Childhood innocence is under threat

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By Walsall Advertiser | Friday, November 30, 2012, 09:00

MANY of the benevolent icons of childhood innocence are the universally adored faces of capitalism and greed.

Father Christmas rewards well-behaved children with expensive gifts, the Tooth Fairy marks the loss of an incisor with money under the pillow and the Easter Bunny reduces an important Christian festival to a carnival of cocoa-smothered excess.

So it seems fitting that this computer-animated fantasy should imagine a world in which children suddenly stop believing in these idols because there are no brightly coloured parcels under the Christmas tree or chocolate eggs hidden in their garden.

Without proof in the form of material or financial reward, impressionable young minds turn their backs on centuries of myth and legend.

Based on The Guardians Of Childhood book series by William Joyce, Peter Ramsey's entertaining family-oriented film is a timely reminder that there are many things without rigorous scientific proof that still touch our hearts and change our humdrum lives for the better. Screening in 3D in selected cinemas, Rise Of The Guardians boasts a pleasing mix of action, adventure and comedy – the latter courtesy of Santa's army of expressive elves.

The film is narrated by Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine), who emerges from a frozen lake without any memory of the past. At the North Pole, Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin) and his elves are hard at work when darkness flashes across his map of the Earth.

"The bogeyman was here," Santa tells fellow guardians Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and Sandman, who refuse to believe Pitch Black (Jude Law) has risen to challenge their supremacy with nightmares.

Once the threat posed by Pitch Black becomes terrifyingly real, the guardians prepare to welcome a new recruit to their fold: Jack Frost.

Pitch Black gains in strength and the children of the world turn their backs on Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Sandman until just one boy, Jamie (Dakota Goyo), believes. Everything rests on Jack achieving his destiny but he is haunted by the past he cannot recall.

The film unfolds at a brisk pace. Law is a slightly lacklustre villain but other vocal performances are solid and Jackman trades dry Antipodean wit as the macho bunny with a boomerang.

Visuals lack the meticulous detail and complexity of Pixar's recent offerings but colour radiates from the screen and this combines the various elements for a treat.

★★★★

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