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Title: Arthur Christmas
Starring: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton
Directed by: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook
Written by: Peter Baynham, Sarah Smith
Studio: Aardman Animations, Sony Pictures Animation
Rated: PG
Runtime: 97 min
Blu-ray Release Date: November 6 2012

Movie :4.5stars:
Video :4.5stars:
Audio :4stars:
Extras :1.5stars:
HTS Overall Score:


Arthur Christmas opens with an overhead sweeping view of a sleepy town in England where a young girl excitedly scurries with a letter addressed to The North Pole to place in her local post depot. She asks some funny and routine questions pertaining to Santa’s sack and how it’s possible for him to deliver suck a huge bounty of toys to all the children in the world in only one night. Arthur, or who we presume to be, writes back to Gwen kindly assuring her that Santa and his crew are capable of the daunting task and that no reindeer are roasted alive in the process, all account of his special Magic.

Cut to the snow covered town of Aarhus, Denmark where a battalion of Santa’s Elves donned in high-tech gear and gizmos rappel a la Mission Impossible onto rooftops and inconspicuously scamper from home to home delivering gifts for the kiddies. It’s a modern twist to the traditional view of jolly old Santa Claus lumbering across a rooftop to eventually squeeze down a sooty chimney; oh the times they are a changing. After quickly and efficiently dispatching with the gifts the elves climb back aboard the impressive S-1, an advanced aircraft with cloaking capability that houses an elaborate control station set up to help with and monitor the parcel delivery process. The shiny beautiful red Star Trek-esque craft is quite a change from eight, or nine huffing and puffing reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh. After a hectic night S-1 and Santa return to The North Pole where Santa’s son Arthur (McAvoy) and a sea of cheering and applauding elves welcome him home. Santa (Broadbent) announces that on this being his 70th mission they delivered two billion presents and goes on to thank Arthur for his help in the letters department and Steve (Laurie) his other son for helping to man the operation down in headquarters.

Following his appreciation speech Santa, or Malcolm as his wife refers to him, Mrs. Claus, Arthur, Steve, and Santa’s father all sit down to Christmas Day dinner when Steve gets a text from an elf stating one gift was undelivered. Steve and Santa convene and decide that it’s logistically impossible to deliver the wrapped bike before sunrise in the town where the child lives, but of course every child must experience the delight and wonder of unwrapping a present on the morning of Christmas Day. And soon starts the adventure.

When everyone is in bed Arthur’s hunched over and cane-clutching grandfather (Nighy) approaches a very sad Arthur and tells him that there is indeed a way to deliver the gift and it doesn’t involve all the fancy schmancy technology Steve relies on. Grandsanta leads Arthur to what appears to be an abandoned part of the dwelling and reveals to him something really special, a traditional sleigh named Eve powered by Magic dust mined from the Aurora Borealis. And what’s a finely crafted old fashioned sleigh without some horsepower, or reindeer power in this case. You know where this is all heading. With the eight reindeer strapped to the sleigh Arthur and grandsanta start their flight on a stream of sparkling Magic dust to deliver the lone gift.


PG for some mild rude humor.

Audio :4stars:

The soundtrack in Arthur Christmas is complicated, immersive, relentless, and an aural treat. Despite the story being animated every situation has a realistic audio atmosphere. From the opening scene a cheery and whimsical score envelops the room with the center, front and back speakers easily handling the job and giving a nice sense of balance. As Santa’s Elves strategically maneuver from home to home delivering gifts of all sizes, subtle and more obvious directional effects aid in creating humorous moments and scenes. The North Pole’s modern vessel S-1 packs an audible punch as it makes its way onto the screen. The sub-woofer makes its presence known at perfect times, enhancing the roar of a propulsion engine with authority. Less pronounced, but equally important environmental sounds and noises like bells ringing, elves yammering in the background, beeps bloops and other cliché sounds computers and imagined high-tech equipment make are all nicely prioritized and spaced out evenly. A scene with Arthur and grandsanta as they troublesomely whip around skyscrapers in Toronto sounds awesome and powerful. Dialogue is always brought to the forefront making every joke and crude remark grandsanta spouts clearly audible. Arthur Christmas is a good mix of simple scenes and ones filled with lots of action and commotion, and in every instance the soundtrack does a first rate and absolutely superb job of creating a truly wonderful and memorable experience.

Video :4.5stars:

Nowadays with animations regularly being added to the genre the competition has forced studios to produce many fine products and Sony has spared no expense in firstly animating this story and now bringing it to Blu-ray. Simply put… wow! The color palette in Arthur Christmas is wide with loads of different shades and bright greens, reds and blindingly brilliant whites. The textures on Arthur’s thick festive sweater stand out immediately, along with the detailing in Santa’s suit and other clothing. Faces look great with their rosy noses and cheeks. Santa’s HQ gleams with subtle variances of white and the reflections on S-1 are intricate. The central control station is imaginative and colorful and all the nobs, switches and screens look sharp. Lighting effects are stunning, even when the room is dimly lit. Reflections on metal and other surfaces are bright, polished and make the scene. There are scenes in this movie where the characters look so gorgeous and highly produced that they want to pop, looking almost naturally 3D; it’s a magnificent sight. The visuals in Arthur Christmas rival any Pixar or DreamWorks animation and from start to finish the movie is beautiful.

Extras :1.5stars:

-Unwrapping Arthur Christmas
-Progression Reels
-Elf Recruitment Video
-Previews (I really dislike when studios insert basically what are commercials and label them as bonus material)


Arthur Christmas takes the broad subject of Christmas and how materialistic the holiday can be and tackles it in a manner suitable for all ages. Christmas movies can be sappy and focused primarily on young children, sometimes causing a lesser happy experience for the parents or guardians because they become detached from the material/storyline, but not in this case. The clever and engaging dialogue in Arthur Christmas isn’t just aimed at the kiddies, but also at the adults who will no doubt want to sit down and spent quality time with their children.

Arthur Christmas is sweet, funny, poignant and very entertaining and does an excellent job of melding modernity within the scope of Santa delivering gifts and how important it is for traditions to stay alive and how powerful the Christmas spirit is. This is an exceptional movie with loads of repeat value presented with amazing eye-popping visuals and an equally memorable soundtrack.

Buy Arthur Christmas on Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Rent it!
Watch the Official Trailer

HTS Moderator , Reviewer
5,742 Posts
wow, thanks for the review Peter, looked intriguing from the previews I saw, but wasn't so sure since I was expecting something more "kiddy". I'll have to give it a spin.
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