Rise of the Guardians Review

Legends unite when Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost join forces to protect the children of the world in DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians, based on the children’s novels by William Joyce.  Did DreamWorks create another great film about childhood wonderment or are they just trying to cash in this holiday season?

Story

For centuries the Guardians have been chosen by the Man in the Moon to protect the dreams, wonder, memories and hope of children all over the world. The children need them just as the Guardians need the children to survive, for if the children no longer believe in them, they will cease to exist. They will wander the Earth in an invisible state.

From his workshop, Nicholas St. North (aka Santa Clause) monitors the children who believe on a large globe. Each light on the globe represents a single child. But a dark omen has infiltrated the hallowed halls of the toy factory. The Boogie Man, better know as Pitch Black, has sworn revenge upon the Guardians and has plotted his return. North summons the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman for a meeting. North asks the Man in the Moon for advice on how to defeat Pitch again. They are given a vision to recruit Jack Frost as a new Guardian. Can Jack get over his reluctance to join the team and help them to finally banish the Boogie Man once and for all?

DreamWorks presents Rise of the Guardians
North explains to Jack Frost the importance of joining the Guardians

Overview

A big part of growing up is realizing that Santa and the Easter Bunny do not exist. Many say that it’s the Spirit of Christmas that’s most important. But as a kid, there is nothing more powerful in the faith that if you are a good little boy or girl you’ll get a quarter under your pillow or presents on Christmas Day. The mythical characters are so powerful in a child’s mind that they are more real than people in world. This is the challenge a movie like Rise of the Guardians must face: make them believable and tangible.  I have to say I left the theater once again a believer. DreamsWorks does an amazing job in adapting the William Joyce novels “The Guardians of Childhood” in the same way they brought adaptations of  Shrek and How to Train your Dragon to the silver screen. The movie is so authentic to the novels because Joyce co-wrote the screenplay.

What makes Rise of the Guardians such a fun movie to watch is that it has the same story concept that made Marvel’s The Avengers the number one movie of the year. Team up all your favorite heroes against a common enemy, in this case it’s not against the God of Mischief, but rather the Boogie Man himself. We have all watched Santa and Easter Bunny movies, but when have we ever seen them teamed up? The Guardians are a super hero team comprised with unique team members with specific skill sets. Sandy (The Sandman) has an intense, almost Japanese anime style, battle with Pitch using the powers of his shape shifting sand. E. Aster Bunnymund (The Easter Bunny) has an Australian accent and duel wields boomerangs that he accurately blasts demon nightmare horses. North is a Russian Cossack warrior armed with two cutlass swords and drives a sleigh so cool, it could give the Batmobile a run for its money. Guardians may not have Joss Weadon writing and directing the movie, it does have the vision of  Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy franchise/Pan’s Labyrinth) as the film’s executive producer.

Rise of the Guardians Jack Frost and Pitch Black
Jack goes head to head with Pitch (The Boogie Man) in his underworld.

The newest member of the team is Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine (Star Trek/People Like Us). Jack is a bit of a lost soul, wandering the Earth trying to figure out why the Man in the Moon created him. Normally he spends his days creating school snow days and initiating snowball fights. Jack doesn’t want to join the fight, he just wants to have fun. It’s up to North, voiced by Alec Baldwin (30 Rock/Rock of Ages), to show Jack what his purpose is.

I really loved this version of Santa. He is large in stature with the words “Naughty” and “Nice” tattooed on his massive forearms. He has the cutest elves that reminded me of the comic relief the Minions in Despicable Me had. He also has an army of Yeti body guards.

Rounding out the cast of characters is The Easter Bunny, portrayed by Hugh Jackman (X-Men/Real Steel), Tooth (The Tooth Fairy), voiced by Isla Fisher (Rango/Wedding Crashers), and the evil Pitch, played by Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes/Contagion). I didn’t mention any actors for Sandman because he is actually mute. Instead of talking, he uses his facial expressions and sand effects above his head to convey his thoughts. Sandy may be a man of no words, but he seemed to be the wisest of the team. The only thing I had a problem with the characters was the the Boogie Man looked awfully too similar to Hades from Hercules in design.

Rise of the Guardians Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny
Iron Man and Captain America don’t see eye to eye…Oh wait, wrong movie.

Rise of the Guardians is offered in 3D and Real D 3D and it should be, because the stunning visuals were quite impressive and warranted the depth that only 3D can provide especially in the numerous flying sequences. If you saw How to Train your Dragon in 3D, then you’ll understand how amazing it is to watch a film like this on a big screen. You actually get a sense that you are flying with the characters. One scene in particular that I loved is when North rounds up the team in his sleigh to save Tooth and her mini fairy tooth collectors. You get an over the shoulder view as Santa flies out of his cave and throws snow globe portals to warp the team to a new location. This scene was so cool that it felt like it could be a ride at Disney World.

With movies like last year’s Arthur Christmas, I enjoy movies that reimagine the mythology of our beloved childhood characters. Rise of the Guardians does a fantastic job explaining how the Easter Bunny is able to hid his eggs all over the world and the purpose why the Tooth Fairy collects children’s teeth. Guardians is also not just a Christmas movie, because in fact it takes place during Easter. It’s a movie that can be enjoyed year round. The other key element that makes this film great to see is that it doesn’t talk down to children and has an interesting story for the adults that have to take them s audience members of all ages can enjoy the movie. I highly recommend Rise of the Guardians as it adds elements of super heroes, anime, magic and wonderment. Maybe after you see the film, you’ll be a believer again.

In Theaters: November 21, 2012
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Peter Ramsey
Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law
Genre: Animated, Family, Adaptation, Fantasy
Distributor: DreamWorks Animation
Official Site: http://www.riseoftheguardians.com