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Friday, July 11, 2014

'Guardians' rise to the challenge, produce charming feature

Thursday, December 6, 2012

(Photo)
The year 2012 has been a stellar year for animated feature films. We've had "Frankenweenie," "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," "ParaNorman," and my personal favorite "Brave." But with the holiday season sweeping over the land a new film has found its way to the top of my favorite animated feature list.

What do you get when you ask Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost to save the world from the Boogie Man? You get "Rise of the Guardians," a film that excels at every turn and has enough entertainment value to please young and old fans alike.

Spearheaded by the A-list voice talents of Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman and Isla Fisher, "Guardians" based on William Joyce's book series "Guardians of Childhood," gives us a new view of each of these tried and true staples of our childhood.

Pitch a.k.a the Boogeyman (Law) has had enough of spending eternity with children disbelieving in him, so he sets his sights on the Guardians comprised of North a.k.a Santa Claus (Baldwin), Easter Bunny (Jackman) and the Tooth Fairy (Fisher) in hopes of leveling the playing field.

Someone who knows all too well what Pitch is going through is Jack Frost (Pine). Frost provides the children of the world with awesome things such as snow days from school and yet none of them believe he exists. He wanders the world in search of who he is and what his purpose is.

At the North Pole, North is called to his world glove by his elves and watches as the globe is engulfed in darkness, blacking out all the lights of belief in the world. North knows it can be the work of only Pitch and quickly summons the rest of the Guardians to inform them of the revelation.

As they decide on a course of action, Sandman has set his plans in motion and is intent on taking them out one by one starting with the Tooth Fairy.

Pitch attacks Tooth's castle and steals all the fairies and children's teeth. When the Guardians arrive with Frost in tow, they learn how Pitch's plan will work. As children wake up around the world with their teeth still under their pillows, they begin to disbelieve in the Tooth Fairy, which weakens her.

They must work together to restore the children's faith in the Tooth Fairy, while trying to prevent Pitch from working his darkness on their own respective holiday. Frost is Pitch's most admirable foe, but his struggle to find his true self and his center as instructed by North results in him helping Pitch in way he could never imagine.

After a self-imposed exile to Antarctica, Pitch gives Jack what he wants the most -- his baby teeth. You see, as the Tooth Fairy explains earlier, all our childhood memories are captured in our baby teeth and she and her fairies are the keepers of our memories in case we forget who we are. All Pitch wants in return is Jack's staff -- the source of his powers, thus eliminating the one person that stands in his way.

Jack gives up his staff to save Baby-Tooth, a tiny fairy. Pitch breaks the staff and leaves Jack in a crevice. Baby-Tooth unlocks Jack's container of teeth to reveal that he died saving his sister on a thin iced pond, thus becoming a winter spirit.

Re-energized, Jack rejoins the rest of the Guardians in time to help them fight Pitch before all the lights of belief in the world go out and exorcise himself from the realm of the unbelieved.

I was totally blown away by "Rise of the Guardians." The film moves at a quick pace, never suffering the middle slowdown most animated flicks do.

The voice talent is amazing, but the standout is Baldwin as North. I didn't realize he provided the voice until after the film. His Russian accented North is wonderful.

Final Cut: If you go to one movie with the family this holiday season, do yourself a favor and check out "Rise of the Guardians." Superb voice talent and an equally awesome story makes his film a definite must see.

4.5 out of 5 stars