Old 11-15-2012, 02:58 PM
Rise of the Guardians


Directed by Peter Ramsey

Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, Based on the books by William Joyce

Starring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher

Rated PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action

Running Time of 97 Minutes

When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world.

My Review:

I don't often use this word because I find that many adults so often use it as a blanket statement for any kid's film they see, but Rise of the Guardians is clearly and endlessly cute. This is an overwhelmingly optimistic and positive film that taps into childhood wonder and magic in a potent way. It's not presented with great depth or substance, but it more than makes up for that with a rousing and fun adventure with a strong undercurrent of genuine sweetness. It continues Dreamworks Animation's shift into more serious and adventurous faire (Kung Fu Panda 1/2, How to Train Your Dragon, Puss in Boots) and I suspect that it will delight children and families in holiday seasons to come, even if some cynical and curmudgeonly people attempt to Scrooge it into oblivion.

Directed by Peter Ramsey and produced by author William Joyce and Guillermo Del Toro, the film is not an adaptation of Joyce's Guardians books but rather something of a sequel. The film does not require that you have read the books, of course. Each of them serves as an origin story of sorts of one of the big holiday icons, and this film takes place much later in time. Although there is some element of Jack Frost's origin story, more than anything Rise of the Guardians is a "superhero" team up film. Scripter David Lindsay-Abaire has constructed a simple story that has Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy teaming up to fight the Boogeyman. The film plays into the iconography of the various holidays and icons and places clever twists on familiar ideas and stories. There's no short supply of cute supporting characters either - Yetis, mischievous elves, baby fairies, eggs with legs - and they make for some adorable humor. The film also features Jamie (voiced by Dakota Goyo), a young boy who serves as the audience's constant reminder of the belief and worth of children. This might all strike some as cute overload, but it's balanced well and tickled my face, so to speak.

This may indeed be the most child friendly film Dreamworks Animation has produced, but it maintains its integrity at the same time - there's no out of place pop culture references, no flatulence jokes, and best of all no pandering. The film treats its ideas seriously, and the action and adventure aspects are exciting and well choreographed. The peril has stakes and Pitch Black (creepily voice by Jude Law) aka the Boogeyman is a formidable foe that preys on the fear of children. Each voice actor does a great job, from Alec Baldwin's burly (and Russian) Santa Claus to Hugh Jackman's hilarious turn as the Easter Bunny to the great warmth that Isla Fisher brings as the Tooth Fairy. As Jack Frost, Chris Pine proves once again that he does great work as a reckless hero. Jack's internal struggle makes up for much of the film's conflict, and it is balanced and intertwined well with the bigger theme of the necessity and importance of maintaing a childlike belief in wonder.

Rise of the Guardians is absolutely gorgeous and perhaps the most beautiful film Dreamworks has yet to produce. Del Toro's influence is clear in the design of the fantastical elements, from Pitch Black's subterranean lair to the Bunny's or Claus' homes. The animation is incredibly smooth, crisp, and picturesque, with a wonderful balance of colors and tone. The use of snow and sky is stunning. The 3D effect is fine (though not necessary) and the film is lit properly so darkness should not occur (unless your cinema's projector bulb is low). Alexandre Desplat has composed a magical and rich score that lends beauty and pace to the film. Most of all, though, this film is good old fashioned fun. We can look for the deep themes and risky storytelling that Pixar and Ghibli bring to their films, and that can be great. Sometimes, though, a magical and exciting film is just as enjoyable, and that is the case here. Rise of the Guardians warmed my heart and left me in the holiday spirit. Cynics need not apply.

Last edited by SpikeDurden; 11-27-2012 at 09:45 AM..
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