Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Vadim Jean

Hogfather poster  
Terry Pratchett describes the Hogfather film as "done on a budget that would just about pay Arnold Schwarzenegger's cigar bill in a Hollywood production". The good news is, it doesn't show. As you might imagine for a movie based in the Discworld, it's laden with special effects. But in spite of the low budget, they're still pretty effective.

It's the night before Hogswatch, which is to say the Discworld equivalent of Christmas, but not everyone is entering into the festive spirit. The head of the assassin's guild gets an unusual request, and not much later the Hogfather goes missing, his castle of bones destroyed. But if the presents aren't delivered this year it will mean more than a few disappointed children the next day. Thanks to some quirk of mythology, if the Hogfather doesn't come then the sun won't rise over the Discworld.

So Death steps in to the Hogfather's shoes, complete with a false beard and a cushion for his belly, in an attempt to put things right. And it falls to his granddaughter Susan to figure out who is behind the Hogfather's disappearance, and how to fix things. Susan is a no-nonsense character who supernatural beasts fear to cross, and as such she makes the perfect nanny. She's none too pleased about her grandfather's new role.

Susan has Mr Teatime to reckon with, a ruthless assassin with a creepy black eyeball and a childish giggle. Mark Warren plays Teatime as though he's a petulant child, given to killing anyone he gets bored with. And he's very easily bored. Teatime gathers a group of people to help him infiltrate the Tooth Fairy's castle, one of the few places that Death can't go.

Whilst the Hogfather is out of business there's a peculiar boom in new supernatural creatures: the Hair Loss Fairy, the Verruca Gnome, a strange sock-eating creature, and many more. This movie is full of some of the more whimsical of Terry Pratchett's creations, giving it a visual appeal that young children can enjoy, even those who are too young to understand all the humour.

Like all things Pratchett, Hogfather has a barminess that doesn't make sense until the end of the story. It's funny, although this is as much in a peculiar way as in the laugh-out-loud sense. This is a fantasy world which doesn't take itself too seriously, taking a sideways look at belief and what it means to be human.

A result of this light tone is that it reduces the tension and suspense, so it's not very scary in spite of the liberal way Mr Teatime uses his dagger. This makes the film entertaining without being depressing or overly intense. However, some things are inevitably lost in the translation to film, and one of these things is the cleverness and wit of the narrative. Hogfather is enjoyable to watch, but not quite as stimulating as reading the book.

Film Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Films

  Kids     Fantasy

Classification: PG

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Vadim Jean