Director: Peter Ramsey
Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fischer and Jude Law
Running time: 97 minutes
Release: November 30th
There’s one word that’s been quite telling in the TV ads for Rise of the Guardians. You’ll notice that trailer voice throws in the name of the studio, referring to the film as “Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians”. After the critically adored How to Train Your Dragon and the exuberant Kung Fu Panda films, the studio deserves to do some bragging. At this rate they might even eclipse Pixar.
Rise of the Guardians is an ambitious, lively film that was inspired by a simple, smart question from the writer’s daughter: Do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy know each other? Starting with a brief origin story for Jack Frost (Star Trek’s Chris Pine), it introduces us to slightly tweaked variations on Santa Claus (now a butch, tattooed Russian voiced by Alec Baldwin), Sandman (a portly, silent little sprite), Tooth Fairy (chirpy, sparkly Isla Fischer) and the Easter Bunny (a lanky badass Auzzie voiced, appropriately, by Hugh Jackman). Their mission is to thwart the sinister Boogeyman (a monochrome, scenery chewing Jude Law) from making a comeback.
Rise of the Guardians is exquisitely animated, bringing to life not only the colourful main characters, but each of their distinctive, vibrant homes; the yeti-filled log bastion of the North Pole; the lush, green burrows of the Bunny and the humming, fluttering fortress of the Tooth Fairy. The plot moves at a fair clip, as the Boogeyman tries to sabotage various holidays and traditions and the Guardians try to kick back (most memorably in a tooth-collection montage where they all pitch in) and although it sometimes becomes sentimental and a little too busy, it at least tries to address some heady themes; the burden of duty, the loneliness of working anonymously, the importance of hope.
But, to quote Santa Claus, “let us get down to brass of tacks”: Rise of the Guardians is overall a hugely effective animated film with energy, wit and scrumptious visuals. With its story of gifted, bickering icons fighting a common foe, it feels like a magic-sprinkled flipside to Avengers Assemble.