Such a simple premise should have delivered a bland and somewhat forgettable animated film, but what Dreamworks manages to pull together is not only impressive, but surely one of the best films of 2012. "Rise of the Guardians" is a testament to the magic of folklore and the strength of belief. Though it's not an outright declaration of theism, "Rise of the Guardians" places a lot of power on the strength of belief on sentient beings and what they can do for those that place importance in them. "Rise of the Guardians" is a film that all audiences will truly enjoy that manages to team together some of the most iconic magical beings to form the ultimate super team. Jack Frost is a young and cocky magical being who spends most of his time watching children play and anxiously trying to make their world wonderful in spite of the fact that he's basically supposed to ruin the environment. In spite of his existence and his destiny as Jack Frost, he constantly strives to choose his own path and hopes to be considered a wonderful part of the world that many other magical beings are. When the Bogeyman named Pitch rises from the darkness to take over the minds of everyone in reality and imagination, Jack Frost is called upon by the sentient Man on the Moon to meet up with the Guardians.
Star Chris Pine gives a very spirited performance as Frost, the young braggart desperately trying to prove he can benefit the world, and is trying to learn about who he was before he became a magical being. Among the rest of the cast, Hugh Jackman is fantastic as the no nonsense warrior Bunny who bickers with Frost constantly and struggles with the new team ranking, while Isla Fischer is bubbly as the illuminating Tooth, the magical pixie who revels in the teeth of everyone she comes across. Alec Baldwin is definitely the stand out as the main man North who runs his toy shop and is tasked with initiating Jack in to the team and struggles to discover what he can contribute to their mission to protect the world's children. Every hero is clearly the iconic member of fantasy and lore, and everyone is given their own realm as well as their moments where they can prove their heroism and courage in the face of the menacing Pitch.
Jude Law is fantastic as the monstrous phantom who garners his own personal grudge against the world and will do whatever it takes to accomplish his goal of domination over the magical realm. While "Rise of the Guardians" has every chance to be loud, obnoxious, and self aware, it strives more for subtlety and awe inspiring action that is riveting but cleverly dodges violence at every turn. I also appreciated making the Sandman a silent and bashful being who wields his power responsibly and still manages to become a memorable asset of the film in spite of having zero dialogue. "Rise of the Guardians" fleshes out every character with slow and steady exposition, and creates some fascinating new concepts for the world around it, including the reasoning that the Guardians were once living breathing humans. "Rise of the Guardians" is a holiday film for everyone to enjoy with incredible animation, a world rich with mythology, and is surely one of the best surprises of 2012.
With a fantastic cast leading the charge with excellent writing and breathtaking animation, "Rise of the Guardians" should be a holiday standard for all audiences old and young to celebrate the power of belief and imagination in the face of a cold dark world.