Dare to Believe?



When you hear the name DreamWorks, most likely you think animated fun?  With films like Madagascar, How to Train your Dragon, and Shrek, the animation squad seems to have plenty of life in their studios to continue pumping these CGI hits out.  This week, DreamWorks dived into the world of mythological gift givers in their film Rise Of The Guardians.  When this trailer premiered about a year ago, I was happy with the promise this film offered.  However, as we’ve seen happen plenty of times, I always have the worry that the trailer designers have fooled me once again.  What’s my verdict on their latest movie?  Please read on to find out.

Rise of The Guardians focuses on the big four protectors of children:  Santa Clause aka North (Alec Baldwin), Sandman, Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman).  These four are in charge of bringing happiness to the world in their own way, though most of the attempts through bribery in some shape or form.  Yet when the happiness of children is threatened by the Boogie Man, now named Pitch Black (Jude Law), the four must call on another to help them face their challenge.  This new contender is Jack Frost (Chris Pine) a spirit in charge of snow days who has a case of amnesia.  What will this spirit who has a big case of ADHD be able to contribute, and what will he gain as a reward for his services?  I can’t tell you that.

What I can tell you though are some of the qualities about this movie that made it a fun afternoon.  The biggest compliment I have for the film is the animation.  Once again DreamWorks staff has done their homework, finding ways to capture the movement of humans, animals, and mythological in a way that is fluid and smooth.  Whether they are sliding down tunnels, flying magic sleighs, or fighting off the dark sands of Pitch, the characters don’t lag, glitch, or fail to impress this reviewer.  However, the characters design is also well done as it mirrored the personality of each Guardian yet gave them an edge over their classic renditions.  In particular Santa’s Lumberjack meets biker look was a welcome change, alongside the colorful display of feathers and scales that made up the Tooth Fairy.  This edgy style was a welcome change and should be entertaining to both kids and adults alike.  Yet what’s an animated movie without good voice work to help add more character to this cast.  Baldwin might have taken my vote for the best voice work, using his talents to give North a variety of emotions.  At times he was cheerful and upbeat making some funny jokes and raising the audience spirits, while other times he dropped to a more serious and hard tone used to express the direness of the situation.  The others of course did a great job with Fisher’s bubbly air syncing with the Tooth Fairy, while Law’s charming English voice darkened the already nightmare infused Pitch.  As for Sandy, well despite lacking any real dialog, the little guy has a lot pizazz to his character.  Of all the guardians he might be my favorite character.

Aside from the animation though, there were some other things about this movie worth mentioning.  The story, although fairly simple, is very entertaining and cute to both kids and adults.   There are a few twists in the movie that keep it fun, mostly pertaining to Jack, but for the most part the story is linear and easy to follow, which is good for a kid’s movie.  While it lacks the jokes that Shrek has, Rise of The Guardians has other qualities that make up for it.  The magic for instance is brilliantly brought to life in an array of flashy colors, bright lights, and clever shapes that are sure to wow the audience.  Rather than just showing off though, the magic was integrated into both bringing happiness and fighting off Pitch’s dark sands.  Although somewhat limited, the action in this film was still enjoyable and suspenseful.  North’s blade wielding, Bunny’s boomerang throwing, and Sandman’s manipulation magic, will surely have you laughing, smiling, or at least a little applause from the well edited scenes.  Action aside though, there are numerous points in the movie where the inner child from within is awaken once again.  Rise of the Guardians strongest emotion is the power to believe, something that many have lost as they grew up.  Those who long ago forgot the feelings of excitement wonder, and believing in magic may find themselves once again feeling the spirit reviving in them.  There were a couple of times I felt my heart melt at the speeches the guardians gave.  Yet if you never really got into the believing spirit, your heart might melt at some of the cuter aspects of this movie.  The tooth fairies helpers and elves in particular are sure to make some squeal in delight, or at least say awwwwww.

Rise Of The Guardians is another successful chapter in the DreamWorks animation studio book.  With a nice balance of action, some fun comedic lines, great voice work, and some decent character development, this movie has just about everything for most fans.  My only suggestions are to add some more action in the next installment, and continue to develop the other characters as well; whose pasts still remain a mystery.  Even if you’re not a fan of the story, or have never gotten into the holiday thing, at least go see it for the fantastic animation the team has put together.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  I say yes.  Is it worth a 3-D, I can’t say, but the 2-D showing was pretty good.  Should you decide not to go the theater though, definitely check this film out on Netflix. 

Animation/Adventure/Family:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7-7.5


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