- Released Internationally on 21/11/12
- Released in Malta by KRS on 30/11/12
Preview (first published 01/11/12 in VIDA Magazine)
This looks like the clear winner for children this month, and may even carry through until the festive season. The animation team at DreamWorks, who have brilliant films such as How to Train Your Dragon to their name, have turned their attention to children’s author William Joyce, who also has experience in film and animation. He is working on a series of books about the Guardians of Childhood - an Avengers-like gathering of famous names including Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Sandman (who takes care of dreams) and Jack Frost (Chris Pine). They all team up to protect children when Pitch (the nightmare king, voiced by Jude Law) threatens to take over the world. So there’s a fair bit of magic and wonder involved, which allows the animation teams to run riot. This should be fun, but even more so if you’re still at that wonderful age where you believe.
This delivers as expected, with stunning visuals and animation, right from the first few minutes. After a brief prologue introducing the central, misunderstood character of Jack Frost, the film launches into full festive mode, and despite being set around Easter time, provides enough north pole material to feel like a festive holiday treat. The ‘guardians’ all get ample screen time, but are slightly different to their usual self. Alec Baldwin provides a deep Eastern European accent for Santa Claus, who also sports heavily tattooed arms. But otherwise it’s business as usual, from tooth fairies to Easter bunnies to the lesser known Sandman. It’s a testament to the animation team at DreamWorks that the latter is probably the most memorable character, despite not uttering a single word throughout the film.
Jude Law’s villain draws heavily on Hercules’ Hades, and probably deserved a better ending. The film also seems to be cramming too much into one short film at times, and risks losing the plot in the second half. Worst of all, however, it somehow misses out on that extra something, that magical spark, that made recent gems like How to Train Your Dragon and most Christmas classics so heart-warming and special. The ingredients are all there, but something hasn’t set. Or maybe I just dampened my sense of awe when I found out the secrets behind the tooth exchange system and Christmas presents. Either way, young kids should be suitably blown away, and this should serve as a wonderful holiday treat.