Rise of the Guardians
Rise of the Guardians brings together the fantastical skills of five of our imagination’s heart loved characters to fight fear on behalf of the children they love and protect. Initially Team Fantasy is headed up by Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman. Eons have passed with the children of the world enjoying peaceful sleep and celebrations through the year but this year someone is again fighting back and the surface of dreamland could be cracked open.
Everyone knows that to have the best kind of villain you need an English accent but this was still a surprise for me when this animated feature had their choice of Jude Law as Pitch Black. This personification of fear has some issues and he sadly wants to shares his nightmares with the world. Law is superb in the role with just enough dastardly to bring the character to life. However his character’s onscreen performance is outdone by the black night’mares’. These horses of death are built on the corrupted sands of our Sandman and are probably a good enough reason for this to be a cautionary film for any parent taking children under 12. Once they start to fill the screen it could be overwhelming for a young viewer.
As our team mount a rescue response to save the children they quickly recognise they can’t do it alone. The ‘Man in the Moon’ who has appointed each of them as guardians now chooses a new Guardian in the form of Jack Frost. This is where the story brilliantly talks through our search for significance through the eyes of Jack Frost. The misunderstood character enjoys life’s play time and taking risks and is seen by the other characters as dangerous and flighty. Chris Pine of the Star Trek reboot fame voices the character and through Jack’s journey we see a young man with great courage learning who he really is.
The storyline revolves around Jack’s connection with a ‘real life boy’ called Jamie Bennett played by Dakota Goyo. This seemingly incidental character quickly becomes a focal point as it’s through Jamie that our story will find a solution and Jack step up to be a part of the team. There must be a real connection for Dakota with Australia as this is his second outing with Hugh Jackman as they worked together when Goyo played the young Max Kenton in Real Steel. He also starred with Australian Chris Hemsworth as the young Thor in the first Marvel Thor episode. Next he connects to be on screen with another Aussie leading man when he is alongside Russell Crowe as the young Noah in the upcoming 2014 release.
While the Isla Fisher sweeter than treacle voiced character of the Tooth Fairy gives Jack his first touch of courage it’s the Easter Bunny who really has to transform his relationship with Jack. Hugh Jackman plays an Aussie bunny who could be forgiven for being a Kangaroo stretched into Thumper’s skin. It’s the Easter Bunny who is most vocal about his mistrust for Frost but through the movies journey it is the bunny who eats a healthy slice of Bacon and Easter Egg humble pie before drawing Jack into the team.
Visually one of the great characters on screen was Santa Clause otherwise nicknamed as ‘North’ and played by Alec Baldwin with a slight Muscovite accent. Santa is seen as tough on the outside and soft on the inside. A brilliant allegory played out later in the picture through Matryoshka dolls. I loved the forearm tattoos of ‘Naughty’ and ‘Nice’. While each of our characters has their mode of transport you still can’t beat Santa’s sleigh. I love the fact that despite many onscreen versions of the big man’s red runner the retro version is always best.
This Dreamworks movie was directed by Peter Ramsey who has 26 titles to his record in art department work as wide as Godzilla and Men in Black through to Fight Club. This is his second directing outing since the made for TV movie Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space. It is however his time on work like Shrek the Halls, Shrek the Third that have brought his skills brilliantly to the fore in this production.
A great movie which was thoroughly enjoyed by myself, a fourteen year-old girl and two twelve year-old boys for a fun movie outing. I’m giving Rise of the Guardians a 4 out of 5 popcorns.
PG Coarse language.
In Cinemas January 3, 2013.
Reviewed by: Andrew Pitchford