AFI FEST 2012 Film Review: Rise of the Guardians (Dir. Peter Ramsey USA 2012 )
By Kathryn Schroeder
November 5, 2012

Dreamworks Animation has given moviegoers some of the most treasured animated franchises; from the Shrek and Madagascar series of films to Kung Fu Panda's, as well as How To Train Your Dragon and the highly anticipated upcoming sequel coming 2014.  Their newest film, Rise of the Guardians is based on a series of books by William Joyce called "The Guardians of Childhood" that brings to life a world where Santa Klaus (voice of Alex Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (voice of Hugh Jackman), Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy (voice of Isla Fisher) exist to keep the world safe; they are The Guardians and it is with the belief of children around the world as to their existence that their powers remain in tact.  There is one other fabled character who has never been given much attention in the modern age, or any age for that matter, Jack Frost (voice of Chris Pine). Rise of the Guardians is Jack Frost's story as to how he becomes one of the Guardians, while assisting the others in saving the world from the evil Boogeyman (voice of Jude Law).

Santa Klaus, Sandman, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians

Each new film Dreamworks Animation releases looks better than the former, and Rise of the Guardians continues that tradition with strikingly gorgeous animated visuals.  The opening of the film, narrated by Jack Frost, shows his birth from under the ice.  Jack emerges in a crackle of ice particles, each breaking away to reveal his shadow more closely and finally his entire body flying high into the sky--the images are breathtaking, combined with the magical hooked stick he possesses that brings snow and ice in the form of crystals that resemble leaves; his ability to manipulate his icy creations will come later into any form he wishes.  The incredible world of Rise of the Guardians continues to delight the viewer, as Santa's home is revealed, with Yeti's grunting about and cute little Elves that have a great deal of personality, all for the benefit of the audience's funny bone.  The Easter Bunny lives below ground, where his eggs have feet and make their way into tunnels marked for each continent when the time comes for children to eagerly go on their Easter egg hunts; the rivers of color they dip themselves in add to the wonka-esque feel of the Easter Bunny's domain.  The Tooth Fairy has, of course, a kingdom suitable for a princess, with baby fairy's flittering about in their abundance of cuteness--a child would be hard pressed to not want one for themselves.  Then there is the most breathtaking creation of them all, the Sandman.  Manipulating the golden sand that puts the world to sleep at night he glides through the sky on a golden airplane, or by way of charades --as he cannot speak-- creates images atop his head to relay his emotions, thoughts, and the like.  The Sandman steals the show above all else because of the extraordinary creation of his gilded sand.  The Easter Bunny, Santa Klaus, Jack Frost, and the Boogeyman have been seen before, but the Sandman is a brand new feast for the eyes, and the animators have not spared anything to make sure he is adored.

Santa Klaus, Sandman, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians

The animation alone is not what keeps the viewer enthralled by Rise of the Guardians.  The story is of the most basic nature: a group of hero's must fight an evil presence, in this case the Boogeyman and his pack of black sand Stallions who are infecting children's dreams with nightmares in order to save the world.  The difference is that its the most treasured fantastical characters of childhood, all banding together with their very different personalities to do so.  There is also the story of Jack Frost, the center of the film really, and the need for him to discover who he his by regaining his memory.  Jack has spent the past 300 years alone and without the ability for anyone to see him.  He craves affection after all these lonely years and it is with the help of the Guardians that he will find himself.  Rise of the Guardians may not be the most inventive story, as the themes and morals present are as old as time, but that is part of the charm.  The movie feels so familiar, like a piece of childhood come back to life on screen, that you cannot help but fall in love with the characters, fantastical or real in the form of children. Rise of the Guardians is an imaginative tale, full of humor and love, and just enough suspense with the Boogeyman's antics to keep things interesting.  But is the characters, from the baby tooth fairy to the crazy elves and yeti's and all in between that make the world unforgettable.

Film's Festival Page:  Rise of the Guardians

Free Movie with Purchase

Featurettes and trailer for Rise of the Guardians:

Gala Presentation

Country: USA
Year: 2012
Director: Peter Ramsey
Screenwriters: David Lindsay-Abaire, based on the series, "The Guardians of Childhood," and the short, THE MAN IN THE MOON, directed by William Joyce
Producer: Nancy Bernstein
Executive Producers: Wiliam Joyce, Michael Siegel, Guillermo del Toro
Production Designers: Patrick Marc Hanenberger, Alex McDowell
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo
Running Time (minutes): 90

Official Website for Rise of the Guardians

AFI FEST 2012 presented by Audi