Rise of the Guardians: Rated “PG” (97 Minutes)
Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law
Directed by: Peter Ramsey
There have always been stories and legends of mythic individuals and creatures that watch over and protect us; going back to the very dawn of time. Over the aeons, these tales have become codified and part of the lexicon of our culture. The film, Rise of the Guardians not only taps into this iconography, but plays with it, subtly shifting the legends — in some cases back to a semblance of their original form, and in others into an entirely new image. The film deals with a group of legendary heroes; each with extraordinary abilities, and specific talents, and all based around children’s stories.
These heroes are the Tooth Fairy (who replaces our lost teeth with money), the Sandman (who helps us fall asleep and gives us good dreams), the Easter Bunny (who gives us colored eggs at Eastertime), and of course Santa Clause (presents at Christmas). While the first two of this quartet are essentially as we remember them, The Easter Bunny is an overly large Australian jackrabbit, while Santa (Baldwin) — who is simply referred to as “North” — is a tattooed Russian warrior brandishing a pair of swords. The four of them (under the direction of the Man in the Moon) form The Guardians of Childhood (from the children’s series by William Joyce) and when a great evil spirit, known as Pitch (Law), returns from exile to throw down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must gather together in order to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world.
However, they are told by the Man in the Moon, that for this mission, they will need the help of Jack Frost (Pine), only that doesn’t sit well with Bunny (Jackman) who still holds a grudge from the time that Jack made it snow on Easter several years earlier. Still, they (reluctantly) add him to their number as they go after Pitch who is not only giving the children of the world, nightmares, but causing them to not believe in the Guardians. While the story is about the four main Guardians, it is essentially Jack’s tale, as it explores just who he is at his center, and as he learns his previously unknown past.
This is a truly delightful story that explores some very different aspects of familiar characters, presenting them in a new and playful light. The animation is wonderful, and the story is very engaging. All-in-all, a delightful tale for the holidays.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for over 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as here and elsewhere on the web.