Movie review: Rise of the Guardians (PG)

THE crisp, cold weather that is often pictured with Christmas gets put into the spotlight in kids animated film Rise of the Guardians.

While this film is focused wholly on Christmas, it has enough of a flavour that it can be counted as a Christmas film.

When boogeyman character Pitch Black begins to cast darkness and shadows across the world, a team of guardians consisting of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman join forces to fight back.

With the help of newly appointed guardian Jack Frost, can the team keep kids believing in the magic that comes with each dream, holiday and wish?

We all probably realise the answer to that. Even the film knows it, which is why (cleverly) the most interesting and main plot line surrounds the mysterious and almost unknown character of Jack Frost.

Sure, his cold nips at your nose and he cause blizzards and snow days but no one, not even Jack himself, remembers where he came from.

It is a unique and original idea that DreamWorks has taken to flesh out the teenage sprite we call Jack Frost.

Voiced by Chris Pine (This Means War), Jack is cunning, cheeky, agile and, because no one believes in him, is invisible to everyone.

Belief is the major theme of Rise of the Guardians. A lack of belief in the guardians fuels Pitch Black’s power and diminishes the magic the team has.

The film has a great amount of talent in the voice booth with Alec Baldwin playing Santa, Jude Law voicing the villain, Pitch Black, Isla Fisher taking the role of the Tooth Fairy and Hugh Jackman putting in an entertaining and very Australian turn as the gruff but caring Easter Bunny.

As with every children’s film there is a great amount of minor characters that provided background humour.

Santa’s elves are portrayed as dumb, useless characters who are prone to clumsy and slapstick adventures while an army of toy-making yeti’s are the real workers in Santa’s toy shop.

The other tiny and curious characters are the Tooth Fairy’s helpers, which are drawn as smaller, bird-like versions of the Tooth Fairy and the tiny, painted eggs that the Easter Bunny hides in gardens for children to find on Easter morning.

So while Rise of the Guardians is a new, different and entertaining enough seasonal film, it isn’t strictly a Christmas film.

But that’s OK because Christmas films tend to lean toward the overly schmultzy and stereotypical side of things.

Then again, some people want exactly that schmultzy, stereotypical dose at Christmas whether it comes in the form of The Muppets or Jimmy Stewart sending the message.

One great little Christmas film I found the other day was called Nativity! and starred Martin Freeman (The Office, The Hobbit).

Freeman plays a teacher of a struggling school that is determined to put on the nativity play to end all nativity plays.

It is full of small children with great talents as well as comedian Mark Wootten, who plays the over-eager teaching assistant.

On of the highlights of the film is the audition process and the many, many rehearsals but it is worth in the end when we get to see on of the best Christmas shows a school has put on.

Enjoy your holidays and your Christmas films of choice.

The Verdict: 3 stars. 

- Rise of the Guardians (PG) is now showing at Bendigo Cinemas. 

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