ARTHUR AND THE TWO WORLDS WAR
(Arthur 3: La Guerre des Deux Mondes)
The oddest among what might be termed Bessons experiments in the 2000s was the trilogy of films beginning with Arthur and the Invisibles (2006). This was intended as a childrens tale and was made in a mixture of live-action and CGI animation. It was given a US theatrical release in dubbed form but did little business and received few good notices. Despite this, Besson and most of his cast and creative team went onto make two sequels with Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard (2009) and Arthur and the Two Worlds War here. The sequels received little wide release outside of French-speaking territories. I found Arthur and the Invisibles passable but The Revenge of Maltazard slipped down to a juvenile level of annoying CGI eye candy and adolescent gags such that it took a long time to muster the enthusiasm to finally watch the last chapter.
Luc Besson reminds of Robert Rodriguez who made his name with stylised and amazing action films like El Mariachi (1993) and Desperado (1995) and then jumped into doing a bunch of kids movies the increasingly dreary Spy Kids sequels, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D (2005), Shorts (2009). However, these Minimoy films are far worse than any of Rodriguezs childrens films, which at least have an infectious enjoyability in their frequently absurdist visual humour. Here everything (in the animated scenes) is dubbed in annoying kids voices and glib one-liners like Thats gotta hurt and Hasta la vista, baby. Much of the early parts of the film consist of things whizzing about Arthur and the Minimoys riding through the sewers on the policemans badge, trying to exit the taps in bubbles of water, rides on slot cars, fights on toy trains. (Indeed, the middle of the film seems to toss in giant-sized toys for the express purpose of having Arthur and co ride on them). For much of the film, the villains especially the idiotic Iggy Pop-voiced Darkos seem to exist to take cartoonish pratfalls. While Lou Reeds laidback delivery as Maltazard seems better this time, Iggy Pop delivers all of his dialogue as though trying to talk with a mouthful of marbles and all of his teeth removed.
The main problem with these Minimoy sequels is that in terms of story they feel like they only have script enough for a single film and that this has been extruded out to make two films. Both films seem overly padded by pieces of contrived drama the quest for the Elixir of Life, Arthurs father calling out the fire department to destroy the bees nest, most of the aforementioned action scenes. The film does at least mount a reasonable climax with Maltazard and his soldiers attacking the town aboard enlarged bugs. Besson throws in a mildly amusing but rather strained Star Wars (1977) joke at the end where we meet a young George Lucas.
Luc Bessons other films of genre note are the arty Le Dernier Combat (1983) set in a post-holocaust world where people have become mute; the space opera/action film The Fifth Element (1997); his fantastical interpretation of the historical story of Joan of Arc in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999); the eccentric angelic intervention film Angel-A (2005); the adventure film The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (2010); Lucy (2014) in which Scarlett Johansson gains enormously expanded mental abilities; and the space opera Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017). Besson also produced and wrote The Dancer (2000) about a mute dancer who gains expression through a unique sound invention; produced the mystical quasi-sf Quebecois film Chaos and Desire (2002): wrote and produced the End Times serial killer thriller Crimson Rivers II: Angels of the Apocalypse (2003); produced the serial killer film Tristan (2003); produced and wrote the futuristic action film Banlieue 13 (2004) and its sequel Banlieue 13: Ultimatum (2009); produced the serial killer thriller Tell No One (2006); produced the Backwoods Brutality film Frontier(s) (2007); produced the videogame adaptation Hitman (2007); produced the horror film The Secret (2007); produced and wrote Banlieue 13: Ultimatum (2009); produced the animated A Monster in Paris (2011); produced the orbiting prison film Lockout (2012); and wrote/produced the English-language Banlieue 13 remake Brick Mansions (2014).