Created on Thursday, 15 November 2012 03:21 Written by Brett Murphy / For The Pitt News
Not since the Dark Ages has fear so paralyzed humanity, but once again all that’s good in the world is in jeopardy. Has everyone finally forgotten the Guardians, under oath to protect the children of the world, and turned them into a whisper? The Guardians need help.
With stunning animation and human emotions, “Rise of the Guardians” tells a story of identity and purpose, hope and wonder and the incomparable power of imagination.
DreamWorks animates the screen with a punch that gives Pixar a run for its money, and the 3-D aspect of this film has an actual purpose. Snowflakes float all around, and winter’s bright, majestic winds swirl off the screen, giving Jack Frost (Chris Pine) a seat right in the audience.
Jack is the playful menace of winter, and Pine boasts the same smug magnetism he brought to Captain Kirk in the “Star Trek” reboot. Jack represents snowball fights, sledding, blizzards and — most importantly — snow days. But for all the seasonal bliss he brings, nobody can actually see him. To the people of the world, even the awe-inspired children, Jack Frost is nothing more than a myth.
Pine gives helpless frustration to Jack’s late-night musings with the Man in the Moon, his “creator,” and you see the yearning in his watery, cloud-grey eyes.
But when he’s plucked from the snowy rooftops of suburbia and summoned to the North Pole, the Guardians — Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the silent Sandman — solicit Jack’s help in their crusade against Pitch (Jude Law). Pitch, or the Boogeyman as he calls himself, is the darkness and fear that’s been swept under beds and long forgotten.
Much to the surprise of the Guardians, Jack isn’t interested. “You guys are hard work and deadlines,” he comments with a grin and toss of the hand. “I’m snow fights and fun times.” Santa’s elves — hilariously useless in their pointy hats and lack of motor skills — gasp in disbelief at his response.
It isn’t until Santa challenges him that Jack realizes there might be hope in helping the needy bunch. “Who are you Jack? What is your center?” asked the eccentric, but still jolly, Santa. Jack has memories — a past before he became Frost — waiting for him on the other side of this journey.
Pitch is an eloquent villain, even alluring, as he attempts to recruit Jack into his nightmare. Tempted by the mere notion of being believed in, Jack is steadfast in his resolve to never be feared like Pitch.
The Guardians draw their power from the imagination and belief of children. But once Pitch dims most of the world’s light by sabotaging Easter and the Tooth Fairy, dreams turn to nightmares, and the Guardians’ strength wanes. Jack must confront that which he fears most to save his new friends and the imaginations of children everywhere. He has to find his center.
Certainly not afraid to borrow tropes from children’s films throughout history (e.g., “Hook,” “The Goonies,” “Up,” etc.), “Rise of the Guardians” brings the power of dreams and belief to mystical form. It’s probably not as funny as kids want it to be — Pitch has a looming presence in almost every scene — but there are enough laughs to keep them from restlessly squirming in their seats. It’s hard to be bored with a movie that features an Australian Easter Bunny and Siberian Santa with arm tattoos and swords.
“Do you stop believing in the moon just because the sun comes up?” Jack asks with a wink that provides audiences with a reaffirmation of fictional characters. And his question might just have some parents leaving out plates of cookies and milk this Christmas for more than just their kids’ amusement.
Having validated their conceptions of holiday heroes, youngsters will leave the theater hopping with enchantment.