It’s that time of the holidays, where parents are dragged forcefully to the local cinemas to endure a string of child-friendly Christmas films, complete with a customary cheesy script and poor acting.

But even cynics would find themselves pleasantly charmed by Arthur Christmas, the latest film by Aardman Animations.

It’s the festive season, and the occupants of the North Pole are caught in a mad scramble to deliver all of Santa’s gifts to all the children of the world in one night.

However, instead of a one-horse open sleigh, the characters of Arthur Christmas are armed with a highly trained elvish SWAT team, state-of-the-art military technology, and a spaceship – the S1, a gigantic sled-shaped machine with enough cool features to rival the USS Enterprise. Tasked with protecting and cloaking Santa from the unwelcome eyes of mortal children, the elves risk life and limb as they deliver the gifts in a manner reminiscent of the Mission Impossible movies.

The brains behind the whole operation is the assertive Steve (Hugh Laurie), Santa’s older, more technologically savvy son, who aspires to his father’s throne.

When a girl in England fails to receive the pink bike she had wished for, Steve writes her off as an anomaly in an otherwise flawless system. On the other hand, his idealistic younger brother, Arthur (James McAvoy), is determined to get the gift to her before Christmas dawn, as Santa promised.

Equipped with an old-fashioned sleigh and with only Grandsanta Claus (Bill Nighy) and a wrapping-obsessed elf for companions, Arthur has to learn to put his own fears and neuroses aside to accomplish his own quest.

While there’s enough Christmas cheer in the movie to entertain the younglings in the audience, Arthur Christmas is also packed with enough Aardman humour to amuse the older cinemagoers, who will no doubt identify with the squabbles of the Claus family as they deal with the pressures of running Christmas as well as the age difference between Steve and Grandsanta, who resists the fancy new gadgets that Steve has implemented.

The gadgets in Arthur Christmas range from smart phones equipped with various features to James Bond devices, and they come with their own amusing glitches, like an unreliable GPS system. Other modern annoyances the Clauses face are the newfangled electronic toys of the 21st century, including a simple farm play set that threatened to unseat the entire mission (and the elves’ sanity) in a very funny sequence.

With a host of likeable characters voiced by a talented cast and genuinely funny jokes, Arthur Christmas also has enough heartwarming Christmas spirit to ensure its place as one of the best Christmas films in recent years.


Movie: Arthur Christmas

Rating: 4/5

Opens: Dec 1
Duration: 97 minutes
Language: English

Age Rating: PG

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama

Director: Sarah Smith
Cast: James McAvoy, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie