Film & TV

Sweet, Fun "Rise of the Guardians" a Winner From Dreamworks Animation

If you completely unpack the plot of Peter Ramsey's sweet, fun Rise of the Guardians, it's a hierarchical set of nested lies: A bunch of sprite-like beings who, in real life, we've fabricated to trick children, are, for movie purposes, actually real. But they will vanish in puffs of rationality if children stop believing in them. So the self-reinforcing work of these mythical beings is to kindle widespread belief in their own existence (i.e., lies). Jack Frost (Chris Pine), the hoodie-wearing hero, has the terrifying ability to accelerate entropy and therefore hasten the heat death of the universe — or, in the comforting parlance of children's stories, he nips noses with frosty mischief. Jack coexists in the same world as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the old sleepy-time Sandman, collectively known as the Guardians, a coalition of powerful beings kind of like the Avengers or Damn Yankees. Happily, the film skews away from the established templates for these archetypes. (Santa Claus apparently isn't in the business of rendering Manichean judgments on the behavior of children.) Based on illustrator William Joyce's book The Guardians of Childhood, the film continues the migration of Dreamworks Animation away from broad jokes and obvious pop-culture references in favor of something more enduring.

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Chris Packham is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.