Title: Rise of the Guardians
Director: Peter Ramsey
Only true problem with Rise of the Guardians: 97 minutes.
Yep, the run time, and therefore, edit, is the one thing that technically holds this back from being an animated cinematic marvel.
This needed to reach the two-hour mark. While the themes easily get across, the at times choppy and rushed storytelling bumps this down a few notches from the “epic” labeling.
All of the fabled characters such as Santa Claus (North), Easter Bunny (Bunny), and even the “second-tier” ones in The Tooth Fairy (Tooth) and The Sandman (Sandy), do more than just please the children of the world, they’re also guardians against the evils that threaten to kill the kiddies hopes and dreams. Under the guiding light of The Man on The Moon (Manny), all of them are summoned together to stop the dark and infamous boogeyman, Pitch Black (voiced by Jude Law). The only catch: Manny wants to add a new guardian for this all-important task in a playful loner known as Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine).
Reluctant to accept the somewhat arrogant and immature Frost as one of their own – since kids do not really believe in him, the colorful yet gritty group unites to battle Pitch throughout all their respective earthly realms.
The atmosphere crafted by the filmmakers encompasses that pitch-perfect escapism one looks for when going to the movies; especially around the holiday season. Painting with solid CGI and not going overboard with the technical toys (don’t need to see this in 3D by the way), one will be exploring every inch of the screen as this smoothly ventures around vast landscapes. And when factoring in the tweaks to the household name characters, you’ll feel as if you’re watching something special.
North (voiced by Alec Baldwin) is a burly Santa Claus who wields swords and has more of a Viking persona. He has tattoos that sneak out when his sleeves are rolled up and although he’s armed with elves, Yetis (Bigfoot) also comprise some of the staff at his North Pole fortress. Same can be said for Bunny (voiced by Hugh Jackman), as he is a six-foot tall outback warrior with a chip-on-his-shoulder, as evident when he and North rip on each other over whose holiday is more important. Balancing out the alpha males is Tooth (voiced by Isla Fisher) and the cuddly Sandman (never speaks, but creates think clouds with his magic sand streams). They keep the purpose of the story present when the script tries to poke fun at obvious stigmas attached to the well-known characters.
But the real, and clichéd, plot point stems around Jack Frost trying to find his purpose. The cunning, old-school Dracula-looking Pitch realizes this, and tests Frost’s loyalty – which is to say selfish desires – to the overall task of the guardians. Banter like this can weave in the fundamental message the script wants to project out; but in trying to keep focus on this singular element, they might have not realized that they actually created a foundation to do so much more (i.e. make epic). The forging of relationships and history felt more forced, as they could have taken more time to develop the history of the guardianship and the character relations. The glossing over moments doesn’t ruin this by any means, but it could irk some folks that the potential of this set-up was not fully realized.
Overall, Rise of the Guardians is satisfying holiday movie experience. You will watch with a sense of wonderment and it will earn multiple viewings over the years and the creativity/intelligence levels will be able to please all audiences. Only cynical critics like yours truly will probably yearn for a more epic telling in what is essentially a wholesome animation dressed as a fantasy adventure piece. Though, “wanting more” has to be a good thing right?
Acting (voice): A