We lose our child-like sense of wonder during our alternately exhilarating and confounding transition to adulthood. In these amoral times, however, more and more kids succumb to cynicism long before they hit puberty—and, as dramatized in Peter Ramsey’s visually succulent animation, “Rise of the Guardians,” Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin) and his colleagues, the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), are deeply concerned!
As Guardians, it’s their duty to bring joy to children, whose hopes and dreams they’re tasked to protect. But, the emerging world order is tipping the balance of power in favor of Pitch Black (Jude Law)—the bogeyman responsible for all sinister creatures that go bump in the night. He turns children’s dreams into nightmares, and his power increases as more kids lose their sense of wonder—including their devotion to Santa and his friends!
Enter Jack Frost (Chris Pine). The Guardians’ naughty new recruit is gifted with the ability to consolidate their symbiotic powers—but, he is distracted by fuzzy memories of his tragic human past, as well as self-esteem issues that need to be addressed before Pitch realizes the full extent of his sinister powers on Easter Sunday, which is merely three days away!
The film is veritable eye-candy that moves briskly from one section of its exposition to the next as it expands, then wraps up its straightforward tale. For the most part, its storytelling style is geared for young audiences, who will enjoy its colorful protagonists’ dynamic but “wholesome” exchanges.
Law and Pine make the most of their two-dimensional characters, but their colleagues—and the movie itself—could have benefitted from more mature (albeit inoffensive) jokes that would be greatly appreciated by older viewers.
The movie’s conflict lacks edge and a genuine sense of danger. Imagine what Pixar would have done with a hot-tempered rabbit, swooning fairies, a knife-wielding Santa, impatient elves, obedient Yetis, and a stubborn 18-year-old amnesiac!