Rise of the Guardians

Surprisingly excellent.

Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is a mischievous trouble maker, and a bit of a loner. He spends his days without care, causing snow days and triggering snowball fights. He has no recollection of who he was prior to being given his powers, and no mandate, no mission, of what to do with them now that he has them. So it’s somewhat of a surprise when the Guardians call on him to join their ranks. Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman are charged with protecting the hope of children around the world, and now they face a challenge like never before.

The Bogeyman has returned and is looking to take power by replacing children’s dreams with nightmares. Recognizing that the Guardians will be the biggest challenge to his plans, and that their powers depend upon the belief of children, he preemptively strikes, disrupting their respective holidays and duties. His thinking being, if he can disrupt them from accomplishing their duties, the children of the world will lose faith in them, which in turn will weaken the Guardians.

Of course, he hadn’t counted on Jack Frost.

Dreamworks¬†Animation, the studio behind “Shrek”, “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon”, has crafted another winning film, here. The animation and 3D were both exceptional. The animation style felt less “kiddy” than most of today’s animated films, as if it was slightly more towards the “young adult” end of the spectrum. The characters are slightly less cartoonish than we’re accustomed to seeing. Additionally, with the mythical cast of characters and their various powers, “Rise of the Guardians” has no shortage of opportunities to utilize imaginative visuals, settings and action sequences, and the Dreamworks animators absolutely rise to the occasion.

The characters of legend are superbly voiced. I would have never recognized Alec Baldwin if I hadn’t known it was him. Hugh Jackman goes back to his native Aussie for the overgrown, boomerang wielding Easter Bunny. Jude Law is outright evil as the boogeyman, mixing menace and reason in the manner of all the best devils. Together with Chris Pine, who’s a mischievous Jack Frost and Isla Fisher as a flighty, dental obsessed Tooth Fairy, they all add fun and variety to an already colorful cast of characters.

“Guardians” takes these assets – the fun voice work and great animation – and uses them within a charming children’s story framework. Santa Clause, The Easter Bunny, The Sandman, The Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost all use their gifts to protect the world’s children, and in return… they get believed in. There’s super-powered battles around the globe, and holiday related activities aplenty. We get to see a creative vision of how each of these mythic characters do what they do, and the result is highly entertaining. Toss in a conflict against a menacing character bent on ruining the fun of the world’s children, and you get a story that is not only unique and charming, but exciting as well.

With almost nonstop, boundaryless action, legendary characters, a fantastic sense of humor and great animation, “Rise of the Guardians” is a high quality, imaginative animated offering for families this holiday season.

A

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35 thoughts on “Rise of the Guardians

  1. The Squirt & I loved this one. I have a feeling it will be holiday favorite for years to come.

    Thanks, again, for the invite!

    • Yeah, I recall you saying you were looking forward to it in the Holiday preview thread. It was much better than I anticipated… I’m actually torn between this and Wreck it Ralph for animated movie of the year!

  2. Wow, an “A”. I wasn’t actually expecting all that much out of this one. Fun concept, but it just didn’t seem like it would pull it off, you know? Not sure I’ll actually have the opportunity to check it out this year, though… maybe pencil it in for 2013′s Christmas season. :P

    • Easy easy recommendation to make for the home market. I was super surprised by it. Seriously. Very surprised by how much I liked this one.

      In fairness, I had low to no expectations either… that probably helped a great deal. LOL

  3. Great review, buddy! I’m really glad to see you enjoyed this. I loved it a lot, too (it got an 80 from me). However, as much as I enjoyed it, Wreck-It Ralph still has my vote for Best Animated Feature of the Year. This is a very worthy runner-up.

    When I was watching it, the screen went black just when Sandy and Pitch were going at it. Damn. It was so irritating. Right when the action was at its finest. It was a great scene, but I didn’t appreciate watching it THREE times within eight or ten minutes…

    • Cool, glad to see it has your support as a really good movie at least.

      I dont know as far as best animated flick of the year… I think I’m really going to have to mull it over. I dont think either of them will rise to that “All time great” level, so there’s room for debate, I think.

      Definitely comes down to one of these two though, they’re miles ahead of the others this year….

      • For me, Ralph’s a classic ode to video games. And I hardly like video games, and I loved it. Though, this is a great team outing. Favourite team of the year, actually. The Avengers is a great team, but that plot didn’t do a whole lot for me. I originally gave that flick a 90, but my view of it has tainted a lot since then. Now, it’d probably stand at a 70 for me. Okay, enough about The Avengers.

        I know right! Brave was fine, but it was mediocre for Pixar’s standards. Not a great story, either. Do you think The Lorax is going to snag a nomination this year?

        There are the ones I think will get the Best Animated Feature nomination: Wreck-It Ralph, Guardians, Brave, Madagascar 3, ParaNorman. (Though, ParaNorman is just my best guess – I haven’t seen it yet.)

      • Don’t forget Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania. I didn’t see either, so I’m not sure they actually amounted to much, but hey, it’s possible.

        And I wouldn’t count Brave out of the running for best. It may not have been Pixar’s best, but it was still very stunning. And they love touching relationship stories at the Awards. ;)

      • Frankenweenie, maybe… definitely if there’s no surprise foreign films or anything.

        But Hotel Transylvania isn’t going to be nominated for anything. I cant imagine it… I know it was a hit, but it wasnt very… artful. LOL

        And youre right, I wouldnt put it past the academy to award Pixar again. I just hope they dont, personally. It wasnt my fave, you know?

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  6. I’m actually rooting for ParaNorman for a win (unless there’s a surprise foreign film, as you said). But then, I haven’t seen Rise of the Guardians yet. Hope to do so next weekend with my five-year-old and eight-year-old stepkids, whose immediate response to anything Santa-related is, “He’s just pretend, for fun.” I’m hoping this movie can spark a bit of Santa admiration and enjoyment in them. ;)

    • Oh, yeah. I think it can do that. This is a whole new Santa. :D A kick ass one. Definitely fun, I’m sure they’ll enjoy. ParaNorman was very good, too. I enjoyed it. I think this is better though… it incorporates a lot more action. Not that that in and of itself makes it better, but between that and the great mythic characters, I give this one the edge!

      Hope you guys enjoy if you do make it to see it!

  7. Finally made it back into a theater. This was not what I wanted to see the most, but at our house the rules are often set by the youngest (still spoiled at 24). It was a pleasant surprise. I’m not quite as enthusiastic as you but I was very pleased.

    • Cool. At least it didnt let you down. Perhaps I’m more enthused because of the context… the rest of this year’s animated flicks haven’t exactly been classics, you know? So between this and Wreck it Ralph, it was really nice to get back to back home runs. :)

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