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Rise of the Guardians Review: Plenty of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

By Agent Bedhead | Film Reviews | November 21, 2012 | Comments ()


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Studios will stop at nearly nothing to launch a new franchise in Hollywood, and the realm of family-friendly animated flicks is definitely no exception (one only need witness the latest Madagascar and Ice Age sequels for proof of their inexplicably lucrative nature). Now DreamWorks brings us Rise of the Guardians in an effort to cash in on present and hopeful future mediocrity that barely bothers with a threadbare story but sure looks (and sounds) pretty onscreen.

The movie's story itself, which is rather simple even if the execution is far too frenetic, revolves around a group of mythical creatures (the Guardians of Childhood) who are best known for bearing gifts to human children. There's Santa, a.k.a. "North" (Alec Baldwin); the Tooth Fairy, a.k.a. "Tooth" (Isla Fisher); the Easter Bunny, a.k.a. "Bunny" (Hugh Jackman); and the Sandman, a.k.a. "Sandy" (who sadly, has no voice). Everything is trucking along as planned with their various holidays until the nefarious Pitch Black (Jude Law) pulls some strings to make the children of the world cease to believe in the existence of these "Guardians." Soon enough, the good guys enlist Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to help save the day, and the entire film is a massive, gigantic, impenetrable clusterfuck. Ultimately, this really should have been the story of Jack (who comes with an intriguing backstory that is touched upon in the film's initial moments) if the filmmakers had wanted to infuse the story with any heart.

The script does officially pay lip service to Jack's steps in discovering his past and his purpose as well as the steps he takes to become an official Guardian, but the attempt feels hollow and shoe-horned into the ton of wham-bam shit flying towards the screen throughout the tale. So instead of being a heart-warming tale, this is merely a series of virtual vignettes wherein the Guardians go galavanting through portals to save each of their individual realms from Black's meddling ways. You'll emerge from the film exhausted and wondering where the past 90 minutes of your life went.

Mind you, this is a gloriously beautiful film to witness if you're merely looking for a shiny bauble with which to decorate your mental Christmas tree. The best visuals are associated with Sandy's scenes full of shimmering gold dust, and it's quite obvious that producer Guillermo del Toro had a hand in nearly every aesthetic aspect of this film. The unfortunate problem is that the journey of Rise of the Guardians is so jam-packed with ADD-addled design details and every possible action in the world crammed into one plot that there's no time allotted for anything of substance.

On its surface, this film seems to have it all. A (theoretically) interesting premise, likable characters, and entertaining quests; yet it just doesn't pull off the enchantment that a traditional, holiday-season type of children's movie would hope to transmit to its audience. There's no real heart or soul to be found here, but if you merely want to toss your money forth for about 90 minutes of frivolous, harmless entertainment, Rise of the Guardians certainly isn't your worst option of the year. It just could have been so much more.

This movie is appropriate for nearly any age of child, but those over 12 or so are less likely to be impressed by all the Santa Claus and Easter Bunny motifs, and the film probably isn't appropriate for any child under the age of 5 because Black's antics can be slightly scary throughout the film. Overall, this film speaks to the power of positivity and the good-heartedness that pervades throughout all of the various holiday seasons. Oh, and consumerism mightily rises to the occasion as well, which I guess is quite appropriate given ticket prices these days. I wasn't impressed by this Rise of the Guardians at all, and I'd definitely advise you not to shell out for the 3-D premium on top of regular ticket prices.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • There is a Jack Frost fandom out there.

    They call themselves 'frostitutes.'

  • Lloyd

    I was surprised at the many negative reviews & comments regarding this film. I have to admit, I was caught up in the film and found it to be very enjoyable. The characters were well rounded and I found myself laughing at a few of the comedic scenes and jokes. I went with my 5 & 9 year old daughters and they enjoyed it so much, that they are hoping to talk their mother (who was stuck home working on an exam) into seeing it so that they can enjoy it at a second viewing :)

  • BlackRabbit

    As an official Rabbit, I must assure all of you that the "Easter" bunny does not represent us, and is, in fact, a Hare.

  • Alex Stallings

    Maybe it's just me, but it seems from the commercials that the elves are sort of a ripoff of the minions from Despicable Me.

  • Sorry, Jude Law voices the villain? What, was the burnt bit of toast from the producer's breakfast not available? Because that would've given a more sinister performance.

  • Wembley

    Mythical creatures? Geez! Spoiler alert much?

  • L.O.V.E.

    Shakespeare!
    Faulkner!
    L.O.V.E.!

  • TheOtherOne

    Isn't this sequel to Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole?

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    Ga'Hoole is based on the works of Kathryn Lasky; this Guardians of Childhood shit-show is based upon (or was conceived in tandem with) a book series by William Joyce. They are terrible.

  • sean

    I just came back from seeing it with my 6 and 9 year old nephews. It was ok. The 6 yr old liked it a lot. My 13 yr old nephew and his friends went to Red Dawn while we were in seeing Guardians. I think they had more fun.

  • alwaysanswerb

    I would say, "Please tell me Jack Frost is of age?" but I'm not even sure that's the biggest problem I'm working with here.

  • Cuca

    No wonder so many kids these days are diagnosed with ADD. Apparently all that matters is to stuff as much action/sound/color as humanly possible in each second.

  • badkittyuno

    My son is two, so we're nowhere seeing movies in theaters. The commercials for this movie, however, FASCINATE him. For some reason, he has equated the Guardians Santa with my Uncle Frank (who is bearded and tattooed, so I guess it makes sense?) and gets extraordinarily excited whenever this particular Santa appears on the TV. He jumps up, yells "Unca Frank! Unca Frank!" and generally acts like an adorable idiot. After about two weeks of seeing these commercials, this extended to every image of Santa everywhere, and for some reason, a picture of a homeless guy in one of his books. So we're hoping that Santa pictures go well this year, although he may be disappointed to see that the Santa at the Dallas Galleria does not, in fact, have arms covered in tattoos.

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