Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Dreamworks Animation's latest effort ‘Rise of The Guardians’ seems like a kooky effort on paper. It's essentially ‘The Avengers’ or ‘Justice League’ of the make believe fairy tale legends, bringing together Santa Claus (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny and the Sandman to battle the Boogeyman (Jude Law).
It's a fairly simple concept. Heck, it's even familiar. This isn't the first time Dreamworks has taken fairy tale characters (‘Shrek’) and give them an edgier, more modern take on it. So get this, the Fabled Four are part of a group known as the Guardians, a group of dream-like figures appointed by the man on the moon to look after children and all that they represent, their dreams, wonder, hope, memories, basically all that nice, cuddly kiddy stuff.
When Pitch, the Boogeyman returns and starts turning the children's dreams into nightmares and in turn causes the children to not believe in the Guardians anymore, thus threatening the very existence of the Guardians. This is where Chris Pine's Jack Frost comes in; the enigmatic spirit of winter himself gets appointed as a Guardian to help combat this threat, despite not appearing to have much in common with the other Guardians at all.
The set-up of the film is rather run of the mill and derivative; it's obviously good-versus-evil and that's made very clear in terms of the very black and white manner the two sides are portrayed. It's not very deep but hey, this is a kid's movie after all. And despite its simple concept, ‘Rise of The Guardians’ does indeed rise above the standard issue teach some kids good values kind of script with a gorgeous visual presentation.
Each character is rendered onto screen with gorgeous detail and attention. For example, when the Easter Bunny travels by his trademark tunnels, he leaves a nice spring time flower on the ground above the tunnel he digs. The Tooth Fairy has many young fairies to scour the globe for teeth. The Sandman doesn't speak, but uses his lush golden sand to express himself in shapes above his head instead. And of course, Santa himself... is actually kind of different. He's still big, but not really in a super jolly manner.
The textures and colours of the movie are eye popping and there's a very dreamscape-like quality to the locations portrayed in the film, which should please the kids, and even some nostalgic adults. In the current world where even the most average movie is expected to look real good, ‘Rise of The Guardians’ takes it up a notch and manages to look spectacular.
The visuals are just one aspect of the movie. While the plot is simple, the movie kicks up the enjoyment element up with its throwback feel good nature. Much of it is due to the protagonist, Jack Frost, portrayed as a teenage spirit who gets a kick out of causing trouble and the lack of responsibility in his life, bringing winter with his staff whenever he goes.
However, despite all of that, no one, especially not the kids, notices him and that bites at the very core of him. It's relatable teenage coming of age stuff, all the usual looking for a purpose to his existence question.
All in all, it’s a fast-paced movie with colourful, accessible characters and gorgeous visual treatment that elevates its rather predictable script.
It’s good clean fun for the family, and the sincerity and innocence of the film is a nice touch. Who knows? A few years from now and this could very well become a holiday classic.