From DreamWorks, the studio that brought us Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, comes Rise Of The Guardians, a winter themed animation that resembles The Avengers for kids.
The Guardians comprise Santa (Alec Baldwin), Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and Sandman, joined by new recruit, Jack Frost (Chris Pine). Overseen by the man on the moon, their mission is to protect children from the Boogeyman, aptly named Pitch Black (Jude Law). English, slender and dressed entirely in black, the resemblance to The Avengers Loki is uncanny.
Despite Santa getting top billing on many Rise Of The Guardian’s posters, it’s actually Jack Frost who takes centre stage. As one of the few mythical characters who can’t be seen by children, Jack desperately wants children to believe in him. Tooth Fairy’s collection of teeth - that hold memories of childhood - offer Jack the chance to find out about his pre-Jack Frost existence and the clues to his future success.
Unfortunately Pitch Black has stolen them and the pursuit that follows is just one of the various quests the guardians must embark on.
It’s disappointing that the only festive elements to this film are the inclusion of Santa - albeit a harsher, less jolly incarnation than those we usually see - and a great deal of frost.
It seems an odd choice that Rise Of The Guardians is set at Easter. Not only must the guardians rescue Tooth Fairy’s teeth, they must also make sure Easter goes according to plan. To its detriment, the film feels crowded with events, missions and backstories.
The scope of characters involved and the breadth of their mythical worlds makes Rise Of The Guardians seem geared for sequels.
As for the characters, the guardians are frequently annoying. Sandman is mute, incomprehensible and ultimately disposable, while the Easter Bunny is loud, brash and unappealing.
Santa and his elves are reminiscent of Despicable Me’s Gru and his minions, without any of the warmth, originality and genuine laughs.
Rise Of The Guardians is not without some nice touches - a set of nesting dolls provide a neat way of delving into the complexities of character and the idea that all heroes have a previous human existence is interesting.
This DreamWorks venture also features some striking 3D animation.
Despite its sickly sweet focus on preserving the innocence of childhood, Rise Of The Guardians lacks both genuine sentiment and festive atmosphere.
In seeking to give these familiar characters detailed back stories, Rise Of The Guardians crams in too much mythology leaving little room to relish in fun. A forgettable addition to the DreamWorks collection, yet one that seems primed to sprout numerous sequels.
Running Time: 97 minutes.