SALT LAKE CITY — Who knew that all of those childhood icons - Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Easter Bunny and, of course the big guy himself, Santa Claus - not only know each other, but under the direction of the Man in the Moon (sort of a Nick Fury character who says and does nothing perceptible) are part of a coordinated network that protects children worldwide?
Known as the Guardians, this collection of, well, superheroes is not unlike "The Avengers" or "The Justice League."
Brace yourself; these are not the Hallmark or Coca-Cola portrayals we all grew up with. DreamWorks delivers characters with clout. Santa, aka, North, is buff, tough and Russian. But, he's very cool, big-hearted and Alec Baldwin does a great job giving North his voice.
The Easter Bunny, aka, Bunny - with the voice of Hugh Jackman - is not fluffy, not cuddly but is devoted to his task. In a Crocodile Dundee sort of way, he is lovingly Australian.
Then we have the Tooth Fairy, aka, Tooth who is a little reminiscent of Tinkerbelle. Given voice by Isla Fisher, Tooth collects the teeth of kids and carefully stores them away because they contain the childhood memories.
This will be a delightful addition to family holiday entertainment for years to come.
Oh, and I need to mention Sandman who communicates with sandy little thoughts that materialize above his heart. Sand is not just a little sleepy guy who gives you sweet dreams. When irritated he can deliver a sandstorm in defense of children and his fellow Guardians.
So, what is the threat that causes them to unite and even welcome a new Guardian into their ranks? It's Pitch Black, aka, The Boogeyman. For more than 300 years, Pitch, with the beguiling, sinister voice of Jude Law, has been banished in obscurity because of the hope and joy spread by the above mentioned players. But, it's time for him to make his comeback by spreading fear and bad dreams around the world.
This is where Jack Frost comes in. Sounding a lot like Chris Pine, Jack is a free, fun spirit who loves to spread winter cheer, instigate snowball fights and provide beloved "snow days." Jack doesn't know who, or even why, he is. But he starts to get clarity when recruited by the Guardians. Ultimately he is the key to relegating The Boogeyman back to the pages of the Dark Ages.
"The Rise of the Guardians" is a fanciful, eclectic and wonderful addition to the holiday cinematic repertoire. While loaded with action - after all, I did make the comparison to The Avengers" - the film still carries sweetness and treats with respect time-honored tales and lore.
The little asides are terrific. For example, we learn that Santa's elves just think they make the toys while it's really a gaggle of Yeti doing the real work. It is priceless.
This will be a delightful addition to family holiday entertainment for years to come. "The Rise of the Guardians" gets 3 ½ stars (I could have even been talked into four). It's rated PG.