Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation deliver holiday cheer in a speedy Santa sleigh over slick, solid ice. “Rise of the Guardians” is a coldblooded, full of family fun, must see film.
Not the typical feel good Christmas movie, “Rise of the Guardians” takes the traditional holiday icons and mythical creatures — Santa Claus called North, the Easter Bunny affectionately called Bunny, the Tooth Fairy named Tooth, and the Sand Man or Sandy — and gives them strong, feisty personalities and one task: protect the child’s light.
That light is belief. But there is one whose belief wavers and is nearly extinguished to the detriment of the world. Jack Frost, a mythical creature, has been on earth for hundreds of years, invisible to everyone but other icons, known for nothing but bringing the cold. The guardians are “hard work and deadlines” versus Jack’s “snowballs and fun times”.
Alec Baldwin voices North, the Slavic and militant Santa, Isla Fisher is the sweet, slightly neurotic Tooth Fairy, there’s the golden and silent soldier Sandy, and Hugh Jackman is the bold and brave Bunny. Chris Pine is the voice of the lost hero, Jack Frost.
With the ascension of Pitch Black (Jude Law) — the Boogie Man — the Guardians, including new recruit Jack Frost, team up to protect children’s dreams, hopes, and their belief in magic. But it is Pitch alone who understands Jack Frost’s struggle with wanting to be seen. It is Pitch alone who knows what it means to be ignored for the more favorable North, Bunny, Tooth, and Sandy.
Nothing goes better with the cold than the dark.
Frost is fun and playful, but still invisible and lonely, longing to belong. Often what we want is the greatest weapon against us.
“Rise of the Guardians” is also a sentimental look at what darkness betides when no one believes in us. Jack Frost grapples with that peril as did Pitch so many years before. Other’s belief in us is valuable, but it is the belief in ourselves that enlivens us. Without belief in ourselves we will surely die.
But Manny, the Man in the Moon and God-figure, urges the Guardians to trust Jack because of what is at his center, encourages Jack to trust himself.
The mission for Jack becomes learning who he is so that he can find the source of his power, so he can live his purpose.
The best part of the movie is that it maintains its reverence for the holidays, preserving the majesty of Santa, while letting the story belong to Jack Frost. Along with Elves and Yeti, the Guardians battle the boogie man for the life of imagination. And dreams rise from the dark.
With beautiful brawls, exciting travels, and its esteem for innocence, “Rise of the Guardians” is the first film of the year completely appropriate for moms, dads, teens, and babes alike and is a holiday thrill ride.
See it now. Check local listing for showtimes.