Arthur and the Invisibles Luc Besson

I don’t know what possessed hokey action god Luc Besson to try his hand at an animated kid pic but the result is predictable: an ear-splitting, retina-searing eyesore that will entertain only the least selective of children.

Freddie Highmore is wheeled out of the warehouse as the film’s resident dreamer kid; his parents are AWOL and his explorer grandfather hasn’t returned from an expedition with the booty that will keep the loan arranger at bay. But his rummaging through grandpop’s stuff reveals the way to the miniature land of the computer-generated Minamoys, who are led by the wizened Robert DeNiro and his plucky daughter Madonna. Villainous David Bowie is plotting the destruction of the Minamoys, and it’s hard not to sympathise, as these dwarfy little creatures are guaranteed to annoy if you’re anywhere over the age of seven.

Everybody talks too fast, even in the live-action sequences with a stunned looking Mia Farrow, and the early ’60s setting gets blown the moment anyone uses current slang or plays an anachronistically recent record. But that’s just icing on the cake. The main problem with the movie is the sugary sentiment crossed with the laziest fantasy film clichés — of course there’s a quest for Highmore to finish, complete with a sword in a stone and the rescuing of the lost grandfather.

It’s all too much to bear. Even the sexual tension between Highmore and Madonna’s characters goes uncommented on, a task best left to snarky filmgoers who need something to leaven the tedium and distract from the bad animation and worse design elements.

Avoid this at all costs, even if the kid in your life insists. He or she may complain, but you’ll do well to leave their minds unpolluted by this tripe.

(Alliance Atlantis)