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It’s ironic that Netflix’s first original animated feature is a throwback to the glory days of Disney’s hand-drawn masterpieces, but the streaming giant has a knack for making the kinds of movies that other studios have deemed obsolete. And if nothing else, Sergio Pablos’ “Klaus” is a convincing argument that we shouldn’t let the old ways die (which is not a terribly difficult case to make considering that even the best CGI animation still has all the soul of an algorithm).
Of course, Pablos might be trying to atone for his own sins, as the Spanish filmmaker — who spent the ’90s working on more classical projects like “A Goofy Movie” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” — eventually left the Mouse House to create the “Despicable Me” franchise, an eyesore so influential that it’s grown into a sty on the cinema itself.
Klaus - Critics - Animation - Pablos - Missteps
But “Klaus” is so beautiful that even the grinchiest critics of digital animation will feel moved to forgive Pablos for his (incredibly lucrative) missteps. A labor of love that’s poised to show a new generation of young kids just how magical the movies can be, this lush Christmas tale unfolds with the timeless warmth and detail of a hardcover storybook; smoothed out character designs and volumetric lighting coat the image with a modern gloss, but not in a way that should carbon date it to the current moment. It’s a shame, then, that the film isn’t half as nice to watch as it is to look at.
“Klaus” is a ridiculously convoluted Santa Claus origin story that reverse-engineers the Christmas spirit in such a bizarre way that it’s hard to care about any of its characters (or even understand what some of them are doing). It shows you what happens when you put the sleigh before the reindeer. This strange...
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