Arthur and the Minimoys—Europa (Blu-ray Import)

Video: 4.5/5
Audio: 3.5/5
Extras: 2.5/5

Luc Besson has long been known for his larger action feature films such as The Fifth Element and The Professional but most people don't know that he wrote a series of children's books in France. Besson also directed a feature film based on the books and has a follow up coming out later this year. The film was released stateside as Arthur and the Invisibles to a rather lukewarm reception. I’m a huge fan of Besson's live action films but this one was a bit hit or miss. The film is a mix of live action and animation and generally the animation is excellent. The character design reminded me a lot of the Oddworld characters from the video game series of the same name. The problem is the rather hurried script. The story is great, but there is little to no character development, and the dialogue is really tone down for the younger audience. I think this could have been fleshed out significantly and brought a far more satisfying film to the screen.

The HD presentation here is quite good and the animation shines with this type of resolution. The live action footage is very colorful with rich greens and bold reds and fine object detail is excellent. The outdoor shots are crisp with great depth and definition. The animation is also great, but the film moves underground so it is a lot darker. Contrast is excellent though with rich blacks and exceptional shadow detail. The animation has a very textured look to it with lots of fine detail and dimensionality. Whoever did the animation for this film did a wonderful job. If I had a complaint to make it would be the small amount of compression noise I saw around some fine objects toward the beginning of the movie. Otherwise, this is a stellar presentation.

The film's soundtrack comes in no less than four high resolution options! You can listen to the French soundtrack in full 24/48 PCM or DTS-HD Master Audio or you can listen to the English soundtrack in 24/48 PCM or DTS-HD Master Audio. The film was released with an English dub with the voice work of David Bowie, Madonna, Snoop Dogg and even Robert DeNiro. All of the live action is in English as well since this is the way the film was shot. Dialogue always sounds spot on with good timbre and balance in the sound stage. For the animated sequences the sound design is a bit more aggressive and dynamics are pretty good. Eric Serra's score isn't quite as compelling as his work in Besson's previous films, but it fits the playful nature of the film. Surrounds are used quite aggressively during the action sequences, but balance is a bit higher than the front soundstage at times. Low bass response is decent but not quite as aggressive as some of the other animated features out there. Overall this is a solid soundtrack, but not as compelling as I had hoped.

The supplements on this French (region free) Blu-ray release are all in PAL so I wasn't able to view them with my Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray player. I can’t read French but it looks like there are interviews, behind the scenes features, deleted scenes and more.

Given the director and his past works I was hoping for a bit more from this. I did enjoy it but it felt rushed to me. The animation is excellent and the voice work is quite good but it didn't make up for the other shortcomings. Fans of the film should definitely look into importing as the US distributor hasn't made any mention of releasing this title anytime soon.

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