PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
The story begins with the spirit of winter, Jack Frost being raised from a frozen lake, but he returns to the world unseen by people and it is learned that he cannot be seen because he is not believed in, and all of his memories from his former life are gone. Only his name, given to him by the Man in the Moon who raised him, is known to him.
300 years later, North receives a vision in his workshop of the boogeyman Pitch Black, and alerts the other Guardians; the head of the tooth fairies Tooth, the short tempered Australian-accented E. Aster Bunnymund and the gentle, non-speaking Sandy to the North Pole. Upon their arrival, they do not want to believe that Pitch poses a threat, but their guide the Man in the Moon suggests otherwise and instructs them to induct Jack Frost as a new Guardian to combat the threat. Meanwhile, Jack instills fun and laughter in children from his childish nature and inspires a snowball fight between a young believer named Jamie and the local children, but still they do not believe in him and he is still invisible. Jack is taken forcibly to the North Pole by North’s Yeti workshop workers, but declines joining the Guardians as his centuries-long isolation has left him bitter to the responsibility they hold dear to protect the children of the world. North tries to convince him otherwise, but they are alerted to an attack on Tooth’s palace. When they arrive, they discover Pitch’s nightmares taking all of the childrens’ teeth and the baby tooth fairies that work as Tooth’s assistants. Jack saves one before they are confronted by Pitch, who states he intends to stop the childrens’ belief in the Guardians so he instead is believed in, wielding a power like Sandy’s to turn his dreams into nightmares. Pitch escapes and the loss of belief in the tooth fairy seems to immediately effect Tooth. Jack volunteers to help when he discovers that the teeth provide the memories of the children they came from including his own and seeks to find his place among them. They manage to collect the teeth in one night and faith in Tooth is restored though they are caught by Jamie who can see them all with the exception of Jack. Jack and Sandy are attacked by Pitch’s nightmares and though Jack’s efforts are valiant, Sandy is overcome and seemingly destroyed by Pitch. With Easter a day away, the group agrees to help Bunny distribute his eggs. They find Jamie’s toddler sister Sophie at the Warren and manage to decorate eggs for distribution, Jack then takes Sophie home.
Lured by a familiar voice calling to him from under a bed in the forest, Jack and Baby Tooth discover Pitch’s hideout. Pitch offers Jack’s canister of memories in exchange for remaining a neutral party, but Jack refuses and in retaliation, Pitch destroys all the eggs before they make their way to the surface, destroying the childrens’ belief in the Easter Bunny. Being blamed for the failure, Jack leaves the Guardians and isolates himself in Antarctica where he encounters Pitch again who offers a partnership to spread fear to all the children. But Jack wants to be loved, not feared and rejects Pitch’s offer again. Pitch holds Baby Tooth hostage for Jack’s staff and then he sends Jack and Baby Tooth into a crevasse when Jack hands the staff over. Baby Tooth suggests Jack open his memories, where he discovers he was a teenage boy who had saved his sister from falling through thin ice by alleviating her fear with fun, in turn though he’d fallen in, but that sacrifice inspired the Man in the Moon to resurrect him as Jack Frost. Inspired by this, Jack returns to save the last light of belief on Earth; Jamie. Not only does Jack succeed in reaffirming Jamie’s faith in the Guardians, but he also instills a belief in him, allowing Jamie to see and hear him, much to Jack’s delight. The other woefully weakened Guardians join Jack to face off against Pitch, and Jamie has his own friends join in the seemingly impossible fight; but their faith is more than a match for Pitch’s nightmares and also causes Sandy’s resurrection, which sends Pitch running. No longer feared, Pitch cannot be seen or heard by the human children, and his fear turns his own nightmares against him, dragging him back under the bed.
Jack accepts his place with the Guardians and says goodbye to Jamie and his friends, their hope renewed and their belief strong Jack assures Jamie that they are now in his heart and as long as they believe the Guardians will always be there to protect them
Let’s face it, there were a bunch of animated films that were released last year. Some have argued that there may have been too many. One of the films that many have overlooked, partially because of the massive shadow by Wreck-It Ralph and all the holiday films that were released around the same time, is Rise of the Guardians.
What is this about?
In this animated adventure, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost come together to battle Pitch, a malicious spirit determined to take over the world and destroy the innocent beliefs and dreams of children.
What did I like?
Not what you know. Normally, I’m a purist. Give me what I know and I’ll be happy. No need to go around changing stuff for the sake of change. This film won’t change my stance on that, but I did appreciate the new versions of our well-known holiday icons. No longer is Santa a jolly old elf, but a Russian biker type, for instance.
Children. Children, and humans, in films like this seem to be nothing more than an annoyance. Thankfully, the children don’t really have much to do with most of the picture and the focus is on the guardians, which is what the audience came to see, after all. I’m sure there are those out there that feel they could have more of an impact on the proceedings, but I’m not one of those. The decision to not have some cheeky, disrespectful child mucking things up was brilliant.
Pitch. I really like the villainous Pitch Black, otherwise known as the Boogeyman. The look of him reminds me of a vampire and for a character than is all about the darkness, that works. Jude Law’s voice also really worked…better than I thought it would. With all that said, he still is no Oogie Boogie.
What didn’t I like?
Origin. We get Jack Frost’s origin and a little bit of Pitch Black’s, but the others, not so much. Reading a little background on this film, and it turns out that it is set 200 years after the book series, which gives each character their own story, apparently. I’m not saying the film should have went into great detail about each one, but maybe a scene where they are sitting around getting to know each other and we get a quick reference to what their past is would have been nice.
Sandman. I loved the little Sandman guy. He actually may have been my favorite, but two things bothered me. First, whose idea was it to have him be silent? If anything, that seems like something better suited for the Tooth Fairy. Second, why did they have to kill him? I can understand not killing off Santa or the Easter Bunny. Can you imagine the shock and horror on the kids’ faces?!? I just don’t feel it accomplished what the filmmakers were attempting. Now, if he would have just been kidnapped, that may have worked better.
Timing. So, this doesn’t take place around Christmas, but rather Easter. Does that make any sense? Not to me, it didn’t. Around one of the major holidays like that, when the guardians are at their strongest, might not have been the best time to launch an attack. Perhaps Pitch should have tried one of the lesser Patriotic holidays like Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, etc.
When all is said and done, Rise of the Guardians should have risen to the top of the box office for weeks, but it didn’t, for whatever reason. Such a shame for such a grand film. The few qualms I have with this film are minute as it is a very well made and entertaining film. I highly recommend it, especially around the holidays (Easter or Christmas).
4 1/2 out of 5 stars