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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Rise of the Guardians

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


North (Alec Baldwin) welcomes Jack Frost (Chris Pine) in this scene from the animated movie "Rise of the Guardians."
What better way to spend a few hours over the holidays than in the company, not only of Santa Claus himself, but of the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman?

Courtesy of the delightful 3-D animated adventure "Rise of the Guardians" (Paramount), moviegoers of almost all ages can do just that.

Based on books by William Joyce, the film focuses on the destiny of the legendary bringer of winter, Jack Frost (voice of Chris Pine). Free-spirited and mischievous, youthful Jack is also lonely and uncertain of his purpose in life. Until, that is, he's invited to join the Guardians, a force made up of the mythical characters listed above.

The Guardians' mission is to protect children against the machinations of the Bogeyman, aka Pitch Black (voice of Jude Law).

As the initially reluctant Jack is introduced to his newfound comrades, we discover a new slant on each traditional persona. Thus Santa, alias North (voice of Alec Baldwin), is a hardy Cossack type with a heavy Russian accent, while everyone's favorite seasonal rabbit (voice of Hugh Jackman) turns out to be a boomerang wielder from Down Under. (Parents of a certain age will recognize a play on a famous line from 1986's "Crocodile Dundee.")

The elusive distributor of quarters under children's pillows (voice of Isla Fisher) is portrayed as half-human, half-hummingbird. She's at least human, and feminine, enough that Jack's shining teeth (and, by implication, his appearance in general) set her a bit aquiver, though only in the vaguest, most innocent way. As for the chap who makes all our eyelids heavy, he's presented as a mute but cheerful and endearing sprite.

In his feature debut, director Peter Ramsey, working from a script by David Lindsay-Abaire, pits the hope and wonder championed by the Guardians against the fear and self-doubt that arm Pitch with his most effective wiles. The result is a tenderhearted and touching family movie -- one, moreover, that's entirely free of objectionable content.

This is, though, a struggle between the battling archetypes of good and evil over the fate of the world's children. So there are portions of the action that might be too dark and scary for the smallest members of the clan.

The film contains perilous situations. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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