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Originally published Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:01 PM

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'Rise of the Guardians': Childhood legends unite, 'Avengers' style

A movie review of "Rise of the Guardians," a DreamWorks Animation film that has a spunky charm, even as the story gets lost in a flurry of action. It follows Santa (voiced by Alec Baldwin), Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Sandman (who does not speak), Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and Jack Frost (Chris Pine) as they rise up against The Boogeyman (Jude Law).

San Francisco Chronicle

Movie review 2.5 stars

'Rise of the Guardians,' with the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman. Directed by Peter Ramsey, from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, based on the book "The Guardians of Childhood" by William Joyce. 97 minutes. Rated PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action. Several theaters.

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"Rise of the Guardians" is both family film and exposé, pulling back the curtain on our favorite holiday symbols. Most shocking truths: Santa Claus looks like he spends more time at the gym than the toy factory, and the tooth fairy has been outsourcing her work.

Kids will have to learn the truth sooner or later, and the new DreamWorks Animation film has a spunky charm, even as the story gets lost in a flurry of action and emotional cues. Children will enjoy the barrage of visual stimulation, and adults will appreciate the fact that there's no bathroom humor or back-talking teenagers at the North Pole.

It also does nothing to sully what has been a very good year for mainstream animation, from "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" to "Wreck-It Ralph."

"Rise of the Guardians" begins with Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) joining the Guardians, a group of superpowered holiday symbols including Santa (Alec Baldwin, trying a Russian accent), Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Sandman (who does not speak) and Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher). Innocence and joy is threatened by The Boogeyman (Jude Law), and from there the plot comes pretty close to mirroring this summer's "The Avengers" movie. Mostly in a good way.

"Rise of the Guardians" is at its best when it slows down, especially in one of the holiday-themed set pieces. The North Pole is particularly enthralling, with its comic-relief elves and furry toy-making monsters.

The film has a dark edge (that's a warning to parents with very small children), and there's no shortage of poignant moments — Frost's last-ditch attempt to keep a child's faith in the Easter Bunny is particularly poetic.

The action is less successful, with chase scenes and battles that are underwhelming. Fights become repetitive.

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