I saw Rise of the Guardians today and it’s hands-down the best film I’ve seen so far this year (hopefully to be quickly dethroned when I see The Hobbit in two weeks’ time). Between a highly neurotic and excitable Tooth Fairy, the Sand Man with bull whip skills that put Indy to shame, a burly, tattooed Santa Claus with a sleigh pulled by murderous reindeer and wielding twin cutlasses, and a bad-ass, six foot eight Easter Bunny with twin boomerangs and Easter egg grenades, it’s really tough to say what I like most about this film.
Rise of the Guardians tells the story of Jack Frost, a young boy without any memories of his past, who is invisible to humans, flies and freezes things. Jack is summoned to join the other Guardians to help them prevent Pitch Black, the bogeyman, from turning all the children’s dreams into nightmares and destroying belief, thus eradicating hope from the earth. The Guardians are poorly prepared for Pitch’s onslaught and have to look on helplessly as the lights of belief become extinguished across the earth and their powers wane. In the end, it’s all up to Jack Frost and the one boy who still believes.
The film takes us on a wondrous journey of the imagination as we get to visit the homes of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and, of course, the North Pole (where an interesting fact is revealed regarding elves). These age-old creatures of our childhood imaginations are brought to us as mighty warriors, tasked with defending hope, belief and dreams against our most primal fear, the dark. As evil as he is, one cannot help but feel a little sorry for Pitch when he reveals that he also just wants to be believed in, but his methods to get that belief are twisted and evil and we rejoice when Jack finally discovers how to defeat him.
Jack Frost is the central character in the story. Gifted with incredible powers, he has no memories and no identity (he remarks early on he only knows his name is Jack Frost because the Man in the Moon told him so) and no idea what his purpose is. When called to join the other Guardians he is reluctant, keeping himself separate, and he first needs to learn to believe in himself so he can teach children to believe in dreams again.
Though the events in the film take place during Easter, Rise of the Guardians is a wonderful story for the Christmas time, reminding us of the importance of dreams and the difference that can be made by only one who believes. If you like animated films, this one is a must-see.