Complete A-Z list

Rise of the Guardians (3D)


Stars: Voices: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Dakota Goyo

Director: Peter Ramsey

On paper, the idea of Nick St North (alias Santa Claus), the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy joining forces to battle against the nightmares engendered by an evil entity called Pitch, who aims to envelop the world in fear and stop young children believing in Santa & Co, seems more than a trifle absurd. But in practice, and at least most of the time, it works.

You may even shed a tear as Jack (Pine) searches for the one child who will believe in him, this rendering him visible to that particular tot, and goes back to his past to discover his previous life.

The idea of the Man in the Moon being an omnipresence is really an ask too far, but Pine's voice skilfully brings Jack to life; Jackman's aggressive Bunny is another striking character; and the unmistakable tones of Law breathe menace into the fiendish Pitch.

The film is almost too colourful - the US critic who likened it to an exploding toy shop wasn't far off the mark - but gradually the characters, nicely humanised by the actors, win us over.

Lots of action will please older juniors while sentiment is usually leavened with an antidote of sardonic realism. Santa's elves, who have nothing to do with Christmas presents, on which Gruffalo-like creatures labour night and day, also have some felicitous, down-to-earth moments.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Paramount (DreamWorks). Technicolor.
97 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 Nov 2012