REVIEW: ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

CAST

James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class)
Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Marc Wootton (Nativity)
Laura Linney (The Truman Show)
Eva Longoria (Over Her Dead Body)
Ramona Marquez (Outnumbered)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Jane Horrocks (Little Voice)
Sanjeev Bhaskar (Notting Hill)
Iain McKee (The Parole Officer)
Andy Serkis (Lord of The Rings)
Dominic West (The Affair)

On Christmas Eve, hundreds of Christmas elves helm the command centre of Santa Claus’ mile-wide, ultra-high-tech sleigh-esque craft, the S-1. The current Santa (Malcolm) and the Christmas elves deliver presents to every child in the world using advanced equipment and military precision. These complex operations are micromanaged by thousands more elves, under the command of Malcolm’s militaristic eldest son Steve and his obsequious elfin assistant Peter at mission control underneath the North Pole. Meanwhile, his younger son – the clumsy, fearful yet enthusiastic Arthur – devotedly answers the letters to Santa. During one of the delivery operations in Germany a child wakes up and almost sees Malcolm; in the tense escape operation, a Christmas elf aboard the S-1 inadvertently leans on a button, causing a present to fall from the supply line and go unnoticed.Having completed his 70th mission, Malcolm is portrayed as far past his prime and whose role in field operations now is largely symbolic. Nonetheless, he is held in high esteem, and delivers a congratulatory speech to the enraptured elves. Malcolm announces he looks forward to his 71st, much to the frustration of heir-apparent Steve, who had prepared to succeed his father as Santa at the conclusion of this mission. During their family Christmas dinner, Arthur’s suggestion for the family to play a board game degenerates into a tense quarrel between Malcolm and Steve, while Malcolm’s father and predecessor Grandsanta, bored by retirement, resentfully criticises their over-modernization. After Grandsanta knocks the board off the table, Steve’s PDA (a high tech device named a ‘HOHO’) flashes and he leaves the table in a hurry. Later, their father shares with his wife Margaret his grave doubts about his self-identity should he retire.Arthur follows Steve, and the two learn that a Christmas elf named Bryony found the missed present – a wrapped bicycle for a little girl in England called Gwen, to whose letter Arthur had personally responded. Arthur alerts his father, who is at a loss as to how to handle the situation; Steve argues that one missed present out of billions is an acceptable error whose correction can wait a few days, citing this year’s Christmas as the most successful in history. Grandsanta on the other hand, on learning of the dire situation, proposes delivering the gift using Eve, his old wooden sleigh, and the great-great-grandchildren of the original eight reindeer, forcefully whisking away a reluctant Arthur and a stowaway Bryony. In the process the three get lost in three different continents, lose several of their reindeer, and land in danger several times, ultimately being mistaken for aliens and causing an international military incident. Through all this, Arthur eventually learns, to his compounding disappointment, that Grandsanta’s true motive is to fulfill his ego, Steve refuses to help them out of petty resentment and possibility of his brother being made hero overshadowing his work, and that his own father has gone to bed, apparently content even though a present was not delivered.Finally, stranded in Cuba after losing the sleigh and the remaining reindeer, Arthur renews his sense of purpose: that it all comes down to having presents delivered, regardless of how it is done and who did it. With Grandsanta’s and Bryony’s help, he manages to recover the sleigh. Meanwhile, the elves grow increasingly alarmed at rumours of the neglected delivery and the Clauses’ unthinkable indifference, sending them into a panic. In response, Malcolm, Margaret, and Steve take the high-tech sleigh-craft to deliver a superior present… albeit to the wrong child.Arthur and his party manage to reach England, but lose the remaining reindeer; furthermore a US Predator drone scrambled by Chief De Silva of UNFITA intercepts and opens fire on the sleigh believing them to be aliens. Grandsanta sacrifices the sleigh, while Arthur and Bryony to parachute to the ground. Ultimately with Margaret and Bryony’s help, all the male Clauses arrive at Gwen’s house before she awakens, only to have all but Arthur quarrel about who gets to actually place the gift. Noticing that only Arthur truly cares about the girl’s feelings, the elder Clauses collectively realize that he is the sole worthy successor. As a result, Malcolm gives Arthur the honour and Steve, recognizing his own shortcomings, forfeits his supposed birthright and acknowledges his brother’s worthiness to take up the mantle. In a fitting conclusion, Gwen glimpses a snow-bearded Arthur in a wind-buffeted sweater just before he vanishes up into the S-1.With the crisis resolved, Malcolm goes into a happy retirement with Margaret; he also becomes Grandsanta’s much-desired new companion and plays Arthur’s board game with him for many happy hours. Meanwhile, Steve finds true contentment as the Chief Operating Officer of the North Pole, while Bryony is promoted to Vice-President of Packing, Pacific Division. In a nod to traditionalism once neglected, the high-tech S-1 is re-christened EVIE in honour of Grandsanta’s old sleigh and refitted to be pulled by a team of five thousand reindeer – led by the original eight, all of whom managed to return home safely via innate navigational abilities. Finally, Arthur happily guides the entire enterprise in the proper spirit as the new Santa.Everything you would wish from a Chistmassy film. Strong story and lovely ideas about Father Christmas and the challenge of delivering a present to every child. A great family movie.

 

 

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