Starring the voices of: Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher.
Rated: PG. Animated. Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes.
We just recently reviewed Life of Pi and I mentioned that my boy Ethan didn’t really want to see it, but went with us anyway because he’s a good sport (he ended up liking it more than we did I think). At any rate quid pro quo was in effect, so we took him to Rise of the Guardians, and Maria and I got the best part of the bargain. Pi was okay, Guardians was better. A magical story that centers around Jack Frost (Pine), who is portrayed as a teenage boy who “wakes up” one day 300 years ago out of a frozen pond as Jack Frost. He only knows who he is because the Man in the Moon “told” him so, and he has no memories at all. Flash forward to present day, and at the North Pole, Santa Claus (as you’ve never seen him before and voiced by the unrecognizable Baldwin) gets an April visit from the ominous and long missing Pitch Black (Law) AKA The Boogeyman. Pitch is threatening children everywhere, so Santa has to summon the rest of the guardians of children; The Sandman (who doesn’t speak), the Tooth Fairy (Fisher), and the Easter Bunny (Jackman, and again a version like you’ve never seen). While they’re deciding what to do, The Man in the Moon (who is just a big full moon that doesn’t speak but communicates just fine to our heroes and seems somewhat “in charge”) informs the group that they will have and need, a new guardian, Jack Frost. They all know Jack and find him an odd choice, as does Jack for that matter.
Alec Baldwin!? I would have never guessed that in a million years. I had thought the Boogeyman was voiced by Paul Bettany…wrong again. And we’re usually so good at putting names to voices in these animated films. Ross is certainly correct in saying that you’ve never seen this clan of childhood legends like this before. They are all these badass versions of themselves armed with serious weapons and supernatural powers to better guard the children of Earth. And these powers become quite useful as they find themselves up against Pitch and an army of nightmares. The nightmares are children’s sweet dreams that the Sandman has given them, but Pitch has manipulated them into frightening and fearsome dark horses. The visuals and effects of this movie were quite stunning, but the thing I found most impressive about this film was how far they pushed the envelope. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a children’s movie approach such a dark and scary subject with such vigor. And it’s no wonder with Guillermo del Toro’s fingerprints all over this project.
I agree honey, maybe the only other person out there with a more recognizable style is Tim Burton, but Guardians has a del Toro look that is uniquely his and unmistakeable. I’m not a super big fan of his, but “Pan’s Labrynth” was an awesome movie and the visuals there were certainly an influence here. And as with that film, the darkness is trumped by purity, goodness and faith. This movie is original, innovative, daring, sinister and touching. It’s really not your standard Christmas release, the movie takes place at Easter time? But the messages are clear and driven home with authority. Fighting, when necessary, for what is right. Having hope when all seems lost and never giving up. Redemption. The bottom line is, it boils down to a fairly basic “naughty” versus “nice” story, but I don’t see anything wrong with that, and who do you think wins? A final note, one of my favorite characters in the movie doesn’t have any lines. The Sandman is a central figure to the story, and simply through facial expressions, symbols and various gesticulations; he exudes kindness, playfullness and strength. Rise of the Guardians, it’s not “It’s A Wonderful Life” (my personal Christmas favorite, “Merry Christmas Bedford Falls!”), but I think like most really good movies it will age very well.
I sincerely enjoyed this tale and I truly appreciate the values it embodies; wishes, dreams and the wonder that surrounds childhood. In a World where cynicism is the new fad, it’s comforting to still have something pure and idealistic to share with the children in our lives. Obviously, as adults we know that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost and the Boogeyman don’t exist. But what they stand for and represent are very real. And in time as we get older, we realize that even though these iconic figures aren’t alive, we can adopt their values and share them with our family and friends at festive times of the year. I do have one complaint regarding all children’s films that I have recently viewed. What happened to the catchy and spectacular songs!? I grew up during the era of Disney’s Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. I still know every word to most of the songs featured in each of these films. In fact, during Thanksgiving my best friend and I had a Disney sing-a-long for hours, playing all our favorites from “Little Town” (Beauty & the Beast), “A Whole New World” (Aladdin) and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (The Lion King). Etc., etc., etc.! Please bring back the catchy and wholesome tunes, I miss the music. Guardians is a great film to bring your kids to or just something to get you into the holiday spirit, which I can attest is sometimes a challenge. Especially when you find holiday music heinous, as I certainly do. It just about makes Wal-Mart, which is borderline intolerable without “Deck the Halls”, that much more unfavorable. Happy holidays to you and yours…just abstain from carolling outside my home.
Ross’ Rating: 4.25 Gummy Bears out of 5.
Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.