Rise of the Guardians

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(2012) ★★

BBC1: PREMIERE Sunday 20 December, 1.15pm

Santa Claus convenes the guardians of childhood – Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman (surely no kid’s favourite) – to fend off dark spirit Pitch Black, aka the Boogeyman. The first feature from director Peter Ramsey (head of story on the lively Monsters vs Aliens cartoon) is cluttered and gaudy.

Like an over-decorated Christmas tree, it’s all tinsel and no taste. And, for a story about childhood hopes and dreams, this DreamWorks animation is a bit of a nightmare. Alec Baldwin plays Father Christmas (sorry… Santa Claus) as a mad Cossack. Far too frenzied to be pleasing on the eye, it’s not a patch on The Polar Express and never as amusing as Aardman’s Arthur Christmas. The Coen brothers’ regular cameraman Roger Deakins is credited as visual consultant which is actually hard to credit; the film’s quite ugly (which could well be down to 3D). Better than Hop, though, you’ve got to give it that.

Certificate: PG
Duration: 97min

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