This smart and very British 3D animation from the Aardman stable opens with one of life’s great questions: how does Santa visit so many homes so quickly? The answer, it seems, is a high-tech army of elves dispatched, SAS-style, from a silent spaceship disguised as a cluster of stars. But it never used to be like this, not before Santa’s eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), modernised the operation. Nevertheless, one parcel slips through the net, so it’s left to Santa’s sensitive younger son, Arthur (James McAvoy), and the retired, grumpy Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) to deliver the package using reindeers and sleigh. All of which inspires a frenzied inter-continental dash and one too many padded-out mishaps. What makes this festive fantasy engaging is the savvy way in which it debunks cold efficiency in favour of more wholesome values. It’s just a pity Arthur himself is so bland.