Since the day he awoke with no memory and a powerful ability to manipulate winter weather, young Jack Frost (Chris Pine) has felt like an outcast. No one knows him, no one thinks about him, and most importantly, most kids (the target audience he most wants to please) don’t believe in him. But when a dark being known as Pitch (Jude Law) begins terrorizing the world’s children, Jack’s role in the world shifts from mischievous prankster to a member of the Immortal Guardians, along with Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Sandman. The Guardians must pool all of their talents to foil Pitch’s evil plan and prevent his reign of terror from spreading before the world is literally thrown into darkness. For all the faults in the production of this film (extreme budget issues, confusing marketing, etc.), Rise of the Guardians is actually a smart and highly enjoyable children’s movie that stands above almost every other animated film 2012 had to offer (behind only Wreck-It Ralph in my book). The characters are remarkably fresh given their familiarity and I found Santa being represented as a tough, tattooed Russian to be a cool change of direction. Likewise, the voices behind the characters are all excellent and they blend seamlessly with their onscreen counterparts. The casting director for this film deserves a bonus because truly, Rise of the Guardians is nearly perfect in this regard.
From a narrative standpoint, Rise of the Guardians is fairly uninspired but first time director Peter Ramsey keeps his film on track throughout while getting the most out of the script. The freshness of the characters doesn’t quite translate to the plot, though, and the film definitely could have used a touch of that. One of the big plot points in the waning moments definitely seemed forced and the conclusion itself felt a bit rushed. In the grand scheme of things, however, these are relatively minor issues. The animation is strong and the visuals compelling which made me wish I had made the time for this one in a theater. Moreover, the tone of this movie is such that it allows for the exploration of the dark corners of a villain like Pitch without becoming too intense or scary for younger viewers. All told, I found Rise of the Guardians to be incredibly entertaining and wholly enjoyable.
Rise of the Guardians Director: Peter Ramsey Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law Rated: PG (occasionally intense themes) Recommended For: Any viewer ages 4 and up