Secular & Somewhat Scary, but Guardians is Great Fun
- Wednesday, November 21, 2012
DVD Release Date: March 12, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: November 21, 2012
Rating: PG (for thematic elements and some mildly scary action)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Run Time: 97 minutes
Director: Peter Ramsey
Cast: Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher
Poor Jack Frost: we sing about him "nipping at your nose" but other than that he’s an enigma. Santa we know; the Easter Bunny, we get; the Tooth Fairy is a familiar character and even the Sandman is an old friend. But Jack Frost? He's something of a mystery... until now. Rise of the Guardians is Jack's story, set against a battle for all the children of the world.
The premise is the standard "good vs. evil" matchup all good stories share, with the twist being an Avengers-style coalition of childhood icons as the heroes. There's Santa, of course, known here as "North," a loud, larger than life, Russian character voiced with gusto by Alec Baldwin (To Rome with Love). He's joined by a boomerang-wielding, egg-distributing commando of an Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman, Butter). Tooth (Isla Fisher, Bachelorette) is a CEO of fairies who deploys her fluttering army hither and yon to pick up teeth and distribute gifts. The final Guardian is Sandman, the Harpo Marx of the group. Sandy is a cuddly cloud of dreams who may not talk, but who manages to communicate nonetheless.
Then there's Jack (voiced by Chris Pine, Star Trek), something of a juvenile delinquent of immortals. He's not a bad kid, just aimless. Like all bored kids, Jack tends to cause trouble, which makes his appointment as a Guardian a surprise to the others (especially the Easter Bunny, who's been harboring a grudge since Jack snowed on his parade some years earlier). Tooth and her fairies are the only ones who welcome Jack to the group; apparently Jack Frost is the Justin Bieber of the fairy world.
It's probably obvious by now that the holidays represented in Rise of the Guardians are totally secular versions; look not for a Christian worldview here. Christmas is Santa's time, not the Christ Child's. Easter is egg-driven; it has nothing to do with the Resurrection. The Moon is personified as a sort of god-like figure, though he’s a hands-off deity who sends cryptic messages without getting involved. In this universe, it’s all up to the Guardians to protect children from despair.
That brings us to the "evil" part of the conflict. Pitch Black (voiced with a perfect silky-smooth sneer by Jude Law, Anna Karenina) is the boogeyman out to destroy the Guardians and cover the earth with fear. His nightmare horses (nightmares, get it?) may well frighten the youngest audience members, though the 3D animators did well to keep the scary steeds closer to the screen rather than bringing them out into the audience. Pitch tries to draw Jack over to the dark side while the rest appeal to Jack’s better nature. While there’s no real mystery about which way Jack will eventually go, there’s a lot of character development and plot to unfold along the way.
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