Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. The Easter Bunny. And... Jack Frost??? Children love the jolly fat man who breaks into their homes to bring them presents, the creepy gnat that sneaks into their rooms at night, watches them sleeps and then steals their teeth in exchange for money and the animal that poops out tasty, chocolate-filled eggs for their consumption. Little attention is ever paid to the guy who causes snow days.
Rise of the Guardians, the new family film from DreamWorks Animation, brings Jack Frost to the forefront. In the movie, Jack (Chris Pine) is recruited to battle the bogeyman (Jude Law), who wants to destroy the hope of children. Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher and Hugh Jackman also lend their voices.
The movie is a film that kids will love and parents will enjoy, even though it isn't perfect. Peter Ramsey, helming his first theatrical release, has compiled an imaginative and clever adventure-comedy that takes a unique look at Santa (a Russian guy who relies more on yetis to make Christmas presents than his pint-sized elves), the Tooth Fairy (a weird-looking creature who has an army of little bugs to do her work for her) and the Easter Bunny (a hard-edged Aussie who sounds a lot like Wolverine).
Never mind that the main character looks a hell of a lot like King Joffrey from "Game of Thrones."
It's easy to point out everything that the movie has going for it, but it's harder to put my finger on exactly what Rise of the Guardians doesn't have. As entertaining as it is, the movie is missing something that other highly regarded animated films have. The movie feels less consequential; it's an amusing film that doesn't have the energy, or the heart, or the charisma of the top-tier family films. I'm not exactly sure where it falls short, but ultimately it feels more routine than it does magical.
Still, Rise of the Guardians is fun, with great, highly detailed visual effects, a fast-paced story and entertaining characters. The movie has a few very funny moments and revels in its silliness. Children will love the cast of goofy characters, while parents will be pleased that the movie is smart enough to appeal to them as well.
It should be noted that while the movie is generally harmless, the movie's villain is, literally, the bogeyman and thus parents of young children should proceed with caution.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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