By Charly SHELTON
This summer, the Dark Knight attempted to rise. But due to a sub-par story and execution, it floundered. As we near the holiday season, it’s Jack Frost’s turn to rise as the newest Guardian in Dreamworks Animation’s new film, “Rise of the Guardians.”
Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) has been wandering the world for 300 years with no purpose and no idea where he came from. He just awoke one day floating in a frozen lake and came into being. Invisible to mortals, he flies around making mischief and bringing frosty weather wherever he goes. Then one day he is kidnapped by a yeti and thrown into a magical portal to the North Pole. Santa has called together all of the other Guardians to induct a new member. In attendance are the Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Jackman), the Sandman (who doesn’t speak), the Tooth Fairy (voiced by Isla Fisher) and of course North (Santa’s real name, voiced by Alec Baldwin). They come together for the induction ceremony when an ancient evil returns. Pitch Black (voiced by Jude Law), the boogeyman that was banished after the dark ages, has returned to snuff out the Guardians and return the world to darkness and fear. He plans to make the children of the world stop believing in these mythical beings and therefore make them stop existing. The only one who can stop it is the newest inductee – Jack Frost. Because nobody believes in him already, he has nothing to lose, nothing that Pitch can take from him – except his memories. Jack must join with the other Guardians to stop Pitch before the world falls into another dark age.
This was a really good movie. Not great, but good. “Wreck It Ralph” is definitely the best animated movie in theaters, maybe of the year. But this is a close second. Who can argue with the awesomeness of a dual saber wielding Santa? That’s just cool.
The story was solid. It is based on a series of books by Academy Award winner William Joyce, who is well versed in children’s tales. Joyce created several conceptual characters for Pixar back in the day, on films such as “Toy Story” and “A Bugs Life.” He is also an accomplished author, having written and illustrated numerous books, many of which have made it to screens big and small. Some of those books turned movies/shows include Disney Channel’s “Rolie Polie Olie,” for which Joyce won three Emmys, animated film “Meet The Robinsons,” and “Robots,” as well as several films due to be released in the next few years. Consequently, one can assume that Joyce knows what he is doing when it comes to writing stories, and that would explain why the world of “The Guardians” seems so set.
That is a good thing because for so many wannabe film series, the world in which the story is set hasn’t been established – viewers don’t get a feel of why things are what they are. In this film, it is clearly established and it’s a fun world to be in.
The books that the film was based on, “The Guardians of Childhood” series, explores the backstories of how these mythical beings came to be. Almost a Wicked-esque approach to holiday figures in a sense. This foundational work in making all of the stories coalesce in the novels transferred well to the screen because everything in the film seems not only possible but almost probable. It is so well thought out that from frame one, the story is in place and unfolds with foresight to tell us what we, as the audience, want to hear about the world rather than making it up it rolls along.
This is a good stand alone film, but it could definitely do with a sequel. We’ll see how it does at the box office.
Rated PG, I give this film 4 out of 5 stars.