While DreamWork’s Rise of the Guardians certainly didn’t rise to the occassion in terms of box office numbers, the 3D animated flick didn’t disappoint based on its high Rotten Tomatoes rating. As Deadline.com told us, for whatever reason, Rise of the Guardian’s didn’t appeal to the mass numbers of movie go-ers this Thanksgiving weekend. Perhaps parents didn’t want to reinforce the existence of Santa or the Easter Bunny only to have the rug tragically pulled out from under their children later in life, or perhaps those families were Jewish. Either way, something certainly turned off families from seeing the film. Even the star studded voice cast, including Chris Pine, Jude Law, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, and Isla Fisher couldn’t draw in the viewers (My guess is that hearing the voices just isn’t the same as seeing the smoldering cast in person and fantasizing about Hugh Jackman as the Easter Bunny is just wrong).
For those who can’t quite tell from the billboards, the movie is about Santa Claus aka North (Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Fisher), the E. Aster Bunnymund (Jackman), the Sandman, and newcomer, Jack Frost (Pine), banding together to preserve their legends and save children from the infamous boogeyman, Pitch Black (Law). Along the way the team explores why each of their ‘jobs’ are pivotal to childhood development and wonderment, and without them being a kid would just be boring, hopeless, and/or terrifying -all thanks to the boogeyman.
My biggest grief with the movie stems from the plot. The storyline tries to pack in a heck of a lot of character development, while constantly jumping from one fantasy world to the next. Sure it was visually stimulating to see Santa’s workshop, the Easter egg island, AND the tooth fairy’s factory, but the film always left me wanting to linger a little longer at each locale. Just as I started to get invested in one of the seemingly endless story lines, whether it be a romance between Jack and Tooth, or a rivalry between Jack and Bunnymund, the story quickly diverged to a different conflict and left the previous one unsettled. I can’t be too hard on the filmmakers considering they were probably just opening storylines to prepare for a few follow up films.
Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed Rise of the Guardians. It’s a unique idea (which is rare these days) plus it’s perfectly timed for the holidays. I think every child should grow up believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny etc. and this movie does a beautiful job of telling their stories, whilst giving children proper ammo to dispel any monsters under the bed (you’re welcome parents). Every scene with the Sandman is visually breathtaking. The Sandman doesn’t use words to communicate, but instead speaks his mind through scenes of glittering golden sand artfully crafted in the sky to create animals and shapes. It was gorgeous to watch the golden glitter weave its own story and equally as terrifying to see Pitch Black’s dark sand counterpart fight the golden glowing specks. Santa’s workshop, Tooth’s tooth factory, and the Easter Bunny’s egg painting island were equally as visually stimulating, again my only qualm being not spending more time in each of those places. There were also some minor characters, namely Santa’s dimwit elves and hardworking Yeti’s, that were laugh out loud funny every time they appeared on screen.
I also think Rise of the Guardians did a fairly good job at staying secular. While yes, they did pull main characters from traditionally Christian based legends, there was no real mention of a specific religion, just general themes of hope and faith that can be applied to whatever you believe in.
Hopefully Rise of the Guardians can pick up some steam like DreamWork’s How To Train Your Dragon did back in 2010, I would hate to see such a beautiful and charming film be overlooked.