As Christmas draws near, it’s become a tradition to see at least one holiday themed animated movie; Rise of the Guardians takes this one step further by capturing icons of festival and fantasy, from the Easter Bunny to the Tooth Fairy – but is this a case of too many cooks spoiling the fruit cake?
When the Boogie Man attacks the children of Earth, Santa (called North) and his fellow protectors – The Sand Man, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy – must join forces to combat the threat and insure that kids never lose hope. Reluctantly Joining them is Jack Frost, the newest guardian; Frost however holds resentment to the others as children don’t believe in him and therefore cannot see him.
On paper, Rise of the Guardians sounds like a fantastic idea – a holiday themed Avengers movie filled with interesting characters and action aplenty. For the most part it works, but while the Dreamworks execs saw market penetration and toy licensing, they forgot a little something that makes Dreamworks animation what they are – spirit.
There’s just something that doesn’t make sense in the film. Rise of the Guardians attempts push the message of hope and belief in these characters as a matter of plot, but at the same time, publishing the legitimacy of them destroys the illusion and magic behind them. The concept of these supernatural figures relies on faith – the faith that they exist whether they can be seen or not, and for this reason the film is more suited to those that have bent to skepticism.
The plot itself is also nothing to swoon over – it’s a typical superhero type story with a festive candy coating on it. It’s relatively sedated but shares a lot in common with cartoon shows like Dragonball with its over-the-top fight sequences that can at times be superfluous and actually sacrifice pacing for visual spectacle. This is also one of Dreamworks’ failures in terms of comedy – there just isn’t all that much to laugh at and it’s obvious that they were trying a little too hard to find the playing field.
What saves the film though is the stunning voice cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law and Hugh Jackman are incredibly well utilised and suit their characters perfectly – the charm that may be lacking in the plot can be found in the characters behind it. Speaking of characters, Rise of the Guardians is also another excuse for Dreamworks to showcase their budget and talent to provide a visually superb film that has it’s own unique style; it’s not too obvious but it’s there and welcome.
Rise of the Guardians may not capture the charm of previous Dreamworks offerings, but it’s a blast for boys that are in their “action figure” stage (if they still have those, nowadays it’s mostly video games). The 3-D doesn’t add much to the film, so catch a regular feature and save some cash.
The Bottom Line
It may be a holiday movie, but Rise of the Guardians remains very much in the main stream. Its predictable plot populated by figures of festive tradition and fantasy works as showcase for stunning visual and animation, its story however leaves much to be desired and treads familiar territory with a twist.