Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is a mischievous trouble maker, and a bit of a loner. He spends his days without care, causing snow days and triggering snowball fights. He has no recollection of who he was prior to being given his powers, and no mandate, no mission, of what to do with them now that he has them. So it’s somewhat of a surprise when the Guardians call on him to join their ranks. Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman are charged with protecting the hope of children around the world, and now they face a challenge like never before.
The Bogeyman has returned and is looking to take power by replacing children’s dreams with nightmares. Recognizing that the Guardians will be the biggest challenge to his plans, and that their powers depend upon the belief of children, he preemptively strikes, disrupting their respective holidays and duties. His thinking being, if he can disrupt them from accomplishing their duties, the children of the world will lose faith in them, which in turn will weaken the Guardians.
Of course, he hadn’t counted on Jack Frost.
Dreamworks Animation, the studio behind “Shrek”, “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon”, has crafted another winning film, here. The animation and 3D were both exceptional. The animation style felt less “kiddy” than most of today’s animated films, as if it was slightly more towards the “young adult” end of the spectrum. The characters are slightly less cartoonish than we’re accustomed to seeing. Additionally, with the mythical cast of characters and their various powers, “Rise of the Guardians” has no shortage of opportunities to utilize imaginative visuals, settings and action sequences, and the Dreamworks animators absolutely rise to the occasion.
The characters of legend are superbly voiced. I would have never recognized Alec Baldwin if I hadn’t known it was him. Hugh Jackman goes back to his native Aussie for the overgrown, boomerang wielding Easter Bunny. Jude Law is outright evil as the boogeyman, mixing menace and reason in the manner of all the best devils. Together with Chris Pine, who’s a mischievous Jack Frost and Isla Fisher as a flighty, dental obsessed Tooth Fairy, they all add fun and variety to an already colorful cast of characters.
“Guardians” takes these assets – the fun voice work and great animation – and uses them within a charming children’s story framework. Santa Clause, The Easter Bunny, The Sandman, The Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost all use their gifts to protect the world’s children, and in return… they get believed in. There’s super-powered battles around the globe, and holiday related activities aplenty. We get to see a creative vision of how each of these mythic characters do what they do, and the result is highly entertaining. Toss in a conflict against a menacing character bent on ruining the fun of the world’s children, and you get a story that is not only unique and charming, but exciting as well.
With almost nonstop, boundaryless action, legendary characters, a fantastic sense of humor and great animation, “Rise of the Guardians” is a high quality, imaginative animated offering for families this holiday season.