MANY of the benevolent icons of childhood innocence are the universally adored faces of capitalism and greed.
Father Christmas rewards 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 Rise Of The Guardians should imagine a world in which children suddenly stop believing in these idols because there are no parcels under the Christmas tree or chocolate eggs hidden in their garden.
Without proof or financial reward, 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 film is a reminder there are many things without scientific proof that still touch our hearts.
Screening in 3D in selected cinemas, Rise Of The Guardians boasts a pleasing mix of action, adventure and comedy.
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 his 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.
Once the threat posed by Pitch Black becomes real, the guardians prepare to welcome a new recruit in the shape of Jack Frost.
“All he does is freeze pipes and mess with my egg hunts!” scoffs Easter Bunny.
But Pitch Black gains in strength and the children 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 a past he cannot recall.
Rise Of The Guardians unfolds at a brisk pace, leaving scant time for in-depth characterisation between the eye-popping action sequences.
Visuals lack the meticulous detail and complexity of Pixar’s recent offerings but colour radiates from the screen and director Ramsey combines the various elements with confidence.