DreamWorks Studio takes the approach that more is better in this beautifully animated and witty film, starring not just one legendary folklore figure, but five.
Fast-paced and filled with exuberant action, Rise of the Guardians is a superhero flick filled with well-known childhood characters - Santa Claus (Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Fisher) and the Sandman - who are all brought together by the Man in the Moon as guardians who must protect the hopes and imaginations of children.
Their powers come from being believed in. As long as kids think they're real, the characters can deliver their gifts to the world. If children stop believing in them then the holidays and traditions will die - it's an excellent way to blackmailing kids into believing.
In this film, which feels like the first in a series, the free-spirited Jack Frost (Chris Pine) becomes the latest appointment as a guardian.
Frost must learn the responsibilities of the role and help his famous colleagues stop an evil dark force called Pitch (Jude Law), who is determined to destroy the them and take away all joy in the world. The battle between good and evil gets a little intense at times, so if you're thinking of taking preschoolers, it would best to check out the trailer online first.
A couple of the characters will likely be unfamiliar to Kiwi kids, with the Sandman, a traditional Northern European character who protects children's dreams, and Jack Frost lacking the brand recognition of Santa Claus. But with the participation of the big three, kids will be hooked anyway.
So will parents. It's impossible not to enjoy Baldwin and Jackman's colourful interpretations of their characters. They're lovable, while being rougher than what you'd expect, original and often irreverent as they fire off plenty of quick quips.
Rise of the Guardians doesn't quite provide the emotional hit that would have made it a standout but that won't worry the kids, they'll be too caught up in all the fun and wonderfully detailed 3D animation flying out at them.
Cast: Isla Fisher, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman
Director: Peter Ramsey
Running time: 97 mins
Rating: PG (coarse language)
Verdict: Awesome animation overrides story-telling