The other day, I was absolutely miserable. I was sick in bed, desperate for something to get my mind off of my pain. My sister had just gone to the library and come back with a stack of random movies and TV shows. I begged her to hand me one of the DVDs; I put it in my laptop and pushed play. From the front cover, I expected a cheesy, juvenile story. But from the moment the movie started, I was captivated. I soon forgot about my sickness and was all wrapped up in the life and adventures of Jack Frost and the Guardians.
The Rise of the Guardians tells the story of the ongoing battle between the Dream Guardians and the Nightmare King. The Guardians – Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and the Easter Bunny – spend their days making sure that childhood dreams stay alive. The Nightmare King, Pitch Black, does his best to destroy them. When Pitch Black gains strength and threatens to flood the world with his fear and darkness, the Guardians become desperate. Desperate enough to include the wild Jack Frost in their team.
Jack Frost (played by Chris Pine) was a fascinating character. I loved the unruly, mischievous, elfin quality that surrounded him. Underneath his wild, fun-loving exterior, though, there’s such loneliness– a soul starved for love and affection. Jack reminded me of a mixture between Peter Pan and Bacchus from the book Prince Caspian. I especially appreciated the fact that, though Jack is in some sense lawless and untamed, he was not rebellious. He’s courageous, protective, and honorable. In other words, he’s what I like to call a “decent little chap” – he’s just a decent little chap who happens to love making blizzards and freezing water parks.
The Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) was the opposite of what we usually think of when we think of Easter bunnies. He’s a 6’4” rabbit with a thick Australian accent, leather greeves on his arms and hunting boomerangs strapped to his back. He’s gruff, rough around the edges, and can never forgive Santa Claus for saying that Christmas is more important than Easter. But ultimately he’s a soft-hearted, endearing character.
When Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), known as “North” to the Guardians, was introduced, I was afraid he might be annoying. His thick Russian accent, tattooed arms, scimitars, and little elf helpers seemed a bit overdone at first. But as the show went on, I really began to like the tough, warrior version of Santa Claus.
I loved the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) right from the beginning. She was gentle, feminine, and enthusiastic with a sunny attitude. I liked the fact that she was more of a mermaid-hummingbird-fairy creature than a woman dressed up in a tutu. And her little fairy workers were adorable!
Sandman – the weaver of dreams – is a steadying presence in the midst of the rest of the Guardians. I loved how he was silent and communicated through little symbols above his head. It added to his calm, dreamy quality.
I am thrilled to say that I can’t think of hardly any objectionable content in The Rise of the Guardians. No disrespect, inappropriate references, crude humor, language or violence. (How rare is that in a modern animated movie? Three cheers for the movie makers!) However, I would caution parents with young children that the bad guy is downright scary. Pitch Black (Jude Law) wasn’t violent, but he definitely had a “wrong” feel to him. He slides in and out of shadows, can walk upside down, and sends his nightmares (black horses) to chase away or distort the Sandman’s good dreams. I was impressed at the way the movie makers achieved the level of creepiness with Pitch Black that they did, without having to make him do evil things. As an adult watching this movie, I appreciated this unique “clean creepiness”, but I still think that the Nightmare King might be a bit too much for young viewers.
Now, as we all know, 99% of holiday-centered movies have one basic, extremely-overused message – believe in Santa Claus/fairies/elves or else the holiday spirit will disappear. But while The Rise of the Guardians did use this theme, I felt that in this world and in this story, the theme surprisingly fit. The world is such a fantasy world – with magic portals, fairies, talking Yetis, and a literal Man in the Moon – that it makes sense for children to believe in the Guardians. Because in that world, they are real. I even found that the theme of relying on faith and not sight was meaningful for Christian viewers. At one point in the movie, a child told Jack that he was afraid of Jack going away – if he couldn’t see Jack, he was afraid that he would stop believing in him. Jack laughed and said, “Are you telling me you stop believing in the moon when the sun comes up?” The boy said, “No.” “Well, do you stop believing in the sun when the clouds block it out?” The boy laughed and said “No.” again. To me, it was a good reminder of the silliness of doubting the Lord when the “clouds” of life block Him out.
And I especially appreciated the other central theme of The Rise of the Guardians. This theme was that of finding your center. Several times when I’ve been stressed, flustered or out-of-sorts, people have told me “Find your center.” I never understood what that meant until I watched this movie. North presses Jack to find his center. In other words, his purpose, his mission, his foundation. What is he all about? Each of the Guardians has a different center – a different purpose and mission. As long as they do that one thing, they are satisfied and fulfilled and full of joy.
As I watched this movie, I asked myself what my center is. What is my purpose? My foundation? What one thing satisfies and fulfills me completely? The answer is Jesus Christ! Christ is my cornerstone, my all in all. Even though I know this in my mind, sometimes I act like Jack – a person who doesn’t know his/her center: unsatisfied and aimless. The Rise of the Guardians reminded me that knowing my center is absolutely crucial to living the way I am meant to live and knowing my purpose in life. No matter how unique our gifts and callings are, we all must find our center in Christ before we can live fully and truly the way we were meant to live.
The Rise of the Guardians is a wonderful blend of classic characters with a new spin, traditional themes with a powerful twist and lots of fun with heartwarming moments. When I was feeling awful and seeking nothing more than a way to keep my mind off of my pain, I had no idea that I would be discovering a new favorite. And I’m especially glad that I discovered it in time for winter, because one thing’s for certain. I’ll never look at frost in the same way again. 😉