'Rise of the Guardians' falls short of DreamWorks' standard
DreamWorks Animation's latest film, "Rise of the Guardians" came out last Wednesday. The movie, which was based on a combination of William Joyce's children series "The Guardians of Childhood" and the short film "The Man in the Moon," was created by both Joyce and Reel FX (for those who are wondering who exactly Joyce is, he's also the author of the popular children's book "George Shrinks").
The film focuses around the Guardians, whose job is to protect the children around the world and preserve their innocence and wonder for the world. However, their powers come with a catch - if the children stop believing in them, then they start to lose their abilities and will eventually snuff out of existence. The Guardians - otherwise known as North or Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman (voiced respectively by Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman and Isla Fisher) - have been told by the enigmatic Man in the Moon that another spirit has been chosen to assist in protecting children. It is, of course, the unpredictable and histrionic Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine), who is largely ignored by children all over and is considerably sulky because of it. His antics have made him unpopular with a few of the Guardians, and he even manages to put them all in danger when he avoids a last-ditch attempt to restore the children's belief in them during Easter. As a result, the only person who still believes in the Guardians (and, as a result, is now their prime focus to get him to convince his friends that the other spirits are still real) is the apple-cheeked Jamie (voiced by Dakota Goyo).
Despite this film being directed at children, it has some unsettlingly morbid moments. For instance, their nemesis, Pitch Black, otherwise known as The Bogeyman, who is voiced by the magnificent Jude Law, is seeking to destroy the Guardians via his gleeful psychological torture of children everywhere. His NightMares, a completely terrifying specimen made out of the same substance that the Sandman's good dreams are crafted out of, invade the children's dreams and create the possibility of fear while they sleep. As a result, the kids walk around in a miserable group, their eyes darkly ringed, while Pitch Black cackles in the background with all of the one-dimensionality of a Disney super villain. Jack Frost himself has a disturbing memory relayed to the audience when he gets his memories back from his life as a human. In fact, he is known as 'Jack Frost' because his body was frozen under the ice during an unfortunate ice skating accident.
"Rise of the Guardians" doesn't carry much of a storyline. There are the bare bones of a plot, but DreamWorks fails to fill it out in any way. There isn't much dialogue either, and instead it's packed with unsatisfying fight scenes that are filled with the Guardians ineffectively swishing their weapons through the amorphous NightMares. It's a good movie for a younger crowd, or for people who enjoy simpler action movies, but doesn't quite reach the bar that DreamWorks has set for itself in the past.
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