Based on William Joyce‘s The Guardians of Childhood children’s series, Rise of the Guardians is an old fashioned tale of good and evil centered around an unlikely hero called to join the battle. The Guardians, a group of mythical beings who are sworn to protect children across the globe, are comprised of Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Sandman, and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman). Despite some infighting, the group works together to keep the magic and wonder of childhood alive across the globe.
When the villainous Pitch Black (Jude Law) returns to introduce nightmares and fear into the dreams of children, while making them begin to doubt the existence of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, the Guardians rise to stop the Bogeyman before he can destroy the dreams and beliefs on children all across the globe. To do this they will need the help of the irresponsible Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a mischief maker with a shadowy past and a yearning to be recognized and celebrated the way children love the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
Rise of the Guardians is your basic by-the-numbers unlikely hero tale as Jack Frost will struggle with his new role, at one point seem to fail and loose the trust of his new friends, and then ultimately take his place among the rest of the group as a true hero. If the story itself isn’t very imaginative, the movie does spice things up with some impressive 3D animation and several twists to our iconic heroes (including the Easter Bunny’s Australian accent and boomerangs, and Santa using Yetis instead of Elves to make toys for Christmas).
In a year without a true standout animated feature, Rise of the Guardians does give audiences something that has been missing from the other movies of this year – a old-fashioned villain. With his various nightmares, double-crosses, gleeful hate, and unrelenting plans to make children suffer, Pitch is such a classic animated villain that at any point you half expect him to burst into song. Although I don’t think the film is as good as Brave or Wreck-It Ralph (or even the light but enjoyable Hotel Transylvania), it does deliver an iconic villain in the Boogeyman and a well-told (if somewhat basic) tale that should appeal to both older and younger viewers.