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Rise of the Guardians 

Jack Frost joins Santa, Easter Bunny and others to save kids' hopes in this animated adventure comedy

In 3-D in select theaters.

In 3-D in select theaters.

In this digitally animated adventure-comedy, the children of the world are imperiled when an evil fella named Pitch Black (voice of Jude Law) wants to steal all their joy and hopefulness. So it's up to the time-honored guardians of kiddies — Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the silent Sandman — to defeat the broody dude. To help them, the Man in the Moon sends a new recruit, the boyish ice- and-snow-maker Jack Frost (Chris Pine). What follows is a whiz-bang of quests, perils (including some that may be too intense for the smallest kids), battles, wisecracks, lessons and a lot of eye-popping visuals.

To my ancient eyes, Peter Ramsey's film (adapted from William Joyce's book series) felt like a craven move to add yet another heart-warming "hero" to the already bloated world of children's entertainment. Making Jack Frost "lovable" seemed like a stretch — sure, snow days are fun, but a lot of people die from winter weather. (Complicating this, Frost here is a dead ringer for evil Prince Joffrey, from HBO's Game of Thrones.)

But the kids at the screening clapped wildly at the end, so maybe in their world, there is a place for a puckish tweener who "skateboards" on ice, makes the best snowball fights ever and still has time to help his fellow guardians beat up the bad guy.

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