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‘The Guardians’ is a childhood dream

Sarah Chayer, 4Play Writer
March 27, 2013
Filed under 4Play

In some ways, we’re all kids at heart. So when a movie like “Rise of the Guardians” comes along, our inner child wants us to dream and believe in the power of magic and myth.

“Rise of the Guardians,” released March 12 on DVD, is the tale of legendary characters working together to protect the children of Earth with faith and happiness. The four characters tasked to carry out this mission are Santa Claus, called North and voiced by Alec Baldwin; Bunny the Easter Bunny, voiced by Hugh Jackman; Tooth the Tooth Fairy, voiced by Isla Fisher; and Sandy the Sandman, who never speaks a word.

When North witnesses a premonition of Pitch Black, the Boogeyman, he fears for the safety of children everywhere and unites the team of guardians. His concern is justified by the Man in the Moon, who speaks to the guardians from afar. The moon appoints a new guardian to join the four in order to protect the children from Pitch. The new guardian chosen is Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine.

Jack Frost is a lesser-known legend character, both in real life and for the children in the movie. Because he is not believed in, Jack cannot be seen. His loneliness is evident and heartbreaking as he spreads ice and throws snow to create winter wonderlands for children. No matter how much fun he creates, he isn’t credited for his work.

Jack is summoned to the North Pole to become a guardian but refuses. He claims to prefer working alone in his own casual and fun manner, rather than accepting the stress, expectations and deadlines that accompany the life of a guardian.

North explains that the Man in the Moon has chosen each guardian because of his or her center — a unique characteristic that drives his or her work as a guardian. North’s center is the wonder he sees in everything. He asks what Jack’s center is that makes him special, but since Jack has yet to figure out who he is and who he was, he does not know.

After a sudden attack at the Tooth Palace, we are finally introduced to Pitch, voiced by Jude Law. Pitch plans to end all children’s beliefs in the guardians with fear and darkness by turning dreams into nightmares. In a world full of fear, he will no longer be an invisible legend left hiding under the bed.

He has stolen all of Tooth’s teeth and fairy helpers, causing children to lose faith in the Tooth Fairy.

Jack agrees to help the guardians stop Pitch in exchange for their assistance in finding his past and his center.

Jack’s search to find meaning in himself is the main conflict of the movie. Although it’s an overused concept, it’s successfully portrayed in “Rise of the Guardians.”

One scene where this is illustrated is when Jack creates a snow day and takes one boy, Jamie, for a wild sled ride through town. Jamie has fun but after losing a tooth, he and his friends hurry home to put it under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy.

Jack is left alone in the park without any acknowledgment once again. Through scenes like this, the movie does an amazing job of pulling the audience in and making a connection with Jack’s loneliness so we, too, want to find his unique guardian trait.

Pitch exudes such solitude as well, paralleling Jack’s character. Constantly children are told that the Boogeyman isn’t real and nothing to be afraid of, making him invisible and alone just like Jack. The audience accepts his actions because we understand his motives. He, like Jack, wants a purpose and to be recognized for it.

Although these characters were built up well, the movie seems to have holes in its story, possibly cut to fit the desired time.

The main confusion regards the teeth collected by Tooth. In the film, she tells Jack the teeth hold the best memories from childhood and can be used to relive those memories. Even at the pivotal moment of the movie, Jack uses his teeth to see who he used to be. But it is never explained how or why.

How can a tooth hold the best memories of childhood? Losing teeth was horrifying for me, and I was bullied by my family when I lost so many teeth at once. So not exactly great memories, but ones that stick with me nonetheless. Why couldn’t cheerful childhood memories be stored in something a little less disgusting, and that makes more sense, like photos or toys?

The movie also leaves out the stories of the guardians. Jack Frost is characterized well and given a back story, but we don’t really learn much about the others. Who was the Easter Bunny before he started painting eggs and hiding them for children? Who was the Sand Man before he started flinging sand into children’s eyes to put them to sleep? And why doesn’t he speak? True, it’s adorable, but there must be a reason we aren’t told.

Many have compared this movie with “The Avengers,” as a bunch of notorious protectors team up to battle one powerful villain, but the Marvel superheroes all had stories. In “Rise of the Guardians,” Jack Frost seems to be the only one.

Regardless of this lost information, the audience will still find humor in the jokes and jabs at the holidays in “Rise of the Guardians.” It also promises wonder at the new sides given to fable characters and their worlds with a story that will make you want to cry and laugh at the same time.

More than anything, it will make us want to feel the childlike innocence again, when we believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and even the Boogeyman.