Rise of the Guardians (PG)
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REMINDING us that Christmas is just around the corner comes Dreamworks' latest offering, based on the hugely successful children's books by William Joyce.
For those of you familiar with the Avengers-style, mythical superheroes of the original, this screen offering moves us forward by 300 years and finds our new hero, Jack Frost (Chris Pine), at the centre of the story.
Blessed with powers which include the ability to freeze everything in his wake, Jack is a non-entity, forgotten about by children who no longer believe in him and is therefore, invisible to the world.
The story charts his mission to discover his identity and remind everyone why he has a reason for staying in the realms of children's mythical folk lore.
Joining forces with the only people who have an ability to see him, fellow Guardians Father Christmas (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the silent Sandman and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Jack leads a quest to save children from the evil Pitch Black (Jude Law), whose job it is to instill fear into little tots, and have them shaking under the bedcovers every night.
In this age old story of good versus evil, it is the Guardians' mission to give children hope and ensure darkness never creeps its way into innocent minds.
The characters are all nicely drawn, hugely imaginative and surprisingly three dimensional for an animation.
Santa roars in a Russian accent and is quite nifty with a sword, and the Easter Bunny is a cool, boomerang-throwing dude.
This film is epic in its vision and delivery – the worlds are beautifully detailed, and will not disappoint Dreamworks fans.
For a fantasy universe, it looks and feels remarkably real and children will have no problem relating to the characters and the adventure which unfolds.
There is much here for adults too – some nice comedy moments and a more intricate plot than is usually allowed in this genre of film.
This is Peter Ramsey's first outing as a director and much of the film's success is down to the screenplay he has been blessed with, created by screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire.
There are big set pieces, action and adventure in abundance, as well as some deeper themes to keep you pondering on, like our reason for being, and a child's quest to find a meaningful place in the world.
The 3D is on the money — although at times can be a little repetitive but the kids won't care.
Little ones might find it a bit scary in places — there is a dark undertone which pervades, but this just adds weight to the overall work and will give adults something to think about.
Just like the adult Marvel equivalents of this type of movie, the ending smacks of franchise and sequels, so expect more from this band of superheroes in the future.
Which won't be a bad thing if the message is always as strong as this one — keep believing, keep the faith and have fun along the way.
All in all, it's good family fun and will still be playing over the Christmas holidays.