The Rise of the Guardians (RotG) is an interesting legends to lore tale that turns characters like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny to superheroes. It’s not like Marvel Comic’s Avengers, but rather a stripped down version of X-Men. The CGI and cinematography are wonderful to behold, especially in high definition, but the story is all too familiar. It’s like watching a re-imagining of Peter Pan.
Jack Frost replaces the titular character of Pan, and Pitch Black aka the Boogeyman (or Nightmare King) is Hook. They have a relationship which can get forged if the two decide to mutually work together. While one story deals with eternal youth and all the irresponsibilities it can represent, the other looks at accepting the consequences of age and developing wisdom. These themes are loosely explored in RotG but the emphasis is on Frost and how well he can work in a team environment.
This movie operates in the same level as Nightmare before Christmas. In this product’s heart is a jovial tale, but there is a darker element to the film. And sadly, it’s not as engaging as Tim Burton’s work. The character designs are familiar. Pitch looks like a grey skinned version of a Na’vi and the Easter Rabbit looks like he should belong in a Bucky O’Hare video-game. To see Santa as a ruffian with a heart of gold is a nice touch, but the character designs stereotypes this film.
The radical redesigns of these holiday heroes are okay to give each character an identity, but Alec Baldwin’s Slavic impression for North (Santa) is a tad forced. Hugh Jackman had fun being the Bunny, but the scene stealer is really with the non vocal talents, namely with the elves and yeti running around. The Sandman is especially interesting. Nearly each character has a counterpart, and to identify them does make this film worth picking apart.
But as for any other emotional response, can anyone really cheer for Pitch? In this cinematic adaptation of the children’s book series The Guardians of Childhood, a few ideas must have been tossed out. Only three books have been published to date and more will be coming. In the original series, Pitch is a continuous threat to the world at large. In the movie, he quickly gets discarded like yesterday’s news. He’s supposed to be the cosmic Yin to the Yang that the guardians represent; therefore he cannot be ousted that easily. Hopefully this cosmic faux pas will get corrected should this series continue on to another film.
Fans of this series may well enjoy the limited edition version, which includes with two hopping eggs. These wind-up toys will satisfy any candy geek. In addition to the standard fare, a director’s commentary, two featurettes and “exclusive” DVD-ROM content, the rest of the material is better to inaugurate viewers to this particular world. Included is a look at the book series that inspired the film. The Blu-ray edition is far more gorgeous to behold and in terms of bonus material, this disc ups the ante by adding a few games for kids to play.
3 Stars out of 5