Review: RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 11 December 2012



Familiar fairytale mythologies gets a hippie makeover in RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, a holiday-themed animated feature that brilliantly incorporated superhero genre into the fairytale elements (think THE AVENGERS for the kiddies). No doubt it's a killer concept to see such beloved fairytale characters of Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and Sandman combined together into one movie. The result is imaginative and visually dazzling fairytale adventure that dares to be different.

Based on a book "The Guardians of Childhood" by William Joyce, the story reimagines a world where fairytale characters such as Santa Claus, named North (voice of Alec Baldwin), Easter Bunny, named Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman), Tooth Fairy, named Tooth (Isla Fisher), and the silent Sandman, named Sandy -- are all exist as the Guardians to protect the children everywhere from darkness and despair. When North is busy preparing all the gifts for the Christmas season in his workshop at the North Pole, something evil is about to happen -- a resident boogeyman named Pitch (Jude Law) is threatened to bring darkness to the world and determined to make all the children lost their beliefs on these Guardians. North quickly assembles his fellow Guardians to help defeat Pitch.

However, the Man in the Moon (which functions as a lunar prophecy of sorts) has suddenly reveals that a new Guardian has been chosen to join them in a battle. To their surprise, the new Guardian turns out to be a mischief maker named Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a lonely spirit who possesses a powerful staff capable to freeze everything he touches. Unlike the rest of the Guardians, Jack Frost isn't a popular fairytale figure among the children and because nobody believe in him, he is viewed as an invisible person. Fortunately, those Guardians able to see him. At first, Jack doesn't think himself as a savior. But throughout the course of getting to know the fellow Guardians better, he slowly embraces his newfound destiny and eventually agrees to help them stop Pitch's devious plan once and for all.

As a veteran storyboard artist who used to work with some of Hollywood's top-tier filmmakers including Francis Ford Coppola, Barry Sonnenfeld, David Fincher and Steven Spielberg, first-time director Peter Ramsey sure knows how to captivate his viewers with spectacular visual. Aided by acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins (who worked as a visual consultant here) and mesmerizing art direction by Max Boas, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS is undeniably a visual feast. The movie is also exceptionally fast-paced, while the action sequences are amazingly fluid and well-staged with all the swooping camera angles (the early scene involving a hair-raising sleigh ride zigzag along the road filled with vehicular traffic is among the prime example here).

No doubt the visual have enough "wow" factor to capture the viewer's interest. But deep down, the movie falls short in term of its storyline. Adapted by acclaimed playwright and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (RABBIT HOLE), the story is perfunctory at best while the movie is surprisingly lack of genuine emotion. At times, it's easy to blame that the movie concerns more about showy entertainment akin to a theme-park attraction than anything else matters. Then there's the unconventional character designs, which are strangely off-putting and might take some time to get used of them.

But despite all those unappealing character designs, the movie is lucky enough to bless with strong vocal performances. Chris Pine gives an enthusiastic turn as a rebellious Jack Frost, while Alec Baldwin, whose intimidating Russian accent and playful attitude, is engaging as North. Hugh Jackman delivers a whole lot of attitude and fun to his Aussie-accented Easter Bunny and Isla Fisher is wonderful as the Tooth Fairy. But the standout here goes to Jude Law, whose silky-sinister British accent, gives his Pitch character a memorably menacing villain.

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