Review: Rise of the Guardians / Cert: PG: / Director: Peter Ramsey / Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire / Starring: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Chris Pine, Jude Law / Release Date: November 30th
William Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood series of books is split between the picture books for the little ones and the novels for the slightly older child. The first movie to be made from these books, Rise of the Guardians is stuck between these two audiences so has to appeal to both and is ultimately a lesser film because of this.
Starting with a beautiful scene of Jack Frost (Chris Pine) being born under the ice and discovering his powers, 300 odd years later he is contacted by North (Alec Baldwin) a Santa like figure, the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the tooth fairy (Isla Fisher) and the silent Sandman. The man in the moon has brought these figures of folklore together because the previously vanquished ‘Boogeyman’ Pitch (Jude Law) is back and looking to bring about another dark age of nightmares with children believing only in the darkness. What follows is a series of battles and visits to each mythical being’s homeland with some wonderful details and a nice message about believing in yourself.
So much of Rise of the Guardians is great. There is none of the pop culture references that instantly date most of DreamWorks’ output instead there are several magical scenes of world building, with North’s workshop, Tooth fairy’s sanctuary and Easter Bunny’s strange green world and some wonderful details and sight gags that will raise a smile in both adults and kids. On top of this are some brilliant action sequences like a race to retrieve the worlds lost teeth when tooth fairy’s minions are taken out by Pitch, this involves a lunatic race with North and Easter Bunny using their preferred chimney/rabbit hole method of travel and the effect is exhilarating - especially in 3D. The battles with Pitch are also very reminiscent of recent super-hero power battles seen on screen and pretty impressive.
So what ultimately holds the film back is the fact that at a certain point part way through, the film tilts on the edge of either being quite a dark kid’s movie or a saccharine feel good kids film and decides to go the saccharine route and keeps going, and going. I understand the central theme is about belief, so belief in our heroes had to come into play at some point but the kids they stick in as the ones who are chosen to re-ignite this belief are such cyphers having had the minimal of development in the film and ultimately all the good work is undone because of a finale that feels forced.
Despite this minor complaint, Rise of the Guardians is a further step in the right direction for DreamWorks and good old fashioned fun for all the family.
Expected Rating: 9 out of 10