It is Christmas time and you have the Easter Bunny saying “for once Easter is more important than Christmas,” which in a way is correct but I don’t think the Bunny was talking from a doctrinal point of view. Though Rise of the Guardians features the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus it is very pointedly secular (they are even called E. Aster Bunnymund and Nicholas St. North), which is fine and definitely does not come in the way of enjoying this cheerfully busy tale of myth, magic and finding “one’s centre”.
The film begins with a voice-over by the spirit of winter, talking about how the Man on the Moon told him he was Jack Frost. The scene shifts to 300 years later and the North Pole where North, his elves and yetis are going about their business. When the globe seems to be engulfed in a black cloud, Santa calls his fellow guardians — Bunnymund, Tooth Fairy (Tooth) and the Sandman, (Sandy) to figure what is going wrong.
And sure enough the wicked boogeyman Pitch wants to turn the world dark and leach all hope and laughter from children. The Man on the Moon (there should be a deus ex machina) asks a reluctant Jack Frost (he is a rebellious teenager who just wants to have fun) to join the guardians to fight Pitch. As the children’s dreams are turned into nightmares by Pitch, they stop believing in the guardians and it is left to Jack to realise his destiny and save the day.
The animation is top notch, wildly inventive and super colourful. The nightmares and Easter Bunny’s rabbit hole are just some of the clever visuals, Sandy is the cutest and Jack Frost (Chris Pine) with a delicate filigree of frost on his clothes is just so slick. Of the voice cast, Alec Baldwin with Russian accent is fun as North and Hugh Jackman with Australian accent and boomerang is this commando style Bunnymund. Isla Fisher plays the ditzy Tooth while Jude Law is suitably menacing as Pitch.
Based on The Guardians of Childhood book series by William Joyce (who also executive produced with Guillermo Del Toro), Rise of the Guardians is a perfect holiday treat. And we have Del Toro to ensure that things don’t get too cloyingly sweet — Santa wears cool tattoos and the tooth fairy looks like a distant cousin of those ravenous beings in Del Toro’s Hellboy II. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Rise of the Guardians
Director: Peter Ramsey
Voice cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman
Story: Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost need to protect the world from Pitch’s evil plan of spreading darkness
Bottomline: A breathless visual treat