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Rise of the Guardians: Vol. 2 is a 2018 American 3D computer-animated action-adventure fantasy dramedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures. The sequel to 2012's Rise of the Guardians, it is based on William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood book series and The Man in the Moon short film by Joyce and Reel FX Creative Studios. Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Christina Steinberg directed the movie with Joyce and Guillermo del Toro being executive producers of the film. Peter Ramsey, the director of the first movie, did not return for the film due to his occupation with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse but remained as both creative consultant and additional story artist.

The film stars Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, and Jude Law reprising their character roles from the first film, with Miles Bakshi (replacing Dakota Goyo), Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd, Patrick Warburton, Kristin Chenoweth, Dustin Hoffman, Jacob Tremblay, and Ruby Barnhill joining the cast. 

Set several months after the first film, the plot revolves around the Guardians who enlist young Jamie to save the world from both Pitch Black and Heat Miser who have very powerful weapons that they plan to destroy children's imaginations with. However, Jamie discovers a terrifying secret about his past, and discovers that Pitch Black has something to do with it.

The film was released on December 25, 2018 and unlike it's predecessor, received largely positive reviews, with critics praising its animation, voice acting, musical score, action sequences, emotional depth, character development, and darker, more serious tone compared to its predecessor, although the plot was criticized as a derivative of both Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rise of the Guardians. The film grossed $950 million worldwide against its $180 million budget. It is also the first DreamWorks Animation film to be rated PG-13 as it has a lot of thematic elements throughout.

Plot

The film starts with a depiction of the Golden Age. During the Golden Age, travel between planets and stars were common with the use of airships that would sail the Sea of Stars. The universe was governed by Constellations, groups of planets and stars led by benevolent families that ruled with imagination and fairness. But evil came in the form of Fearlings, Nightmare Men, and Dream Pirates, who threatened the peace.

The House of Lunanoff vowed to rid the universe of their evil, so together with the other Constellations they built a prison out of lead in the farthermost regions of space to confine the Fearlings and their ilk. Kozmotis Pitchiner led the Golden Armies in capturing them, then volunteered to keep watch over them. As time passed, Kozmotis started to miss his daughter and the Fearlings took the opportunity to trick Kozmotis by pretending to be his daughter. Kozmotis, believing that his daughter was trapped, opened the gates and let the Fearlings escape simultaneously possessing him, turning Kozmotis Pitchiner into Pitch Black, the Nightmare King.

His mind, now twisted with thoughts of vengeance, Pitch set out to destroy the Lunanoffs and the Golden Age by turning all good dreams into nightmares. He plundered planets, extinguished stars and scuttled airships, replacing every dream with a nightmare. He hungered for children's dreams the most; and occasionally, he would turn children into Fearlings. After ravaging every outpost, he went after the Constellation Lunanoff, determined to turn their son, who had never had a nightmare, into his Prince of Nightmares. During this time, Pitch and his fearling fought in the battle were he almost lost against the Pooka resulting in Bunnymund becoming the last of his race.

The Lunanoffs boarded their airship, the Moon Clipper, and set sail for the distant planet of Earth.

Centuries later, the Man in the Moon warns Nicholas St. North that Pitch Black and his new friend (Heat Miser) will be threatening children of the world with a weapon. He calls Bunnymund, Toothiana, Sandy, and Jack Frost to arms. They learn from the Man in the Moon that they are to induct JB as their new member. At first, they don't completely get the message right or who the guardian is... However, when Jack Frost recalls memories of his first believer, Jamie Bennett, they end up thinking that he is the sixth guardian. They arrive at his house late at night only to discover that Pitch Black has lured the boy and struck him in the back with an arrow made of black sand. The Guardians then escape with an unconscious Jamie in tow and resurrect him.

Jamie wakes up at North's headquarters and they attempt to swear him in. Jamie declines to join the Guardians after learning that he has a family via lights in the Globe of Belief. Regardless, the Guardians persuade him to cooperate for now by explaining their mission and the looming threat of both Pitch Black and Heat Miser.

In Tokyo, the six discover that Godzilla has attacked the city and has become almost indestructible. The Guardians stop the monster, but escapes when Jamie is distracted by a symbol on Godzilla's hand palm, which causes him to have a flashback of a planet exploding into pieces. Jamie asks his mother about his origins. His mother reveals that she and his father found him as a infant in a box and adopted him, but Jamie remains unsatisfied, wondering how and why he ended up in Burgess.

North receives word from the Man in the Moon that Pitch Black and Heat Miser have landed on the planet Mars, killed Brightlight (Nightlight/Jack Frost's legacy cousin), the leader of the guardian council protecting the Guardians whenever they need help, and are plotting to destroy children's imaginations with a newly-developed secret weapon. The Man in the Moon sends the Guardians and Jamie to stop them, but the journey ends up getting complicated by Jamie's troubling nightmares that he feels he cannot share completely with anybody, even with Jack Frost.

During their journey, the six heroes create a complete strategy to get the Moon Key (which is in New York City), find the whereabouts of Katherine and Timekeeper, stop Pitch Black/Heat Miser and save the world. The plan works out perfectly with the whereabouts being imprisoned in Pitch's lair. The heroes ask the council members for help to liberate children's lives, but the two surviving members cite their helplessness against Pitch Black and Heat Miser's plan and refuse, forcing the Guardians and Jamie to make the attempt alone. The six are then ambushed by Pitch's forces.

Placed in restraints, they are brought before Pitch Black and Heat Miser in their hideaway tower on the planet Mars. Both refused to believe that five dysfunctional legends and a little boy could possibly threaten them, while Father Time realizes that one of the six heroes (Jamie) has no knowledge of what the Nightmare King did to some of the galaxy. As per their plan, the Guardians free themselves and destroy the large weapon. Unfortunately, Jamie is once again distracted by flashbacks upon seeing a combination of both nightmare sand and fire, allowing both the Nightmare King and the fire spirit to escape. The heroes discover, to their horror, that Pitch Black and Heat Miser have created a whole arsenal of weapons and they barely escape the tower while Pitch and Heat Miser destroy it with a salvo attack. Hiding in Pitch's lair, Jack Frost demands to know why Jamie froze and says they will leave him behind if he can't be counted on in battle. The little boy at first refuses to confess about his flashbacks, but ultimately relents and tells him that Pitch Black and Heat Miser both know what happened to his biological parents. He says that Jack Frost probably can't understand, but that he has to know the answer and that he will confront them with or without the Guardians. Jack Frost then suddenly hugs Jamie, much to the surprise of everyone else, and tells him that he does understand, but can't watch his first believer die. He tells him to remain with Katherine and Timekeeper for his own protection while he and the others attempt to stop Pitch Black and Heat Miser's weapons at the source.

Still determined to find out what Pitch Black and Heat Miser know, Jamie ignores Jack Frost and decides to break into the weapon foundry to question them about his memories, inadvertently foiling the Big Five's plan of blowing it to bits. In the ensuing battle, Jamie faces Pitch Black who sadistically claims that his parents abandoned him out of hate before Heat Miser blasts the little boy point-blank with a giant cannon into the Antarctic river, where he is presumed dead.

Jamie survives and is rescued by Baby Tooth and Father Time. When he regains consciousness, Father Time tells him that he lived on a planet far away from Earth when he was born and unconscious repressed memories of him fight to come to the surface. Guided by Father Time and Baby Tooth to cherish the past and let it rise, Jamie's memories come back as he witnesses the destruction of his planet and his mother and father's flight from Pitch Black's forces. Given the lie of Pitch Black and Heat Miser's cruel claim of abandonment, he sees instead that his parents endangered and sacrificed themselves to save him by hiding him in a escape pod and luring Pitch Black's army away from him. His memories move to his adoption by the loving Bennett family and how he conquered his most deepest and darkest insecurities to achieve his most cherished dreams with help from his new friends, the Guardians. At that, Jamie comes to realize that the past does not define him as much as his present choices, allowing to attain measures of power from within him even while he prepares to confront the two murdering spirits.

Meanwhile, Pitch Black and Heat Miser capture the Guardians who are trying to stop their war fleet from departing and prepares to kill them as an example of their power combined as soon as they clear Earth. However, Jamie arrives to confront Pitch Black and manages to free the Guardians, beginning a massive battle to destroy Pitch Black and Heat Miser's mega weapon before it reaches Earth that soon includes the Man in the Moon and the Guardian helpers who both also convinced Timekeeper and Katherine to participate. The attempt to stop the fleet fails and the heroes are left floating in outer space amongst the wreckage.

Regardless, Jamie stands his ground and astounds everyone when he mind-controls Heat Miser's weapon fire, and redirects it back to his armada. In doing so, Jamie devastates the fleet and his weapons through his newly-discovered powers alone and confronts the Heat Miser on his damaged flag spaceship. There, Jamie rejects that his horrific past dominates him and urges the Heat Miser to let go with the grievances of his past. However, Heat Miser refuses and hatefully tries to attack him. In the melee, Heat Miser unintentionally slashes the ropes holding up his weapon, which then falls and kills him. Jamie soon reunites with the other Guardians and they celebrate their victory with fireworks.

Back in Burgess, Jamie reunites with his mom and lovingly proclaims her to be his own mother. The next day, the Bennett family celebrates Christmas Day, however the Guardians end up calling Jamie again for another mission. He leaves his family and promises to return in time for dinner, before the Guardians get all set for a new adventure.

Cast

  • Chris Pine as Jack Frost, the spirit of winter and the Guardian of Fun. Jack Frost is a teenage hellion who enjoys creating mischief and has no interest in being bound by rules or obligations.
  • Alec Baldwin as North (Santa Claus), the leader of the guardians, and the Guardian of Wonder. He lives at the North Pole in his Ice Castle and is served by loyal North Pole natives, the Yetis (who built the castle and workshop) and the Christmas Elves. He carries a Russian accent/culture persona.
  • Hugh Jackman as Bunnymund (Easter Bunny), the Australian-accented fabled keeper and bringer of Easter eggs and the Guardian of Hope. He has an Australian accent.
  • Isla Fisher as Tooth Fairy, or Tooth for short, the mythical tooth collector and the Guardian of Memories. Tooth is part human and part hummingbird. Assisted by mini fairies that are split-off extensions of herself, she collects the children's teeth, which hold their most precious memories. Tooth stores them in her palace and returns memories when they are needed the most."
  • The Sandman, or Sandy for short, the Guardian of Dreams is the oldest of the Guardians and the first Guardian chosen by Man in the Moon. He does not speak, but communicates through sand images that he conjures above his head.
  • Miles Bakshi as Jamie Bennett, a 8-year old child who has not given up on believing in the Guardians. He was previously voiced by Dakota Goyo in the first film.
  • Jude Law as Pitch Black (The Boogeyman), the essence of fear, the Nightmare King, and the first primary antagonist.
  • Gary Oldman as Heat Miser, a fiery spirit and second primary antagonist.
  • Christopher Lloyd as Father Time, a wise and powerful old wizard and a temporary advisor to Pitch Black and Heat Miser.
  • Patrick Warburton as Timekeeper, Father Time's brother and the Guardian of Time.
  • Kristin Chenoweth as Katherine, a foundling girl and the Guardian of Storytelling.
  • Jacob Tremblay as Brightlight, Nightlight/Jack Frost's legacy cousin and the Guardian of Nighttime.
  • Dustin Hoffman as the Man in the Moon, He's an active observer of the transpiring events of the world, and the very first Guardian.
  • Ruby Barnhill as Baby Tooth, one of Toothiana's subordinate mini fairies.
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