“Rise of the Guardians” – Review By Zachary Marsh

Despite featuring Santa Claus as one of the prominent characters in the film, ‘Rise of the Guardians’ isn’t one’s typical holiday movie. Based on William Joyce’s ‘The Guardians of Childhood’ book series, this film tells about how four of the mythical creatures of our dreams, including the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, were chosen by a “man in the moon” to be the protectors over all of the children in the world. When the Boogeyman comes to destroy all children’s beliefs in mythical beings, The Guardians recruit the reckless Jack Frost to help restore order and make kids believe in them. As a fan of DreamWorks’ movies, this film was a bit of a letdown. However thanks to a surprisingly dark tone, a well-conceived storyline, and the best looking animation of the year, ‘Rise of the Guardians’ is a fun and sweet animated movie that kids will enjoy more than adults, but adults will still get a kick out of it.

All animated movies have a great voice cast, and ‘Guardians’ is no exception. Chris Pine is a very likable actor, but his voice just didn’t fit the character of Jack Frost very well. It seemed like it would have been better if they had gotten a teenager to play Frost rather than Pine, who has a pretty deep voice. I liked him in the film, but his voice just didn’t feel right. Alec Baldwin dons a fantastic Russian accent as the beefy Santa Claus. This is a more badass Santa than one would remember, and I liked how he wasn’t just a jolly old fat man.

Hugh Jackman’s Easter Bunny has some humorous lines in the film, as does Isla Fisher’s Tooth Fairy. Both are equally good in the film. Jude Law I thought had the best vocal performance in the film as Pitch, the Boogeyman. Even when you’re able to sympathize with the character, Law is able to still make him a creepy and sinister villain, and I liked that a lot. The best character in the movie though is the silent but awesome Sandman. He is given some great comedic timing, plus is a really cool character in general that’s a part of a cool twist in the film. The voice cast overall was very good, but not quite up to the standards of other animated voice casts.

Animation wise, this is the best looking animated film of the year, hands down. Every shot in the film not only looked unique and superb, but the 3D has great depth of field and makes the audience feel like they’ve been immersed into this gorgeous world. There are a fair share of pop-out 3D moments that will have little kids saying “wow” out loud like how all little kids do, but they are just as fun to watch as a teen and an adult. Even if one doesn’t care for the movie that much, it’s hard to deny how stunning the visuals look throughout the movie, especially when the characters travel to the other mythical spots where other characters live. See the film in 3D if you can, because this is one of the few times where a good movie also has stellar 3D to go with it.

My main problems with the film were in the film’s script. David Lindsay-Abaire, who is best known for the 2005 animated flick ‘Robots’ and the 2010 drama ‘Rabbit Hole,’ is the one who adapted the ‘Guardians’ book series to the big screen. While the ideas he brought to the screen were really fascinating and cool, and the dark undertone he brought to the film is something to be admired for, the actual lines of words that he wrote for the characters needed a bit of work. While the film is darker than many of DreamWorks’ other animated romps, this movie featured really kiddy and childish lines that had to be read by the talented voice actors. Most of the film’s jokes weren’t that funny, but the little kids in my screening ate them all up. There were some jokes that made me laugh, but overall most of them just felt bland. Plus the film falls into the “animated-drama” cliché that’s been done too much ever since animated movies were created, as well as having some pretty predictable parts squeezed in there. It is a decent script, but if the lines of dialogue had been better and cleverer, then the film might have a higher rating for me.

‘Rise of the Guardians’ is a fun and enjoyable movie overall. The voice cast is good, the story and its ideas were great, and the animation from DreamWorks looks spectacular. What’s so brilliant about the film is that it’s a movie that could be watched for any holiday and it would still have the same impact on you every time. Despite Santa being in the film, this isn’t a straight-forward Christmas movie, rather it’s a movie about the mythical heroes of our dreams protecting the children of the world. That alone should be celebrated since there are too many Christmas movies out there, and there should be more movies like this, where the holidays are mixed together. Since your kid’s will probably force you to take them to see this, don’t hesitate. It’s not as great as ‘Wreck-It Ralph,’ but it’s not as horrible as ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift.’  Despite some of its flaws, ‘Rise of the Guardians’ is fun, deep, and sweet family film that’s worth the 3D surcharge if you have the money.  It was a good run for Paramount and DreamWorks, but I wish they could have ended off their deal with something better.

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