A movie like Klaus makes a decent elevator pitch but is an even better viewing experience simply because you never knew you wanted to see something like it. Much credit goes to the writing and the screenplay for coming up with a familiar but fresh angle to a mythos loved by kids all around. But it isn’t just about who Santa Claus is, but what he represents and what people should take back from this holiday. Exchanging gifts is merely attaching tangibles to the activity of people coming together and not the actual motive. And the movie does very well to remind us that. Yes, Klaus ignites a spark by incentivizing gifts for good behavior but in no time, people start exchanging them themselves. And all of this is put against an interesting backdrop of a city divided into a war between two families.
But what makes this movie my pick for the animated movie of the year is simply the animation. No movie this year has pushed the boundaries of animation like Klaus has and unfortunately it hasn’t received the attention it deserves. I spent most of my first viewing just trying to comprehend if the animation was 2D or 3D. And it’s only after some videos on YouTube that I finally understood how the illusion worked. There is no trick but just lots of hard work and mastery of the craft.
To put it simply, the entire movie has been colored in 2D but has been textured, lit and composited like 3D animation which gives it the appearance of 3D. It’s a step ahead of “Who framed Roger Rabbit” which had three layers of animation namely, the base color, the shadow (lighting) and the highlight (textures). With the help of technology, animators in Klaus were able to motion track the characters from their drawing board and make the textures and lighting move in accordance with the characters. Combine this with amazing nuance to the colors and you get depth in 2D animation. It’s truly amazing and it makes me very excited for the future of 2D animation.
But with this kind of focus on animation come slight compromises in storytelling. Despite it being a new take on Santa Claus it isn’t exactly something original and one can predict the plot to go exactly where it does. There are also some questionable choices in background music. In particular, the use of “How you like me now?” by The Heavy felt inconsistent and not period specific. But despite these seeming like big issues, they honestly don’t feel like it. Klaus still manages to use its characters well and none of them feel disposable. It uses the existing mythos of Santa Claus and gives it a plausible and entertaining backstory. And just in like the movie, Santa Claus is just a supporting character in the much bigger act of people coming together as one in joy and harmony.
Learn more about the animation in Klaus in a video by INSIDER here.