While they don’t quite rival Pixar in the game of geek goodwill, Aardman is another kid-geared studio that gets a lot of credit from discerning film fans for their commitment to quirky pieces that don’t pander to the kids or adults watching them. Wallace & Gromit are a staple in the stop-motion world at this point, they branched into the CG animated world with Dreamworks to produce Flushed Away, and now they’ve got a deal with Sony that will see them tackle the North Pole’s First Family.
Arthur Christmas, which we noted was part of a two-picture deal with Sony a year and a half ago, tells the story of the Claus operation, which plans and implements Christmastime present delivery with military precision. The North Pole houses a dynasty of sorts; a Bill Nighy voiced GrandSanta lords and grumbles over the current Santa and Mrs. Claus, voiced by Harry Potter alumni Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton, while a Hugh Laurie voiced Steve prepares to take over the red suit from his father. The film focuses on Arthur however, Santa’s other son and the only Claus still mystified by Christmas. If the poster is any indication, it’s going to have a heavy science fiction element going on.
I hope, like Flushed Away, that this CG film is another that retains as much of the claymation look of their stop-motion films as possible. There is something irreplaceable about the fluid but deliberate physical cadence of Aardman characters, along with their smooth tactility. The cast is extremely solid, and the synopsis is one that doesn’t necessarily scream “cutting-edge,” but the overall impression of the project is very interesting. And with Aardman’s warmth and unique attention to humor brought to the film, it could be a real treat come November 23rd, 2011.