Reviewer’s Rating: ★★★★
Imagine Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman transformed from mythical childhood figures into weapon-wielding superheroes charged with protecting the world’s children from nightmares, sorrow, and despair.
In “Rise of the Guardians,” these larger-than-life characters, known as the Guardians, use their magic to give children hope and happiness. When the Bogeyman, also known as Pitch Black (Jude Law), reappears on Earth after being underground since the Dark Ages, the Guardians must muster all of this formidable magic to thwart his evil plans.
Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy may be the heavy-hitters of children's mythology, but Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a playful, lesser-known magical being who has a chip on his shoulder, is the star of this film. Kids generally don’t believe in Jack because he doesn’t leave tangible evidence of his existence like presents, eggs, or money. Nonetheless, the Guardians must follow the wishes of the enigmatic Man in the Moon, who appoints the obstinate Jack as a new member of the Guardians.
“Rise of the Guardians” is a modernized version of some of the most well-known mythical children’s figures. These Guardians are not the same old jolly rosy-cheeked beings from the old movies and stories. Santa, or North to his friends, carries two dangerous-looking swords, and with his gruff, no nonsense demeanor, there is little resemblance to the chimney-hopping big guy that eats cookies at every stop. Fortunately, North is what Santa really should be: a fierce protector of children everywhere. The same can be said of the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.
Though their outside appearances have been changed to fit the super-hero persona, the giving, wondrous nature of these characters has never been stronger. At their core, they embody everything that makes the traditional ideas of Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and even the Sandman great.
The story and voice acting in this film are top-notch. Pine is excellent as Jack Frost and brings a playfulness and depth to the character that makes him quite relatable. Baldwin’s over-the-top Santa is also a joy to watch. His Russian accent is a bit shocking at first, but fits this character perfectly.
This movie is based on the “Guardians of Childhood” book series by William Joyce, a Shreveport-based writer and filmmaker. Joyce won an Oscar for his animated short film “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” He also worked on “Robots,” “Meet the Robinsons” and the upcoming “Epic” movie.
Overall, “Rise of the Guardians” should become the new classic Christmas movie. It has adventure, suspense and hope, which is the perfect combination for a modern heart-warming, yet exciting children’s film.