Steve, while Bill Nighy is a scene-stealer as Grandsanta.

Arthur Christmas is the perfect film to get viewers in the Christmas spirit. Sarah Smith’s film is unmistakably British, one that holds up well against Hollywood animation.