Starring Chris Pine, Jude Law. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, based on the book series by William Joyce. Directed by Peter Ramsey. G. 97 min.
Rise of the Guardians, DreamWorks’ new 3-D, CGI children’s epic, has a promising premise—an Avengers-style team of mythical characters (including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman) does battle against the Bogeyman. Unfortunately, the film delivers few laughs or thrills; its attempt to squeeze in every imaginable folkloric reference (Elves! Fairies! Creepy, lemming-like Easter eggs!) makes it more overloaded, and much less fun,
than St. Nick’s sleigh.
The story begins with the recruitment of a new “Guardian” to join a band of creatures who’ve been selected by The Man in The Moon to protect childhood innocence. Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a winter sprite whose invisibility to the human world has given him the disposition of an angsty Gen-Xer, is reluctant to assume this responsibility. When the evil Pitch (voiced by a fey Jude Law and variously identified as the Bogeyman and the Nightmare King) begins to instill fear in the world’s children and erode their belief in the Guardians, Jack has no choice but to join the fight.
The ensuing (and protracted) clash of good and evil moves the action from the North Pole—beautifully rendered with detailed, Nordic-inspired flourishes and populated by adorable, show-stealing Yetis—to a generically illustrated American suburb. The film’s uneven visual quality is paired with similarly uneven voice acting, which ranges from Isla Fisher’s grating Tooth Fairy to Alec Baldwin’s superbly naughty Russian Santa. Whether you are looking under your pillow or under your Christmas tree, this overwrought children’s film is not the present you were hoping to get.