★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5 buckets | Matinee and DVD
Rated: PG - Thematic elements and some mild scary action
Release Date: November 21, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes
Director: Peter A. Ramsey
Writers: David Lindsay-Abaire, based on the book by William Joyce
Cast: Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo, Khamani Griffin, Kamil McFadden, Georgie Grieve, Emily Nordwind
SYNOPSIS: When an evil spirit called Pitch becomes bent upon taking over the world by inspiring fear in the hearts of kids everywhere, the legendary spirits of Christmas, Easter, dreams, teeth and frost must unite to take on the threat.
REVIEW: Direct to DVD director of Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, Peter Ramsey, goes to the big show with his first full animated feature release. David Lindsay-Abaire (Robots, Inkheart, the upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful) adapts author William Joyce's book 'The Guardians of Childhood' into an animated action adventure featuring some of the most iconic holiday or mythical childhood legends that parents tell their children stories about.
Hundreds of years ago, an invisible elemental spirit (Chris Pine, Unstoppable) came into being, unsure of who he was or what his purpose was. The only thing he was sure of what what his name was the name given to him by the Man in the Moon - Jack Frost! Now in the present day, as Jack Frost enjoys making blizzard conditions and giving kids snow days from school, an ancient menace named Pitch (Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) has reemerged to challenge the current Guardians. Consisting of the Russian Santa Claus North (Alec Baldwin, Rock of Ages), a Tooth Fairy named Tooth (Isla Fisher, Rango), the Bunny of Easter (Hugh Jackman, Real Steel), and Sandy the Sandman of Dreams, the Guardians are dedicated to the cause of keeping the children of the world safe and filled with hope and wonder. Now, with Pitch looking to fill the children of the world with grief and fear, the Man in the Moon urges the Guardians to enlist the help of Jack Frost in their defense of the world's youngest. But can the Guardians count on a reckless elemental who just wants to have fun and wants to be recognized?
The animated Rise of the Guardians, based on the book 'The Guardians of Childhood', is a unique perspective on those mythical ideals that our parents have told us stories about. North, the embodiment of the Spirit of Christmas is not just a jolly, big-belled man in a red suit with white fur trim. He is a Russian-esque imposing figure armed with powerful magic and two swash-buckling swords. Like a Russian nesting doll North is jolly, but also fearless and filled with wonder. The Australian accented Bunny, armed with boomerangs and Aborigine markings, takes his task of hiding colored eggs and marking the advent of spring and of hope on Easter Sunday very seriously. Tooth, the director of thousands of hummingbird sized tooth fairies collects thousands of teeth each day in exchange for coins. The pint-sized silent Sandy uses his golden wispy sands to fill childrens' heads with their favorite dreams. Jack Frost, with all of his Final Fantasy white locks and wooden staff, knows how to make sure kids have fun - at the expense of a few adults sliding and sliding around. He seems reckless, but at his core he loves the children just as much as the 'big guys'. The question is... will the belief of the world's children be enough to power the Guardians against the evil of Pitch?
Pitch Black is a formidable adversary to the Guardians. He is the harbinger of fear and was a dominate force in the world in the Dark Ages. When the Guardians emerged as forces for good, Pitch's powers were diminished and he was cast into obscurity. But as Pitch's machinations come to bear against the children, every ounce of power the villain gains takes away from the Guardians energies and their ability to combat Pitch's fear-mongering.
The animation is superb! All of the characters are designed to the utmost details to embody the spirits they portray. Pine, Baldwin, Fisher, Law, and Jackman bring their respective characters to phenomenal life. The worlds created for each of the Guardians takes every mythical character in a direction unseen before, The action sequences are choreographed and rendered beautifully, every camera angle and fluid movement eliciting the proper thrill, dread, or smiles. For every dark moment that Pitch puts into play, director Ramsey balances with intriguing or comic moments.
Rise of the Guardians is the perfect action-packed holiday film in the spirit of the classic move formula where the heroes have to save the holiday. In this film, though, the stakes are higher as our beloved mythical characters are not just saving the holiday, but the hope and happiness of all children and the Guardians' own existence. Maybe a little scary for the smallest of our future generation of dreamers and believers, Guardians will otherwise delight parents and children alike.
Rise of the Guardians takes holiday animation to the next level, giving the audience thrills, spills, and chills along with a fine story of perseverance and redemption. Jack Frost may be nipping at your nose, but he also has a free spirit and a warm heart.