Arthur Christmas (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Arthur Christmas</strong> (2011)

(On Cable TV, January 2018) Watching Christmas movies after December 26 is a risky thing—at a minimum the air’s gone out of the Christmas spirit, and at worst, well, anyone can be excused for thinking that they don’t even want to hear about Christmas for another eleven months. In other words: that’s the time of the year during which to distinguish the good Christmas movies from those who only run on holiday magic. Fortunately, Arthur Christmas is one of the decent ones, and this surprisingly enjoyable animated fantasy film gets going early on with a detailed depiction of Santa Claus’s Christmas delivery logistics, from Santa using an army of elves as a staging crew, a gigantic ship, an enormous mission control and the refinements we can expect from an ultra-high-tech operation. This, in turn, leads to one of the central conflicts in the film—the contrast between the technology required to achieve a mass toy-delivery operation, and the Christmas spirit that motivates it. Our hero is a clumsy but well-meaning young man, Santa’s least favourite son—not seen as the favourite to take over operations once the old man retires. In the tradition of modern CGI features, Arthur Christmas is a zippy story that uses the possibilities of the medium to show us how a Santa operation could run, then strands the protagonist in multiple adventures to have them prove their worth. The depth of imagination, both visual and conceptual, can be explained by this being from the Aardman animation studio. But no matter the pedigree, Arthur Christmas is an engaging film, and one that most won’t mind revisiting throughout the year.

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