Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

Stars: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law

Rated PG for thematic elements and some mild scary action, Running time 97 minutes, Animation/Adventure/Family

Compare to: How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Brave (2012)

Of all the animated films to come out this year, I have to admit that I was looking forward to this one the most. The idea of all these mythical figures coming together to fight the personification of an actual nightmare just intrigues me. Was it worth the time? Does it live up to the hype that only Santa can bring?

Depends on what you want to get out of it.

Jack Frost is wondering what to do with his life. After 300 years of wandering aimlessly, creating snow storms and blizzards with a magic staff, he’s gotten a little misty for the future; what purpose he’s really supposed to be serving, what he should be doing, all that stuff. But when the Guardians (made up of Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and the Sandman) tell Jack that he was chosen to be one of them, to help fight Pitch Black, a creature that wants to destroy anything happy in the world, who is he to say no, especially to Santa?

Something about the movie falls flat to me. As the reviewer, I know I’m supposed to be able to put my finger on it and relay it to you, but I just can’t. Maybe it seems that anytime the film gains momentum and energy, the next scene seems to be made to slow everything down to pretend that this is more serious than just a kid’s movie. It was tough to get a bead on. I want to get this out of the way first so I can focus on the more positive aspects but it needs to be said either way. For every two steps the film takes, it also takes a step backward, never truly achieving the “magical” feeling that it’s so clearly reaching for.

But I did enjoy everything I could, without having to strain myself. Jack Frost’s scenes involving him flying from rooftop to street level, falling from giant heights toward the ground below, this was made for the big screen and were the most most fun of the movie. Being that the movie is entirely CG, there aren’t any flaws to point out in the film’s execution of giants bunnies talking to elf men or the most spectacular mid-air fight scenes. Even talking about it, I would’ve eaten this all up as a kid.

The twists on classic characters are fun too. The Tooth Fairy (voiced by Isla Fisher) is probably the furthest departure from what we’ve ever imagined as her humanoid hummingbird appearance flits from all sides the screen throughout the film. The Australian-accented Easter Bunny (Jackman) seems made for a line of action figures himself. Using boomerangs as weapons and portions of his hair darkened to give him the appearance of tattoos, no one can accuse the film of going for the generic.

The voice cast is fitting as well, with Chris Pine’s easy-going, care free attitude one moment that easily switches to “I know what I have to do” mode feel natural for him, much like Kirk in the most recent Star Trek. Jude Law also seems to have fun in the role of the Boogeyman Pitch, whose black sand surrounds him to give the shadowy figure the mystery he needs to feel creepy while Law’s British accent make him a little easier to sympathize with rather than the voice the character seems he would have: monstrous, deep growling. Nicely juxtaposed.

Even if a franchise doesn’t come out of this, it’s easy to see the potential. There’s probably already a video game adaption rushed out for the film’s release but thankfully, the movie doesn’t give off the rushed feeling many major movies are prone to these days. You know what I’m talking about; John Carter of Mars and last year’s Green Lantern are the most blatant offenders. Don’t get me wrong, the film does feel rushed, but not for the reasons of a sequel rather than it seems to think that slowing down will bore you. This, along with the paradoxical reasoning of “This is more than a kid’s movie, slow it down” turns the slower scenes into boring ones. That’s my issue. See? We’re all working this out together.

I’m glad this was made, regardless of it’s issues. Much like Pi, if you have an interest to begin with, check this out. Though I’m not promising you’ll get everything you want out of it.

Grade: C+

2 Responses to “Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians”

  1. How did you feel about Alec Baldwin in this film? Don’t get me wrong 30 rocks pretty decent but that’s because your suppose to dislike him in it. I felt the studio just wanted a name to bring in an older generation of folks out to a kids movie. I wish they would have actually got a Russian or Swedish actor to play Clause. perhaps I’m biased on it because i can’t stand the Baldwins.
    A c+ i have to disagree with. I’d give it a B for what it is. a good kids movie that kept all three of my sisters kids entertained as well as myself. It was even funny at times. but yes their were some slow points. the negativity drags on with the teeth and eggs. But the overall sensation was worth the money. they are doing a squeal but i’m sure it will be terrible. I thought this was based on a video game?

    • Taylor Says:

      One thing that stuck out to me about Baldwin voicing Santa is how unhappy the guy seems in reality. The way he’s portrayed comes off as kind of Sean Penn-ish. But hey, I don’t know him. I think they’ve made a video game since the books/movies but I don’t think was originally one.

      Went with C+ ultimately but scenes of Frost flying around were some of the best scenes in 2012 film honestly. And Jude Law’s character had some great lines too.

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