Review - Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians (2012), PG, 97 minutes - Every year there are a handful of new holiday themed films that pop up in theaters between Thanksgiving and Christmas and just about every one involves a Christmas heavy plot.  Oddly enough, despite including a couple of holiday specific characters, Rise of the Guardians doesn't revolve around this gift giving time of year.

This film focuses on a group called The Guardians (based on a series of children's books by William Joyce), that is comprised of North (Santa Claus), Bunny (the Easter Bunny), Sandy (the Sandman), and Tooth (the Tooth Fairy).  Their job is to look after and protect the children of the Earth.  The more the children believe in The Guardians the stronger and more real they become.  This is where Jack Frost comes in.  He has the power to control winter.  He's the one that gives kids snow and ice and snow days.  He has no memory of his life before receiving his wintry powers and there are no tales about Jack and his playfulness.  Because of this the children don't even know that he exists and as a result, he's virtually a ghost.  A threat to the world's children known as Pitch Black makes his presence known, and North (leader of The Guardians) calls the Guardians together along with Jack, their newest recruit.  The Guardians offer to help Jack figure out who he was before he received his wintry powers in exchange for his help in stopping Pitch's evil schemes.

The animation in Rise of the Guardians is beautiful.  The voice acting is solid, with a quality cast that includes Chris Pine (Jack), Alec Baldwin (North), Hugh Jackman (Bunny), Isla Fisher (Tooth), and Jude Law (Pitch).  Law's voice over for Pitch was particularly well done.  It really added to the menace that his character brings to the film.  No mention of Sandman's voice you may wonder?  Well, he doesn't speak at all.  He communicates with charades-like cloud formations made of his dream dust.

This film has been released both in 2D and 3D.  I saw the standard 2D version.  There were a few scenes that I could tell were shot with 3D in mind, but the 2D version looked wonderful.  Unless you just absolutely love 3D, I'd save a few bucks and go the standard route.

It may not be your typical holiday themed movie, and who knows if it will become a holiday viewing staple, but Rise of the Guardians is a lot of fun and well worth giving a look if you have time during the busy holiday season (especially if you have little ones).  It provides a unique take on characters from children's lore and even tries to make an addition or two.  And its reinforcement of the power of believing is also a nice touch.  Especially at this time of year.











*****SPOILERS*****

- One of the producers on Rise of the Guardians is a personal favorite: Guillermo del Toro.  That makes a good bit of sense actually considering how dark a couple of the scenes with Pitch Black are.

- I liked the twist in Santa's workshop that yetis build all of the toys and the elves are just a bunch of little Despicable Me-like Minions.

- The touch that a child's memories are stored in their baby teeth and are not just collected but archived by the Tooth Fairy was a cool idea.

- I really liked the idea that not only do the Guardians become more ghostly as children stop believing in them, but they also change in physical appearance as well (Bunny devolving to a little pet-sized rabbit as opposed to being six feet tall).

- I also liked the unique takes on some of the character designs.  Making Santa a hulking, tattoo'd Russian, and the Easter Bunny a boomerang wielding Aussie was fun.

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