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Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

November 23, 2012

Rise of the Guardians – A Paramount Pictures’ Release

Release Date: November 21st, 2012

Rated G for some scary scenes

Running time: 97 minutes


Peter Ramsey (dir.)


David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay)


Based on the book The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce


Alexandre Desplat (music)


Chris Pine as Jack Frost (voice)

Alec Baldwin as North (voice)

Jude Law as Pitch (voice)

Isla Fisher as Tooth (voice)

Hugh Jackman as Bunny (voice)

Dakota Goyo as Jamie Bennett (voice)

Georgie Grieve as Sophie Bennett (voice)

Rich Dietl as Yeti (voice)

©Paramount Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

The Sandman, the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), North (Alec Bladwin), the Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost (Chris Pine) in Rise of the Guardians.


Our reviews below:


Rise of the Guardians Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

A visually enchanting adventure becomes a touching story about how the belief in hope can overcome fear in Rise of the Guardians, the latest animated film from DreamWorks.  Based on a series of books by William Joyce, this is a big screen holiday treat that comes just in time for the Christmas season.


The film opens with Jack Frost (Chris Pine) floating to the top of a frozen river with no recollection of who he was or where he came from, suddenly invisible and bestowed with the power to create snow and ice.  We then jump ahead three hundred years to the North Pole where the burly Santa Claus, also known as North (Alec Baldwin), lives with his band of toy making yetis and helpful elves.  He is the the leader of the Guardians, a group of childhood protectors that includes the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the nonverbal Sandman who communicates through his flowing gold sand and delivers good dreams.


Jack Frost is recruited to become a Guardian and is taken on his own journey of self discovery, as the evil Pitch Black (Jude Law) starts unleashing terrifying nightmares upon the children of the world and using fear to make them stop believing in these beloved icons.  The Guardians are going to need all the help they can get, including that of child and true believer Jamie Bennet (the Toronto-born Dakota Goyo), to restore the power of belief back to the increasingly terrified children of the world.  The stylized character designs all work surprisingly well and give the film an admirably unique tone and feel.


The first act feels a touch rushed and the fact that the film is said to take place around Easter is also a bit confusing as it consistently feels like a Christmas movie.  But the heart of the film is so good and there is a lot to take away from the story that it’s very easy to overlook these minor details.  As the action picks up and more of Jack Frost’s touching backstory is revealed, Rise of the Guardians reveals itself to be a beautiful film about the power of hope, with the characters representing the childlike wonder that we all need to retain in order to overcome fear.


The animation is just beautifully done, with the unique look of the characters and strong voice cast matching the visually stunning set designs and dazzling action sequences.  The powerful message of hope overcoming fear is a deeply admirable one, and Rise of the Guardians offers a touching testimony to the power of belief for audiences of all ages.


Rise of the Guardians Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Based on the children’s book series by William Joyce, DreamWorks’ Rise Of The Guardians is a story of the Guardians of childhood made up of Santa/North (Alec Baldwin), The Easter Bunny/Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman), The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and The Sandman/Sandy (communicates non-verbally).  Together they protect the hopes and dreams of childhood.


But when a new threat arises in the form of Pitch Black (Jude Law), they must not only work together, but with a new guardian chosen by the light of the moon to join them – Jack Frost (Chris Pine).  And this film really is Jack’s story.  It opens on him in a scene that leaves us intrigued and wanting more, and alongside the action-packed sequences it is his journey to find out why he has been chosen as a guardian, and who he is – and was.


The voice cast are all very good here and really feel one with their characters, in particular Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, and Jude Law.  The score here is by Alexandre Desplat – it plays along well with the visuals and is very nice to listen to on its own as well.  One thing I must say, is the quieter tracks are the ones that really stand out for me this time around – I really like his theme for Jack.  The animation as to be expected is stunning as well.  The various worlds of each of the guardians are intricately designed and visually interesting.  The aerial fight sequences are also very entertaining and visually stunning with combinations of gold dream sand courtesy of Sandy and black nightmares put forth by Pitch, all combining in the air with Jack’s frost.


The only thing is that the film is very fast-paced and takes very little time to establish its characters, especially in the first act.  Jack is developed quite well though, as I mentioned before, and it is his story that elevates the film that extra notch – many going in may be surprised in fact by his whole backstory.  I also quite like the message the film has of the need for wonder, belief, and dreams, rather than giving in to fear.


Overall, I quite enjoyed this one, both visually and entertainment-wise.  While some young kids (under 6 or 7) may find parts, including Pitch’s nightmares and manner a little scary, for those over that this will be a ton of fun.


Rise of the Guardians Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

The visually stunning Rise of the Guardians brings together five well known childhood heroes in a sort of The Avengers of gift bringers.  The film revolves around Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a jovial adolescent spirit who brings winter fun to children.


When bogeyman Pitch (Jude Law) brings fear into the lives of children via his “nightmares” (ghost horses made of glittering volcanic ash), Jack Frost finds himself summoned to the North Pole where he meets Santa Claus, known as North (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny known as Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman) and the Sandman who brings sweet and sandy golden dreams.  Together they must fight Pitch’s fear, but in order to do that, children must believe in them.


Rise of the Guardians starts out slow and seems to lack something in the first act, before the characters are fully developed.  Although it picks up quickly as the film goes on and the animation is spectacular throughout.  The best animation comes from Jack Frost’s snow and ice, as well as Sandman and Pitch’s sand creations.  The scenery and character animation is incredible, with Jack Frost, Tooth Fairy and main child Jamie (Toronto’s Dakota Goyo) having particularly detailed emotional expressions.  I also love how Tooth Fairy and her adorable baby fairies have iridescent feathers like a hummingbird.


Alexandre Desplat’s score finishes the film off nicely.  While at first glance Rise of the Guardians seems like a Christmas film, it actually takes place at Easter.  This movie is more about Jack Frost’s journey than about the other holiday characters.  But Rise of the Guardians is about faith and hope, wonder and awe and the importance of keeping these virtues in an increasingly fearful and faithless world.  A timeless message at any time of the year.


Rise of the Guardians Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy plays a role in the fond memories many children have of their childhood.  These beloved characters are the guardians of children’s senses of wonder, hope and innocent belief.  In Rise of the Guardians, North/Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), Bunnymund/Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the silent gold-dust Sandman are called together by the man in the moon to meet a new guardian, Jack Frost (Chris Pine) so they can all band together and fight a child’s worst nightmare – The Bogeyman/Pitch (Jude Law).


The Guardians are an eclectic group of characters.  Jack Frost isn’t even sure he wants to be a guardian, and much of the story is narrated by him and follows his journey of discovering his true purpose in the grand scheme of things.  Jack would prefer creating snow and ice havoc to saving kids.  North is a burly, tattooed Russian who prefers yetis to elves when it comes to running the North Pole.  Bunnymund is Australian and looks like he’s itching for a fight.  Tooth Fairy is bright and luminescent, like a delicate hummingbird and loves her job.  Her helpers, tiny little “baby tooth” fairies are adorable.  Sandy the Sandman is made of gold dust and communicates through sandy thought bubbles.  Pitch is definitely dark and scary, creating nightmares out of black dust.


The animation in Rise of the Guardians is unique and visually appealing.  Each of the Guardians are distinctive in their look and their worlds are beautifully detailed.  Easter Bunny’s giant stonehenge eggs and the tiny walking eggs are some of my favourites.  The goofy elves and the adorable baby tooth fairies are also delightful to watch.


While the storyline is a little slow to connect in the first half, the action picks up as does the heart of the story in the second half when it focuses on one boy, Jamie Bennet (Dakota Goyo) whose firm belief in the Guardians makes all the difference.  Even though the story actually takes place before Easter, Rise of the Guardians is easily a Christmas/holiday film that will become an annual watch for families.  But keep in mind that children under six may find the scenes with Pitch a little scary.


With visually appealing animation, a strong voice cast, lots of fast-paced action and a story with some heart all backed by a really nice Alexandre Desplat score, Rise of the Guardians is a good holiday choice for families who still believe.


Rise of the Guardians Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

The animated fantasy adventure Rise of the Guardians opens with the adolescent Jack Frost (Chris Pine) emerging from a frozen pond and discovering his power to fly around the world freezing whatever he touches. Though he has fun with his role, Jack regrets not remembering his origins and his invisibility to people who regard him only as a figure of speech.


Moreover, he is dismissed as a troublemaker by the other Guardians: North (Alec Baldwin), the Father Christmas living with his yetis and elves at the North Pole, Tooth (Isla Fisher) the tooth fairy, Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the tall boomerang toting Easter bunny often mistaken for a kangaroo, and Sandy (mute), the shape-shifting sandman who brings sleep and sweet dreams. When the world is threatened by Pitch (Jude Law), the malevolent spirit of fear and nightmares, the Guardians must allow Jack Frost to join them in defeating him, aided by a group of children led by the last true believer, Jamie Bennet (Dakota Goyo).


Though clearly aimed at children, Rise of the Guardians will charm all ages with its appealing moral tale and fast paced action over a manageable 97 minutes. The voice cast is good, despite obvious stereotypes–North’s thick dialect taking the names of Russian composers in vain as cuss words, Bunny’s rugged Australian character, and Pitch’s arrogant British accent so often reserved in American films for villains. The art direction is brilliant, with each of the Guardians’ realms rich in motifs that along with the beautifully eclectic Alexander Desplat score may only be appreciated subliminally by the casual viewer. Interestingly, though it is being released for the Christmas season and features many winter scenes, it is actually set just before Easter, making it appropriate for both holidays.


Consensus: With a touching story about hope overcoming fear, Rise of the Guardians is a beautifully animated film with an excellent voice cast that is a wonderful addition to the holiday season for audiences of all ages.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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