Venturing into the unknown is always risky, and unfortunately the virgin experience of director-writer-producer Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) at directing animation is like an interesting class ruined by a boring professor – even when it hits at evocative points, it’s ultimately smothered by terrible delivery and tangential linkage.

Arthur (Freddie Highmore, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) is a single child whose grandfather disappeared years ago in search of (what else?) a priceless ruby. He’s living under the care of his sweet, aging grandmother who’s about to be evicted from her land. Refusing to lose hope, Arthur decides to search for his grandfather’s ruby in the belief that it will save his home.

Conveniently, Arthur’s grandfather has left him the clues and instructions needed to find the ruby’s secret location – the land of the Minimoys in his very own garden. It isn’t clear why “Minimoys” wasn’t used in the film title rather than the misleading “Invisibles,” since they’re cute, tick-sized little beings who are invisible only to the naked eye.

They’re also animated: Up until Arthur’s entry into the Minimoys’ world, the film is purely live-action. Although Highmore doesn’t get more than 30 minutes of screen time, he still manages to perform well, convincingly portraying a boy who is idealistic and hopeful, and his absence is a gaping void once the film shifts to full animation.

There are, of course, the usual commonplace elements of all children’s movies – mindless bickering between characters, fight scenes choreographed to dance songs like “Staying Alive,” the lazy narrative device of the wise-old grandparent. And while the animation is certainly as advanced as the industry can churn out, there are problems with lip movements and character voices, leaving the characters looking at times like poor puppets.

But a somewhat bumpy and boring ride doesn’t mean there isn’t a good resolution in the end. The script deserves praise for not having an end-all colossal battle between good and evil at the climax. The open-ended finale wears it message of hope on its sleeve, and it’s a welcome sentiment.

Rating: 2.5 out 5 stars

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