Director: Peter Ramsey
Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, High Jackman
Running time: 97 minutes
Synopsis: When the ancient boogieman threatens the world’s children, loner Jack Frost is enlisted into the ‘Guardians’, joining Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Sandman to battle evil…
For any CGI animation, comparisons to Pixar are inevitable. It’s not just the fact that Pixar is the true innovator of the field, it’s because there’s far more to the movies than just stunning visuals. The true genius of Pixar lies beneath the animation – with some small exceptions (beep beep, CARS), Pixar’s scripts are mostly a cut above most of Hollywood’s output, let alone just animation. Driven by flawless stories and brilliantly realized characters, Pixar is almost always more than just pretty packaging. Dreamworks’ RISE OF THE GUARDIANS on the other hand, is the opposite – much like a disappointing Christmas present, the wrapping is very nice indeed, but once it’s opened up there’s very little of interest inside.
The film certainly has an appealing concept (everyone’s favourite mythological characters joining forces for an almighty smackdown), and the opening sequence, the introduction of lead ‘Guardian’ Jack Frost, is breathtaking. The wintery scene is beautifully animated and deals with some pretty powerful themes (particularly for a family film) it seems nobody really believes in young, and consequently nobody sees him. Indeed, it looks like Jack’s in for a very lonely eternity. Whilst this sequence promises something very special, it takes a matter of minutes for things to fall apart: clumsy scripting, flat characters, and jokes that miss more often than not. RISE OF THE GUARDIANS hits every predictable beat imaginable, and save some dark inspiration from Jude Law’s villain Pitch, it’s all painfully generic.
Perhaps the film’s biggest problem is the lack of likeable characters – Alec Baldwin’s sword-wielding Santa is charming enough but the others range from dull (Isla Fisher’s Tooth Fairy) to thoroughly irritating (Hugh Jackman’s Easter Bunny). The worst offender is protagonist Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) – come the film’s midpoint it’s unclear if the children of world really can’t see him, or if they’re simply choosing to ignore him because of his constant whining and terrible haircut.
Still, though RISE OF THE GUARDIANS may fail to meet the high standards of other animated movies, it also has enough simple gags and colourful action sequences to keep the under-12s entertained. Just don’t expect the wider appeal to all ages we’ve come to expect from Pixar’s movies.
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS arrives in UK cinemas 30th November and is already on general release in the US.