Arthur Christmas

Every year, movie studios churn out the newest batch of Christmas movies that attempt to answer two questions: “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” and “How does Santa deliver presents to every boy and girl?” This is an undoubtedly daunting task for one film in a limited space, simultaneously staying relevant with the modern popular culture, especially since there have been so many attempts in the past. Arthur Christmas conquers these obstacles within the first ten minutes, and keeps up the pace throughout. Christmas takes the traditional format for holiday films, and gives it the technological advancement that has become the defining symbol of this generation.


Christmas delves into the effort and planning that Santa (Jim Broadbent), his son Steve (Hugh Laurie), and his small city of elves (you’re left wondering where they all come from!) pour into delivering presents each Christmas Eve. Meanwhile our clumsy hero, and youngest Claus brother, Arthur (James McAvoy) reads every letter sent to Santa requesting a present with the naïve passion that each child put into writing them. Upon learning about a missed child, Arthur travels with his grand-Santa (Bill Nighy) to deliver the last present.

Director Sarah Smith skillfully shows from the beginning that delivering these presents is an operation that most governments would have trouble pulling off. State of the art camouflage for the shuttle-sleigh, high-tech gadgetry to see inside already wrapped presents and elves that are so stealthy they would make most spies jealous allow these children to wake up each morning with a present and the undying love for Santa that only a child could have.

While Christmas will be entertaining for the younger kids, some of it will fly a bit outside their radar, literally. In an attempt to further modernize the tale, Arthur and grand-Santa are seen and believed to be aliens, leading to United Nations intervention. This seems to only serve as a pick-me-up after the plot slightly dulls once the initial splendor of watching the elves and Steve in action. Visually, the film is wonderful. You will spend the first twenty minutes trying to see all of the intricate details Smith put into the North Pole (clearly modeled after certain agencies), while also keeping up with the fast paced, Maxwell Smart gadgetry the elves use. Overall, the attempt to modernize the Santa Claus story is a success. At no point will a gag or joke feel overused or tired, and you will leave smiling and feeling pleasantly surprised.

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