Rise of the Guardians (2012)


Director:  Peter Ramsey
Cast:  Chris Pine, Hugh JackmanAlec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Jude Law.
Plot:  When the evil spirit Pitch launches an assault on Earth, the Immortal Guardians team up to protect the innocence of children all around the world.

Genre:  Animation / Adventure / Family

Awards:  Nom. for 1 Golden Globe - Best Animated Feature
Runtime:  97min
Rating:  PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action.


This film was reviewed in the 3D format.

“It is our job to protect the children of the world. For as long as they believe in us, we will guard them with our lives...”

Rise of the Guardians tries too hard to please audiences that it turns out to be an average animated feature with lead characters who are more interested in creating dazzling light shows than going into the heart of their stories. Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin) tells Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to find his 'center', something that defines his purpose in life and which motivates him.

Jack's struggle to find that elusive meaning to his existence mirrors this Dreamworks Animation picture's not-so-good attempt at delivering a rousing adventure.  Despite the fact that there are better animated films released this year such as ParaNorman, and Frankenweenie, Rise of the Guardians is still likely to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature only because the selection pool this year is wider than before.

No one believes in Jack Frost.  But everyone believes in Santa, the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher).  The quartet of guardians seek to protect the children of the world from darkness and fear, as personified by Pitch (Jude Law), who wants kids to believe in the Bogeyman.

He wages a fearsome battle with the guardians, including Jack, though few will care who comes out as the winner.  More will be distracted by the light show, all the flying, and all the tunneling...  This is a fast-moving film that sees characters move at speeds so great that it will leave you in a daze. With 3D glasses on, it becomes an indoor roller-coaster ride.

 It is magical, yes, but the whirlwind of effects that capitalizes on the use of 3D disguises the fact that while the film can be energetic fun, its 'center' lies only surface-deep in the departments of character and story development.  The straightforward good versus evil formula is at best uninspiring, at worst lazy storytelling.

Despite dwelling in themes of hope, belief, and teamwork, the film ends up like a rush job in time for an early Christmas.  Many reviewers have noted the “Avengers-esque” setup, and short of labeling the film as “The Avengers for kids”, it must be said that Peter Ramsey’s film approaches the concept in a less conventional way.

Santa is a tattooed two-armed swordsman; Easter Bunny is huge, maybe way too huge; Sandman is quite small, maybe way too small; and the Tooth Fairy is impossibly cute.  Amid all the physical distortions, Jack Frost seems the most ordinary…like a human being.

But with a special stick, he can put up a good fight.  In a scene that represents the film’s turning point towards the final act, that stick becomes a tool that brings the adventure back to life again.  Check out how the scene plays out, and tell me if that isn’t lazy storytelling.

Verdict:  An energetic and magical light show with unconventional characters that somewhat struggles to find its emotional center amid some uninspired storytelling. 


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