When DreamWorks Animation first announced a superhero-esque film about iconic children's figures like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost and the Tooth Fairy teaming up to fight the Boogeyman and save the world, you knew it would either be an instant hit or as big of a failure as 2015's Fant4stic. Much to our happiness, Rise Of The Guardians was an example of the former — it's a modern Christmas classic that people now put on every December to watch with their families.
What was it about Rise Of The Guardians that made it so awesome? Let's break it down. Sit back, relax and believe.
1. Unique Reinventions Of Age-Old Characters
Childhood fairy tale characters like Santa Claus, Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny have all been portrayed dozens of times in media for kids, so you can imagine how difficult it would be to come up with new ideas for them. Well, Rise Of The Guardians perfectly gives us original reimagined versions who are nonetheless still familiar.
One of the best cases is North (a.k.a. Santa Claus), who fits the Santa archetype we've come to expect, but has just as many unique qualities to love — such as his Eastern European accent, tattoos that could rival Jared Leto's Joker, his swords, the yetis that work for him, and his many powers.
Tooth Fairy is probably the most original portrayal of them all. She and her little fairies bear a striking resemblance to hummingbirds, and honestly? I love it. Her beautiful, colorful design — combined with her lovable personality — make her great, but she manages to have some thrilling action bits as well.
The same goes for the rest of the Guardians: E. Bunnymund (Easter Bunny), Sandy (Sandman), Pitch (Boogeyman) and Jack Frost. They are all brilliant!
2. The All-Star Cast
As if the characters themselves aren't perfectly designed already, they are all voiced by a perfect cast — including Hugh Jackman as Bunny, Chris Pine as Jack Frost, Alec Baldwin as North, Isla Fisher as Tooth Fairy and Jude Law as the villain Pitch. Every actor owns his or her role, especially Chris Pine, who does a great job of pulling off a teenage troublemaker despite sounding clearly like a guy in his thirties.
My personal favorite, however, is Alec Baldwin as North, who is by far my all-time favorite version of Santa in film history. Baldwin just brings so much energy and charisma to this character — he's jolly, he's fun-loving, he's hilarious, he's awesome, and he's just a perfect Santa for the entire family to enjoy.
3. This Movie Is Straight-Up BEAUTIFUL
Whether it is North's realm with the workshop, Bunny's world (known as the Warren), the Tooth Palace or a regular town covered in snow, every single frame of every scene is filled to the brim with beautiful, awe-inspiring detail that could make anybody drop their jaw.
A scene as simple as kids having a snowball fight and playing on a sled becomes amazing to look at thanks to the snow particles, the glow of Jack's powers, the frost covering Jack's clothes and the amount of expression in everyone's faces.
It's not just the scenery, though. Every Guardian looks amazing: North's beard and coat, Bunnymund's fur, and every single feather and color on Tooth. Dreamworks never cuts corners by removing the small details, and that's why I love them.
4. It's Not Just A Giant Toy Commercial
It's no secret that many cartoon characters exist just to sell toys and other sponsored products. Well, thankfully, DreamWorks did the exact opposite here — there's no character design obviously created for merchandise, and there's no out-of-place product placement. There's no scene where Jack Frost breaks out a smartphone, laptop or tablet to get answers, and North isn't building Power Rangers action figures at the North Pole or something stupid like that.
The movie treats all of these characters with respect and dignity by primarily using them for what they are meant to be used for: the story.
The characters also pay great respect to what the holidays stand for. They could have simply made Easter about bunnies, colored eggs and candy, but instead they respect the intelligence of the viewers and reflect the true meaning to Easter: new beginnings and hope. Same goes for Tooth Fairy — it's not just about receiving money under your pillow after losing a tooth; there's more to it, but that includes spoilers!
5. It's A Superhero Movie For The Whole Family
We live in a golden age of superheroes — with movies for adults, kids and teens alike — but very few movies are made for everyone to enjoy. Rise of the Guardians happens to be one of them. It has great action, visuals and character development, and an amazing script that doesn't talk down to kids or alienate adults. You have a team of powerful heroes who have great chemistry (even though they don't always get along) with their own individual stories to keep you invested.
6. The Villain Isn't Just There For The Sake Of Having A Villain
A team of heroes is only as good as its villain, and here? Well, let's just say that they managed to avoid the Marvel problem with this movie's villain, Pitch Black, played pitch-perfectly by Jude Law. He's not the most complex bad guy in cinema history or anything, but he brings a lot of charm, creepiness and darkness to this world of bright colors to give a great balance.
And that's why Rise Of The Guardians will always remain a holiday classic (not just a Christmas classic). The movie takes place on Easter, but you can also play this on New Year's or Christmas and it still works. For me, I watch it every year at Christmastime — along with Die Hard, of course.
Do you agree that Rise Of The Guardians is a modern classic, or do you think it's just a stupid movie for kids? Let me know in the comments down below, and have yourself a merry little Christmas!