The 2012 Dreamworks release of the adventure animation might have a pretty good cast and a story that everyone can relate to, but somehow Rise of the Guardians managed to flop the box office expectations and score an even 7 out 10 across the board.
Director Peter Ramsey did a great job in terms of how the animation looks, the art department being his main skill, but it is obvious that this is just his second attempt at directing. The story is good and it is building up to something, with conflicts and character dream-up along the way, but that is it. There is nothing special and more than anything, there’s nothing unpredictable. Everything just happens when and how you would think it would, so maybe it should have been marketed to a very young audience rather than try to accommodate everyone.
With Jack Frost (Chris Pine) as the main character, we follow his story as he fights evil as well as his greatest fear. He is seen evolving gradually as he joins North (Alec Baldwin), Tooth (Isla Fisher), Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and the very quiet Mr. Sandman, on their quest to stop Pitch (Jude Law) from bringing darkness over the world by getting kids to stop believing in luminaries. Pitch Black being the boogieman, thrives on fear and uses Mr. Sandman’s ways to give nightmares, instead of dreams, to children, slowly making them stop believing in North and all the others. This is important as the film shows us that it is a symbiotic relationship between them and the kids, and if the children stop believing in them, they stop existing.
The film does have a rather dark side, especially when focusing on Jack, as he is presented in a shroud of depressive loneliness. This does add some backstory about loneliness and being confused about who he is, something that all of them had to go through at one point, making it a key element that anyone can relate to. Therefore, if you look at it, it is a story about going from zero to hero, with Jack finding his purpose and reaching his potential, finally being able to become who he was meant to be.
A breath of fresh air was that beyond the usual tales of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, and the Easter Bunny, the film adds a lot of interesting details. Such as the tooth fairies who collect teeth for the memories they hold, which just simply made sense to the story and did not seemed forced at all. But most of all, the visuals of the whole animation. The details of the characters and their respective worlds just shows how much work went into the making of this film. Unfortunately, like with every movie out there, just because it looks good, that does not make it good overall. Maybe it was the forced attempt to make everyone feel included by having a Russian North, an Australian Bunny, and so on. Or maybe it was the story that tried to be simple enough for children to understand, while at the same time creating complex sub-layers about finding yourself.
In any case, this is a must-see just to decide for yourself if it is one or the other. You will not be disappointed by the looks, the voices, sounds, and soundtrack, or the story in itself, but you might be hoping for more when you put them all together. In case you’ll be disappointed, go for a snippet of Wild tales, by Damián Szifrón.