Title: Rise of the Guardians
Studio: Dreamworks Animation
Audience: children, fun-loving adults
This movie is, quite simply, fun. I don’t think I’ve left a movie feeling this caught up in its world since the last Harry Potter film. I couldn’t see it just once, I had to see it a second time, just days later. Already I’m jonesing for another viewing.
So what it is that makes this movie so enjoyable? Well, first of all, it’s gorgeous. It’s no wonder, with it being based on such lovely picture books (and illustrated chapter books), that the movie is so wonderfully stylized. The characters are beautifully rendered, yet still imperfect in that way that makes them look more real.
Secondly, this movie takes characters we’re already familiar with (Santa, The Easter Bunny, even Jack Frost) and adds so many new levels to them. It became “uncool” to believe in Santa a long time ago…but I can get behind a tattoo-wearing, Russian-speaking, awkwardly-funny bear of a man who never stops smiling. Instantly, I’m transported back to childhood; to how I wish the myths behind these characters had always been,
Thirdly, the actors are awesome. I recognize four of the five leads (sorry, Isla Fisher), which is pretty impressive for me; usually I’m good if I recognize one. And more than recognize, I actively like them. I would have seen this movie for Alec Baldwin’s Russian accent alone, but fortunately it brought a lot more to the table as well.
This book has it all: a trickster protagonist with a wry smile and a tragic undertone, a sympathetic and yet belivably evil antagonist, a world you want to lose yourself in, and touching story at it’s core. I know I’ll be picking up a copy when it comes out on DVD.
That said, there were a few issues. It was a really fast movie. It was short, action-pact, and very world-heavy, so the script had a lot of background to cover in not much time, and sometimes I think it fell flat. There were a few times where I felt a logical step had been missed. I could jump over it just fine, but it took me out of the movie. There were also some wasted moments, some things that were built up well but ultimately skimmed over. I would have liked another half hour to really get a feel for the logic of the world.
Pros and cons aside, my favorite thing about the movie doesn’t actually have to do with the movie itself, but the world beyond it. More about that later!