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First off, I love animation. So that is my bias here. I will try to be spoiler-free. Elliot the Littlest Reindeer is not a blockbuster movie. But it is safe for all, fun to watch and easy to enjoy. The story is not unique, but done pretty well. Elliot is not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. The movie does try to differentiate itself from the rest by giving a subplot partway through. Although it did feel a but rushed. Actually, though, the subplot is hinted at in the very first two minutes of the movie. This is a movie aimed at kids, nothing rough or overly violent, despite a few wonderfully flashy action scenes. I would have loved a more complex story line, or at least a more unique one. There were a few plot elements and characters that seemed to need a bit more explanation as to their motives. Elliot had some potential to be different. The world itself has some unique cues in it. I finished the movie wanting to know more about this world, and how Santa's operation fit into it. There was a few missed opportunities for some good language barrier and comprehension jokes. Although, that was not something I expected to pop up to begin with.
Elliot's animation is higher than middle grade, and nicely detailed. It more felt like I was watching an extended ps4 games cutscene. Not to say it was bad. The visuals were quite beautiful at times, with the weather effects an scope and scale presented. I noticed details like chipped hooves, misaligned teeth, imperfections in the surrounding environs. Although there was noticeably more detail in the main actors than in the sub and sides. Special effects were handled quite well for a kids movie. I loved the scenes nearing the end of the movie, especially the competition scenes. It is not pixar quality, but still quite pleasing to look at.
The characters are run of the mill feeling, but diverse enough to be memorable. Peanut Butter tragically needed more screen time. I liked him as much as I did Elliot an Hazel. Character handling was done pretty well, you have the annoying types, as well as the hero types. A little bit of character building was hinted at, but not executed very well. The VA cast was fluid sounding most the time, and flat at others. Some roles were acted very well, Hazel, DJ(annoyingly), Lemondrop, and for the most part, Elliot. Hazel, did at first completely remind me of Lupe from Ferdinand( must watch ), but I quickly dismissed that notion. Others were a bit flat sounding and or just sounded a bit off. The banter back and forth was quite good at times. Do understand, it is leagues better than any saturday morning cartoon's VA work, and leaps and bounds better than programming for 8 and under.
All in all, the animation is pleasing to look at for a kids movie. VA work is not obnoxious, ear grating, nor constantly sarcastic sounding. The score could have been less looney tunes sounding with less sound effects accompanying every change in facial expression. There is too much garbage Christmas and general cgi toons coming out every day. I was fearful to watch Elliot the Littlest Reindeer. Although I am glad I did. Elliot is no Toy Story, or Transformers Prime. It was, however, a nice diversion to sit down with the family or friends and just watch at the end of the day with some hot tea and popcorn, which was what I did. Elliot was also about a Miniature Horse, other animations or movies normally feature exotics, ponies, horses, zebras, other farm animals, not Minis. The Mini characters even visually had Miniature Horse characteristics. All of the animals did have a nicely stylized appearance. You can see alot of time and care went into their designs. Even with all the goats in a few scenes. I love goat's eyes by the way. Which was one of the funniest scenes to me.
All in all, if you like cartoons, even ones aimed for kids. Give Elliot the Littlest Reindeer a shot. I was glad I did. Maybe you will too.
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