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Rise of the Guardians Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Nightmares before Christmas, tooth loss for Easter. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The movie lacks a resonant center. The script seems to have been written by committee, with members lobbying for each major character, and the action, set in vast environments all over the map, spreads itself so thin that a surfeit of motion vitiates emotion.

    Read Full Review

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    The characters and settings are attractively designed, and the vocal performances have real color and a sense of fun that gently undercuts the treacly sincerity of certain obligatory kid-pandering moments.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    With its fanciful razzle-dazzle, Rise of the Guardians is appealing, if slightly hectic, family fare.

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  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    It's all more lightweight-likable than exciting.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    There's an audience for this film. It's not me. I gather younger children will like the breakneck action, the magical ability to fly and the young hero who has tired of only being a name. Their parents and older siblings may find the 89-minute running time quite long enough.

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  • See all Rise of the Guardians reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 7+

Holiday icons defend childhood in gorgeous adventure.

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, kids will root for the Guardians as they fight the forces of chaos and despair.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true0

    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.

  • message true4

    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.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: 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.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and 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.

  • sex false0

    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 false1

    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 false2

    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.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue