“Rise of the Guardians” delivers the magic of the holiday season to nationwide audiences. The latest DreamWorks Animation feature film is based on children’s book series “The Guardians of Childhood,” written by William Joyce who, along with Guillermo Del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), executive produced this adaptation. Director Peter Ramsey (“Monsters vs. Aliens”) brings David Lindsay-Abaire’s (“Robots”) screenplay to life through breathtaking CG animation.
Our story begins behind the eyes of the mischievous Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a perpetually teenaged winter spirit who has been around for the last 300 years. Jack drifts through life scornful of discipline and uncertain as to his origins and the purpose for his existence…until one fateful night. Our youthful hero is unceremoniously stuffed into a sack and brought to the North Pole, as charged by the Man in the Moon, to be inducted into an order of immortal beings from legend called the Guardians.
Their leader is Santa Claus a.k.a. North (Alec Baldwin), an updated version of the traditional Saint Nicholas complete with a thick Russian accent and rugged stature, and the Guardian of Wonder. Joining him is Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman), an athletic, 6-foot-tall Australian rabbit who takes his job of coloring and guarding Easter eggs very seriously. Next up is Tooth (Isla Fisher), the part-human, part-hummingbird collector of children’s teeth, which hold their memories. Last but not least is the mute Sandy/the Sandman, the first and oldest Guardian who presides over dreams.
In present day, the Guardians face the threat of an old enemy, Pitch Black (Jude Law) the Nightmare King; he seeks to poison children’s belief in magic with his pandemic of fear. As his nightmares begin to take hold and magic weakens, Jack Frost and the Guardians must work together to protect all the children of the world and stop the fear from spreading.
At times there seemed to be some religious aspects weaved in throughout the movie, which can especially be attributed to the omniscience of the Man in the Moon, as well as the way the “good” characters defer to him. However, they weren’t so glaringly conspicuous to the point of being a distraction from the plot at hand. Joyce’s stories provide a vivid frame for these age-old characters and the tales they hail from, and transform the typical childhood stories that most audiences are accustomed to. The exquisite animation is eye candy for moviegoers to snack on, as they follow Jack Frost on the ever-relatable adventure of finding oneself.
Ultimately, despite the younger demographic that “Rise of the Guardians” is intended for, DreamWorks succeeds in creating a movie that welcomes all audiences to believe in the magic that lies beyond our world.
Rating: 4.5 stars