By NOUR HABIB
The animated film “Rise of the Guardians” is set in a magical world that requires even your imagination to suspend all that it has ever known.
In this world, yetis make the Christmas toys and children’s teeth are full of happy memories that are preserved in decorative boxes in the Tooth Palace. In this world, Santa Claus has tattoos and the Easter Bunny wields boomerangs. In this world, the heroes sometimes need protection.
The story starts when Santa — known here as North and bearing a heavy Russian accent excellently voiced by Alec Baldwin — realizes that the boogey man, Pitch Black, has returned to terrorize children. He beckons the other guardians — the Sandman, Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny — to help him stop Pitch.
But the boogey man is “tired of hiding under beds” and intends to fight fiercely, countering dreams with nightmares and hope with fear.
The Man on the Moon, who apparently has chosen these four as guardians of children, tells them that they’ll be able to stop Pitch only with the help of Jack Frost.
But Jack is not sure that he’s made to be a guardian. None of the children believe in him as they do the others, despite all his efforts to shower them with the fun that snow and winter bring. And he doesn’t remember his past, telling Santa, “How can I know who I am if I don’t know who I was?”
Meanwhile, as Pitch’s plan goes into effect, the children stop believing. One by one, the lights on the globe, which represent the children who believe in the guardians, are extinguished. And without the children’s belief, the guardians begin to lose their powers.
At the end of the film, Jack discovers that his purpose is to fill children’s lives with fun.
And just as he delivers that to the kids in this fantasy story, so too does “Rise of the Guardians” deliver it to its audience.
Eventually, only one child in the world is left believing, after even the Bunny can’t get his eggs delivered in time for Easter.
Jack Frost knows it’s up to him to keep that child’s belief intact and to use it to counter Pitch’s evil plans.
“Rise of the Guardians” is full of meaningful messages.
A message that says darkness does exist, but that you are in control of your fear. A message that says believing in good things protects you. A message that says you, too, are strong enough to protect others.
DreamWorks’ newest picture is definitely one for the kids, but director Peter Ramsey makes it fun enough to put a smile on parents’ faces.
The twists on the characters — a gruff Santa, an aloof Easter bunny — offer a newness that is appealing. And the yetis and elves shine in their side roles, providing cute bursts of humor.
The fight scenes between the boogey man and the guardians are wonderfully executed, a mix of golden sand colliding with black gravel, ice freezing into lethal structures and plumes of darkness reaching into the heart of the city.
Although these same fight scenes should have made for a good 3-D experience, the effects in the movie are not spectacular. Aside from a few cool moments where you feel like you could reach out and touch a snowflake, viewers who skip the 3-D showing will not be missing much.