With slick animation, a great voice cast, and an interesting holiday theme I expected “Rise of the Guardians” (trailer below) to be a really fun and enjoyable time, but while still being a great film I was disappointed in a couple areas.
When an evil spirit known as Pitch (Jude Law) lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world. Enter our heroes: Jack Frost (“Chris Pine”), Santa Clause (Alec Baldwin), Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and Sandman (he doesn’t speak).
The best voice casting in this had to be Hugh Jackman (“The Wolverine”); his Australian accent fit the Easter Bunny perfectly, and it made him my favorite character. Alex Baldwin was terrific as North, aka Santa Claus, but they could have cast anyone since he was near unrecognizable. What I didn’t like was Jude Law as the villain as he didn’t have a very menacing voice. There was never a time when he was speaking that I ever felt like anything was wrong, and as an adult that makes the antagonist unconvincing in his actions. At the end of the day this is being marketed towards children, and they aren’t likely to pick up on that issue.
There is a significant amount of humor in this, but not at the level I was expecting (“Wreck-It Ralph” had a lot more laughs). The worker elves and Yetis in Santa’s workshop provided most of the comedy, but our main characters get a few situational comedic moments tossed in there. Sandman had some of the best parts since he has to communicate through actions and thought bubbles, and wasn’t able to speak. There are enough laughs to offset the darkness of the overall story, and they keep things from ever really getting too heavy for younger audiences, but most of the comedy is aimed at them instead of both children and adults.
There are a few scenes that might frighten younger viewers considering the villain is The Boogey Man. In a few scenes nightmares invade people’s dreams and corrupt it, turning unicorns into demonic horse creatures, and causing some children discomfort in the audience. As a whole they did a good job downplaying the dark nature of the villain, and, of course, everything ends with a happy ending (like it wouldn’t?).
“Rise of the Guardians” is your typical children’s movie filled with laughs, adventure, mischievous characters, exciting imagery, but with that holiday twist that sets it apart from the rest. I really like how they were able to incorporate all the holiday themes, and make it so that children leaving the theater will have something to believe. This is a family film that should not be missed, but it doesn’t offer enough for an adult to see on their own (it isn’t like “Shrek”). The voice cast is strong, the animation is superb, and the story has a lot of heart with a great underlying message, but the cute characters and situational comedy is aimed primarily at children. This is definitely a 5/5 for families, but doesn’t offer much to swinging singles like me.
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