Rise of the Guardians (2 stars)

Rise of the Guardians

An overcooked seasonal family release, with the voices of Jude Law and Hugh Jackman

This latest DreamWorks animation, a 3D concoction just in time for Christmas, is a rather soulless affair. Which, given it features Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, not to mention a whole bunch of elves, might seem hard to believe. But compared to the warmth of Pixar movies, cartoons from the DreamWorks stable always feel rather calculated and overcooked – and Rise Of The Guardians is no different.

Based on The Guardians of Childhood series by William Joyce, the guardians in question are all those fantastical figures – from Santa to the Sandman – that we grow up believing in. One of the film’s more effective ideas is that their sworn enemy is the personification of darkness – Pitch Black (voiced by Jude Law), also known as The Boogeyman, who brings fear to children, turning their dreams into nightmares. It’s his plan to spread his chaos through the world and stop children believing.

To stop him, the Guardians are called upon – a tattoo-clad Santa (Alec Baldwin), the hyperactive Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the (very) Aussie Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and the mute Sandman. Despite their collective powers, they must hook up with a new, reluctant member of the team: Jack Frost (Chris Pine), the invisible ‘boy’ that spreads his icy touch across the world, but unlike the others is not ‘believed in’ by children.

It’s a nice central idea, but somehow the magic disappears in a cloud of fairy-dust, as director Peter Ramsay allows the film to lurch from one hyperkinetic chase scene to the next. Much of it seems tailored for 3D (snowball fights, sleigh rides), which quickly grows tiresome. Vocally, Law is the strongest, overpowering even Jackman’s broad Aussie and Baldwin’s Slavic Santa, while the cutest element is the Sandman, who ‘speaks’ in symbols, drawn in sand in the air. If only the rest of the film could’ve been so graceful.

General release from Fri 30 Nov.

Rise of the Guardians trailer

Rise of the Guardians

  • 2 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 1h 37min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Peter Ramsey
  • Cast: Voices of Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher
  • UK release: 30 November 2012

A set of childhood heroes (including Jack Frost, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus) unite to combat Pitch the Bogeyman in this adaptation of William Joyce's novel The Guardians of Childhood.