Even at its strongest moments, Rise of the Guardians, an animated adaptation of William Joyce’s book series, doesn’t have the meat to balance out its hyperactive plot. But while it may overstimulate us grown folks, youngsters will surely be thrilled to see so many fantastical figures in one place. Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) runs around freezing everything, desperate to have the children of the world notice him. Meanwhile, the evil Pitch (Jude Law) is trying to destroy kids’ dreams with nightmares. Frost is enlisted in the exclusive group of guardians comprising mythical and holiday superstars — most notably North (Alec Baldwin), a tattooed, burly Russian Santa Claus — who set out to protect the children who still believe in them.
The 3-D animation is beautiful, often playing with depth of field and using every opportunity to have snow and other wintery things whirling in front of your eyes. The substance of the film, however, doesn’t quite cut the fruitcake. There is a set of respectable morals, like urging kids to always believe in their dreams, but they get tangled up in the complicated narrative and consequently characters like Pitch — a pathetic villain who never poses enough of a threat — fall flat.