Rise of the Guardians is a 2012 animated action-fantasy film from DreamWorks Animation. The film acts as a sequel (albeit in Broad Strokes) to William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood series, and feature many of its characters (albeit with altered designs). As in the books, popular mythological characters such as Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost co-exist with the real world, having sworn under the Man in the Moon to protect childhood around the globe. However, as Pitch the Boogeyman threatens to spread the power of his evil nightmares, the Guardians must unite and fight against their greatest threat.The website is here, and the trailers are up for viewing here and here.The film grossed over $300 million world wide. In a March 2013 interview, William Joyce stated that he's currently in talks with DreamWorks Animation about a possible sequel.Not to be confused with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.
Rise of the Guardians provides examples of the following tropes:
Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: While it was considered that Bunnymund be given a coat to match his appearance in the books, the production team ultimately decided to have him be this.
Adaptational Badass: Which character doesn't get this treatment? Santa is a dual blade wielding Russian and the Easter Bunny is a six-foot tall Australian fighting rabbit.
Actor Allusion: When Sandy accidentally knocks them out, one of Bunnymund's floating carrots grabs one of North's floating candy canes and begins to dance. Now remember who voices Bunnymund.
Adult Fear: Your children go out ice-skating, and one of them drowns.
The Boogeyman is real, and he wants nothing more than to destroy some of the best parts of your kids' childhood, on top of making sure they have nightmares every time they go to bed.
All Myths Are True: Early in the film, the big four talk of other potential guardians. The Leprechaun and the Groundhog are specifically mentioned. They even acknowledge the Tooth Mouse, the Tooth Fairy equivalent in a number of European countries (in this case, it seems to be French variant).
Tooth: *catching one of her fairies tangling with the mouse* He's one of ours! Part of the European Division.
In the Mexican dub the line is changed to "He is from the Latin-American Division." Quite fitting, as it goes with the fable, known through all of Latin-America, that it's a little mouse who gives a gift for a fallen tooth.
All There in the Manual: The back-stories of the Guardians can be found in the novels and picture books written by William Joyce himself.
All There in the Script: Pippa, Monty, and Claude's twin brother Caleb are only named in the script and credits, not in the movie proper. This led to some early confusion in the fandom, as Pippa's actress also voices Jack's unnamed little sister, leading some people to attach the name to the wrong character. Onyx, Cupcake's once-unicorn dream and Pitch's right hand Nightmare, is also only given a name in the script.
Awesome Aussie: Bunnymund; keeping with the books giving him the backstory of constructing Australia when resculpting parts of the planet in ancient times, he's given a rather prominent Australian brogue in the film, courtesy of Hugh Jackman. Lampshaded when Jack calls him "the Easter Kangaroo."
Later, when Pitch makes a low blow at Jack, Bunny immediately attacks him for it.
Badass Adorable: Sandman, Tooth Fairy, and Jack may look small and helpless, but can definitely put up a fight. Also, Bunnymund, who is cute and fuzzy no matter how fierce and surly he tries to be. It's even worse when the children stop believing, because then he's cute, fuzzy, and tiny.
Beware the Nice Ones: All of the guardians are pretty much nice guys, although a couple of them have more of a hardened streak to them. Threaten a child in any way though, and well... let's just say you better not threaten a child.
Big Bad: Pitch Black, the original childhood Big Bad, "the Boogeyman".
The moment that caused Jack to become a guardian was sacrificing himself to save his little sister. Also, even without his memory, he basically acts very much like an older brother to the children around him.
Bunnymund seems to have shades of this towards Jack.
Pitch: (to Jack) I'm going to ignore you. But you must be used to that by now.
Bunny: (leaping at Pitch, ready to attack him) Pitch! You shadow-sneaking ratbag! Come here!
And then some when he sees Pitch behind Jack in the climax and tries to knock Pitch's scythe out of his hands with his boomerang.
Big Good: Man in the Moon, who bestows guardians their powers and when the time is right, officially brings them into the fold
Big "NO!": Jack yells this when Sandy is shot by an arrow of Nightmare Sand and then again after Sandy is killed.
Bilingual Bonus: In Shanghai, the billboard that the Tooth Fairy flies into is an advertisement for toothpaste, in Chinese. Also, when the sleigh crashes, Santa doesn't swear by "Boje moi" ("Oh my god"), but "Moi deti!" ("my children!").
North could be calling in children to believe or he be calling upon the because he believes in children.
Bizarrchitecture: Pitch's lair; it pretty much looks like a straight up M. C. Escher painting. According to the art book, it's based on Pompeii.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Pitch breaks Jack's staff, effectively rendering him powerless, then blasts him into a ravine. He then tosses the broken staff in the same ravine, allowing Jack to fix it and get back in the fight.
Book Ends: The film begins and ends at the frozen pond Jack Frost was first seen in.
Early on, Pitch doesn't feel very threatened by the Tooth Fairy and makes a sarcastic remark about her putting a quarter under his pillow. Later, she does give him one. Right before she punches him in the face hard enough to knock out a tooth.
One of Jamie's friends mocks him for his beliefs. Asking him if he also believes in Bigfoot. Turns out, Bigfoot does exist; he's one of North's yetis, only his real name is Phil. He is seen earlier when Jack first looks around North's workshop, greeting Phil by name because Jack tried to break into the workshop many times.
Phil actually appears In The Stinger. He actually signs Jamie's book under the Bigfoot entry.
When Jack tries to put Sophie in bed, she falls on the floor, and he leaves her there, dropping a blanket and stuffed animal on her. In The Stinger, the same sequence happens when the elves try to put her in bed.
A small one happens with Jamie's sled ride interrupting a moving truck at the beginning. The sofa that fell out of the truck knocks him over.
When North first takes them all riding in his sleigh, he tells them to "buckle up", only to reveal when Bunny asks where the seat belts are, that that was "just expression". Later, when they have to go to the Easter Warren, Bunny turns those words back on North. His response when they land is simply a good-natured "Buckle up...very good!"
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: All of the Guardians are a little dysfunctional (and one of them, of course, has actual bunny ears). Santa AKA North is probably the worst offender.
Burning with Anger: Sandy makes "steam" come out of his ears when the other guardians finally notice him pointing at the Man in the Moon and wonder why he didn't say so earlier.
Butt Monkey: While he's still a badass in his own right, Bunnymund does find himself as the butt of many of the gags in the film, almost like Daffy Duck.
When Jamie's playing in the snow with his friends, his mom first mentions Jack Frost by saying "Don't let Jack Frost come nipping at your nose." Later, when Jack tries to get Jamie to believe in the Easter Bunny again, it snows in his house, and a snowflake falls on his nose. This is how he comes to see Jack.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe: How much power a Guardian has depends on how much the children believe in them. Belief in a Guardian can cause them to become more powerful and bring them back from the dead, while disbelief causes them to degenerate in power and appearance and become Invisible to Normals.
The Chessmaster: The Man in the Moon is some sort of benevolent, child-loving deity who operates by making sure the Guardians and Jack end up in the right places at the right time, rather than directly interfering himself.
Christmas Elves: In the books they were the members of North's outlaw band, with names like Gregor of the Mighty Stink (who became Gregor of the Mighty Smile). Here they're given a bit of a twist, they in fact do not build the toys. North lets them believe that for kicks, the yetis are the ones doing the grunt work. Looking closely though, they can be almost taken as sort of "product/quality testers" and their mischief makes sure the toys that make it out are toys that work and take the beating.
Color-Coded Characters: Each character has a distinct color and identifying shape. Both Bunnymund and Tooth are interesting cases, because while the art book gives their symbols as thus, in advertisements, and in the movie proper, Bunnymund is often associated with green, and Tooth purple. (Look at both of their respective headquarters.)
North is a red square.
Bunny is a light purple triangle (pointing downwards).
Sandy is a yellow circle.
Tooth is a green diamond.
Jack is a blue hexagon.
Pitch is a black hexagon (although his hexagon is shaped to resemble a coffin).
Curb-Stomp Battle: Sandy vs Pitch, when they first meet one-on-one. And when they last meet one-on-one.
Jack: Remind me never to get on your bad side...
Cute Bruiser: Cupcake. She's significantly bigger than the other kids and at first they seem afraid of her, but she has posters of unicorns everywhere in her room and later is seen having fun with the others.
Dark Age Europe: Although not called out specifically as being in Europe, Pitch spoke very fondly of this time period as that when he was at his most powerful.
Darkest Hour: Sandy is dead, the Guardians are losing their powers, and Pitch has estranged Jack from the rest and snapped his staff in two while Jack lies in despair at the bottom of a ravine... until Baby Tooth goes into his pocket and pulls out the memories that can give him hope.
Death Activated Superpower: According to the Tooth Fairy, all of the Guardians had lives prior to becoming the embodiments of mythos, though whether this means they necessarily had to die first is unclear. However, Jack finds out he did; he was originally a mischievous human boy who drowned in a frozen-over lake while saving his sister and was made into Jack Frost by the man in the moon after his death.
Death by Irony: In then end Pitch is driven away by his own nightmares.
Winter killed its future spirit. Justified in that Man in Moon may have given him such ironic powers on purpose.
Defiant to the End: When Sandman was consumed by the nightmares, he simply throws a glare at Pitch.
Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Bunny says "bloody" repeatedly throughout the film. In the US, this is fine, but the film is completely unedited in the UK, where bloody is considered much ruder. (It still received a PG certificate.)
On the other hand, it's about the most inobloodyffensive curse word there is in Australia, and Bunny's use of it works perfectly with his bloody accent, mate.
On another hand, bloody is an incredibly minor bloody swearword in the UK any way, making the entire bloody point moot.
Does Not Like Shoes: Because Jack had his shoes off when he saved his sister, leading to his own death, as an Immortal and then Guardian he does not wear shoes, even though his powers relate to freezing things. But since Jack appeared to be from a very poor family, he probably never wore shoes in the first place, and due to his powers, he doesn't seem to feel the cold anyway.
Doing It for the Art: The directors' commentary consists almost entirely of the directors geeking out over how beautiful the movie is and giving a Shout-Out to the designers and animators who made it so.
Dramatic Irony: By focusing so much on doing their jobs so as to protect the dreams and hopes of the children of the world, the Guardians have become disconnected from the very ones they're supposed to be protecting. (They still know why they do it, for the children, but they have forgotten why it is they care about them due to lack of exposure.)
Drives Like Crazy: North in the sleigh (to the terror of Bunnymund and amusement of Sandy and Jack).
North: Everyone, to the sleigh! Buckle up!
Bunnymund: Where are the bloody seat belts?!
North: *laughs* That was just expression!
Dual Wielding: North dual-wields swords, Sandy wields golden whips made of his sand, and Bunny wields two boomerangs.
Escalating War: When the Guardians start collecting teeth together, Bunny and Jack start challenging each other, but North is the one who really turns it into a race. In their mad dash to get to the teeth first, they start pulling all kinds of tricks on each other (occasionally to Comedic Sociopathy levels), and generally trying to constantly one-up each other.
Evil Brit: Jude Law gives Pitch an insanely smarmy voice, which isn't that far off from his regular vocals.
Pitch is one to the Sandman. Pitch delivers fear and bad dreams, Sandman gives hope and good dreams. They even use dust which reflects their color-schemes. This is probably why Pitch's attack affects Sandman so adversely, temporarily killing him, and why Sandman's return creates a huge advantage for the Guardians near the end of the movie.
Jack and Pitch. Both simply want to be believed in, seen, acknowledged for what they do. This is even used in a sort of Sympathy for the Devil fashion in the later part of the movie when Pitch tries to get Jack to come to his side, reasoning that they both want to be acknowledged and seen and heard. But while Jack's purpose (and thus his method of getting recognition) is to spread fun and joy, Pitch's is to spread fear and darkness.
The suggestion of genuine hurt feelings as a result of Jack's refusal probably contribute to Pitch enforcing this trope so nastily.
Fake Nationality: Alec Baldwin gives North a booming Russian accent, and the very American Tooth Fairy is voiced by the decidedly Australian Isla Fisher. Her compatriot Hugh Jackman (for once) gets to avert this trope in a non-Australian production as Bunnymund.
Fangirls: Toothania and her fairy helpers openly swoon over Jack at various points, though they soon prove less interested in his looks than in his teeth.
All of the Guardians' main duty is to sustain happiness and hope for the children of the world.
This is also deconstructed. It's shown that, because of their busy lifestyles, North, Bunnymund, and Toothiana struggle to relate to children.
North: We are always working on bringing joy to children. We have no time for... children!
Jack however plays this straight and calls them out on it (leading to the above response), when he realizes this after he gets his memories back, it gives him his Heroic Second Wind and is key in defeating Pitch when they get cornered at the start of the finale.
Jamie asks this of his toy stuffed bunny, having met the real Easter Bunny previously, after Easter inexplicably failed to happen. He almost gives up, but Jack steps in at the last moment. While this actually proves a more effective sign for Jack's own existence than that of Bunnymund, Jack confirms the existence of the others once Jamie can see him.
Jack himself has a moment like this early in the film, pleading with the Man in the Moon to give him a sign as to why he is the way he is. He figures it out by the end of the movie.
The exact details vary though. Straight examples for North, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Jack is at full power with none and gains only visibility from belief (though a few kids may not be much of a power boost). Sandman never seems to get any weaker (although he was missing at the lowest point so this isn't quite clear), and his powers actually let him generate belief through dream manipulation. Pitch gains belief and power by default as the others grow weaker.
The movie explains this as being the catch to becoming a Guardian. Once they settle in to their roles as Guardians, their power starts to depend on belief.
Headdesk: North tells a yeti to change the color of the soldiers to red, and after the yeti sees the big pile of toys he's painted blue, he groans and does this. Then again later...
Held Gaze: Between Tooth and Jack at the end until they're interrupted by Baby Tooth. Jack and Bunnymund also had this at the Warren and when Bunnymund turned into a little bunny... kitten.
Bunny suffers one when the children stopped believing in him, even dropping to his knees in despair.
They don't see me... they don't see me...
Jack also has a brief one when Pitch breaks his staff and leaves him in a crevice.
And a not so brief one beforehand in Pitch's lair. You can see the Breaking Speech really is starting to break him.
Heroic Sacrifice: As a human, while on a frozen lake, Jack used his staff to swap his position with his sister's on thin ice in order to get her out of danger of falling into the lake through the cracks, which caused him to fall into it himself and drown.
How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?: The movie reveals how not only North, but also Bunny and Tooth get around the world to do their jobs. North has magical snow globes that open portals to whatever location appears inside it (by saying the name) and can seemingly teleport between chimneys at will, Bunny has a series of tunnels that allows him to appear anywhere on Earth, and Tooth has millions of fairies to collect her teeth along with Tooth Mice from the European Division.
Pitch: It was stupid of me to mess with your dreams, so I'll tell you what. You can have them back. [sends nightmares at Sandy]
Ironic Echo: When the Guardians save Tooth first bravely get on North's sleigh, North tells them to "buckle up." Bunnymund nervously asks where they are and finds out there aren't actually any seat belts. Later, when they go to the underground warren to prepare for Easter, Bunnymund first warns everyone to buckle up.
North: [after a ride through a tunnel] Buckle up... That's very funny.
It's Always Spring: Averted. While it is near Easter and technically the first day of spring, the ground is still half-covered with snow.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bunnymund comes across as a blatant complainer and constantly angry and conceited, yet he genuinely cares about Easter and the hopes of children, and he's more than ready to take on Pitch hand to hand when he sees him for the first time. And not to mention how well he takes care of Sophie when she wanders into his base.
Knight in Sour Armor: Jack is far from mean-spirited, but prefers himself as a free agent than bear any responsibility of being a hero.
Knight of Cerebus: There is absolutely nothing funny about Pitch. When he appears, the humor starts to disappear.
Lack of Empathy: Averted and subverted somehow with Pitch. He seems to show empathy at least for Jack, as the two were alone for a long time. However, it doesn't prevent him to try to emotionally torture him..
Magic Map: The globe at the North Pole, which shows believing children as points of light.
Magic Staff: Jack wields one, through which he channels his frost powers. It's a staff that he carried around while he was a human, which he used to save his sister from falling through cracks in thin ice but swapped his position with hers, causing him to fall through and drown. If he loses it, he can't use his powers. Pitch exploits this by forcing Jack to give up his staff for Baby Tooth, then breaking the staff to keep Jack out of the fight. Jack is able to reforge the staff after some effort.
Jack: There is no way that I'm riding in some rickety, old... *sees sleigh*...sleigh. *pause* Okay, one ride, but that's it.
Mama Bear: Tooth, to her fairies and the kids of the world.
The Man in the Moon: Is a rather mysterious force who does not take physical form like the Guardians, and only communicates with them via images. He also seems to be in charge, as he picks who the Guardians are.
Meaningful Name: Technically all of the Guardians, but Pitch as well- A.K.A. Pitch Black.
Megaton Punch: Pitch finds himself on the receiving end of one from a freshly revived Sandy
Melancholy Moon: Jack has a number of moments like this when he questions his existence and demands answers from the Man in the Moon.
At one moment, Tooth does this as well... And, seriously now, how could she ever arrive at the conclusion that a small girl would find teeth with blood and gum on them to be fun? It's justified for plot reasons, sure, but still, the Tooth Fairy might very well have scarred that girl for life right there.
In the first trailer, we see Toothnote who's at her palace riding in the sleigh with North, Bunnymund and Sandy, when it’s actually Jack.
In the trailer, Bunny says “You don't wanna race a rabbit mate” while at his warren before hopping into a portal hole. In the movie, he says this when hopping from rooftop to rooftop, in a race between himself, Jack, North, and Sandy to see who can collect the most teeth.
In the UK trailer, it indicates that Christmas is in jeopardy when it's actually Easter time.
One is referenced in the following exchange. There is some canon elaboration on it here.
Bunny: Blizzard of '68, I believe? Easter Sunday, wasn't it?
Jack: Bunny! You're not still mad about that, are you?
Bunny: Yes, but this is about something else.
Also when Jack and Tooth Fairy are talking about the former's memories, we get this exchange in the background
Santa: You should have seen [Bunny's] face!
Bunny: I told you never to mention that!
Not Quite Flight: Jack. Unlike Tooth, he seems to be controlling the air around him—notice his movements are much less controlled and towards the beginning he even calls the on the wind to take him home.
Not So Different: Jack and Pitch. It's lampshaded by the latter, who even later mentions how well cold and dark go together.
This is made even more poignant if you've read the books. Kosmotis Pitchiner was lured into opening the prison that held the Nightmares and Fearlings, becoming Pitch Black when they tricked him into hearing his daughter's voice coming from inside. Jack was lured into Pitch's lair by the memory of his sister's voice, which ended with disastrous results for Easter. Both were baited with the voice of a young female loved one, and the consequences led to the end of the Golden Age, and the Darkest Hour mentioned above, respectively.
Sandy is the smallest Guardian, but can use those whips like a pro aside from being arguably the most powerful of the guardians with the most versatile power and interacting with kids most often (North and Bunny only see kids once a year and Tooth doesn't work in the field anymore, but Sandy gives dreams to every kid every night).
The fairies might have been captured, but they did put up quite a fight.
Jack: I think it's your fear they (the Nightmares) smell.
Pre-emptive Declaration: Tooth throws a quarter at Pitch, confusing him for a second, and then punches him in the mouth to knock out a tooth.
Race Lift: The Tooth Fairy is evidently vaguely Asian in the books while in the movie she's white.
Rage Against the Heavens: Downplayed, but Jack is definitely not happy with being given no answers by the Man in the Moon as to why he was created, what his purpose is, and why he is alone and invisible—and even less so when he finds out he's expected to beThe Chosen One, and finds it out by proxy since the Man in the Moon spoke to the other Guardians about it, not him.
Partly out of being the isolated, lonely Trickster more interested in mischief and fun than in helping others, but also thanks to feeling ignored by the Man in the Moon without being given a reason for his existence, Jack responds to the offer to become a Guardian this way—until, that is, he starts seeing the real danger Pitch represents through his attacks on the Tooth Palace and on Sandman. The call is finally accepted when he learns he can gain his memories (and thus finally find out why he's the way he is and what his purpose is) if he helps them defeat Pitch, although he isn't truly emotionally The Hero or The Chosen One until he actually views those memories.
Scare 'Em Straight: According to a backstory comic by one of the film's artists, Pitch was at one time a more or less benevolent proto-Guardian figure with this as his modus operandi. Note that this contradicts the books' version of his backstory, where he's a heroic mortal who was overwhelmed and transformed by nefarious fear spirits.
Scenery Porn: All over the place, highlights definitely include each bit in one of the Guardian's main base of operations—the first walkthrough of North's workshop, the flight to Tooth's palace, various shots of Bunnymund's warren, and even the first visit to Pitch's lair.
Serious Business: Children believing in the Guardians. And rightly so; it's their entire reason for existing!
Ship Tease: Jack and Tooth. And the yaoi fangirls are all OVER Jack/Pitch and Jack/Bunnymund.
Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Jack Frost is not in the first trailer. However, since his character arc is based on how no one believes in him as much as the other Guardians, it does make sense to have a trailer focused more on the others.
Slasher Smile: Pitch pulls one off in the climax after Jack tells him he has nowhere to hide and he dissolves into the shadows before appearing behind Jack, about to strike him with his scythe.
Also pulls one off beforehand in the lair:
Pitch: But that's not the point, Jack...what did "you" do? *cue creepy smile as he vanishes into shadow*
Sleep Mode Size: When no one believes in him, Bunnymund drops from six-foot badass to one-foot cute critter. Getting the neighborhood kids to believe again puts him back to normal.
Smooch of Victory: Hilariously, North gives Jack's cheeks in celebration after Jack is formally made a Guardian. Then one elf does this to another elf, who responds by punching him out.
It's brief, but check out the expressions on the Guardians' faces when Jamie runs right through Pitch at the end, confirming the Boogie Man is no longer feared or believed in. Those aren't expressions of triumph, folks.
Also note the moment, right after Jack turned down Pitch's We Can Rule Together speech—from the brief look of despair on Pitch's face before he slips back into evil rage, it seems his offer was genuine and he was actually hurt by Jack's rejection.
That Poor Cat: Lives in a building Jack and Sandy crash through while chasing Nightmares.
Remember the scenes with the enormous long-necked dinosaurs note either Macronaria, Camarasaurus, Brachiosaurus or Sauropoda made of dream sand strolling through the city? That’s completely toward the end of the movie, spoiling the fact Sandy comes back from the dead after Pitch killed him earlier on.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Jack and Bunnymund. They love to bicker and mock each other but when the chips come down, they will watch each other's backs.
Walking the Earth: Jack is shown to do this, as he has no specific fixed "home," but instead goes where the Wind takes him, spreading frost and ice.
Was Once a Man: Subverted in the fact that while the Guardians are more supernatural beings than monsters, Tooth implies that they were all mortal before becoming so. Bunnymund apparently was an actual bunny; the books show that Bunnymund was a rather anti-social Pooka who preferred to do things by himself. According to the books, Pitch was a man as well.
We Can Rule Together: Pitch offers this to Jack. Jack, who wants to be believed in and not feared, refuses.
Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The only clues we get as to where the town of Burgess is located is when Jamie says Michigan is "super close" and his light on the globe being around the southeast portion of Lake Erie, potentially placing it somewhere in northwest Pennsylvania (confirmed by Word of God in the DVD extras), northeast Ohio, or southwest New York. In Real Life, there is a town called Burgess located in Virginia. As well as in Missouri and South Carolina, and Burgess Township in Illinois.
Who Names Their Kid Cupcake?: Although it is surely a nickname that is both ironic (due to her intimidating, temperamental nature initially) and fitting (since her mostly-pink bedroom and dreams of unicorns show Hidden Depths).
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Pitch is motivated by the fact that for generations parents have been telling their children not to fear or believe in him. Compare the Guardians who are much beloved world wide. Averted by Jack, who suffers the same fate but doesn't let it alter his morals.
The Worf Barrage: During the first major battle, Jack suddenly unleashes enough power to beat back Pitch. During the climax, Pitch's increased power (which seems to be inversely proportional to that of the Guardians) lets him shrug off Jack's attacks like nothing, even though Jack is, if anything, more powerful now than when the attack previously worked.