That’s the question posed by the imaginative and inspiring Rise of the Guardians, where Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Rango’s Isla Fisher), and the Sandman try to recruit the reluctant, wayward Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to join them in the fight against Pitch Black (Jude Law), a malicious spirit determined to take over the world and destroy the innocent beliefs and dreams of children.
Granted, the idea of Santa Claus as a Russian émigré with tattooed forearms, or a six-foot Easter Bunny who wields boomerangs and an Aussie accent, is an acquired taste. But director Peter Ramsey soon puts those concerns to rest by giving us deep, fleshed-out characters to believe in without having to delve into their origins.
Our guide to this world is the apprehensive Jack Frost, as we follow his quest and internal struggle to determine if he has what it takes to become a Guardian – in other words, to stop making mischief and recognize his true calling.
What’s at stake here, as Pitch is quite aware, is that if kids don’t believe in the Guardians, they will cease to exist. With the help of a young boy named Jamie (Dakota Goyo) as their unwavering believer, our heroes attempt to prove that even the scariest of boogeymen is no match for the bravery and beliefs of children.
The film features enthralling, breathtaking animation in which Ramsey and his team take full advantage of the 3D without going overboard or making it seem like a retro-fit. The battles between the Guardians and Pitch’s army of nightmare creatures are truly amazing, including a show-stopping finale involving more characters than you can shake a freezing staff at.
With Rise of the Guardians, it’s another crowning achievement for DreamWorks Animation (How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda 2) as they pull even further ahead of Pixar and its recent lackluster offerings (Cars 2, Brave).
If you didn’t experience Rise of the Guardians in theaters, here’s your chance to see what an amazing film you missed. Your kids will believe. And so will you.
Is it suitable for your kids?Rise of the Guardians is rated PG for “thematic elements and some mildly scary action.” The idea of Pitch turning kids’ dreams into nightmares may be scary for very young children. Pitch kidnaps Tooth’s fairies and later threatens to crush one of them in his hand. Santa wields two large swords when doling battle with Pitch’s army. One of the Guardians appears to be destroyed by Pitch. Jack’s actions inadvertently cancel Easter. Jack’s backstory (shown in flashback) involves him drowning after falling through the ice on a lake while rescuing his little sister. The Tooth Fairy (ironically and comically) knocks out one of Pitch’s teeth. There’s no inappropriate language, aside from the Easter Bunny’s occasional use of the Aussie adjective “bloody” and Pitch tells the Easter Bunny to “go suck an egg.”
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?Yes. Rise of the Guardians is full of tremendous storytelling, amazing animation, and the theme of keeping children’s beliefs alive. Make it essential viewing for Family Movie Night.
Rise of the Guardians
* Director: Peter Ramsey
* Screenwriter: David Lindsay-Abaire
* Stars: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo
* MPAA Rating: PG
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