I’m going to get the negatives about Rise Of The Guardians out of the way quickly so that we can all enjoy this delightful holiday film. On paper its cornier than a jumbo super sized bucket of pop-corn. The Guardians are an axis of awesome comprised of the mythical beings who give kids cool stuff, namely Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and The Sandman (as the bringer of happy dreams). They are appointed by the omnipresent but largely silent Man in the Moon and charged with the solemn duty of protecting the wonder and innocence of childhood. The leader of the gang Santa Claus or “North”, voiced by Alec Baldwin, is true to his Russian folk roots. Bizarrely The Easter Bunny, voiced by Hugh Jackman, is a boomerang wielding, tough talking Aussie. It’s as if Hugh’s drover character in the movie Australia ate too many carrots and sprouted ears and a cotton tail.
When a new threat emerges in the form of the Bogey Man aka Pitch Black, the fab four must band together to stop fear and nightmares from engulfing the hearts of children world wide. The fight is considered so serious that The Man In The Moon calls upon the help of a new guardian – Jack Frost. Jack’s struggle to uncover his true purpose and identity is the film’s central arc.
If you can get past the idea of a Ruski Santa and Steve Irwinesque Easter Bunny leading the charge against a Bogey Man who resembles Harry Potter’s Voldemort then you are in for a treat. The Rise of The Guardians is a gorgeously animated movie that evokes an enchanting universe. The opening scenes where Jack Frost rises from a frozen lake into the golden moonlight are stunning. The worlds of all the central characters are exquisitely drawn. The tooth fairy is a luminous bird of paradise stationed in Tooth Palace and assisted by an army of splendidly colored humming birds. The Sandman floats on a shimmering cloud weaving lovely dreams for the children from golden dust. One scene where the gang help the Easter Bunny decorate his eggs in rivers of paint had my inner kindy kid old fist punching the air.
As the Boogey Man and his nightmare minions foil the tooth fairy’s work and ruin Easter, children cease believing in magic en mass. Hope and wonderment are snuffed out like light bulbs all over the world. Except, as you would have surely learned from a lifetime of Christmas stories, for one little boy, Jamie, who never loses faith. Jack is able to rally Jamie and his friends to push back against Pitch and the fear and darkness he represents.
If you see Rise of the Guardians leave your inner cynic at home otherwise he’ll ruin the movie experience like the annoying guy who crunches his chips too loudly. The Rise of the Guardians serves up schmaltz by the tray full but it engulfs you in its wondrous universe. For me it brought back a sense of enchantment reminiscent of being five years old and seeing Charlie and The Chocolate Factory for the first time.
Mumabulous Verdict: 8.5/10
A wonderful holiday for kids who believe or wish they still did. The action is a little too frenetic and some of the scenes are a touch scary for the very little ones. Best suited to everyone over 5 years.