I’m not going to lie to you. When I saw the trailer for Rise of the Guardians my geeky core and inner-child let out a mighty squee! A movie that has a tattooed Santa, an Australian Easter Bunny, a cute Sandman, and a highly energetic Tooth Fairy was something that was right up my alley.
The trailer reminded me of the Rankin & Bass claymation classic, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. In this special from 1974, The Great Ak convenes a council of Immortals to decide about bestowing the gift of immortality upon an aging Saint Nicholas. The story is rife with fairies, warlocks, and a large array of fantasy accouterments. It proceeds to tell the story of Santa Claus and why he is deserving of the mantle of immortality.
Rise of the Guardians is story in a similar vein. The focus of the film is Jack Frost. The very first scene has us witnessing his birth. We see him rising up through water as he describes his first memory being that of the Man in the Moon calling him and giving him his name. We follow him on his first few tentative steps as a new entity and quickly learn that despite the power he has he is still separate from humanity. The movie then brings us forward in time to the modern era and introduces us to current guardians. These are North, Bunny, Sandy, and Tooth respectively. I think you can sort out easily who is who in this little list. The dilemma of the story is quickly introduced as Pitch Black, The Boogey Man, has returned. What follows is a simple story of self-discovery and being true to one’s self. The thing is, despite it’s simplicity, the story is well told and kept me entertained with the both the plot and characterization through out.
One of the things I enjoyed about the movie was how each entity was handled. One of my worries was that the movie would be heavy handed and preachy. This was not the case. Each character was stripped down to what it represented at its core. As you get to know each one, it is very clear what each represents and when the point comes for the explanation it was something nice to hear spoken aloud. It was also rather cool to hear the kids in the theater react to each revelation. The story moves forward with the inexorable advance of Pitch Black. Each of his victories deals a blow to one of the four main characters. This then provides the next clue for jack in his journey to figure out what is his core. We also learn as the story progresses that each one was a person before they became a guardian. This reminded me of the Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony and cemented my love of this movie.
If you are a geeky parent, I highly recommend taking the kids to see this movie. It is cute, funny, and entertaining. It has the added benefit of being based on the series of books by William Joyce entitled Guardians of Childhood. The kids can see the movie and then read the books. Even if you don’t have kids I think it is worth your time as it is a well done story with entertaining characters. How can you not love a story involving Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Sandman, The Easter Bunny, and Jack Frost?