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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Rise of the Guardians 3D | Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Islas Fisher | Review

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5_Chicks_Small Judy Thorburn

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Rise of the Guardians 3D

Dreamworks Animation adds another feather in their cap with their latest release, a beautifully crafted  fantasy adventure that boasts exquisite computer graphic imagery, spectacular 3D effects and a top notch, all star, voice over cast who appeared to have had a grand old time.

Making an awesome directorial debut is Peter Ramsey working from a screenplay by Boston playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”) based on William Joyce's series of novels “The Guardians of Childhood”.

Drawing from legendary mythological characters, Rise of the Guardians tells the story of the titular characters who are summoned by the Man in the Moon to protect the Earth's children and keep them safe from an impending malevolent force that is threatening to invade their dreams.

Representing the epitome of the sinister dark side, Pitch, aka the Boogeyman (Jude Law) is sick and tired of hiding under beds or in the shadows and desperately wants to be believed.  So he comes up with a plan to dispatch a steed of ferocious black Night Mares to replace sweet dreams the Sandman brings to the children of the world, with fear.

Leading the Avengers-like team of Guardians to battle their foe is North, aka Santa, a sword wielding, tattooed, big bear of a man (voiced with a Russian accent by Alec Baldwin) who is assisted by his helpers, tiny elves, resembling pointed hats with bells and mustachioed Yetis that look a lot like Chewbacca, the Wookie from Star Wars.  Joining North is the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) resembling a beautiful, glistening hummingbird (or one of those colorful fantasy characters from Cirque du Soleil) and her minions of adorable mini mes, Baby Teeth, that are sent to collect children's teeth, replacing them with coins. Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) comes in the form of a tough talking, boomerang armed 6 foot tall rabbit often mistaken for a kangaroo because of his Aussie accent, and Sandman is a gentle mannered, rotund golden creature who doesn't speak, but communicates by creating sand sculptures that float above his head.

Added into the mix is Jack Frost (Chris Pine) who we are introduced to at the very beginning, newly created by the Man in The Moon to help the Guardians protect the world's children.  Given the power to create snow and ice with his magic staff, Jack enjoys being mischievous in his interactions with playful kids, but hates the fact that he is invisible, can't be heard, and therefor not believed. With no memory of his past existence as a human, he feels like a misfit not knowing where or how he fits in. North tells him he needs “to find his center” in order to find his rightful place and his destiny.

Good versus evil, the hero's journey, the need to fit in, and the power of belief are all themes brought into focus in this magical, thoroughly enchanting film that is visually dazzling.  I am forever in awe of the animation wizards who work wonders, convincingly bringing each and every one of their imaginative and beautifully created characters to life.

Of course, delivering those goods helps when working from an inventive story filled with just right blend of wit, drama and action, along with a great cast lending their voices.  Rise of the Guardians has it all, topping my list as the best animated feature of 2012.  At 96 minutes long, this delightful, emotionally effective, family friendly entertainment, out just in time for the holidays, is perfect for people of all ages to enjoy.  Give yourself and your loves ones a gift and go see it.

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