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Film Review : Rise of the Guardians

Dec 10, 2012 04:30PM ● By Justin Buettner

The Guardians, a super hero team consisting of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, Sandman, Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost, are called into action by the moon to defend children from a rampaging boogey man called Pitch. Pitch uses nightmares to get the children to believe in him and by foiling the others holidays, Pitch convinces the children to stop believing in our heroes stripping them of their powers. Will the holiday super team be able to stop Pitch’s terror on the children of the world?

The premise is rather silly, especially with the way the characters are presented. The thought of Santa, Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy as a group of super hero figures almost seems impossible to pull off. The animators at Dreamworks did their level best and darn near made a battle tested, Australian accented, boomerang throwing Easter Bunny sort of cool. I was shocked at the effectiveness of the visuals, especially the Sandman. While I was put off from the tattooed Russian Santa Clause from the previews, Alec Baldwin’s vocals really add a layer of warmth to the performance. Just the same Rise of the Guardians never rises above being a good kids movie, which isn’t a bad thing, but no one will mistake this flick as being on the same level of a film like Up or How To Train Your Dragon.

 The script is by far the biggest downfall of this film. While younger viewers won’t put too much thought to the details of this story, as an adult it is nearly impossible to look away from the glaring holes in the plot and logic of this movie. The way in which children’s faith in these mythical beings is measured and charted was absurd (a globe with flickering lights) and the ease to which belief was either taken away and restored was laughably bad. The insertion of the Moon as the supreme leader of mythical beings was a bit strange to say the least and much of the discovery and victories the characters have in the movie do not feel earned, they just happen to easy. What really undercuts the logic of the movie is the film does not set the rules of its own universe very clearly and the rules seem to shift to suit the story. For instance why would children not believing in the Easter Bunny affect their belief in Santa Clause? Even stranger, why does one singular child’s belief in the Easter Bunny restore the belief  of other children worldwide? It just makes no sense. I could go on and on about the giant leaps of logic the film attempts to make.

Rise of the Guardians doesn’t have a smooth flow either as it operates like a clunky robot in parts. Peter Ramsey is making his animated feature debut as a director after a long career as an animator and special effects artist. The pacing of the movie feels like it was taken out of a manual. Long out of place, and somewhat unnecessary action scenes pop up at designated times in the movie to help entertain the young ones. These action scenes almost feel like a distraction from both the story and the glaring plot holes. What ultimately happens are the action scenes steal time from scenes that could build character and heart into the film.

Rise of the Guardians does have a few scenes that hit the right cords. I especially liked the scene between Santa and Jack Frost where they discuss what is at their “core”. It is poignant and moving and I wish the movie made a better effort to keep that the main theme of the movie. Unfortunately that message gets lost for a majority of the movie only to return at the very end of the film. I also quite enjoyed the Sandman character even if he goes missing for a lengthy chunk of the movie.

Children will enjoy Rise of the Guardians as the visuals are a delight and the movie plays at their level. The villain is dark enough to be menacing without causing too much fear. Some of the creativity and inventiveness that Rise of the Guardians takes with common childhood characters gives them a fresh and original presentation. You have never seen any of these characters, look, sound or behave like this before, trust me. The action is loud, colorful, and manic and yet safe. Other than having bad dreams no one is harmed in the movie. You could do worse finding a holiday film to take your children to during the holiday season, as they will certainly enjoy Rise of the Guardians, while you won’t mind the experience, you will quickly forget it.

Films like Rise of the Guardians : Hoodwinked, The Santa Clause, and The Polar Express

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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