Rise of the Guardians

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Rise of the Guardians Movie Poster Image
Holiday icons defend childhood in gorgeous adventure.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 98 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 32 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 60 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

More for entertainment purposes than educational, but there's an interesting folkloric origin story to how these childhood icons were endowed with the protection of children's hopes and dreams.

Positive Messages

The movie stresses the importance of the wonder of childhood, including belief in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc. Preserving the innocence and joy of childhood is the reason the Guardians exist. Although the movie isn't religious, the idea of faith in something you can't necessarily see is demonstrated as a positive force in children's lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the Guardians are strong and brave and ready to do what's necessary to protect children. The Tooth Fairy and her adorable little fairies keep baby teeth because they store children's precious memories. Santa loves providing toys because they spark imagination and wonder in kids. The Easter Bunny's eggs represent rebirth and new beginnings each spring. Jack's journey is to discover how he fits into the group and what makes him worthy of joining them.

Violence & Scariness

(Potential spoiler alerts!) Some intense action. Pitch Black and his minions are able to destroy one of the Guardians. The other Guardians begin to lose their powers as children stop believing in them. Pitch cleans out the Tooth Fairy's castle, breaks all of the Easter Bunny's eggs, and generally breaks the hopeful spirit of all the children he encounters. He undoes the work of the Sandman so that kids have nightmares instead of sweet dreams. Pitch's shadowy black stallions can be frightening. In a flashback, viewers see that the boy who was Jack Frost drowned saving his sister and then transformed into the icon of winter. Santa uses swords.

Sexy Stuff

The Tooth Fairy seems smitten with Jack Frost, and a couple of her "baby" fairies swoon in his presence. In one brief scene, Tooth and Jack share a moment of staring in each other's eyes.

Language

Australian Easter Bunny says "bloody" this and "bloody" that fairly frequently; Pitch Black tells Bunny to "go suck an egg," and some insults are thrown back and forth, including "coward."

Consumerism

No product placements in the movie, but there's a good bit of Rise of the Guardians merchandise available, from plush sets and figurines to games, apparel, calendars, and more. The story is also based on a book series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rise of the Guardians is sort of like The Avengers with childhood icons: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman. There's lots of action and some mild violence revolving around the menacing bad guy Pitch Black, who turns children's dreams into nightmares with his cavalry of scary stallions (some scenes may feel more intense in the movie's 3-D version). (Spoiler alert!) One Guardian is destroyed but comes back to life at the end of the movie. There's some insulting language like "coward" and "selfish" and "go suck an egg," and in a flashback, a main character drowns but transforms rather than dying. Whether they personally believe in these characters or not (and the nontraditional way they're portrayed here could get some of them wondering...), kids will root for the Guardians as they fight the forces of chaos and despair.

User Reviews

Parent Written byVBM November 24, 2012

Pitch's horses are far scarier then CSM's initial review would lead one to believe.

It's definitely one that you should read about and determine if your kids would be okay with. There were some parts that I worried would scare my youngest... Continue reading
Parent Written bymamanas November 21, 2012

Not for the younger kids.

I think this is something for kids age 7 or 8. One of mine was younger and she came with it stating: "the black man is bad". And of course Jack Frost... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 22, 2012

Rise of the Guardians (SPOILERS)

This was a pretty good movie. It was better than I expected. The story was really cute, and the script was well written. Thought I didn't think it was that... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bytheastark96 April 17, 2017

for the most part, an enjoyable and unique movie.

Overall, a fun kiddie film. The characters were well rounded and the movie was pleasantly amusing (surprising, given its pg rating). However, there was one scen... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the books by author/illustrator William Joyce, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS follows Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine), a carefree immortal figure who creates winter fun for children who don't really believe in him. Everything changes when Pitch Black (Jude Law) rallies his nightmare forces to cause worldwide despair and make children stop believing in the Guardians of Childhood: Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Sandman. When the Man in the Moon tells the existing Guardians that Jack Frost has been chosen to join them, they must convince him to take up the cause before Pitch can snuff out the light of hope in every child of the world.

Is it any good?

Rise of the Guardians (not to be confused with Legends of Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole) is an exquisitely crafted 3-D adventure. It has an ingenious plot and surprisingly substantive messages that make it just as appropriate for tweens/teens who are still into animation as for younger elementary-aged audiences. The voice performances are all fantastic. Baldwin is hilarious (and nearly unrecognizable) as a tough, tattooed Santa who can wield two swords one moment and play with his workshop's toys (made not by elves but by yetis!) the next. The Easter Bunny (Jackman, for once using his native Aussie accent) is a strapping buck rabbit (but never call him a kangaroo), and Fisher's Tooth Fairy is lovely and amusingly obsessed with teeth.

As the contemplative Jack Frost, Pine nearly reprises some of the characteristics of his young Captain Kirk in Star Trek -- both characters are impulsive loners who don't know how to work on a team until they come into their own and spring into action. The movie's visuals are dazzling (especially in each of the Guardians' headquarters), the dialogue funny, and the threat from the villain real and disturbing (and wow, Law has a creepy accent). It's such a refreshing treat to see an animated film so thoughtfully made that didn't come from Pixar. Director Peter Ramsey has made an impressive, imaginative fantasy where the wonder of childhood reigns supreme.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of childhood beliefs and memories in the story. How are the characters who believe in these childhood heroes the ones who ultimately save the day? What's lost when kids stop believing?

  • How are the depictions of Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy different than in other childhood films/stories?

  • What does Santa mean when he tells Jack he has to find his "center"? Do you think real people have a "center" that dictates what they're passionate about and how they act?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love animation

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate