Is Luc Besson's latest film, Arthur And The Invisibles, small fry or big time? We check it out
In its native France, Arthur Et Les Minimoys has been a box office sensation and two sequels are already in pre-production.
But Luc Besson's film is unlikely to fare so well on this side of the Channel.
This part-live action, part-computer animated yarn, retitled Arthur And The Invisibles for English-speaking audiences, absorbs elements from Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, The Dark Crystal and A Bug's Life to create an otherworldly fantasy without any discernible personality of its own.
It is banal and vacuous, lacking engaging characters or a decent script. Even the visuals, years in the making, fail to seduce the senses.
The starry vocal cast makes heavy work of the leaden dialogue and director Besson bolts together action set pieces and comic interludes with the precision of a film-maker approaching animation for the first time.
Like most children Arthur Highmore, 10, often loses himself in stories; tales of adventure and daring.
He is especially interested in Africa, and the escapades of his grandfather Archibald who disappeared mysteriously.
When a nasty developer called Davido threatens to seize the family farm from Arthur's gran, the boy vows to find the priceless rubies which his grandfather hid.
Arthur discovers references to a race of small beings called The Minimoys, who live in a subterranean kingdom. With the help of a tribe of Masai warriors and an ancient legacy, Arthur shrinks to the size of the Minimoys and embarks on a journey into the computer animated unknown.
Granted an audience with the king of the Minimoys (voiced by De Niro), Arthur finds the rubies are in a kingdom ruled by dastardly lord Maltazard (Bowie).
The lad risks all with feisty Princess Selenia (Madonna) and sidekick Betameche (Fallon) to find the gems.
Arthur lacks the sophistication to appeal to adults and children, and ends up appealing to neither.
Arthur and The Invisibles is a dud.
ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES (U, 93 mins) Children/Action/Romance. Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow and voices of Madonna, David Bowie, Snoop Dogg, Robert De Niro, Jimmy Fallon.
NO SWEARING; NO SEX; VIOLENCE