Story

Rise of the Guardians opens with a teenage boy floating up through water and breaking through the surface of an ice-covered lake. The boy’s name is Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) – or at least this is what the Man in the Moon has told him. Jack himself doesn’t have any memories of who he is, where he comes from, what his purpose is and why no-one can see him. For more than 300 years, Jack has been using his magic crook to create snow storms, freeze lakes and window panes, and create winter fun for children throughout the world. But darkness has re-entered the world in the form of Pitch Black the boogieman (Jude Law). Pitch turns the dreams of the world’s children into nightmares filled with fear and darkness.

For centuries the Guardians – Father Christmas (voiced by Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (voiced by Isla Fisher) and the Sandman – have protected the children of the world, given them hope and dreams, and kept them safe from Pitch. But Pitch has grown too strong for the Guardians. The Man in the Moon tells them that the only one who can defeat Pitch is the irresponsible and selfish Jack Frost. The Guardians get a reluctant Frost to help by promising to return the memories from his past life, an offer Jack can’t refuse.

Themes

Fantasy characters; magic; nightmares; good versus evil

Violence

Rise of the Guardians contains some animated action violence – which at times becomes intense – some scenes of people in danger, and occasional reckless behaviour. For example:

  • A boy rides his sled recklessly, nearly crashing into cars and trucks. The sled flies through the air and crashes into a statue. A pile of snow lands on top of the boy. When he gets up, one of his front teeth has been knocked out.
  • There are several fights between Pitch and the Guardians. Pitch uses his shadowy black horses in the fights. Jack Frost uses his magic wooden crook to shoot out tendrils of frost that freeze and dissolve horses. Father Christmas has two scimitars that slice the horses and make them dissolve. The Easter Bunny has two boomerangs that slice through horses. Sandman uses two long, golden, magical sand whips to lash out at the horses. The whips slice through the horses and make them dissolve. Pitch has a giant sickle that he swings around.
  • Pitch shoots Sandman in the back with a black tendril-like arrow. A black patch appears on Sandman’s back, and it spreads out until it turns Sandman into a swirling black mass and kills him. Later the Guardians stand in a circle and hold a remembrance service for Sandman.
  • One scene shows hundreds of tiny tooth fairies held captive in bird cages. In a later scene Pitch holds a tiny tooth fairy in his fist, threatening to crush the tiny creature unless Jack Frost does what Pitch says. Jack submits, but Pitch doesn’t release the fairy. Instead he throw it into a ravine, but the fairy isn’t hurt.
  • One scene shows black shadowy horses chasing Pitch. They catch him and drag him into a hole in the ground, which then closes.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • In a flashback scene, Jack stands on an ice-covered pond with his younger sister, who is standing on ice that is cracking around her feet. Jack uses a crook to catch his sister and push her out of danger, but the ice breaks beneath his feet. Jack falls through into the freezing water.
  • People walk straight through Jack Frost as though he’s a ghost.
  • Father Christmas has large hairy creatures (gentle giants) making toys instead of elves.
  • Pitch Black appears as a wispy black shadow and then as a tall man dressed in black. He has pale glowing eyes and a menacing evil voice.
  • Shadowy, black, smoke-like tendrils reach out for children and the Guardians, transforming into black shadowy horses with long black flowing manes and glowing yellow eyes.
  • Pitch stands beside a child’s bed and sends black smoky tendrils into the child’s dream, which turns into a nightmare. There’s a disturbed look on the child’s face.
  • A very young girl gets sucked into a magical portal and disappears. She is later seen unhurt. 

From 5-8

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above. 

From 8-13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Jack Frost peppers children’s faces with ice crystals that give the children an instant feeling of happiness.
  • The Sandman sprinkles golden sand onto children to put them to sleep and help them have nice dreams. In one scene the Sandman accidentally sprinkles sand on the Guardians, which puts them to sleep.
  • Pitch uses clouds of black dust to give children nightmares. 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

This movie has some low-level coarse language and put-downs that children might copy. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Rise of the Guardians is an animated fantasy adventure suited to older children, teenagers and adults. The movie’s plot is inventive and entertaining, with a great cast and animation. The characters are funny and unusual, but the movie does have a villain and scenes that are likely to scare children under seven years. These features might also scare some children up to ten years.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • Being content with yourself and your life means finding what you’re naturally good at.
  • Belief or faith in people is a powerful thing that can overcome huge odds and difficulties.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include selflessness, courage and cooperation. The movie also suggests that it’s important to protect children from harm.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as the true meaning behind cultural holidays such as Christmas and Easter. How has commercialism and consumerism changed the meaning of these events?