Let's start with the "guardians" themselves: a ragtag bunch of secular figures from various myths and traditions but who it is explained here are real, chosen to look over children throughout the world. The roll call is pretty impressive; it's just a shame that each member is either woefully unoriginal or just not very interesting. Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin) is largely a shameless rip-off of Gru from Despicable Me - even his elves are carbon copies of Gru's minions in every way other than appearance - with clumsy Russian stereotypes (two big swords and a Cossack hat, anyone?) slapped on to fill the gaps. Hugh Jackman's Easter Bunny, an anthropomorphic animal warrior who throws boomerangs, is more confusing than anything else. It's not clear whether the character is given Australian iconography due to Jackman's accent, or whether Jackman was chosen to fit the character's traits - either way it neither works nor makes sense, and an explanation is never even hinted at. The Sandman, an imp-like mute, is mainly an excuse for a few half-cooked gags ("Sandy! You should have said something"), and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) is entirely forgettable.
Which just leaves Jack Frost (Chris Pine), the protagonist and latest guardian who you'll really struggle to care about, partly because of Pine's bland performance and partly because of David Lindsay-Abaire's pedestrian script which provides just one short sequence to give the character any depth or development. The whole thing never hangs together in any meaningful or satisfying way: the story takes far too long to get going, failing to truly hold your attention when it does; the characters lack chemistry, never feeling like the team they're meant to be; and the motivations of all involved, including Jude Law's generic villain Pitch Black, feel decidedly vague and flimsy from start to finish removing any genuine threat or urgency from the film's events.
All of this boils down to yet another sub-par DreamWorks animated effort. Even the animation itself, at times the saving grace of the studio's more recent films, feels unimpressive. There are some admirable attempts at bringing to life the various realms the mythical figures inhabit, and the main laughs come from the actions of Santa's yetis (yes, Santa has more than one yeti in Rise Of The Guardians), but the positive points are too few and far between to make it a film worth recommending. It's never offensively bad, nor does it plumb the depths of crudity or unkindness in an attempt at laughs, something unfortunately seen more and more in films made to entertain children. Rise Of The Guardians isn't a stinker on the level of Shrek The Third, thusfar DreamWorks' greatest and most repugnant failure, but it is seriously misjudged and a major disappointment.