REVIEW: ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES

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CAST

Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel)
Madonna (Dick Tracy)
Jimmy Fallon (Factory Girl)
Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby)
Ron Crawford (Home of Angels)
David Bowie (Labyrinth)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Robert De Niro (Red Lights)
Adam LeFevre (Jungle 2 Jungle)
Snoop Dogg (Training Day)
Penny Balfour (Flawless)
Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale)
Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant)
Erik Per Sullivan (Malcolm In The Middle)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Emilio Estevez (Mission Impossible)
Snoop Dogg (Starsky & Hutch)
David Suchet (Poirot)
Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies)
Nate Corddry (Mom)

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In the year 1960, protagonist Arthur lives with his grandmother Daisy in a quiet farm house on a dirt road, in a small rural community in Northeastern Connecticut (based on Sterling). His grandfather Archibald has recently gone missing and he sees little of his parents (who are away looking for work). Daisy entertains Arthur with stories of his grandfather’s adventures in Africa, featuring the tall Bogo Matassalai and the minuscule Minimoys, of whom the latter now live in Archibald’s garden, protecting a collection of rubies. Arthur becomes enamoured of a picture of Selenia, the princess of the Minimoys. When Daisy receives a two-day deadline to pay a large sum of money to a building developer named Ernest Davido, who plans to evict the two, Arthur looks for the rubies to pay off the debt, and discovers various clues left by his grandfather. He is met in the garden by the Bogo Matassala, who reduce Arthur to Minimoy size. From the Minimoys, Arthur learns that they are in danger from Maltazard, a Minimoy war hero who now rules the nearby ‘Necropolis’, after corruption by a weevil, by whom he has a son named Darkos.3

Arthur, reflecting his legendary British namesake, draws a sacred sword from its recess and uses it to protect the Minimoys from Maltazard’s soldiers; whereupon Sifrat, the ruler of the Minimoys, sends Arthur to Necropolis, with the princess Selenia and her brother Betameche. En route, they are attacked on two occasions by Maltazard’s soldiers. In Necropolis, Selenia kisses Arthur, marking him as her husband and potential successor, and confronts Maltazard alone. When Maltazard learns that she has already kissed Arthur and thus can no longer give him her powers and cure his corruption, he imprisons all three, who discover a Minimoy form of Archibald. Thereafter Arthur and his grandfather escape and return to human form, with little time to spare before Maltazard’s flood reaches the Minimoys. With the help of Mino, a royal advisor’s long-lost son, Arthur redirects the flood to Necropolis; whereupon Maltazard abandons Necropolis and his son, and the water ejects the rubies above ground. Archibald pays Davido with one ruby; and when he tries to take them all, the Bogo Matassalai capture him and give him to the authorities (scene deleted in the U.S. edition). The film ends with Arthur asking Selenia to wait for his return, and her agreement to do so.

Arthur and The Invisibles
The film isn’t flawless. Jimmy Fallon’s Betameche, while surely popular with the film’s younger viewers, at times borders on the unbearably annoying; while the casting of forty- eight year old Madonna as Princess Selenia seems a little odd. Her performance is perfectly adequate, but in effect she spends most of the time flirting with a schoolchild. Strange. But the gems in Arthur and the Invisibles far outshine any minor negatives. Mixing live action with CGI could quite easily look messy and unconvincing but, quite simply, it works and while there’s always a danger of such a tale descending into saccharine sludge, thankfully that doesn’t happen. Arthur’s quest is a joy to follow; it deserves to be anything but invisible.

Arthur and The Invisibles

 

REVIEW: DICK TRACY (1990)

CAST

Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde)
Al Pacino (The Godfather)
Madonna (Evita)
Glenne Headly (Sgt. Bilko)
Charlie Korsmo (Hook)
Seymour Cassel (Boiling Point)
Michael J. Pollard (Scrooged)
Charles Durning (Attica)
Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins)
Frank Campanella (Capone)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
William Forsythe  (The Devil’s Rejects)
Ed O’Ross (Another 48 hrs)
James Tolkan (Masters of The Universe)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride)
R. G. Armstrong (Predator)
Henry Silva (Ocean’s 11)
Paul Sorvino (The Gambler)
James Caan (Elf)
Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Stig Eldred (King Kong 2005)
Chuck Hicks (Star Trek II)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Neil Ross (Batman: TAS)

war-of-the-worlds-1953-martian-hand-on-shoulder-sylvia-van-buren-ann-robinsonAt an illegal card game, a young street urchin witnesses the massacre of a group of mobsters at the hands of Flattop and Itchy, two of the hoods on the payroll of Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice. Big Boy’s crime syndicate is aggressively taking over small businesses in the city. Detective Dick Tracy catches the urchin (who calls himself “Kid”) in an act of petty theft. After rescuing him from a ruthless host, Tracy temporarily adopts him with the help of his girlfriend, Tess Trueheart.
ww-53Meanwhile, Big Boy coerces club owner Lips Manlis into signing over the deed to Club Ritz. He then kills Lips with a cement overcoat (referred to onscreen as “The Bath”) and steals his girlfriend, the seductive and sultry singer, Breathless Mahoney. After Lips is reported missing, Tracy interrogates his three hired guns Flattop, Itchy, and Mumbles, then goes to the club to arrest Big Boy for Lips’ murder. Breathless is the only witness. Instead of providing testimony, she unsuccessfully attempts to seduce Tracy. Big Boy cannot be indicted and he is released from jail. Big Boy’s next move is to try to bring other criminals, including Spud Spaldoni, Pruneface, Influence, Texie Garcia, Ribs Mocca, and Numbers, together under his leadership. Spaldoni refuses and is intentionally killed, leaving Dick Tracy, who discovered the meeting and was attempting to spy on it, wondering what is going on. The next day, Big Boy and his henchmen kidnap Tracy and attempt to bribe him; Tracy refuses, prompting the criminals to attempt to kill him. However, Tracy is saved by Kid, who gets prized by the police with a Honorary Detective Certificate, which will remain temporary until he decides a name for himself.
16-215041_0x420Breathless shows up at Tracy’s apartment, once again in an attempt to seduce him. Tracy shows he is only human by allowing her to kiss him. Tess witnesses this and eventually leaves town. Tracy leads a seemingly unsuccessful raid on Club Ritz, but it is actually a diversion so officer “Bug” Bailey can enter the building to operate a secretly installed listening device so the police can hear in on Big Boy’s criminal activities. The resultant raids all but wipe out Big Boy’s criminal empire. However, Big Boy discovers Bug and captures him for a trap planned by Influence and Pruneface to kill Tracy in the warehouse. In the resulting gun battle, a stranger with no face called “The Blank” steps out of the shadows to save Tracy after he is cornered and kills Pruneface. Influence escapes as Tracy rescues Bug from the same fate given to Lips Manlis, and Big Boy is enraged upon hearing that The Blank foiled the hit. Tracy tries again to get the testimony from Breathless he needs to put Big Boy away. She agrees to testify only if Tracy agrees to give in to her advances. Tess eventually has a change of heart, but before she can tell Tracy, she is kidnapped by The Blank, with the help of Big Boy’s club piano player, 88 Keys. Tracy is drugged and rendered unconscious by The Blank, framed for murdering the corrupt District Attorney John Fletcher, and is detained. The Kid, meanwhile, adopts the name “Dick Tracy, Jr.”
war-of-the-worlds-1953-martians-attack-humansBig Boy’s business thrives until the Blank frames him for Tess’ kidnapping. Released by his colleagues on New Year’s Eve, Tracy interrogates Mumbles and arrives at a shootout outside Big Boy’s club where his men are killed by the police and Tracy. Abandoning his crew, Big Boy flees to a drawbridge and ties Tess to the gears before he is confronted by Tracy. Their fight is halted when the Blank appears and holds both men at gunpoint, offering to share the city with Tracy after Big Boy is dead. Big Boy takes advantage of a distraction and opens fire before Tracy sends him falling to his death in the bridge gears. Mortally wounded, the Blank is revealed to be Breathless Mahoney, who kisses Tracy before dying. All charges against Tracy are dropped. Later, Tracy proposes to Tess when he is interrupted by the report of a robbery in progress. He leaves her with a ring before heading away with Dick Tracy, Jr.dicktracy_727Overall, a really fine movie that has become misunderstood over the years since its release and is incredibly underrated. This is a perfect example of capturing the essence of a comic book, from style to eccentricity.