Niko 2: Little Brother, Big Trouble sees the son of Prancer having to deal with his parents’ separation and his mother’s new boyfriend, who has a son of his own. He also has to deal with an evil wolf lady and some eagles, who want to kidnap Niko and make him suffer for his father’s flying reindeer troupe, which got rid of her brother moons ago. There’s a lot of plot to deal with in the space of just 67 minutes, but Little Brother, Big Trouble’s commitment to every storyline, along with keeping up the engagingly slight pace throughout, makes it a surprising amount of fun. Throw in some silly side characters, a decent script and some absolutely fantastic animation and lighting, and this film is one of the most cinematic animated films of recent years.
Leading the film is a young reindeer who is voiced well, being a little angry and annoying, but purposefully so, and having a passion and anger that you can believe in when the child’s world is turned upside down. Comic characters sometimes do come in to break up the darker elements of the film, but even then, these seem much more organically placed than, say, in The Swan Princess Christmas, where characters were darts thrown in many directions. A Planes, Trains & Automobiles-like plot with a visually impaired former flying reindeer, Tobias, starts off as pure slapstick, but evolves into an honest character in a film where so many grow beyond the expected.
Little Brother, Big Trouble’s action scenes are surprisingly intense without blurring the vision of the film’s main goals, and everything is given an enjoyably neat bow by the end, making it much more suited for very young kids than some of the earlier elements imply – but Niko 2 doesn’t patronise too much, and makes the adventure and the comedy feel earned enough to work for older viewers as well. The film won’t be watched by billions, but compared to movies released theatrically this year, Niko 2: Little Brother, Big Trouble is one surprisingly strong animation, with great visuals, a good script and an exciting adventure.
Niko 2 is no longer available on UK VOD.