Arthur Christmas (James McAvoy), younger son of the current Santa (Jim Broadbent) is mortified to discover a child has been missed from Santa’s yearly rounds. With the help of the retired Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) he sets out to deliver it before daybreak.
Like its title character Arthur Christmas takes Christmas very seriously, going to significant lengths to blend in with existing Santa mythology, while expanding on it with a dynasty stretching back to the original St Nick and a hi-tech sleigh which ensures successful deliveries to the world’s burgeoning population, like a turbo-charged Amazon Prime.
Unlike Flushed Away, the CGI animation captures some of the charm of Aardman’s popular plasticine, while allowing a level of fast-paced action that would surely be impossible in painstakingly nudged-along clay. The globe-trotting story allows for all kinds of fancy sights, resulting in a full Christmas dinner for the eyes.
But it’s never over-reliant on visual thrills, with even scenes around the family dinner table being consistently entertaining thanks to sitcom-style writing and high-quality voice talent from a rostre of British performers including Ashley Jensen, Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton. Arthur Christmas is funny and exciting, feeling abundantly Christmassy without saccharine sentimentality, resulting in the best Christmas action film since Die Hard.