Now Playing: A DreamWorks Original Holiday Mash-Up

Following suit from ‘Kung Fu Panda 2‘, DreamWorks Animation’s latest release takes family entertainment to the darker side, yet still features the same all-around entertaining content that we expect from holiday kids’ flicks. ‘Rise of the Guardians’ isn’t the best animated film of the year, but it has some very welcome and unexpected tricks up its sleeve.

Since one of the main characters is Santa Claus and the film opens just a month before Christmas, the studio is painting ‘Rise of the Guardians’ as a Christmas movie. In reality, the story is set around Easter, and the Santa character is its only link to Christmas. In the world of the movie, an elite team of mystical figures has been organized to protect children around the world. For centuries, this team has consisted of Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny. But when a growing darkness makes itself apparent, the Man in the Moon chooses a new Guardian to join the bunch: Jack Frost.

Jack isn’t like other Guardians. He isn’t a beloved character of childhood lore and fantasy. He doesn’t get any credit for making kids happy with snow days away from school or unforgettable sled rides. No, he’s seen as responsible for cold spells, illnesses and making winter bitter. Jack can’t help feeling like an outsider, so when he’s suddenly called to be a legendary Guardian, he’s caught off guard and can’t imagine how he can possibly bring down the “boogeyman” Pitch Black.

I didn’t expect Pitch’s character to be so dark, but he makes for a truly threatening villain. Just as Jack does, I found myself wondering how he’d actually fit into the big picture, what it was that he could do to save the children of the world from Pitch’s evil plan. Through strong writing, I was clueless as to where the story was going and how it would to end. Assuming that you haven’t read the books, you’ll probably be suprised too.

‘Rise of the Guardians’ isn’t my favorite family flick of the year (‘ParaNorman‘ is), but it’s definitely one of the better ones.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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