MRR Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians


Movie Review: "Rise of the Guardians"

Rating: PG
Length: 97 minutes
Release date: Nov. 21, 2012
Directed by: Peter Ramsey
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Family

The fabled creatures that populate a child's world are often taken for granted. "Rise of the Guardians" shows us just how important it is to not only protect those fables, but to revisit them every once in a while as adults. The movie is adapted from a popular children's book series entitled "Guardians of Childhood." Author William Joyce undertook the task of creating a mythology for the characters like Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Man in the Moon, and Jack Frost. This mythology was chosen by director Peter Ramsey when bringing the film to the big screen, providing a movie that adults will love just as much as the children.

Joyce sought to make the origin stories for the fabled childhood characters just as solid and lively as those created for Superman and other famous comic characters. Thus "Rise of the Guardians" reads like the origin story for Tony Stark as Iron Man or Hal Jordan's assumption of the Green Lantern ring. The audience gets a bit of the origins of each character as they come together to protect the children of the world. The Easter Bunny (voiced by Isla Fisher), for example, outsources her egg hiding duties to an army of bunnies, while Santa (voiced by Alex Baldwin) is a tattooed Slavic character with a penchant for toy-making. Each character has a human side that makes the heroic qualities stand out even more as the movie goes on.

The story begins with the children of the world in peril and a new guardian is needed to help save them. That new guardian is Jack Frost, a perpetual teen who is constantly rebelling with a permanent spot on the naughty list. Frost's story is highlighted in this installment from the series. It is done in such a way that the audience is left with a desire to know more about each character. Tidbits are offered through "Rise of the Guardians", but more should be revealed in forthcoming movies, of what will definitely be a popular animated franchise. In the meantime, Jack's inauguration into the guardians gives the rebel an opportunity to help children in the best way he knows how-with tricks and irreverent fun.

Jack Frost is cocky, Santa is the grizzly uncle, Sandman is the sleepy old man, and the tooth fairy is the lovable flake. These are the personalities that work to humanize these centuries-old characters. Even the Easter Bunny has a swagger about him that makes him less delicate than we are accustomed to, and his voice is more akin to the Wolverine character's voice, thanks to actor Hugh Jackman.

The guardians enemy in the film is Pitch, voiced by Jude Law, and is known to children everywhere as the Boogeyman. He tries desperately to bring fear to the dreams and waking minds of children all over the world. Pitch is powerful, but the guardians and their new member Jack Frost can take him. Of course there is a time-sensitive element. They must finish in time to scatter the eggs for the traditional Easter egg hunts.

Director Peter Ramsey keeps a tight ship, bringing together all of the elements of the film in a way that never reveals a weak spot, slip in dialogue or even an animation blooper. Ramsey began his Hollywood history as a storyboard artist and it shows in his handling of the action sequences and even the slow spots in the film, where the audience gets a view of Santa's magnificent and very vivid headquarters. He and animation artist Rodger Deakins take the helm of a fantastic children's book, essentially bringing the pages to life on screen. It helps that author Joyce has some experience in the film industry as well. This collaboration leaves audiences wanting more from the group. Pixar beware!

Santa has a slew of knives up his sleeve and the Easter Bunny is a hand-to-hand combat genius. These characters, taking on their mission with the skill and the ambition of modern superheroes, accomplish the author's goal in writing the book series. The vivid imagery works with the action and polished dialogue to create an animated film that does not need dirty jokes or innuendo to keep the entire family enticed. Instead, "Rise of the Guardians" offers a satisfying animated feature that easily leaves room and anticipation for more installments in the series.