The secret identities of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy come to light in the enchanting and exhilarating animated adventure Rise of the Guardians, which takes these familiar figures from childhood mythology and turns them into a band of dynamic superheroes fighting to protect the children of the world.
Along with the dream-weaving Sandman, the gift-delivering trio are all Guardians, fostering innocence and imagination for as long as children believe in their existence. But when the wicked bogeyman Pitch appears on the scene, threatening to replace hopes and dreams with fear, the Guardians must recruit mischievous loner Jack Frost to help defeat him.
Based on William Joyce’s book series The Guardians of Childhood, Rise of the Guardians is a delight for all sorts of good reasons. The way it plays around with tradition is witty, clever and just a little offbeat. So the Cossack-like Santa, voiced by Alec Baldwin, has thick tattoos and an even thicker Russian accent; Hugh Jackman’s Bunny is a boomerang-wielding Australian badass; Isla Fisher’s Tooth is half-human, half-hummingbird; and Jack Frost (a winningly puckish Chris Pine) is an eternally teenaged prankster who, initially, would rather start a snowball fight than save the world.
All this is great fun. But the film also delivers a giddy, kinetic excitement as its heroes whoosh and swoop through the air, or glide and skitter on ice. On top of this, there’s just the right amount of darkness to the story, with Jude Law’s insidious velvet-tongued Pitch unleashing scary nightmares in the form of sinister smoke-black stallions.
These writhing equine wraiths are brilliantly conjured up in 3D by the DreamWorks’ animators, as are the Guardians’ idiosyncratic realms. (Bet you didn’t know yetis not elves make Santa’s Christmas toys.) True, the story dips a little in the middle, where flashbacks cut in to explore Jack’s sad past, but the pace soon picks up, buoyed along by the superb voice cast.
In cinemas from Friday 30th November.
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