Rise of the Guardians, DreamWorks’ latest animated adventure, is a must-see family movie for the holiday season. With the re-imagining of fairytale characters into superhero-like protectors of children, the story is sure to please.

The story follows our hero, a puckish-like version of Jack Frost (Chris Pine), as he tries to discover the purpose of his existence. As far as mythical beings goes, he is an unknown who doesn’t really get along with the other characters, especially the E. Aster Bunny (Hugh Jackman). However, when an enemy from the past reappears, the Guardians need all the help they can get. Pitch (Jude Law) – also known as the Boogeyman – is set to unleash his nightmares on the children of the world and rule with fear. The Guardians’ true purpose is to protect the children’s belief in them, for without that belief they wouldn’t exist.

Ride of the Guardians movie review

The story is populated with well-known characters such as Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), better known as North, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher). However, the re-imagining of these characters – North has naughty and nice tattoos while the Tooth Fairy is a beautiful hummingbird-like creature – is what makes the movie unique. The sidekicks such as North’s minion-like elves and hardworking Yetis bring added humor to the story. The characters are perfectly voiced, especially Alec Baldwin’s North.

The story works for many reasons. First, it isn’t pegged as one mythology or another, it is based on universal characters that even if you don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, you’ll find someone you know. Even though this is being released during the holiday season the movie isn’t actually about Christmas. The story focuses more on the strength of believing in something and fears than it does on holidays. While there are healthy doses of humor there are also quieter moments, especially surrounding Jack’s origin story.

The film is visually stunning with nightmares that glitter like black sand and ice that crystallize in snowflake-like patterns. The story is thematically rich, combining William Joyce’s novel, Nicholas St. North and the Nightmare King, with his picture book The Sandman. While the movie doesn’t match up exactly to the novels, it is an excellent story on its own. The movie is definitely something that the whole family can enjoy.

Grade: A

Rated: PG (for thematic elements and some mildly scary action)

Rise of the Guardians opens nationwide on November 21, 2012.

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