Once again DreamWorks has produced a wonderfully entertaining family movie. It may not have the best storyline but it has been animated beautifully. Not only this but it gives fantastic new twists to iconic childhood characters; making them even more unique and lovable. It may not be the best film DreamWorks animation has produced, but it is worth watching.
The plot itself is fairly straightforward; it is a generic battle between good and evil with a predictable ending – the heroes’ triumph, if that wasn’t clear. It begins with the mischievous Jack Frost (Chris Pine) a lonely teenage spirit who flies on the wind entertaining children with snow days and sledge rides. Jack is chosen, by the Man on the Moon, to become a Guardian, a group of legends whose job it is to defend and protect the children of the world. These legends include Santa ‘North’ Claus (Alec Baldwin); the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman); the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman. Jack’s selection comes after the bitter bogeyman, known in this film as Pitch Black; (Jude Law) threatens the dreams of children. Although it is unclear why the four most powerful legends in folklore need the help of Jack Frost, I will do as the movie does and skim over this detail. Pitch was once the greatest of all mythological creatures. But was made redundant by the Guardians who filled the world with hope and wonder, replacing the fear and darkness he had installed. To seek revenge Pitch schemes to shatter children’s beliefs in the Guardians causing them to lose their powers. Allowing him to seize control of the world and reinstate darkness and nightmares. Just like many previous holiday movies the whole film is subtly guilt tripping children into believing in fables. In this film children must believe in the Guardians or they will cease to exist – reaffirming the myth that believing in something makes it real.
Even though the storyline is weak the script is at times delightful, full of witty banter and funny dialogue which will no doubt entertain children and possibly some parents. Not only this, but the transformation of traditional characters into something fresh and new makes this tale quite magical. In this film the Guardians appear to be an animated mythological version of the Avengers. The Easter Bunny is a 6’’1 cynical Australian; armed with a boomerang and egg bombs that travels using magical tunnels. Whilst Santa is a knuckle cracking, sword fighting, fearless Russian whose arms are tattooed with the words naughty and nice. His right hand men are Yeti’s, who when not kidnapping future Guardians, run his workshop. Yes, in this world Yeti’s are Santa’s helpers not elves who are apparently incompetent, but cute, little creatures. The most endearing change is perhaps the silent Sandman, who bestows beautiful dreams on children and converses through images conjured up using sand; he will undoubtedly be a favourite with the audience. Even the Bogeyman, who is deeply reminiscent of Hades, is given a deeper level. Although evil the audience is introduced to a character fuelled by loneliness and despair allowing them to pity and even sympathise with him. As strange and unconventional as these alterations sound DreamWorks has managed to completely reinvent these childhood favourites whilst retaining their essence. These changes which works remarkably well because the heart and souls of these characters remain the same; they wish to make the world brighter and better for children. It is also the dynamic between these modified characters that makes this a feel-good family film; and I have to say it is refreshing to see other notable characters come to life on the big screen for once. But like the said before the animation is what really sets this film apart. Aesthetically this film was one of the best animated movies of 2012 and because of this it will continue to dazzle audiences.
Rise of the Guardians (2012), directed by Peter Ramsey and is released on Blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by DreamWorks, Certificate PG.