DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Rise of the Guardians Film Review

Rise of the Guardians (2012) movie poster Rise of the Guardians

Theatrical Release: November 21, 2012 / Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Peter Ramsey / Writers: William Joyce (book The Guardians of Childhood), David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay)

Cast: Chris Pine (Jack Frost), Alec Baldwin (North), Jude Law (Pitch), Isla Fisher (Tooth), Hugh Jackman (Bunny), Dakota Goyo (Jamie Bennett), Khamani Griffin (Caleb), Kamil McFadden (Claude), Georgie Grieve (Sophie Bennett), Emily Nordwind (Jamie's Mom, Jack's Mother), Jacob Bertrand (Monty), Olivia Mattingly (Pippa, Jack's Sister), Dominique Grund (Cupcake)

Rise of the Guardians will hit home video on March 12, 2013. Read the press release.
Preorder from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Toy Eggs Blu-ray 3D Combo DVD + Toy Eggs Blu-ray + DVD DVD

The Avengers are not the only dream team assembled on the big screen this year. Based on William Joyce's recent, ongoing The Guardians of Childhood book series, Rise of the Guardians unites Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman in a world-saving effort. The premise is reminiscent of one of the weaker aspects of Tim Allen's The Santa Clause sequels,
but the film is little like that. Guardians represents the new DreamWorks Animation, dark and adventurous like How to Train Your Dragon as opposed to the comic irreverence that Shrek and its sequels established as the studio's signature tone.

Guardians opens with its protagonist Jack Frost (voiced by Star Trek's Chris Pine), a pixie-ish white-haired adolescent resembling the hero of a modern video game, discovering his identity three hundred years ago. He produces frost by touch, picks up his staff, and discovers that no one can see him. In the present day, Frost looks the same and is still struggling with his anonymity. We later learn that his invisibility is the result of children not believing in him. Santa leaves gifts under the tree, the Tooth Fairy leaves money under the pillow, but kids don't care about Frost's brand of chill.

You can't accuse this film of relying on the standard old notions of these legendary characters. Santa Claus is a burly Russian man (Alec Baldwin adopting a thick accent) with "Nice" and "Naughty" tattooed on his forearms. Yetis, not elves, do most of his toy manufacturing. The Easter Bunny is human-sized, upright, and understandably mistaken for a kangaroo (Hugh Jackman uses his natural Aussie accent). For some reason, the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) is a colorful small bird with even smaller ones as her assistants. The Sandman, meanwhile, is short, golden, and silent, relying on pantomime to convey his ideas.

After Santa spots some ominous dark sand near his snow globe, the group convenes and The Man in the Moon (who, not visually personified, can be imagined as anyone from God to the boy who fishes in the DreamWorks logo) decides that Jack Frost is to help them in this mission to protect the world from the Boogeyman, Pitch Black (Jude Law).

Looking for some credit and power, Pitch robs the Tooth Fairy's archives of lost teeth and childhood memories while also kidnapping her countless assistants. Immediately, some of the children of the world stop believing in the Tooth Fairy, as lights on a large globe dim in response to their diminished faith. Guardians doesn't plot the most imaginative of conflict for its heroes to combat. Jack Frost remains in the foreground, gripped by self-doubt even after his past life is discovered. While his arc has interest, it doesn't translate very well to the action the film is compelled to supply, pitting hero against villain in a battle resembling those of Harry Potter and Voldemort. These central segments seem destined to lose a good portion of the audience. They're not particularly kid-friendly; cute and comedic moments are generally relegated to the beginning and end. At the same time, they're not exciting enough to impress teens or artistic enough to captivate adults.

Bunny, Sandman, North, and Tooth welcome Jack Frost into their midst in DreamWorks Animation's "Rise of the Guardians."

At least, Rise of the Guardians is different, which is a very good thing to be at a time when a major new computer animated film seems to open each month. There has been a refreshing amount of variety to 2012's cartoon output in genre, look, and sensibilities. Guardians doesn't conveniently fit into any existing mold. It's not a chatty crowd-pleaser or another universe standing as a funny reflection of ours. The animation is great and unlike anything we've seen from DreamWorks before. Again, Dragon is the best comparison, but Guardians applies its ambitions to wintry cities and urban rooftops, as these larger than life characters are shown to be part of our world.

Despite its timing and two of its lead characters' reputations, this is not a holiday film. If it was, the holiday would be Easter (and I suspect that is a timely angle for the DVD and Blu-ray release to play up),
as it is set just days before the spring feast, prompting a visit to Bunny's island, where infant animal-like white eggs with legs walk into a colorful lake to acquire their swirly pastel appearance.

While Guardians has some good ideas, strong moments, and impressive visuals (with a 3D option, of course, to emphasize dimensionality), it doesn't quite add up to one's satisfaction. It definitely moves DreamWorks another step closer to being taken seriously and respected artistically like Pixar. But it's not as much fun as either their standard comedies (e.g. Megamind) or their better-regarded more action-driven tales like the Kung Fu Panda films.

Certainly, it falls short of the buzz building around it as a result of it winning a new Vanity Fair Award at the Rome Film Festival and being chosen back in September to receive the Hollywood Film Awards' animation prize. The expectation for it to be the film to beat in the Oscars' Animated Feature category seems misplaced. Though this has the Academy's short memory and the full backing of DreamWorks and Paramount on its side, I can easily see five other animated films being more qualified to draw a nomination based on public and critical reception.

Preorder Rise of the Guardians from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Toy Eggs Blu-ray + DVD Blu-ray 3D Combo DVD + Toy Eggs DVD

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New in Theaters: Life of Pi
New to Stores: The Santa Clause (Complete 3-Movie Collection) Arthur Christmas DreamWorks Holiday Classics Prep & Landing
2012 Animation: Brave Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted The Pirates! Band of Misfits Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Secret of the Wings
Directed by Peter Ramsey: Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space
Based on a William Joyce Book: Meet the Robinsons | Adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire: Inkheart
Jack Frost (1979) Hop Monsters, Inc. Santa Claus: The Movie Real Steel
DreamWorks Animation: Puss in Boots Kung Fu Panda Kung Fu Panda 2 Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed November 21, 2012.

Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.