© Universum/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Germany GmbH

Niko - Ein Rentier hebt ab (The Way to the Stars, Niko - Lentäjän poika)
Finland/Denmark/Germany/Ireland 2008

Opening 4 Nov 2010

Directed by: Michael Hegner
Writing credits: Hannu Tuomainen, Marteinn Thorisson, Mark Hodkinson

Little reindeer Niko lives with his single mother in a herd in Lapland. His best friend is Julius, the flying squirrel. Niko has never met his father but is convinced that he is on the team of eight which pulls Santa’s sleigh. He expects this absentee father can teach him to fly, but first he must find him. Julius is concerned about the unrealistic plan, but gives in and goes along as friend and protector. Along the way, they meet up with Wilma the weasel. The three of them face dangerous obstacles, especially a gang of wolves (who resemble the hyenas in The Lion King), led by the very scary Black Wolf. The wolves have already taken a hostage: Essie, the ditzy pink poodle who was on a ski vacation before she got lost. All of them reach Santa’s house in the North Pole and find the eight reindeer letting it all hang out, as irresponsible as any tipsy, irresponsible bachelors in a bar.

Niko was the first animated (and also 3D in some cinemas) film to be made in Finland. It immediately won the Finnish Oscar for best film and script. It’s full of morals to the story: don’t endanger the herd; stay with your mother; loyalty counts; learn to know yourself; sometimes it’s better to be stupid; take responsibility for your offspring. I could go on. One of the best things about this good film by Michael Hegner and Karl Juusonen is that it offers something to everyone in the family. Go with your children (probably five years and over) and enjoy a film full of holiday spirit and good cheer including a rousing version of Jingle Bells at the end.

Second Opinion
I loved the way the eight reindeer stood around the table and burped, and my favourite actor was Wilma the weasel, who could sing, maybe because I’m a pretty good burper and singer myself. I liked the whole film, and really I wasn’t afraid of the mean old wolves or the avalanche, although you might have thought I was afraid. Everybody should see the film about Niko the reindeer. (Elizabeth Jennings, age 7)
(Becky Tan)

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