30 September 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
A flight worth going on board for
Love Christmas films, and Christmas is my favourite time of year. Am also a fan of animation, always have been since 2 years old getting into the Disney classics and always will be. So would see anything that are a mix of both, especially when this mix has seen films and specials that are good to classic (notably the best of the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials).
While there are better examples of Christmas films, animated films and animation centred around Christmas around (as well as far worse), this animation from Finland 'The Flight Before Christmas' (not hard to guess what famous Christmas story the title is a play on of) is worth going on board for. It's not perfect, not many films are in retrospect, but to me as a family film it ticks most of the right boxes with room for improvement.
Sure the story is standard, a lot of it has a seen it all before vibe. Won't hold that against 'The Flight Before Christmas' too much. The weakest aspect is the film's translation and dubbing. Too much of the translation doesn't flow very well, there is a good deal of stilted cheese going on, and some of it is downright odd and feels out of place within the setting. The voice acting isn't awful as such, the voice actors are spirited and do their best but some of it is disjointed and a lot of the problem is the pacing and writing of the translation.
Occasionally, the animation lacks a little finesse and parts are a touch blocky. That apparently more than one studio was involved comes through clearly, but the unevenness (in terms of animation style and budget) with that being taken into account was unavoidable. The reindeer are mostly fun, but can act a little too stereotypically and act somewhat too disconcertingly differently than how they're usually portrayed in stories.
However, most of the animation is great. It's very lavishly coloured and most of the characters are drawn well particularly the reindeer. Where it scores most highly is in the meticulously imaginative and colourful backgrounds and the attention to detail for the little things as well as the big effects, including the animation of the snow (some of the best for animated film seen recently) and the movements of the wolves.
The music has liveliness, atmosphere and nuance with some catchy songs in the mix. 'The Flight Before Christmas' mostly is successful as a family film with something for children and adults like it clearly strived to appeal to all ages. The former will lap up the amusing and innocent humour, the cute characters, the easy to relate to themes the film teaches, the exciting adventurous elements and the quirkiness. The latter will be surprised at the more mature content that appeals to them and how mostly well handled it's done, it's not disturbing or overdone and doesn't feel misplaced or like the film didn't know what it wanted to be or who to aim it at.
This aspect may go over children's heads but they have enough to enjoy anyway elsewhere so it shouldn't be a problem. Meanwhile adults will like its cuteness, charm, the family values and how sincerely and not patronisingly they're delivered and the universal message, as well as seeing how children are enjoying it. As for the darker, more tense scenes, they may scare the very young but actually one might be surprised at how they'll take it, children's taste are under-estimated often and parents saying things like "this film is not for children" or "this scared my child" doesn't help.
Characters are easy to warm to, one will relate to the main character's story (another aspect that both children and adults will like), the action excites and the film flies by.
Overall, worth the watch if not blowing the mind. 7/10 Bethany Cox