“Cameron, you’re reviewing a Christmas film in February what the hell is wrong with you?”
Ok, well that’s a little bit mean. I’m reviewing this Christmas film because it’s up for an Oscar, I didn’t want to go and see The Turning or The Grudge at the cinema this week, and I wanted to gush about this incredible movie. It is currently streaming on Netflix, and everybody should be adding this to their Christmas watchlists for 2020.
Klaus is a beautifully animated movie that creates a new origin story for Santa Clause as a woodsman called Klaus. He lives far away from a horrible town and gifts toys to children that he has made in the past. He has loads of them and is trying to give them away for free to be kind and fill a void that remains in his life. He teams up with the self-centred postman, Jesper. He is the son of a wealthy man who has to process enough letters to be able to return home and enjoy his life of luxury again.
The place he arrives in has a feud that literally divides the town, and the film goes onto show the domino effect that a little bit of kindness can make. The conflict comes from the town leaders who believe they have more control over the people and enjoyed the previous situation better when the townspeople did nothing but fight. It will melt your heart – there is no doubt about it. The film becomes warmer and warmer, the more the effect of being positive and kind to each other has on the town.
I say this a lot, but I didn’t expect much from this movie at all past a pretty picture, and I’m so glad I got to spend my time watching a film that is so good about the idea that positivity can change people and things around you for the better. The townsfolk just needed a push to get there through the purpose of sending letters to Klaus.
The films cast is quite something too. Wes Anderson film regular, Jason Schwartzman plays the lead in Jesper (the postman) and Oscar winner JK Simmons voices Klaus. I felt the characters had this almost Aardmann look to them in their facial features; this isn’t a dig as a lot of the character designs are unique. It might be because all I could think about was the similarities in the story to one of their films, Arthur Christmas.
I do want to talk about how pretty the picture is though. This was animated by the people at SPA Studios in Madrid. The entire thing has this 2D traditional animation look to it and is truly breath-taking. The director Sergio Pablos, the director of the movie and ex-Disney animator, basically figured out what it would look like if Disney didn’t make the switch to computer-generated 3D animation in the 2000s. There’s a unique look to the film thanks to the volumetric lighting and texturing used, it all works and is utterly gorgeous. The film is available on Netflix in Dolby Vision HDR and 4K, and that’s the optimal way to watch this film.
My only small and strange nitpick – the music choice. I feel bad to bring something like this up, but the modern pop songs that plague the soundtrack don’t fit within the film bar the credits. So often it will cut to a montage with an out of place song that doesn’t fit the tone or feels out of place for the setting. It is such a small thing and doesn’t take away from the movie at all. It was just this odd thing I noticed while watching.
All in all, the film is probably the best-animated film from last year. As I finish off this review, it appears that Klaus is on track to win the Oscar after securing a BAFTA and a lot of other awards from around the circuit this year. The animation category this year is stacked with good winners. Still, I feel Klaus is the most deserving from a technical and story stand-point, and I would love to see it take home the gold. Add it to your Christmas watchlist this year. You won’t regret it.
Klaus is currently streaming on Netflix